Beliefs (2011-03-27 12:12)
I have a hard time understanding that we believe (accept as absolute truths) ideas or theories that we have made ourselves into a momentum « inspired » by « foresight » or that enlightened « prophets » have passed over in supposedly sacred books. Often these ideas or theories are in fact based only on internal impressions whose we convince us to be divine or cosmic revelations. In some cases, proponents of these beliefs are using certain scientific concepts to give an appearance of merit… I’ll try, by findings from simple observations or simple thoughts, to show the weakness of the foundations of these beliefs. I also think it’s better to have the humility to accept our ignorance rather than affirm absolute truth.
It is normal that we get anxious by life and death and we easily accept as absolute truth a belief which gives us importance and comfort, thus we calm down our fear and we can continue our quiet life -or more often, we are so busy surviving and consuming that we do not have time to think about these questions-, but we can have an objective look at our situation and an acceptance thereof, while being serene: that is one of my goals to prove.
It is also the fact that humans are accustomed to seek a cause or reason, a meaning or purpose at all and obviously at their existence and at the universe. This may seem a little more worthy than the simple need for comfort, but we will see that the entailed beliefs are no more justified and are very anthropomorphic.
The anxiety about life or death and the search for meaning push humans to define as truth all sorts of ideas based on sand.
Can we refrain from belief? (2011-03-31 09:36)
First I must warn you: I am not a philosopher … So please let me know when I write nonsense. Is it possible to refrain from any belief? I think it necessary, if one is responsible. We should also be wary of anything that would appear to be obvious, evident*. Indeed, there is always a background of belief in any evidence; for example, if an evidence is based on observations, it is based on the belief that these observations are not hallucinating… I think that the greatest humility is to doubt.
Imperfection of our senses
We must distrust our senses; they can mislead us even if the senses are our only means of knowing. So that our senses do not deceive us, we must keep in mind (I will come back on this issue in a later article) that the virtual world that our brain creates is quite different from what that stimulates our senses (the real world) and also that our brains can be deceived or malfunctioning (delusions, hallucinations…).
A sixth sense?
Some people think we have a sixth sense: our brain or our soul would have a special connection with the cosmos, the whole, the Being or God, but that’s far from clear! This is more a matter of belief… That with meditation we could become more relaxed and feel love and altruism, does not mean that we then become a happy initiate in communion with the absolute truth, infinite love and Supreme Being.
You must not believe, but you can choose. You observe, you think, you check, you consult, then you choose (while retaining the option to change your decision …).
Nevertheless, there is something I tend spontaneously to believe in: It’s my existence and that of an objective world (which does not depend on me to exist). But the problem is that I do not know what that means « existence « . The dictionary does not help me much: what exists is something real, which is part of reality and the reality is all that exists! Finally, the existence is another of those concepts created by my brain, like space, colour, sound, pain, happiness, love, good and evil, consciousness, etc. which are not easy to define. (But, I would like to try to define what I mean when I say that something exists: a thing that exists, would be a more or less complex energy structure which can interact (exchange energy) with rest of reality and therefore that can or could be brought to my knowledge through my senses.) Anyway, I choose, for the moment, to admit my existence and that of the World and go even further, I’ll even admit your existence, dear reader. Existence is a great mystery!
Evidence: In the dictionary, I read: « what comes to mind, absolutely certain »; I have problems with this definition because I would have to believe in the spirit and the absolute… In joke, I could say that the only evidence is that nothing is evident… Let’s try to give practical meaning to this word. « Evident » is in the family of the Latin verb « videre: see », so something evident is something we can clearly deduce from what you see … let’s generalize and say that it is a stable structure in the brain that our brain creates based on the pulses received from our senses.
Man created God in his image (2011-03-31 16:11)
Small child, I was traumatized by the fear that inspired me the teachings of the church; I remember when I had strange nightmares at about 5 years old. Then I became a pious, serious and well indoctrinated child; a child believes easily what adults tell him because he fully trusts them. Then being a teenager, my thinking began to emancipate and all the nice stories of the Catholic faith appeared to me without merit (I did not accept in particular the idea of punishment for alleged misconduct); given the social pressure (Quebec was very religious at that time) and indoctrination which had strongly marked me, I had to make a huge effort to get free from religious beliefs. At 15, I defined myself as agnostic (atheism seemed to me like a kind of belief). Now, while still remaining agnostic, I think, I would tend to choose to be atheist.
