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Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2011 9:45 am
by Metacrock
This is an offshoot fromt he discussion Robin Yergensen and MIles were having on John Rawls

Miles said: One thing that bothers me on your proposition. While I can understand how self-interest can lead to the formation of societies (that and humanity's nature as a social animal). But does that make self interest completely moral. Is there no room for altruism?

RY: Very good question md. We learn from evolutionary psychology that we are genetically predisposed to behave in altruistic ways at times.
We learn that from being alive. evolutionary psychology is a bull shit field. It's nothing more than sociobiology warmed over. I know this is the genetic fallacy but it actually did come out of sociobiology.
RY:This is obvious with the way a parent nurtures a child, but to a lesser extent it is true for our siblings, extended family, and even for other members of our species as a whole. (See “The Moral Animal” by Robert Wright. His other two books are good too.) But while such genetic predispositions do make us act in altruistic ways, and while they did allow our species to thrive, they are not the basis for morality (those things that we ought to do).
Of course not. No amount of genetic predisposition to a behavior could ever attack moral aspects to something. That is merely the fallacy known as Hume's fork. Trying to derive an ought from an is. It doesn't explain why we have ethical and moral motions in the first place.

RY:As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. But we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
That is such a line of bull. Look at what you said. You have basically just back peddled on the on what you said before. You agree just having a genetic behavior doesn't make it moral, now we do a bait and switch to plug in moral thinking and attack it to survival instinct for some such thing then the bait and switch, try to convinced that their highest values really are what you want them to, the genetic endowment, even they don't know. You are in effect saying "you just don't know what you really want, what you really want is what I think you should want."



RY:While benevolence is good because it often does result in personal benefit at least by feeling good and often with reciprocal actions from the benefactor later, altruism, self sacrifice, is self destructive, and if actions that we ought to do are moral actions, and if values are what we ought to seek to obtain, then acting in ways that promote living and thriving is moral and acting in altruistic ways is immoral.
good is evil, black is white and up is down. Anytime you manage to reverse one of the classic value systems and turn it on it's head you know some bait and switch is going on. Self sacrifice is only seen as self restriction if you aer selfish and shallow and you can't understand what love is. self sacrifice i love. love is the highest value. its' a value because it's a duty not because I say it is not becuase it's genetic.

self sacrifice is abhorrent to people who are too self absorb to put themselves out for others.


RY: Further, we need to avoid acting to obtain a lesser value at the expense of a greater value, because that too, is a net loss. While I will agree that there are times when self sacrifice makes sense, it is usually in the context of “if I don’t risk sacrifice now in this way in order to save this person then my self-loathing will make life intolerable anyway.” This is like an implicit awareness that many/most of us have, part of our genetic predisposition mentioned above. It is only in light of this (the consequence of self-loathing that would result) that we can conclude the risky action of altruism to, at times, be moral.
(1) who put you in charge of decided what is the greatest value?

(2) the only logical thing to which we can turn that's not biased is society itself. We have a vast universal tradition; in every culture that goes back to the indistinct mythic time of "in the beginning" that puts sacrifice of self for the tribe, or even the individual, above anything else.

(3) the time in Western culture and even eastern when the individual didn't count for much and the tribe was all that mattered sacrificing oneself for another member of the tribe was deemed laudable.

we have the precedent of society that tells us self sacrifice is a virtue. you are not going to change that with a bait and switch that translates Any Rand's stupidity into pseudo science via the socialist workers party president Erranrich.

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2011 10:25 pm
by Robin Yergenson
Hi Metacrock,

You seem to be making quite an effort to be inflammatory. I either offended you or it’s that “guilt by CARM atheist association” thing. I hope we can have more charitable discussions in the near future.

