Re: EXTROPIC ART: The Importance of Creativity

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 3 Mar 1997 11:24:23 -0800 (PST)

"E. Shaun Russell" wrote:
> Natasha is absolutely correct when she says that "Our ideas are what
>make us unique." I don't think anyone on this list can challenge that
>statement. We all think differently, talk differently, walk differently,
>act differently et cetera, and that is something to feel proud of.

Taking the bait, I responded:
>Of course we can challenge that statement. Unless "idea" is
>broadened so far as to cover all human attributes, there are lots of
>(combinations of) attributes that make us each unique. Taken one by
>one, most of the ideas we have are also shared by many other people,
>just like our other attributes.

Shaun replied:
> Yes, you are correct to an extent. However, although our
>appearances are unique in some way or another, the process of physical
>uniquity can be mapped. The cells will replace themselves fully in X amount
>of years. However, with thoughts and ideas, the stream of consciousness is
>totally unpredictable and wholly changable at any instant.

Huh? We most certainly can not change all our ideas at any instant.

I also wrote:
>I think the difference for you is that you value your ideas more than
>your other attributes, so they define you more in your eyes. And I
>share that trait. But I have sadly learned that most people simply
>aren't like this - they define themselves much more in terms of
>non-idea attributes. So most of them just don't see "me", the me I
>care about at least.

Kathryn Aegis responded:
>Discerning persons would. Why do you care about the opinions of
>those who can't see beyond externalities--they're not worth wasting a
>short life on. Think of it as a screening device to find the truly
>interesting people.

Consider all the ways people define themselves which aren't in terms
of ideas: physical appearance, health, temperment, personality,
network of friends, hobbies, sports, abilities, status, profession, etc.
Even academics who deal with idea for a living more often define
themselves by their network of collegues, and their research ability.
I discern lots of value in these people, and don't want to write them off.

Mark Grant replied to Kathryn:
>But eliminating them leaves a relatively small part of the population to
>choose my friends from. I might well do better to spend some time giving
>clues to the clueless...

To which Kathryn replied:
>I take it fairly seriously. Friends support each other and provide a
>haven from the stresses of the world. It's not easy to find persons
>that will truly accept you for who you are, not for who they want you to
>be, and so I don't actively pursue having large numbers of friends,
>preferring to enjoy the time spent with the wonderful ones I have found.

You might as well chide people for taking on jobs that aren't what
they would do if they were independently wealthy. Most of us aren't
so wealthy in friend-attracting features that we can insist on friends
who share most of their deepest values. We're happy for you, but
realize we may not all be as rich as you.

A great deal gets said about inequality in this world, and how we
aught to reduce it, but mostly its about monetary inequalities. The
largest inequalities I see around me are other: who is attractive, who
is charasmatic, who is likeable, etc. I'm not very sympathetic to
attractive likeable people who demand that monetary inequalities
be leveled, but who think of their kind of advantages as a natural right.

Robin D. Hanson