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Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology going offline

To: <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>, "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sun, 14 Aug 2011 20:01:57 -0700
Message-id: <054F83E2C29C48178217B3E5CA23ACDB@Gateway>

Dear Doug,

Comments below,



Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2

    -----Original Message-----
    From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of doug foxvog
    Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2011 5:32 PM
    To: [ontolog-forum]
    Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology going offline

    On Sat, August 13, 2011 15:18, Rich Cooper said:

    >       -----Original Message-----

    >       From: AzamatAbdoullaev

    >>      "An ontology of self-interest should

    >> include all needs..."


    > Ultimately, yes, but we have to start with simple

    > examples and build on them to find more emergent

    > truths that can be useful.

    >> This is two orthogonal things. Needs,

    >> fundamental, psychological, spiritual, ethical, social, cultural,

    >> necessary and sufficent conditions for human living.

    >> Humans advance science, technology and

    >> industry to create more wealth, thus

    >> to overcome social injustice and social

    >> ills prevalent today -- hunger,

    >> poverty, unemployment, illiteracy,

    >> diseases, wars, environment degradation,

    >> and many other badnesses.  These problems

    >> still continue because of the

    >> dominant economic and political

    >> self-interests, the main source of social

    >> evils. The mainstream (unenlightened self-interest)

    > Whoa, the seven billion people on the planet have

    > evolved because we all have a good grasp on our

    > own self interest as we each see it, and in deep

    > detail.  Consider a teenager learning how to get

    > along with her peers in high school.  The amount

    > of self positioning and self describing is huge!

    > She is very self interested, and is learning how

    > to make deep decisions that will affect the rest

    > of her life.  She then continues same through

    > choosing relationships, having and raising

    > children, and preparing for all manner of

    > hardships and obstacles.  Each of us really does,

    > IMHO, have a DEEP understanding of our self

    > interest.

    The teenager is socialized by her family, school, friends and possibly religious upbringing.  She learns to consider others as well as herself.  It is not all one person learning to get along by herself.

True, but said teen is learning how to organize her behaviors to fit what society considers acceptable, even laudable, compared to what is considered unacceptable, and disapproved of to the extent that said teen may be ostracized by her friends, family and even strangers.  Yet some people reach adulthood who are characterized as sociopaths and psychopaths, while others re widely considered generous, helpful and patient.  Each teen progresses by means of experiences gained, mistakes made, lessons learned, and errors corrected to be replaced by behaviors that more effectively implement her self interest. 

    >> ... insists that the persons

    >> who act to further his self-interests

    >> ultimately serve the public interests.

    > Only politicians, lobbyists, propagandists, media

    > reporters, and others who sell to the public try

    > to construe their own self interests as in the

    > public self interest.

    Most people have empathy for others, either a narrow group, or possibly at a lesser level for society as a whole, or possibly merely some subset thereof.  This is what those charities who ask people to sponsor poor Third World kids play upon.

True, but often said playing upon is often just socially accepted manipulation, though often people really do have others self interest (as the people see it) in mind.  It is often this sale to the public which characterizes modern political discourse.  The confidence racket, as it was called decades ago, is an attempt by the perpetrator to render magical and appealing rationales about how to "help" the mark (who is characterized as greedy; "you can't cheat someone who isn't greedy" the saying goes). 

    This is not "construing their own self interests as in the public self interest", but conversely construing the public self interest as partially in their own self interest.

I don't agree that there a "public self interest" exists, only that there are consensus, or sometimes just dominant, answers to how behavior should be exercised by others (not self), what contexts and situations make certain behaviors (e.g. killing) acceptable (e.g. self defense or declared war).  We rationalize far more than we realize without extensive self examination. 

    > Most of us want our family,

    > friends, relatives and strangers to serve our self

    > interests, but we aren't as well trained to be

    > blatant about it.

    And most of us want to serve the interests of our family and friends.  Many also want to improve the lot of more distant relatives and various classes of strangers if it is not too inconvenient.

Agreed; most of us have honest motivations, and those motivations make us manipulable to people who use them to get us to behave in ways they want.  In our habitual behaviors with family and friends, it is typical of children to act directly in their own self interest at the expense of siblings.  It is so well known as to be called "sibling rivalry".  But as we get older, we realize that some degree of restraint is useful in that we can help ourselves by helping others. 