I’m not surprised that you see evolutionary psychology as “a bull shit field” since you probably don’t accept natural evolution either. I see it boiling down to our attempt to look for natural causal chains to explain things before arbitrarily leaping to “therefore magic.” I mean, our success at living depends upon identifying effects with their causes, and if we explain things in magical rather than natural terms, that only works if we’re right, and given that magic can be an explanation for literally any and every event that occurs, concluding “therefore magic” prematurely is going to mess with our success at living and thriving. Not good. I’m guessing that you will label this as “bull shit” too. You say,
Metacrock: Of course not. No amount of genetic predisposition to a behavior could ever attack moral aspects to something. That is merely the fallacy known as Hume's fork. Trying to derive an ought from an is. It doesn't explain why we have ethical and moral motions in the first place.
I have read two of Hume’s books and I have a lot of respect for him but I don’t buy into his “is/ought gap” dilemma. If your most fundamental essence includes the will to live and thrive, and if you are a rational volitional being who depends on making good choices in order to obtain living and thriving, then there are particular things that you ought to do and there are particular things that you ought not do if you intend to obtain your most fundamental desire to live and thrive as defined by your very nature as an organism. Let me guess. You will label this as “bull shit” too. And I had said,
Rob: As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. But we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
You responded (surprise surprise) with,
Metacrock: That is such a line of bull.
You went on to say,
Look at what you said. You have basically just back peddled on what you said before. You agree just having a genetic behavior doesn't make it moral, now we do a bait and switch to plug in moral thinking and attach it to survival instinct for some such thing then the bait and switch, try to be convinced that their highest values really are what you want them tobe, the genetic endowment, even they don't know. You are in effect saying "you just don't know what you really want, what you really want is what I think you should want."
I appreciate your “bait and switch” accusation. In some ways it is valid. But for example, because it is beneficial to my genetic strain, I have a genetic predisposition that makes me want to mate with every attractive woman I see, but because I realize my genetic predisposition doesn’t define what I ought to do, and because it actually damages “me,” I keep that predisposition in check. Yes, I am also genetically predisposed to want to live and thrive. But it’s because my existence is a requirement for my valuing anything, and because value is only coherent in the context of a valuer, maintaining my existence is a most fundamental precondition to my entire value chain. If I cease to exist, so do the values with respect to me as the valuer.

Regarding your comment, “saying ‘you just don't know what you really want, what you really want is what I think you should want.’” No. At bottom nature (God?) has predisposed us with a will to live and thrive. This isn’t whim based. This is something we recognize and discover when we objectively reflect upon what we are. Some things that we prefer are aligned to that most fundamental value and some things are not. Again not based on my or your whim but rather something that exists in objective reality regarding our nature that we discover and align to. And you say,
(1) Who put you in charge of decided what is the greatest value?
As I addressed above, I am not the authority here. Reality itself is. We discover it. And you say,
(2) The only logical thing to which we can turn that's not biased is society itself. We have a vast universal tradition; in every culture that goes back to the indistinct mythic time of "in the beginning" that puts sacrifice of self for the tribe, or even the individual, above anything else.
Your “tradition” and “indistinct mythic time” are hanging on a sky hook. That which enhances genetic benefit of the species is what your tradition is rooted in and as such it is no basis for my morality. Our predisposed nature as defined by nature (God?) is the ultimate source of logic. Society is not a rational volitional being. Rather, the individual members of society are, and as such, they and their predisposed natures are the ones who ultimately define the proper response to “what shall I then do?” And you say,
(3) The time in Western culture and even eastern when the individual didn't count for much and the tribe was all that mattered sacrificing oneself for another member of the tribe was deemed laudable. We have the precedent of society that tells us self sacrifice is a virtue. you are not going to change that with a bait and switch that translates Any Rand's stupidity into pseudo science via the socialist workers party president Erranrich.
Yes Rand was definitely in error in some very significant respects, so don’t map me to her. And I’m not familiar with Erranrich. I lean more toward libertarianism than socialism so your name dropping is not communicating.

Metacrock, come on! You need to quit mapping me to such a despicable loathsome thing. I am not your enemy. We should be allies against the error that exist between us and in our human society as a whole. You’re starting to sound like Matt Slick. Please do not respond until you are able to be more objective and charitable in your responses. Miles, I’m hoping that you will weigh in too, and hopefully in a more objective way. If you have questions which surely you do, please be more constructive and charitable in your delivery. Oh, and for future reference, my name is spelled “Yergenson” not “Yergensen.“ If you can't edit it I understand.

Rob (Keep smiling!)

As an aside, I want to let you in a little on me. This morning I awoke with a dream where I was being lured into a Islamic radical fundamentalist group (one of my more powerful managers in real life who is a Moslem was amongst them). In my dream I let them know that the real Jihad is not with those who fail to align to your world view but with error itself. None of us wants to be in error and as such, we should all recognize one another as allies against error. Those whom I addressed in my dream were receptive. Will you be? Come on, yes I might be in error, but if so I am the one who stand to benefit most, and you will benefit too, since I will then be a better member of your and my human society. I really am not the enemy here! Quit treating me like I am,…so that I can deceive you in my clever satanic ways… who – who – ha – ha – ha – ha – u – u – u… Sorry, just having fun (but I really did have that dream).