Belief in God = supreme animism
Animism attributes a soul to animals and natural phenomena and objects and to humans of course. The dominant religions have preserved some of this idea, if animals and natural phenomena would have no more soul (women, it was not sure …), men still have a soul and the whole universe too: God. The idea of a soul comes from misunderstanding. The animists attributed soul to natural phenomena because they do not understand them. In monotheistic religions, they attribute a soul (God) to something that they do not understand: the existence. As for the attribution of a soul to man, it comes from misunderstanding about his own death. A being is alive, and then suddenly, as if something that gave life to this being evaporated, it becomes lifeless, it is no more than an inert body! Not understanding that it is the delicate and complex structure of this being that was broken, humans have invented soul that gives life to matter and leaves it inert when it quits, and that soul was supposed eternal of course! It is also a profound contempt for the matter they saw as balls, blocks, items what the best we could do with would be mechanical and automatic gear more or less complex, but without initiative, without conscience, and then without soul! This same contempt for the matter has shown the whole world as an assemblage of objects without any potential and that could not exist by itself. We must rehabilitate the matter! Stop being animists and see the possibilities of matter that can organize, build, and form beings of immeasurable complexity (living, thinking, aware beings).
The creation of God
Humans have the ability to make tools or objects that generally have a specific use; a chair to sit in, a car, to move by, etc. even a work of art, which may seem aimless, gratuitous, satisfies a need for expression or produces pleasure or other feeling. In short, this can make believe that everything has been done by someone for some purpose. As we have put much effort to create certain objects, it is hard to imagine that the objects found in nature, which are often far more complex than those that were made by man, were not designed by an intelligence and conscious entity, similar to humans. And obviously, since generally, they make something for a specific purpose, they concluded that this entity also had a purpose. We must realize that this belief is entirely anthropocentric! We even assigned to this entity human emotions like love. « God has not made man in his image, but it is man who has made God in his image. »
The uselessness of the concept of God
Admittedly, it remains a great mystery: how it is that the matter or, if you prefer, energy, exists and has such properties which allow that structures conscious of themselves were generated. However, there is no need to invent a creative being: it would only shift the problem, change the real mystery by another very hypothetical.
Assume for a moment that nature is so complex that it cannot exist without being created by a superior entity with intelligent design, then this superior entity, who has been able to create her and why? Another entity much more superior… Or she would have existed since forever! So why it would not be the universe that has always existed? In fact, humans are reluctant to this idea because they do not understand the universe, they see it as an ordinary assembly of balls, inert material bodies and they find that the universe is not enough similar to them (trend well known toward anthropomorphism). Contemplate the true mystery: the universe. It seems not to be made in our image, but it’s our universe in which living, loving, thinking and conscious beings emerged.
Man created God in his image (continued) (2011-03-31 18:06)
Another word on the subject. I want to emphasize the anthropomorphism in the concept of God. Now that we know that we are on a very small Earth orbiting the Sun, millions of miles of it, and that our Sun is an ordinary star turning in the galaxy among billions of other stars and there are billions of galaxies, anthropocentrism (the idea that man was the navel of the universe) is in a bad way. However, anthropomorphism is still very present in the minds of humans. It’s a bit normal: they create models from what they know, that is to say themselves. Thus they attributed to God they invented, purely human properties: like them, God is a person (or three!) with a conscience who thinks, creates things with specific intentions, has the notion of good and evil; he is like a human king: he has his kingdom, he judges and punishes, but it is a good king, because he feels a great love for his creatures; he is benevolent. He also feels many other human emotions: pleasure, sorrow, anger,… We will see that all these properties: love, consciousness… are purely human (though there may be animals) and they appeared during evolution especially in mammals to allow better survival of these species. To attribute to God all these human properties is anthropomorphism.
Soul and spirit, archaic and animistic concepts (2011-04-04 18:04)
I want to return, in this article, to the concept of soul. You understand that I do not believe at all in the existence of soul neither of spirit (let alone the spirits!). « Soul » and « spirit » suggest (by their etymological origins) that it needs a breath to give life to a body; I wonder why our brain is so developed, the soul could give life to a puppet of wood… In fact, a breath, a stream of air is rather simple and it could hardly be the place for consciousness, for intelligence capable of knowledge and understanding. In fact, it’s the complexity of living organisms that allows the consciousness and intelligence. It is the complexity of living things that is worthy of admiration and respect rather than a hypothetical soul. Alter the complexity of your brain, only a little, and you lose consciousness or you become confused; when Alzheimer’s disease gradually destroys our brain, we lose memory, comprehension, and consciousness.
