Re: Venus

Eric Watt Forste (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 15:05:39 -0800

Robin Hanson writes:
>I don't think you can sensibly talk about engineering your values.
>You can choose your strategies, heuristics, ways of framing
>situations, and you can remind yourself of things you value that
>aren't naturally highlighted in situations. But you want what you
>want. If you want to want something else, then how can it be that you
>wanted it in the first place?

This seems to assume that internal value conflicts are not possible.
In fact, internal value conflicts are not only fairly common, but
can also be deliberately whipped up. Once you are in a state of
value conflict, then you can choose which of your values to "push
toward" to settle back out of that state of internal value conflict.
When you start rearranging your environment (physical and social,
i. e. making new friends, for instance), then you can reinforce
your own decisions about which values you want to strengthen.

The way you phrase your last question ignores the possiblity of
metavalues, of multiple metavalues, of multiple *levels* of
metavalues, and of metavalue conflicts. It also ignores the fact
that we can use our control over our own environments to shape our
own values at least as easily as a behaviorist psychologist could
do operant conditioning on us.

My wanting to eat almond croissants with coffee every morning and
my wanting to have a more varied (and healthy) breakfast diet are
two values of mine. I really can't make much sense of how to answer
your last question from this situation. What are you really asking
here? This is a pretty direct challenge to some extropian thinking:
if we can't transform our own values, desires, and ideals, then in
what meaningful and interesting sense is Self-Transformation
possible? Your position seems to get bogged down in philosophical
determinism very quickly.

Eric Watt Forste ++ ++