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:48 am
by Metacrock
Robin Yergenson wrote:Hi Metacrock,

You seem to be making quite an effort to be inflammatory. I either offended you or it’s that “guilt by CARM atheist association” thing. I hope we can have more charitable discussions in the near future.
No I'm not. sorry you think so. I don't hold it against you for being a carm athiest. they weren't all stupid. Fleet is a carm atheist I don't hold it agaisnt him. Or QT he was too.
I’m not surprised that you see evolutionary psychology as “a bull shit field” since you probably don’t accept natural evolution either.
wrong! I do. I am an evolutionist. you just have to get over the idea that anything lauded atheism is not necessarily right just becuase it is lauded by atheists. It's not a valid field just because it has "evolution" in the title.If you study the history of the field is it sociobiology and led to the bell curve.


I see it boiling down to our attempt to look for natural causal chains to explain things before arbitrarily leaping to “therefore magic.”
your willingness to characterization anything not reductionist as "magic" shows that you don't know the opposition ideas, you don't know the basic thinking behind your opponent's views and you are just spitting back slogans.

I mean, our success at living depends upon identifying effects with their causes, and if we explain things in magical rather than natural terms, that only works if we’re right, and given that magic can be an explanation for literally any and every event that occurs, concluding “therefore magic” prematurely is going to mess with our success at living and thriving. Not good. I’m guessing that you will label this as “bull shit” too. You say,
yet modern atheism has given up cause and effect to explain the existence of the universe as not needing a cause. One of many foundational contradictions in the atheist view. That's an old and outmoded view point. Modern theistic belief has no problem with naturalistic C/e. Since modern understanding of laws of phsyics is descriptive you can't argue that there's a natural barrier to SN and you can't evoke the natural to hog reality against the SN. All you can say is "I have not see this." I have so your description is incomplete. laws of physics are merely descriptions of how the universe behaves, but they are human descriptions and thus they are incomplete. They can't form structures that rule out God because you can't observe everything. That would also be prescriptive.
Metacrock: Of course not. No amount of genetic predisposition to a behavior could ever attack moral aspects to something. That is merely the fallacy known as Hume's fork. Trying to derive an ought from an is. It doesn't explain why we have ethical and moral motions in the first place.
Yergensen:I have read two of Hume’s books and I have a lot of respect for him but I don’t buy into his “is/ought gap” dilemma. If your most fundamental essence includes the will to live and thrive, and if you are a rational volitional being who depends on making good choices in order to obtain living and thriving, then there are particular things that you ought to do and there are particular things that you ought not do if you intend to obtain your most fundamental desire to live and thrive as defined by your very nature as an organism. Let me guess. You will label this as “bull shit” too. And I had said,

You are doing a bait and switch. You are using the word "ought" but you don't really have the logical means to attack a moral ought. You are using ought in a utilitarian or pragmatic sense. "One ought to do what is most expedient." that's not making it moral.

Moral thinking is totally left out of the picture then you call it "ethics."
Rob: As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. But we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
You responded (surprise surprise) with,
Metacrock: That is such a line of bull.
sorry that is an irritating phrase. I gotta get a new one. Please don't read in the derisive nature tot that it seems you are assuming. It's just a Texas working class expression.

you are not inventing an ethical value just becuase you use survival instinct. BTW Schweitzer tried to do that and yet he still opposed biologically based ethics. He couldn't really prove that just having a survival instinct translated into a moral ought.



Rob:You went on to say,
Look at what you said. You have basically just back peddled on what you said before. You agree just having a genetic behavior doesn't make it moral, now we do a bait and switch to plug in moral thinking and attach it to survival instinct for some such thing then the bait and switch, try to be convinced that their highest values really are what you want them to be, the genetic endowment, even they don't know. You are in effect saying "you just don't know what you really want, what you really want is what I think you should want."
I appreciate your “bait and switch” accusation. In some ways it is valid. But for example, because it is beneficial to my genetic strain, I have a genetic predisposition that makes me want to mate with every attractive woman I see, but because I realize my genetic predisposition doesn’t define what I ought to do, and because it actually damages “me,” I keep that predisposition in check. Yes, I am also genetically predisposed to want to live and thrive. But it’s because my existence is a requirement for my valuing anything, and because value is only coherent in the context of a valuer, maintaining my existence is a most fundamental precondition to my entire value chain. If I cease to exist, so do the values with respect to me as the valuer.
It's a mistake to impose survival as a some kind of determining factor in ethical theory. The reason humans value self sacrifice is because we are able to understand that some things are more important even than surviving. The basis of moral thinking tells us this. You are trying to make desire the basis for moral good. That subverts the true nature of moral good, which is duty and obligation.