In fact, it seems that energy is the source of everything including the matter (E = mc²). I speak here about the energy described by physics and not about another type of god… This energy-matter organized itself into structures more and more complex so to give living beings and then conscious beings. Our body is not a puppet which life and consciousness would have been provided by a soul that would have colonized it; our body is an organism that is the result of a long evolution of matter and energy to such a very complexity allowing memory, intelligence, consciousness of the world around us and self-awareness. Life has not been given to our body, life was already there at the beginning, at the formation of the egg resulting from the union of ovule and spermatozoon (two cells already living); as for the intelligence and consciousness, they are just names given to certain properties of our body (especially brain) acquired while its complexity has reached a certain threshold. Similarly, life appeared on Earth when the energy-matter has reached a level of complexity corresponding to what is called life.
Spirituality, hollow concept (2011-04-15 16:46)
You might guess that since I do believe neither in spirit nor in spirits, spirituality to me is an empty concept. I prefer to speak of reflection, inspiration, consciousness, meditation, wonder, affection, love, etc. that is to say, of various brain processes. The concept of interiority itself also seems to me suspect.
Proponents of spirituality or interiority state that they can find in themselves the Truth and a contact with the Being; in fact, this is how they interpret certain cerebral phenomena that they have felt. Those who show themselves or are recognized as having great spirituality play a bit of comedy or are deeply indoctrinated and interpret their feelings according to their doctrine.
This spirituality would give self-confidence and inner peace… in fact, one can easily achieve this peace and this confidence, without associating them to spiritual beliefs, it is just a question of brain health and global health. (In fact, if some spiritual beliefs can bring some inner peace, others are sources of fear, anguish and pain.)
N.B. The words « spirit » and « spirituality » imply a superior reality distinct from the body and matter (idea with which I do not agree, obviously). Other words (mind, psyche and their derivatives) are widely used to describe phenomena in the brain (mental illness, psychology,…); it is confusing because « mind » comes from the Latin word « mens, mentis » which means « spirit » and the Greek word « psyche » means « soul »! We should instead adopt words using roots as « cerebr-, « encephal-« , « neur- » which refer to the real organs involved.
Let us put some concepts on their level (2011-04-24 11:35)
Now that we put God and the soul in their place, that is to say, in mythology, in stories invented by man to try to explain what he observed, we must also put on their level some concepts that humans tend to describe as absolute, infinite or divine, like: good and evil, beauty and ugliness, love, freedom, happiness, intelligence, consciousness, etc., and in addition, they imagine that these properties belong to the human mind and that these concepts do not apply to animals. I firmly believe that these are very relative concepts which concern both animals and humans. (Although they may not give names to these abstract concepts in their languages, animals know when they are caged and want to be free, they are conscious, they have feelings, they suffer, and they want to feel good). Some animals are probably more conscious, freer and more intelligent, capable of more love than the average human. Consciousness, intelligence, love did not appear suddenly in homo sapiens, it is the result of a long evolution and therefore, many animals are provided with as we do, the same way they have eyes, ears, eat and defecate just like us. I will try in the following articles to define some of these notions by highlighting their relativity, their limit, their humanity and even their animality.
Is there a purpose to our existence? What is the usefulness our existence?(2011-04-27 14:45)
Humans have the ability to make tools or objects that generally have a specific use; a chair is used to sit in, a car, to move, etc., even a work of art that may seem aimless, gratuitous, is used to satisfy a need for expression or produces pleasure or other feeling. In short, this can make believe that everything has been done by someone for some purpose. As we have put much effort to create certain objects, it is hard to imagine that beings who are in nature, which are often far more complex than the objects we made__, were not designed by a conscious and intelligent entity, like humans, but superior. And obviously, since generally, we make something for a specific purpose, we concluded that this entity also had a purpose. We must realize that this belief is entirely anthropocentric!
It is useless to seek the sense of life, the purpose of existence; a purpose can only be associated with a human action, and a utility, with something that can allow a person to achieve a particular purpose, that’s all. Life, the universe, human beings have no purpose, they are, period. Being (matter / energy) has no purpose, it is all. Is it absurd? No, it would be absurd to want to give a purpose to everything.
