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abigailgem comments on Purchase Fuzzies and Utilons Separately - Less Wrong

75 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 01 April 2009 09:51AM

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Comment author: abigailgem 01 April 2009 01:36:26PM *  4 points [-]

Try to wean yourself off the need for warm fuzzies instead.

EDIT: No, don't try to wean yourself off the warm fuzzies, but get the warm fuzzies from friends and family, not from people in distress in need of charity. Feel good about yourself because you are achieving your goals, including altruistic ones. (end of edit)

Carl Rogers, founder of person centred counselling, theorised that there is an "organismic self", with all the attributes and abilities of the human organism within its own skin, and a "self-concept" built up from what the individual saw it was desirable to be. The conscious part of the human being builds up a map of how that human being's unconscious motivations and desires are. Part of this map is mere falsehood, lies told to make the person feel better about himself, because he has introjected the idea that this is the way he ought to be. Disparity between the map and the territory causes cognitive dissonance, and may make the need for warm fuzzies: cognitive dissonance is painful, pretending to be your own self-concept gives a warm fuzzy.

If you can make your self-concept, your map of yourself, match your organismic self, the actual territory which you may be strongly motivated to deny, then your need for warm fuzzies may reduce.

You will be more efficient if instead of buying warm fuzzies, you spend energy on utilons or signaling.

I am strongly motivated to altruism. I have decided to stop asking whether this is selfish or not. Yes, it is selfish, it fulfils My goals. No, it is not selfish, it fulfils the goals of others too. Is it "good" or "bad"? Don't know that either. I have decided that does not matter. It is what I want, perhaps merely for signalling purposes.

Comment author: nescius 02 April 2009 06:46:37AM *  2 points [-]

Maybe one does not "overcome" bias in the sense of vanquishing, but in the sense of getting the better of? Roll with your ape?

Makes me wonder how hard-wired our various tendencies to see (or cling to) certain obscuring maps are, and how much we can obliterate, suppress, or Aikido flip them. Without much thought I feel that I'm not averse to, um, shocking my monkey if need be, to get myself closer to rational behavior. But, yeah, up to that extremity there's doubtlessly a humongous lot of workable "therapies" or techniques to encourage rational inclination.

I will repeatedly bring up the concept of self-valuation because I believe it's critically involved in a lot of irrationality. The pain of the cognitive dissonance caused by the "ought to be" self map differing from actuality is the pain of devaluation. Find a way for folks not to experience that aversive grief and you'll have removed a great barrier to clearer thinking. I think it's possible.

Comment author: Tesseract 05 December 2010 10:12:10PM -1 points [-]

Upvoted for "roll with your ape".

Comment author: MichaelVassar 01 April 2009 07:35:48PM 2 points [-]

I don't recommend this but I'm interested in knowing how it works out for abigailgem.

A future post on the topic would be nice, esp after substantial movement in the direction described.

Comment author: abigailgem 02 April 2009 09:41:41AM 3 points [-]

As Michael's comment has been upvoted, I will respond. I have deluded myself a great deal, and decided some years ago to try to ferret out the lies I tell myself, and the motivation for these.

The main motivation was, "I lie to myself because I want to see myself as a Good person".

In May 2008 I decided, "I am a human being". I have the value of a human being. One among seven billion of us; but one evolved over four billion years, fitting beautifully into my environment, fitting into society with the attributes needed to live in society. Or some of the attributes. Or attributes needed to live in society in one way. Or something like that.

I am Good Enough.

So I want to stop morally judging myself. I am good enough. Does akrasia make me Bad? Am I not fulfilling my obligations to others? Am I Good? I have a neurotic flaw of taking such things too seriously, which makes me withdraw from action rather than taking the action I need to take.

Also, I am seeking to develop skills which reduce the effect of Akrasia, build better and deeper relationships, achieve goals. Life is Difficult. I have decided to stop beating myself up because I am not perfect at it.

I come at the problem with certain disordered personality traits.

Comment author: thomblake 03 April 2009 03:55:09PM 1 point [-]

Good call. You can only start any investigation from where you actually are, and you can only live the life you have.