Rob:Regarding your comment, “saying ‘you just don't know what you really want, what you really want is what I think you should want.’” No. At bottom nature (God?) has predisposed us with a will to live and thrive. This isn’t whim based. This is something we recognize and discover when we objectively reflect upon what we are. Some things that we prefer are aligned to that most fundamental value and some things are not. Again not based on my or your whim but rather something that exists in objective reality regarding our nature that we discover and align to. And you say,
We are also capable of giving it up for the good of the other. Of course you know I'm from Texas so I was raised on the story of the Alamo where the lesson is that laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, such as the cause of Freedom, is the highest good, not survival.
Meta:(1) Who put you in charge of decided what is the greatest value?
Rob:As I addressed above, I am not the authority here. Reality itself is. We discover it. And you say,
that's a cop out becuase you clearly think you have the right to interpret reality and decide for others what is the good. You think basing it on something factual like survival is justification for you being the orbiter but it's not.
Meta:(2) The only logical thing to which we can turn that's not biased is society itself. We have a vast universal tradition; in every culture that goes back to the indistinct mythic time of "in the beginning" that puts sacrifice of self for the tribe, or even the individual, above anything else.
Rob:Your “tradition” and “indistinct mythic time” are hanging on a sky hook.
You are so used to ridiculing religon you forget myth is also historical artifact. That proves that this is a value going back as far as you can go in culture. trying to counter with survival instinct wont work. I'll show you on the next statement:

Rob:That which enhances genetic benefit of the species is what your tradition is rooted in and as such it is no basis for my morality. Our predisposed nature as defined by nature (God?) is the ultimate source of logic. Society is not a rational volitional being. Rather, the individual members of society are, and as such, they and their predisposed natures are the ones who ultimately define the proper response to “what shall I then do?” And you say,
that's your arbitrary reading, which is realities to your understanding. you privilege your positional so that you erase all other aspects and culture and thought and just think"the scientist says this the scientist is the elite keeper of knowledge, so the science get's to decide." NO you don't. Survival instinct is just a fact of nature. it's no more good or bad, right or wrong than anything else in nature. It's just neutral blank nature. It's not moral. To be moral it must be a decision. Morality = decision making.

society has coped with the need to survive for millennia and it has always come up with the value,the tribe matters more than the man, self sacrifice for the other is valued.
Meta:(3) The time in Western culture and even eastern when the individual didn't count for much and the tribe was all that mattered sacrificing oneself for another member of the tribe was deemed laudable. We have the precedent of society that tells us self sacrifice is a virtue. you are not going to change that with a bait and switch that translates Any Rand's stupidity into pseudo science via the socialist workers party president Erranrich.
Rob:Yes Rand was definitely in error in some very significant respects, so don’t map me to her. And I’m not familiar with Erranrich. I lean more toward libertarianism than socialism so your name dropping is not communicating.
LOL sorry. Just letting you know I'm not totally unread in the field. I don't claim to be any expert in it, which I'm sure you can see.I was in the wake of the socialist workers party at one time that's how I know about her political views.
Rob:Metacrock, come on! You need to quit mapping me to such a despicable loathsome thing. I am not your enemy.
haahahahaahaha sorry buddy. I guess I have a habit of stereotyping.

Rob:We should be allies against the error that exist between us and in our human society as a whole. You’re starting to sound like Matt Slick.
O God no! Not that! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAa :o
Rob:Please do not respond until you are able to be more objective and charitable in your responses. Miles, I’m hoping that you will weigh in too, and hopefully in a more objective way. If you have questions which surely you do, please be more constructive and charitable in your delivery. Oh, and for future reference, my name is spelled “Yergenson” not “Yergensen.“ If you can't edit it I understand.
I will try to restrain my stereotyping. It's my Texan nature. We are very crusading. We are defenders of the Alamo. We just in there go after the enemy. Not always with wisdom.

Rob (Keep smiling!)

