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ScottL comments on List of common human goals - Less Wrong Discussion

13 Post author: Elo 24 August 2015 07:58AM

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Comment author: ScottL 24 August 2015 12:25:55PM 1 point [-]

First off, I wanted to say that I like your post and the general idea of it, but I feel that in its current form it is lacking a base. That is, it's not grounded in anything. When I look at each of your points, I don't get any understanding of why these goals would actually be rational and worthwhile pursuing, I feel like you sort of have to approach your list with goals already in mind. Maybe, this is just about different ways that we would approach the same issue, but if I was creating a similar list I would first look at what the fundamental human needs are. If you know what these are and you also know what causes people to flourish, then you can develop your goals around that. This would probably give you very similar goals, but it would also let you know why and when the goals are worth pursuing. It would also let you know which goals are currently worth spending the most amount of resources and effort pursuing as you can look at how much you are meeting each of the fundamental human needs. Then you can find gaps and choose appropriate goals that will fill those gaps.

I found the below resources to be useful when I briefly looked into the fundamental human needs.

  • Maslows ranking of needs, but I don’t think the current research backs up the order or idea or ranking.
  • Manfred Max-Neef talked about fundamental human needs
  • There’s also this book by Martin Seligman and others which classifies the character strengths and virtues Summary of the virtues here

The below table of virtues (basically what makes a good person), see above link for more details, is probably a good starting point for something to base your goals on


Here are some more goals that I could think of

  • Practicing appreciation/gratitude
  • Finding ways to get into flow or the zone
  • Practicing thinking in eclectic perspectives, i.e. trying to understand how things would be from a different view point. For example, trying to understand what another person is thinking or feeling?
  • Is be more rational in your list? Maybe, something like more closely follow the 12 virtues of rationality

Here are some of your goals that I don't really understand why they are worth pursuing

  • Being first
  • legacy
  • fame/renoundness
  • leadership, and military/conquer

Maybe, if you have a different persona or personality than I do then you would find these worth pursuing, but I don't. I'm not sure they are rational things to be pursuing either. These seem like things that come after you become awesome at something and you can only become awesome at something if you love doing it. You simply wont be able to love it if you are only doing it for some ulterior motive like wanting fame. Now, I understand why you would leadership if you feel like you are in a certain position where you believe you can do more good than the current people in charge or if there is a gap that needs to be filled, but it doesn't seem worth pursuing power just for powers sake.

Comment author: Elo 24 August 2015 12:46:41PM 1 point [-]

Yes this list has no base, but its less-bad than not having goals or a map of common goal-space and not knowing where to look for inspiration in the area.

Power was a late addition to the list; while I can agree that power is unusual; it may be /a/ goal of /a/ person (to obtain power for power's sake).

Similarly finding a way to leave a legacy behind, i.e. setting up a sustainable foundation to shape the future of humanity (i.e. nobel prizes). and leave yourself with a legacy (without of which Alfred nobel would be known only for the invention of TNT - which he did not want). This is potentially a goal-class of humans to have.

I also care not for fame nor conquer. But I can suppose that someone else might. And might want to think about how to achieve those things.

I think that gratitude falls under either spirituality or self-awareness. So I will update the description to include it. Flow is a self awareness skill (and I will update it to be included there) Perspectives is also a self-awareness trait Rationality is definitely a skill/ability to be trained.

Interesting table of virtues; I find them to be a cluster of traits any person would want (variously) along the journey to pursuing their goals. But not goals of themselves. "bravery" is a good thing to have; or to carry, but does not become a goal of itself. Just because you are brave; does not mean you know what you will next do with that bravery.

I will add your suggestions to the list.

These goals are not by any means rational. Some of them might be irrational. But that doesn't stop some people from chasing after them. And I don't know if I have any right to be the person who defines which goals are irrational for another person. I can only leave that up to the reader.

It is another process (another post) to consider if goals are rational (or a good idea) and further "what is the most effective way to achieve the next goal". But you need a goal first before you can apply those considerations to them.

Thanks for your help improving this post!

Comment author: ScottL 24 August 2015 02:08:16PM 0 points [-]

Alright, I think I misunderstood the overall point to this post. It is meant to be about goals that people commonly have rather than should have or would be good to have. Here's some more ideas:

  • Create something new, not necessarily the first, but something new. For example, you might build a table or write a program and take enjoyment in the fact that you created it.
  • Be treated fairly
  • keep up with the Joneses - you have money/wealth already, but there is also the goal of appearing like you have money/wealth

I guess you have decided not to include the boring drives and urges like eat food etc.

Comment author: Elo 25 August 2015 04:14:50AM 0 points [-]

goals that people commonly have

I have this communication problem, I put that in the title. I am not sure how to make it more clear other than changing the title words from "list of common goals" to "goals that people commonly have".

These are new suggestions. I will add them in.

Boring things I made the assumption that there is a natural human drive for (i.e. relieving one's self by peeing when appropriate; eating food; getting sleep) the very basic maslow desires before higher level goals appear relevant.