The matter should be rehabilitated (2011-05-09 09:10)
Human beings tend to underestimate the matter perhaps because associated to stone, earth, dust and death.
It was difficult to accept that this matter, with which we were not able to do better than machines « meanly mechanical », can be estimated. So we created the body-soul dichotomy where the soul would be the place of the noblest faculties of the person (mind, consciousness, …) and of course assumed immortal. But we realize more and more the infinite possibilities of matter and energy with the advancement of electronics, biology and brain studies. The matter is quite worthy first simply because it exists and also because it has produced extraordinary structures, remarkable by their gigantism or their smallness or their complexity. From this matter, even appeared beings capable of thinking and of awareness of themselves and the universe. It’s quite amazing!
Will we wait until humans themselves create quite complex structures capable of thinking and being aware of themselves to admit it? If they do not disappear, they’ll probably do it! Even they can possibly create beings « superior» to themselves, it will be easy because humans are far from being « perfect ». (Note that these qualifiers (superior, perfect) are very relative …) No doubt that long before we arrived there, the matter will have been rehabilitated, because by then our brains will gradually be de-programmed, will free themselves from the old animist and theist ideas.
Human beings are animals like any other (2011-05-09 14:55)
It is true that, currently, humans take up much space on this earth, and think to dominate. Without doubt they have fairly developed faculties. But look in the mirror! You have a body very similar to other animals, you have the same organs. You eat and defecate just like them.
Humans have a well developed brain, but they are not alone! Do you really think you’re the only species to be conscious, to have feelings, plan, and reason? These so-called higher human abilities did not emerge suddenly.
No doubt already in dinosaurs’ time, many species had a conscience and feelings. Many people mistakenly believe that in animals, everything is managed by what is called instinct, and that it is just in humans we can find the high-level functions such as consciousness, feelings, intelligence, and then, it’s not surprising that they are so likely to believe that these « sublime » functions comes from a source other than our animality, and from there comes the idea of a soul…
But these functions are not only human; these functions, so extraordinary, have developed over several tens or hundreds of millions of years to achieve amazing performance in humans as in many other species.
It is not certain that the human brain is the more complex; it is very possible that one day we’ll admit that the brains of some species (elephant, dolphin,) are more sophisticated than ours. (This could also be true for some extinct species.) We already know that some part of the brain are much more developed in some animals than in human: part of smell in dogs, part of vision in birds of prey, the part of hearing in bats or marine mammals (which allows them to « see » in the dark), memory in the elephant (?), etc.. See in the video that follows how a sea lion could be more intelligent than the average human.
Wise sea lion
Can we say that an animal has self-consciousness in its environment? Definitely!
Obviously, it is necessary that it has an elementary nervous system … But from the moment a specie has developed the senses (sight, touch, hearing, …) and therefore a fairly advanced brain to use the information from these senses, the brain creates a virtual world in which the animal is in the middle; this is what we should mean by having self-consciousness in his environment! It would be surprising if all animals except humans were machines without consciousness and suddenly, at the appearance of man, this faculty had appeared! I think that in the areas of feelings and consciousness (which is a kind of feeling), the brain in several species of animals may be more developed than ours.
But what is the precise meaning of « having self-consciousness in its environment »? (2011-05-10 15:19)
« Self », it is a set of living cells, an organized and specialized neural structure creating a virtual world in which a virtual copy of this set (self) is in the middle. This virtual world is very different from the real world, but there is a high correspondence between the elements of both worlds, otherwise « self » would soon be destroyed!
Let us take, as examples, the colours. This is a pure creation of our brain. The red of an apple seems real, but we cannot define what it really is, we cannot know if this red apple appears to you as to your neighbour, though it is likely, since you and your neighbour are constituted similarly, but we cannot prove it in any way.