As an aside, I want to let you in a little on me. This morning I awoke with a dream where I was being lured into a Islamic radical fundamentalist group (one of my more powerful managers in real life who is a Moslem was amongst them). In my dream I let them know that the real Jihad is not with those who fail to align to your world view but with error itself. None of us wants to be in error and as such, we should all recognize one another as allies against error. Those whom I addressed in my dream were receptive. Will you be? Come on, yes I might be in error, but if so I am the one who stand to benefit most, and you will benefit too, since I will then be a better member of your and my human society. I really am not the enemy here! Quit treating me like I am,…so that I can deceive you in my clever satanic ways… who – who – ha – ha – ha – ha – u – u – u… Sorry, just having fun (but I really did have that dream).

there's a kind of person who has taken over the age. He thinks humanity is inefficient and need to be reduced to robot-ism. he thinks scinece is the only way to think about things and it's a real self selective version of scinece that reduces and loses phenomena then calls it "reality."

What we tried to do in the 60s was great. We failed because we were children we didn't realize the value of the past. So the next generation totally thew away our project and decided to kill humanity and robotize everything.

I'm not saying you are one of them, but one must always be on guard.

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:12 pm
by runamokmonk
[I've emboldened a number of statments below and underlined one]
Metacrock
It's a mistake to impose survival as a some kind of determining factor in ethical theory. The reason humans value self sacrifice is because we are able to understand that some things are more important even than surviving. The basis of moral thinking tells us this. You are trying to make desire the basis for moral good. That subverts the true nature of moral good, which is duty and obligation.
We are also capable of giving it up for the good of the other. Of course you know I'm from Texas so I was raised on the story of the Alamo where the lesson is that laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, such as the cause of Freedom, is the highest good, not survival.
Meta:(1) Who put you in charge of decided what is the greatest value?
Rob:As I addressed above, I am not the authority here. Reality itself is. We discover it. And you say,
that's a cop out becuase you clearly think you have the right to interpret reality and decide for others what is the good. You think basing it on something factual like survival is justification for you being the orbiter but it's not.
Meta:(2) The only logical thing to which we can turn that's not biased is society itself. We have a vast universal tradition; in every culture that goes back to the indistinct mythic time of "in the beginning" that puts sacrifice of self for the tribe, or even the individual, above anything else.
Rob:Your “tradition” and “indistinct mythic time” are hanging on a sky hook.
You are so used to ridiculing religon you forget myth is also historical artifact. That proves that this is a value going back as far as you can go in culture. trying to counter with survival instinct wont work. I'll show you on the next statement:
Rob:That which enhances genetic benefit of the species is what your tradition is rooted in and as such it is no basis for my morality. Our predisposed nature as defined by nature (God?) is the ultimate source of logic. Society is not a rational volitional being. Rather, the individual members of society are, and as such, they and their predisposed natures are the ones who ultimately define the proper response to “what shall I then do?” And you say,
that's your arbitrary reading, which is realities to your understanding. you privilege your positional so that you erase all other aspects and culture and thought and just think"the scientist says this the scientist is the elite keeper of knowledge, so the science get's to decide." NO you don't. Survival instinct is just a fact of nature. it's no more good or bad, right or wrong than anything else in nature. It's just neutral blank nature. It's not moral. To be moral it must be a decision. Morality = decision making.
society has coped with the need to survive for millennia and it has always come up with the value,the tribe matters more than the man, self sacrifice for the other is valued.
Meta:(3) The time in Western culture and even eastern when the individual didn't count for much and the tribe was all that mattered sacrificing oneself for another member of the tribe was deemed laudable. We have the precedent of society that tells us self sacrifice is a virtue. you are not going to change that with a bait and switch that translates Any Rand's stupidity into pseudo science via the socialist workers party president Erranrich.

First, I'll say that tend to have the belief or maybe experience that higher values come from God. I'm not educated in philosophy or anything at all, I just think about morality to a large degree and I do so because fairness and freedom and autonomy is something I like and find to be a duty from the existence of unfairness and lack of freedom. If it isn't really from "God" then I figure higher values and principles that I have/want are good enough for me to consider of enough worth to endure, so in that sense it may be called "God" in the sense of something "higher"

In some of the highlights, such as, "society has coped with the need to survive for millennia and it has always come up with the value,the tribe matters more than the man, self sacrifice for the other is valued., it seems like it is being said that self sacrifice is valued because it helps the group survive. The group surviving would help ensure the propagation of the human tribe, and so the human species.

Is this not values brought about into the concrete world from the pressures of the natural environment? Without these pressures for survival and threats of destruction, from outside, where would the value of self sacrifice for the tribe's survival come about?

Isn't this saying that this is a value because it is beneficial for society? And so this value becomes an ought, or a duty?