There are also genetically leveraged behaviors to friends, families and enemies that strongly influence our behavior.  The recent mother, sniffing oxytocin emitted by the infant, feels what we call love for that infant, which can last a lifetime.  Young people, feeling the sex drive at high intensity, seek ways to engage with the gender of their preferred choice.  We learn while young to exercise behaviors that make this more effective, while learning to retarget behaviors that get in the way of that self interest. 

Interviews with the Cambodian forces responsible for killing so many in the sixties and seventies say they did it because the ones they killed are not human - its just like killing chickens, some reported to investigators.  Guards at Auswich (Sp?) and Buchenwald had the same kind of reports to give.  We can justify socially influenced evil as easily as we can justify socially influenced beneficence. 

    >> The "enlightened self-interest" opposes:

    >> the persons who act to further the

    >> interests of others (or the interests of

    >> the group or groups to which they

    >> belong), ultimately serve their own

    >> self-interests. A dilemma, a big social

    >> quandary which mothered two polar types of

    >> human society: capitalism and socialism.

    > Capitalists and socialists differ only (IMHO) in

    > the particular way they construe their own self

    > interests.  Capitalists (i.e. businessmen) believe

    > that they can advance their own self interest by

    > offering products and services (at a nice profit)

    > to markets composed of people who have shown they

    > will pay for such.  Socialists (i.e. rabble rousers)

    An interesting definition

Would you characterize Che Guevara's and Fidel Castro's killings, imprisonments and torture acts as non socialist?  How about Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, and so on.  Remember that Hitler's party was called, in German, the National Socialists.  Dictators who decide they have the ability to enforce their view of acceptable behaviors play upon our human moral basis to justify their acts, but that doesn't make them proper. 

In less gruesome examples, what about Roosevelt's stacking of the Supreme Court, his insistence on socialist values like stealing from those he considers well off to pay for those he considers Democratic voters.  What about Obama's rhetoric about bankers and businesses as "needing to pay their fair share" when more than 51% of American citizens pay nothing at all, and 53% receive some kind of check from the government?  Who exactly gets to decide what the "fair share" of each group is, and when it isn't enough?

    > believe they can organize others to force

    > their own self interests into being through mobs,

    > IMHO.

    Certainly state Communists were into forcing their

    ideas onto others.  Socialists, on the other hand,

    try to better the lot of others because their empathy

    causes them to suffer when others suffer.  They are idealists who feel that most others would care for people who are suffering as they do if only they

    make them see the injustices.  They have thus struggled for the rights of "oppressed" workers, of racial minorities, of women, of migrants, of gays, and of colonial peoples.

Note that, in the process of manipulating these large groups of voters and contributors, socialists (communists who won't admit their complicity with historic communism so they can claim the moral high ground) are acting in their own self interests.  Is Obama doing this for the benefit of unborn generations, or the poor?  How did he justify the war on Libya without even obeying the legal requirement present the plan to congress?  Why has he not even pretended to offer a budget for the entire term of his office?  Why does he accuse the Tea Party members of refusing to "compromise", by which he means they should do it his way and take more taxes from the wealthy so he can continue to spend the US under the table, ruining the chances of future generations to live as well as we did?

The Democrat justifications are legendary.  Look at the Keynesian policies, which have not worked.  Look at QE1, QE2, the possible QE3 to come, and the onerous taxes on businesses that are so high, they won't bring home money made in other countries due to the high tax rates

Republicans are not better, by the way.  Just not socialists.  Since you didn’t bring up the kinds of behaviors they prefer (outlawing stem cell research, insisting that the government control abortions, creating a monetary system based on paper willfulness instead of on gold (Nixon), and so on.  I don’t mean to single out Democrats, its just that you responded to the consideration I had given socialists, of which the present day Democrats are the latest incarnation. 

    > I know that others will disagree; sorry for

    > the honesty if it affects anyone negatively, but I

    > stand by this belief.

Personally, I appreciate your honesty and directness on this issue and others.  How are we all to get a deeper understanding of our own behaviors as well as other people's behaviors without such debates?  The self interest ontology development absolutely requires such honesty among us interested participants.  The danger is in (as I did) discussing only socialists and not their countervailing parties and principals.  I don’t mean to do so, but I personally am more aware, perhaps, of the errors of socialists than of robber barons. 

    > History shows that there are good people who help > others (Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Theresa, .) > but they are so rare as to be handily noted.

    There are tremendous numbers of people who help others, although not so many as on the scale of those you mention. Look at those who run soup kitchens, run shelters for battered women, for example.  Those who struggle against racial oppression, wars they consider unjust, and other

    types of oppression that don't immediately affect them should also be lumped in this category.