These features of your virtual world are in fact completely indescribable, they are really just creations of our brain convenient to represent your environment; you can put in the lot: colours, space, sounds, smells and flavors, sensations of touch. These are characteristics of your virtual world resulting from the translation by your brain of the stimuli that impress your senses: colours due to electromagnetic waves, sound due to mechanical waves, odours and savour due to chemicals, the sensations of touch (hot, cold, contact, pressure, prick,…) due to the proximity with the surrounding material. The concept of space is special because it is acquired through several senses: in fact, seeing, hearing, touch help develop this concept in our brain. If space is like the colours, sounds, etc., we can assume that it is also a virtual creation of the brain that is completely different from the underlying reality. Time is not such a direct observation as space: what we observe is the present (which changes …). (If we consider a photon that left a distant galaxy, billions of light years away, billions of years ago, and which reaches the earth, for this photon, according to relativity, distance is null and time is stopped, in fact, one could say that for particles moving at the speed of light, there is neither space nor time, and it is these particles which are intermediates for the interactions in the matter. It makes you think about the concepts of space and time …)
There are many other convenient creations in the brain: suffering, happiness, pleasure, pain, affection, love, hate, and maybe even, God …
These other characteristics of the self will be explored a bit further.
So the « self » is in the midst of all these virtual phenomena more or less connected to the « reality » and that’s what he is conscious; it is his reality to him (which seemed to him very real). This reality probably is much like those of other « selves » of his case, but we cannot verify it.
Supplement on the functioning of the senses (2011-05-20 12:01)
It’s interesting how the senses are functioning. If a stimulus arrives at a sense: the nervous system sends information to the brain that it converts into a virtual quantity whose « self » becomes aware. For example, if your eye receives an electromagnetic wave of 700 microns in wavelength, which impresses a certain way the various cells of the retina, this information is not sent to the conscience, rather, the information is processed and comes to consciousness in a virtual form entirely new: the red! The sound vibration of a violin vibrates your eardrum and your conscience does not receive the data on fundamental frequency and harmonics of the vibration, but rather virtual information: squeaky sound. A fragrance gives off its scent and reaches your olfactory cells in your nose; it is not the chemical composition of these fumes that your conscience gets, but a more or less pleasant odour. Why heat give you a warm feeling and the cold, a sensation of coldness and not the opposite? Why sugar do not taste salty and salt, sweet. Anyway, as explained above, all these sensations exist only in your head, it has nothing real, even if it seems so real.
And what happens after you die? (2011-06-22 17:37)
The invention of the soul has been made because we could not believe that the mind and consciousness could arise from matter (which we greatly underestimated the ability) and because we hoped for eternal life. But if we accept that your mind, your awareness are inseparable from your body and are the result of the complexity of matter, one can only conclude that at the moment when the complex structure of your organization is destroyed, your mind has also disappeared. Is that thought terrifying? But why? It’s natural.
Understand that you are a part of the universe, you’re like a flower of it, and when the flower dies, the plant remains alive. You are a momentary consciousness of the universe… is not that amazing! And why we should live or exist forever? While any structure in the universe appears and disappears, is born and dies.
Let’s suppose that you are a separate entity created by an Almighty God, would you not fear that at any time, without warning, you can disappear due to an arbitrary decision of that capricious and omnipotent god. And you wouldn’t even be aware of that! And if you could live millions of years in this world or another world after death, how could you remember your first hundred years; you’ve already forgotten more than 99 % of what you have experienced, so imagine what will be left in 1 million years. (Can you say what you ate, on September 17th, 3 years ago?) So if no one will remember you (living today) in a million years (not even you!), then why continuing to exist as a separate entity, it could be another entity and it would be equivalent (and even better, because younger, more adapted, more intelligent, etc.). In any case, it is an illusion to believe that you are a separate entity; you are a complex structure that continually changes, that appeared and will disappear.
You and me, it’s the same (2011-06-23 08:27)
Be aware that for others, you, you are part of the others precisely. I give myself much importance because I cannot see myself without a mirror while I can see the others completely without a mirror. But it’s the same for you and for everyone. People with autism have difficulty understanding that others are not objects, but other copies of « self » like them. (When I realized that, I was shocked.) You are like the others or so little different. If you die, others live and it’s the same. When someone suffers, you or another is the « I », the « SELF » who suffers, it is « YOU » who suffer! And the same goes for the joy and happiness! The copy of « I » that I am, is not aware that the other copy of the « I » that you are is suffering, but you are aware of and by you, I am aware.
In fact, we’re all the same. You are the one who wrote these lines and the one who reads them. You are your neighbour, your dog, the child who plays, the murderer, the victim, the violent, the gentle, the holy.
You were a Tyrannosaurus, Hitler, Gandhi, an animal skinned alive, and so on from the most suffering being to the most serene. You are the one who gives the punch and the one who receives it. I am, you are the organism, the « I », the « SELF », the program, the structure of matter-energy that has organized, has become more complex, and multiplied itself by billions of copies.