In fact, I think that the idea of group survival, cooperation with others for mutual benefit, could very well appear from these natural pressures.

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Wed Oct 26, 2011 7:52 am
by Metacrock
In some of the highlights, such as, "society has coped with the need to survive for millennia and it has always come up with the value,the tribe matters more than the man, self sacrifice for the other is valued., it seems like it is being said that self sacrifice is valued because it helps the group survive. The group surviving would help ensure the propagation of the human tribe, and so the human species.
the group and other individuals.

Historically that's the way the way it shapes up for most of human existence, the group outweighs the individual. In modern times we have come to value the individual as much or more than the group becuase we developed the concept of autonomy. Hegel made the observation that we were defining that way, he saw it as an advancement, as some kind of coming into concreteness of the divine.

Personally I am not making the value judgment of tribe over individual. I'm a product of the modern age too. I have always valued the individual too. I just inform as to the nature of the value and the role it's played in human history.

Even individuality supports self sacrifice as a value because the choice of self sacrifice is a personal choice made by the individual. If it is a heroic choice it is so because the individual choosing it above personal pleasure.

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:45 pm
by Robin Yergenson
Hi Metacrock,

Thanks for a much more charitable tone. Now, conversing can quickly explode into too many paths, so let me try to boil it down. I hope this doesn’t frustrate you, and I’m not trying to evade all of your comments. I’m just trying to keep our conversation focused. If there’s something essential that I miss, please rub my nose in it. Here are my demonstrable claims:

1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts”, we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.

Yes, I do as you say, “clearly think that I have the right to interpret reality.” Yes, and in accordance with point 1, not only the right, but the obligation. And it is your obligation too. But this does not make me the “arbiter.” It is not something that I “invented.” Rather, it is a fact of reality that I discovered as should you. You say,
Metacrock: That's your arbitrary reading, which is reality’s to your understanding. You privilege your position so that you can erase all other aspects and culture and thought and just think "the scientist says this the scientist is the elite keeper of knowledge, so the science get's to decide." NO you don't. Survival instinct is just a fact of nature. It's no more good or bad, right or wrong than anything else in nature. It's just neutral blank nature. It's not moral. To be moral it must be a decision. Morality = decision making.
Don’t twist living and thriving into merely surviving. There are plenty of modes of surviving that are not to be valued at all. Yes, our instinct to live and thrive is a fact of nature. I’m glad we agree on that. No, I am not claiming that this fundamental predisposition is morality. I’m claiming that if you decide to act in ways that you ought to act as defined by reality, you enhance your ability to live and thrive. If you decide act in ways that you ought not act as defined by reality, you compromise your ability to live and thrive. If moral actions are those actions that we ought to do then morality these are moral decisions. There’s nothing neutral about it. But you say,
Metacrock: We are also capable of giving it up for the good of the other. Of course you know I'm from Texas so I was raised on the story of the Alamo where the lesson is that laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, such as the cause of Freedom, is the highest good, not survival.
I agree that freedom is essential to a life worth living, but it is not a value at all if you the valuer are not around to experience it. As such it cannot trump the life of the valuer. Once the valuer ceases to exist, freedom, love, value of any kind become incoherent. The existence of the valuer is at bottom of any value chain (whether the valuer grasps this fact of reality or not). Previously you had said,
Metacrock: We have the precedent of society that tells us self sacrifice is a virtue.
There is a pretty plausible explanation provided by evolutionary psychology for why society has such a precedent. But if I’m sitting on a rock wondering what I ought to do, why would I accept such a precedent for guiding my choices and actions? It seems that you are not so much disagreeing with my claims about the facts of nature, that if we want to live and thrive, that we ought to choose and act in particular ways. Rather, it seems that you are claiming to have a higher moral system that may at times trumps the natural system that I am demonstrating. What is it? Why would we accept it?

Finally you say,
Metacrock: There's a kind of person who has taken over the age. He thinks humanity is inefficient and need to be reduced to robot-ism. He thinks science is the only way to think about things and it's a real self selective version of science that reduces and loses phenomena then calls it "reality."
While I know that I am not a robot and while I think it is safe to infer it of the rest of humanity too, I do honestly believe that thinking well is important and that believing and acting on arbitrary claims is not thinking well. So what is this higher moral system that you seem to accept and why do you accept it? What phenomena am I loosing that you think you are maintaining?