Yes, our self interest drives us in such directions.  Have you noticed that women group together to talk about how to make things better for women?  In the past, men grouped together to make things better for men.  We all talk about making things better for children, but that is because we are genetically predisposed to take care of our children, otherwise we wouldn't find our genes in the future generations. 

    >> I believe these human issues are more

    >> actual than the talks about the microorganisms

    >> self-interests, like the pathogens are more

    >> egoistic, while the harmless micro-organisms, as

    >> intestinal flora, look more altruistic creatures :).

I do too, but it is far more complex, full of more subtle manipulations, and less open to objective debates since it is OUR self interest, not the bacteria's, which we have to discuss to do so.  Most of us have trouble looking at objective notions that are contrary, or even neutral, to our self interests.  Others of us use objectivity to deny to ourselves that we are guilty of it - a suppression or repression of said guilt makes it easier for us to practice our self interest without considering the gates of Buchenwald. 

    > Evolutionary theorists, like Adam Smithians before > them, believe that altruism is based on shared > genetic propensities that benefit the common gene > pool.

    Adam Smith knew nothing about a gene pool.  This may be a reason that altruism developed, but it also may have developed because it helped a small band of people, and thus the altruistic individual, stay alive as well.

True; I like your telling of it better than my own original posting.  Adam Smith, though, may have read Darwin's work, since it caused such a stir.  Weren't the two contemporaries?  I don't recall if they were or not. 

    Be that as it may, morality derived from altruism has become a social phenomena that is taught to most members of society, and is seen as a good in its own right.

That is correct; we have all worked to get others to be altruistic toward us and the causes we individually care for. 

    -- doug f

Thanks for your thoughts and contributions on these topics and on the self interest ontology; please continue debating it, and modeling it, so we can make progress in getting a small scale working model that may be the foundation for future continued research and development. 

Have you noticed that Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics are designed to force robots to perform in OUR self interest, not the robots'?  If we are ever to really implement AI, it will require a lot of rework, IMHO, to our view of how the robots' self interests are best served. 


    > Remember that all humans share more than 99

    > % of our genes, even 97% with chimpanzees and

    > bonobos, so I think the altruistic model as common

    > self interest works.  That is why I incorporated

    > it into Use Case 1.  At the bacterial level, there

    > is minimal conversation, but messages (Peircean

    > signs, as JFS points out) are simplest at that

    > level, and we can build on top of that once we

    > have an ontological vocabulary for doing so.


    >       "What are the various trade-offs that

    > cause some people to be libertarians,

    >       others to be socialists, others to be

    > progressives, others to be various

    >       flavors

    >       of conservatives or liberals."

    >       Your Worldview, Philosophy, Belief,

    > Values, and Religion. Ultimately, the

    >       scope and level of your knowledge. Since

    > there are universal truths of

    >       society to be recognized by any social

    > movements. One of them: the lack of

    >       social cohesion (material needs and

    > conditions; order, safety and freedom;

    >       social networks and interactions; social

    > inclusion and integration;

    >       equality, equity and life chances) is a

    > principal reason of social

    >       instability.

    >       Azamat Abdoullaev


    > Agreed, but we have to start somewhere small to

    > enable growth to these larger scale topics.  We

    > can't start with the high level because it is too

    > complex, and we will be debating again instead of

    > modeling.  Lets start here, as JFS suggested, at

    > the bacterial level and move upward from there so

    > we can make some progress.


    > -Rich


    >       ----- Original Message -----

    >       From: "doug foxvog" <doug@xxxxxxxxxx>

    >       To: "[ontolog-forum]"

    > <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>

    >       Sent: Friday, August 12, 2011 1:08 AM

    >       Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest

    > Ontology going offline



    >       > An ontology of self-interest should

    > include all needs, at the base and

    >       > apex

    >       > of Maslow's hierarchy.  I would also

    > include Manfred Max-Neef's set of

    >       > "fundamental human needs", which

    > overlaps Maslow's hierarchy.  Max-Neef

    >       > includes qualities, things to have,

    > actions, interactions, and settings

    >       > in his "Human Scale Development".

