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Dahlen 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: Dahlen 24 August 2015 02:01:45PM 0 points [-]

It's an okayish exercise in brainstorming, one that, if nothing else, should drive home the point that there is a plurality of goals which can be pursued, and that they're not necessarily commensurable on a single good-bad scale.

I was trying to do something similar, but under the broader umbrella of values rather than just goals – in that from values derive not just goals, but also virtues, vices and worldviews. The other difference is that values can be of maintenance rather than of maximization or change. Another thing I was working on compiling (but for a far more casual purpose) is a list of aspirations in life that define one's role in the world, which might be closer to what you're trying to do here.

By comparing your posts to my lists, here's what I can tell you from my perspective: don't neglect the more... ignominious things that humans can value. One thing that jumped out to me about your list is that it's very feel-good and unobjectionable for the most part, fit for a self-help book. This may obscure the fact that there are some goals which people pursue in a very real sense but don't admit to as readily. To many people here this probably sounds very Hansonian, and indeed, status can be listed here, but I also mean things like hedonism or sex, or reckless risk-seeking, or a class-based understanding of advancement in life, or even laziness. If you're trying to follow this list as a mindfulness or productivity exercise, an invisibility of such goals can hinder you if you're not aware you're pursuing them instead.

Another thing: meditating upon a list of goals is weaksauce in terms of emotional salience. You'd need more elaborate related rituals and perhaps some communality in order to get really inspired to work on them. In other words, you'd need to get a bit religious about it. I don't have any good suggestions as to how to act upon this observation (without having to swallow up a whole lot of accompanying bullshit), but it's just something I thought I should throw out there.

Comment author: Elo 27 August 2015 10:46:52PM 0 points [-]

I don't expect any ritual more complicated to even be tried by someone. Not sure how to ritualise this task in a way that makes it equally do-able and more likely to cause progress...