Rob

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 9:23 pm
by runamokmonk
(I realize that you are addressing Metcrock, nonetheless, I don't recall reading this is a private debate/discussion)

Robin Yergenson
1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts”, we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
Metacrock: We are also capable of giving it up for the good of the other. Of course you know I'm from Texas so I was raised on the story of the Alamo where the lesson is that laying down your life for something bigger than yourself, such as the cause of Freedom, is the highest good, not survival.



I agree that freedom is essential to a life worth living, but it is not a value at all if you the valuer are not around to experience it. As such it cannot trump the life of the valuer. Once the valuer ceases to exist, freedom, love, value of any kind become incoherent. The existence of the valuer is at bottom of any value chain (whether the valuer grasps this fact of reality or not). Previously you had said,

Metacrock: We have the precedent of society that tells us self sacrifice is a virtue.



There is a pretty plausible explanation provided by evolutionary psychology for why society has such a precedent. But if I’m sitting on a rock wondering what I ought to do, why would I accept such a precedent for guiding my choices and actions? It seems that you are not so much disagreeing with my claims about the facts of nature, that if we want to live and thrive, that we ought to choose and act in particular ways. Rather, it seems that you are claiming to have a higher moral system that may at times trumps the natural system that I am demonstrating. What is it? Why would we accept it?


In one of Metacrock's posts above this is quoted~


RY:While benevolence is good because it often does result in personal benefit at least by feeling good and often with reciprocal actions from the benefactor later, altruism, self sacrifice, is self destructive, and if actions that we ought to do are moral actions, and if values are what we ought to seek to obtain, then acting in ways that promote living and thriving is moral and acting in altruistic ways is immoral.

Why is living and thriving the greatest value? It seems at some point you develop a value system above even your own self preservation. This desire becomes higher than your own personal living and thriving.

I read about MLK once and if I recall correctly, at some point he pretty much knew his death was coming.
MLK
"And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't really matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live - a long life; longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the Promised Land. So I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord."
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I%27ve_Bee ... ountaintop

What I am understanding above is~
1. Man is a material organism

2. "If your most fundamental essence includes the will to live and thrive, and if you are a rational volitional being who depends on making good choices in order to obtain living and thriving, then there are particular things that you ought to do and there are particular things that you ought not do if you intend to obtain your most fundamental desire to live and thrive as defined by your very nature as an organism."

3. Existence is a requirement to value.

4. Man needs to maintain existence to keep valuing.

5. Once the individual man who values dies, his values become incoherent.


RY stateed above~

I agree that freedom is essential to a life worth living, but it is not a value at all if you the valuer are not around to experience it. As such it cannot trump the life of the valuer. Once the valuer ceases to exist, freedom, love, value of any kind become incoherent.

What about a man such as Martin Luther King who died for the freedom of others? How did the values he died for become incoherent at his death? Because he is not alive to experience his values/freedom?

His value was for freedom, for others and also himself, but he valued this even at the expense of his own life and he helped actualize some of his values into concrete world.

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 11:09 pm
by Robin Yergenson
Hi runamokmonk,

You are definitely welcome to join in on the conversation. You say,
Why is living and thriving the greatest value? It seems at some point you develop a value system above even your own self preservation. This desire becomes higher than your own personal living and thriving.
I’m not sure what you are referring to. Living equates to self preservation. Dying equates to the lack of living, the lack of self preservation. But most would also agree that a life without freedom and filled with torment is not a life worth living, so it’s not just any form of living that is valued, but a thriving life. And you say,
I read about MLK once and if I recall correctly, at some point he pretty much knew his death was coming.
There is risk in trying to talk objectively about someone like MLK that we all feel deeply indebted to, but you are the one who chose to focus on him, so please try to be objective. Of course we take risks all the time. Sometimes (as with various forms of thrill-seeking) the risk doesn’t justify the potential benefit. In those cases we are trading a greater value for a lesser value and that is immoral. MLK’s passion for freedom was truly inspirational, but his religious beliefs in an afterlife may have resulted in undue risks. You say,
What I am understanding above is~

1. Man is a material organism

2. "If your most fundamental essence includes the will to live and thrive, and if you are a rational volitional being who depends on making good choices in order to obtain living and thriving, then there are particular things that you ought to do and there are particular things that you ought not do if you intend to obtain your most fundamental desire to live and thrive as defined by your very nature as an organism."

3. Existence is a requirement to value.

4. Man needs to maintain existence to keep valuing.

5. Once the individual man who values dies, his values become incoherent.


RY stated above~


I agree that freedom is essential to a life worth living, but it is not a value at all if you the valuer are not around to experience it. As such it cannot trump the life of the valuer. Once the valuer ceases to exist, freedom, love, value of any kind become incoherent.