    >       >

    >       > On Thu, August 11, 2011 3:58, matthew

    > lange said:

    >       >> I follow the conversation of a

    > self-interest ontology, with great self

    >       >> interest.  I would be happy to be

    > included in its continued discourse,

    >       >> but

    >       >> would be even more delighted if the

    > ontology focused on lower levels of

    >       >> Maslow's hierarchy of needs, in terms

    > of survival--with special attention

    >       >> aimed at characterizing fitness as

    > composed by a person's trajectory

    >       >> toward

    >       >> desired metabolic, physical, emotional,

    > cognitive  and ??? phenotypes.

    >       >

    >       > Merely dealing with survival needs will

    > not provide the terminology

    >       > necessary to explain (or rationalize)

    > human action.  What are the

    >       > various trade-offs that cause some

    > people to be libertarians, others to

    >       > be socialists, others to be

    > progressives, others to be various flavors

    >       > of conservatives or liberals.  The right

    > would label the left (and itself)

    >       > differently than the left would.  It

    > would be interesting to explain this

    >       > using formal ontologies.

    >       >

    >       > -- doug f

    >       >

    >       >> Does this sound doable?

    >       >>

    >       >> Best,

    >       >>

    >       >> matthew

    >       >>

    >       >>

    >       >>

    >       >>

    >       >> On Wed, Aug 10, 2011 at 7:33 PM, Rich

    > Cooper

    >       >> <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>wrote:

    >       >>

    >       >>> Dear John,

    >       >>>

    >       >>> I agree; ontology of self interest

    > should be part

    >       >>> of the list topic catalog, however,

    > examples,

    >       >>> including political ones, are needed

    > to illustrate

    >       >>> points in self interest.  For example,

    > we four

    >       >>> have divergent viewpoints on nearly

    > every

    >       >>> political issue we raised in the

    > forum, and I

    >       >>> don't see how we can avoid such

    > examples in the

    >       >>> future.  So the problem remains; many

    > people

    >       >>> simply can't discuss political issues

    > (or other

    >       >>> self interest issues) that impinge on

    > their self

    >       >>> worth.  That is what I regard as the

    > problem we

    >       >>> had on the list.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> If you have suggestions about how to

    > do that

    >       >>> without upsetting people like Chris

    > Menzel, I

    >       >>> would be happy to entertain it.  But

    > it wasn't

    >       >>> ONLY Chris, at least a couple of

    > others preferred

    >       >>> to avoid it.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> Or maybe we can convince Peter to

    > split off a

    >       >>> second list that relates to self

    > interest

    >       >>> specifically - that would be easier

    > anyway than

    >       >>> having political (or other

    > self-interest) issues

    >       >>> discussed in an open forum where

    > people get upset.

    >       >>> I have no desire to be involved in

    > flames or name

    >       >>> calling, and would prefer that we

    > discuss it in a

    >       >>> way that doesn't create the

    > opportunity for such.

    >       >>>

    >       >>>

    >       >>> But if you believe we can discuss it

    > without

    >       >>> getting into politics (I remain

    > unconvinced still)

    >       >>> I am game to try it a bit more.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> How do the other two of us feel about

    > this?

    >       >>> Should we go back to the list, or is

    > it too

    >       >>> problematic to do so.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> -Rich

    >       >>>

    >       >>> Sincerely,

    >       >>> Rich Cooper

    >       >>> EnglishLogicKernel.com

    >       >>> Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

    >       >>> 9 4 9 \ 5 2 5 - 5 7 1 2

    >       >>>

    >       >>> -----Original Message-----

    >       >>> From: John F. Sowa

    > [mailto:sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx]

    >       >>> Sent: Wednesday, August 10, 2011 5:14

    > PM

    >       >>> To: Rich Cooper

    >       >>> Cc: '[ontolog-forum] ';

    > AzamatAbdoullaev; doug

    >       >>> foxvog

    >       >>> Subject: Re: Self Interest Ontology

    > going offline

    >       >>>

    >       >>> Rich,

    >       >>>

    >       >>> There is nothing wrong about an

    > ontology that

    >       >>> includes concepts

    >       >>> such as SelfInterest.  That would be

    > an important

    >       >>> part of any

    >       >>> ontology that includes purposive

    > action of any

    >       >>> kind.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> The complaints were about political

    > issues, which

    >       >>> don't belong

    >       >>> on this forum.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> As I said, the issues about self

    > interest for

    >       >>> humans belong

    >       >>> to the issue of self interest for any

    > living

    >       >>> things, and it

    >       >>> should be part of the same ontology.

    > That is

    >       >>> certainly

    >       >>> a topic for Ontolog Forum.

    >       >>>

    >       >>> John

    >       >>>

    >       >>>

    >       >>>



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