But in fact, the « I », the « SELF » is eternal and almost ubiquitous (2011-06-23 09:00)
When a new baby is born, it’s like if you woke up with amnesia which has made you forget everything you’ve experienced before. This is another « I » or another « YOU » that appeared, a new structure that is aware (or will become), which is like a reincarnation of all other conscious structures that have existed or exist. What is beautiful in the idea that we are a complex structure of matter / energy is that this structure can be reproduced, it makes us almost eternal. It’s annoying however, that the new structures do not remember what the old structures have been… although it is not entirely accurate because the transmission of knowledge (in any case, what is important) is done through a variety of means (and it would be a waste of memory to remember everything).
In addition to being eternal (at least as long as the universe exists), it is likely that the « I », the « SELF » is almost ubiquitous. First of all, let’s consider the surface of the Earth: as for the biosphere, we can imagine a sphere of consciousness (logosphere or noosphere?): there are plenty of conscious structures around the earth, even in the sea and they communicate with each other. If somebody identifies himself with all conscious beings on Earth, he is almost everywhere. It is clear to me also that, the nature making every thing in a very large number of copies, there should be complex aware structures on billions of other planets in the billions of galaxies in the universe. These structures are probably often more complex than those we know (such as ourselves …). You can also identify yourself to these alien structures, and by them, you can admire many achievements of the Universe that can be very different, sometimes very similar to those we know. Damage that these structures cannot yet communicate with us… in fact, perhaps it’s us who are not yet able to communicate with them. Maybe one day the universe will become an enormous communications network, such as a universal Internet!
Pleasure and pain (2011-06-23 10:25)
As the « self » has been developed since the first living cells, the precursors of pleasure and pain emerged from the first bacteria. Indeed, the cell should be able to differentiate itself from its environment, but it also had to know what was good for its survival and what was not. That’s what the role of pleasure and pain: influence you in such a way that you act according to your survival and that of your specie. I’m not saying that a bacterium or an amoeba may feel pain or pleasure, but there are already features that allow better survival by responding to stimuli. The pain and pleasure with consciousness may have begun to grow in living beings with brains.
An ant does not seem to suffer if it has a broken leg, but its willingness to defend the nest if attacked and to rebuild it, can make us think it suffers by seeing an external agent in the process of destroy.
The pain is very helpful to your survival: if a cut would not hurt you, after a while, you would have no more fingers; if you stuck your finger in a door, then the pain is the sensation of a pressing need to remove your finger away.
Pleasure and pain are like boosters that cost nothing. While you eat, you are rewarded with a pleasure (it’s good to taste), if you hit your finger, you are punished (it hurts!). What is curious is that this pleasure we are looking for, this pain that we avoid, it’s nothing at all except neurological function for survival.
However, you really feel pain tooth as you can see very well red of an apple, but they are, in both cases, only creations of the brain, it exists only in your virtual world. You make yourself suffer!
It is clear that we should not consider objectively the pain as an evil or the pleasure as a good. They are simply inventions of life to survive. In the concept of pain, we can include sadness, troubleness, discomfort, fatigue, shivering when listening the friction of the nails on the blackboard, fear, anxiety, misunderstanding, the glare, hunger, thirst, desire, loneliness, compassion, the need to be loved, to be understood… in short, all kinds of functions (neurological mechanisms) that lead you for your survival and that of your specie. As for pleasure, it occurs during the action or in the state; it’s your reward, the carrot that draws you into the appropriate action or state. In the concept of pleasure, we can include: those related to basic needs (food, sex, …), satisfaction of understanding and that of seeing a meaning to our actions, wonder, control, sense of belonging, pride, power, security, peace, affection and mutual love, happiness (well-being state that continues)… there is also a certain pleasure in the cessation of pain … It may be a good thing that the pain from an injury last long enough after the accident, as a sharp pain that would last a second would not be convincing enough for us to be careful to avoid the accident. There are probably unnecessary pleasures and pains: it would be due to disturbances of the functions due to old age, accidents, drugs, etc.
Do not believe that the actions of an individual are guided only by immediate pain and pleasure. Sometimes one can waive a momentary pleasure now hoping to enjoy a more sustainable one in the future. However, it seems that the reason only cannot make us acting in the sense of survival, it needs emotion. There are of course a number of actions which are due to reflex arcs, which is to say that the stimulus induces response without involving consciousness or even the brain.