Re: Venus

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 27 Jan 1997 15:47:08 -0800 (PST)

I wrote:
>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?

Eric Watt Forste responded:
>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.

Given a value conflict, you do choose. But I suspect you couldn't
know ahead of time which you would choose. If you knew which of your
values you didn't value, and wanted to weaken, I'm not sure how you
can say you value that value in the first place.

Maybe committee in fighting is a useful analogy. Committee members
might look forward to the time at which they can get rid of other
members the continually fight with. But it could well be that they
are the ones dumped. If everyone on the committee knew that someone
is sure to be voted off of the committee when the vote comes up, it is
hard to see how that person to be dumped can have much influence now.
Crude committee voting rules might give them temporary power, but I'm
not sure our minds are so crudely organized.

>The way you phrase your last question ignores the possiblity of
>metavalues, of multiple metavalues, of multiple *levels* of
>metavalues, and of metavalue conflicts.

Given meta-values, non-meta-values are really strategies and
hueristics, to my way of thinking.

>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

We can transform our abilities, perceptions, knowledge, insight,
wisdom, experience, bodily form, network of associates, etc.

Robin D. Hanson