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

To: "'[ontolog-forum] '" <ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
From: "Rich Cooper" <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Mon, 15 Aug 2011 13:00:41 -0700
Message-id: <BEAFBA6E7ECA4460BE09C05EAE07E8DD@Gateway>

Dear Azamat,


I like the six bulleted items you posted below, and agree that all are necessary if we are to make ontological progress.  Please continue to think about, and post, your views on these items in more detail.  Also, please review the post Richard sent, and my response, because I think both conversations are in line, and both are related to the concept of emergence and self interest. 


More focus and concentration are definitely required, and  your six items provide a framework for further discussion, as does Richard’s discussion of incommensurability. 






Rich Cooper


Rich AT EnglishLogicKernel DOT com

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

From: ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:ontolog-forum-bounces@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of AzamatAbdoullaev
Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 12:42 PM
To: [ontolog-forum]
Subject: Re: [ontolog-forum] Self Interest Ontology going offline


The topic indeed needs more focusing and concentration but in the context of ontology, keeping away from politics, economics, history, and all sorts of the mass media's sensations and anecdotes, however amusing it might be. To proceed, the key things are requested, namely:

  • To define the domains of self-interests as biological reality, cognitive reality, or social reality.
  • To see how the realities are interrelated by actions and activities.
  • To specify the system of related concepts as selfishness, altruism, and unselfishness; motivation, need, or drive; morality and immorality; intelligence and knowledge.
  • To identify principal agents, forces, causes, and behaviors, interactions and relationships in such realities.
  • To perform the ontological cleaning of the enlightened self-interests and unenlightened self-interests; people can only act in their own interests, people consider their needs, desires, and well-being as priorities; people are obliged to help others, people are obliged to pursue national interests, etc.
  • To study the effects of greed or unenlightened self-interests or rational selfishness, like the tragedy of commons, when multiple individuals consulting their own self-interests destroy the community, quality of life, common causes, public property, environment, and ecology. 

Azamat Abdoullaev

PS: Again, the issues like why the mega-rich shed crocodile tears over the plight of America are more relevant to social scientists, psychologists, moralists, politicians, and tax inspectors. 

----- Original Message -----

From: Ali Hashemi

Sent: Monday, August 15, 2011 8:45 PM

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


Hi Rich,


I have two comments. One, a meta-observation about keeping the discussion on topic, and the other about your request about how to move forward.


You have previously suggested that some on the list object to the discussion of politics, I can only speak for myself... I don't mind the use of examples from politics to motivate or ground discussions, what I find irritating are snippets like what's quoted below:


On Sun, Aug 14, 2011 at 11:01 PM, Rich Cooper <rich@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:

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? 


Opinions such as this are peppered in your contributions which are, imo, laden with value judgments that are not related to the matter at hand. I fail to see how these paragraphs offer anything in terms of working towards a self-interest ontology. Rather, I see someone asserting unfounded opinion as fact. Sometimes, when this is becomes rather egregious, someone might chime in with a correction. To wit, see this piece written by a high-profile, wealthy individual that directly contradicts your previous opinions masquerading as fact re income tax ( http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html?_r=2 ).


So, as far as I go, I'm not averse to using political examples for ontology-related purposed -- I do tire of seeing a particular individual's political opinions (in my opinion, demonstrably false, and in fact, adding to a larger environment of misinformation) fill the list, especially when the relation to ontology is tenuous. What makes it particularly frustrating is that for someone else to come in and correct these statements means that the discussion veers further away from ontology. Do you see why some people would object to such emails and hence the pleading to exercise more judgment before sending a note?


As to your query:


[RC] Does anyone have a suggestion on how to proceed in

light of our differences?


Comments, suggestions, constructive ontolog

fragments will be appreciated.


I can see why you, based in a Randian outlook, would begin with self-interest. You might want to consider refocusing on the broader idea of "motivations", whereby self-interest is just one of many types of motivations that drive human (or organism) action. 


I shared two sources which imo are a good grounding points and I'll add a third. 


The updated Maslow based hierarchy provides a good starting point for individual human motivations [1]. It also explicitly takes into account how people have differing motivations depending on their physical, social and life-stage context. 


Jonathan Haidt and others work on the origins and variations of morality, provide another useful avenue into how various values and value-systems come to drive motivations, especially at the social-group setting[2]. 


Neither posits an explicitly political stance, and the vocabulary deployed in each, can be used to describe what you see as conflicting political opinions.


George Lakoff, in his book Moral Politics [3] also provides an interesting perspective for how the community or social organizations can be viewed. According to Avril and Richard's language, it is at a slightly higher level of description than an immediate ontology of self-interest or motivation. However, he does provide quite explicit mappings for common (American) political stances, which are derived from a "Nation as Family" metaphor.  For example, in that book he posits that "Conservatives" often employ the "Strict Father Metaphor" for how a society should function, whereas "Liberals" prefer a "Nurturant Parent" metaphor. While both perspectives draw on the same set of metaphors regarding morality and growth, they order them differently, leading to conflicting policy prescriptions. So that too might be another avenue to reconcile the apparent differences you note.


[1] Douglas T. Kenrick, Vladas Griskevicius, Steven L. Neuberg and Mark Schaller. Renovating the Pyramid of Needs : Contemporary Extensions Built Upon Ancient Foundation. Perspectives on Psychological Science 2010 5: 292 - http://www.csom.umn.edu/assets/144040.pdf


[2] Haidt, J., & Kesebir, S. (2010). Morality.  In S. Fiske, D. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey (Eds.) Handbook of Social Psychology, 5th Edition. Hobeken, NJ: Wiley. Pp. 797-832. 

    You can request a copy here: http://people.virginia.edu/~jdh6n/


[3] George Lakoff. Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think. University of Chicago Press, 2002. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_Politics_(book)




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