What about a man such as Martin Luther King who died for the freedom of others? How did the values he died for become incoherent at his death? Because he is not alive to experience his values/freedom?

His value was for freedom, for others and also himself, but he valued this even at the expense of his own life and he helped actualize some of his values into concrete world.
We can talk about what someone used to value when they existed, and we can talk about the great value that someone else’s sacrifice was to other valuers, but since value is only coherent in the context of a valuer, once we cease to exist we are no longer able to realize value of any kind. The very notion is incoherent. In my initial post I had said,

“Further, we need to avoid acting to obtain a lesser value at the expense of a greater value, because that too, is a net loss. While I will agree that there are times when self sacrifice makes sense, it is usually in the context of ‘if I don’t risk sacrifice now in this way in order to save this person then my self-loathing will make life intolerable anyway.’ This is like an implicit awareness that many/most of us have, part of our genetic predisposition mentioned above. It is only in light of this (the consequence of self-loathing that would result) that we can conclude the risky action of altruism to, at times, be moral.” In other words, an action that results in high risk to my life is only moral and justified if the life that I will have by not taking that risk will no longer be worth living. MLK may have felt that way, or he may have had some unjustified notion of reward in the afterlife. Probably a little of both.

Rob

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:42 am
by Metacrock
You don't make the imposition of your values any less subjective by being unemotional about them. That's the illusion that Robert Boyle interjected into scientific work, creating the illusion of solemnity and emotionless determination and thus the illusion of rationality. None of that means that your system of value is any less subjective than any other.

If we value values because we believe in life after death, so that even death doesn't hold the final terror and living a little longer and possing on gene is not the be all end all then how can you establish that your values are any better? You can't do it just becuase nature doesn't think that way. Just saying "nature knows no sentimentality, nature thrives on gene frequency," that's just turning an is into an ought.

Values are values. whatever they are, those are them.

Re: Discussion of Robin Yergensen's ideas on self interest

Posted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 2:16 pm
by Robin Yergenson
Hi Metacrock,

I have claimed that,
Rob:
1. As rational volitional beings, we have to grasp enough of the essentials about reality so that when we choose to act in order to obtain some goal, we obtain our goal a sufficient amount of time. This is what we “ought” to do.
2. Entailed in this broadest condition of “oughts”, we also have to determine what it is that we "ought" to act to obtain. Now, it is our nature as an organism to prefer to live and thrive. In terms of value, since nothing will be of value to me if I no longer exist, I need to maintain my existence in order to make value of any kind coherent in any sense. That’s because things do not have intrinsic value. Value is only coherent with respect to a valuer. So then, that most fundamental value of living and thriving needs to be recognized as our deepest value and the basis for all our actions.
You say,
Metacrock: You don't make the imposition of your values any less subjective by being unemotional about them. That's the illusion that Robert Boyle interjected into scientific work, creating the illusion of solemnity and emotionless determination and thus the illusion of rationality. None of that means that your system of value is any less subjective than any other.
Of course my values are subjective. I’m a subject and since value is only coherent with respect to subjects like me, values are subjective, but as we’ve discussed before, labeling something “subjective” that is not merely subjective is confusing, and my values are not merely subjective. But I see that I need to define value. By value I do not mean merely subjective whim-based preference. The heroin that is preferred by a drug addict is in fact harmful to him and so while it is a merely subjective whim-based preference, it is not a value in the sense that I intend it here. Here I mean something that has actual benefit to the subject. These are the things that I am referring to in point 2, the things that we "ought" to act to obtain. So to say that “None of that means that your system of value is any less subjective than any other,” is to focus on a nonessential. What is essential here is that some things are actually good for you that you ought to pursue and some things are actually bad for you that you ought not pursue. And you say,
Metacrock: If we value values because we believe in life after death, so that even death doesn't hold the final terror and living a little longer and possing on gene is not the be all end all then how can you establish that your values are any better? You can't do it just because nature doesn't think that way. Just saying "nature knows no sentimentality, nature thrives on gene frequency," that's just turning an is into an ought.
Believing in life after death is only a value as I have defined it if it is also actual, otherwise it is a disvalue just as are all false claims that are believed to be true, because they can lead to poor choices that compromise deeper values. As for the rest of your comment, I don’t know what sentimentality has to do with this discussion. And you say,
Metacrock: Values are values. whatever they are, those are them.
So tautologically true.

Rob