Saturday, October 07, 2006

Happiness



















































Topic Absolutist view Relativist view
What makes you happy The absolute amount of resources determines your ability to satisfy your wants, needs and desires. Humans determine their level of satisfaction with their current situation by comparing themselves to others, so that your status relative to others determines your happiness.
Game metaphor of life Life is a positive-sum game, full of opportunities that benefit both parties and just wait to be exploited. Are you taking advantage of them? Life is a zero-sum game, where the spoils of co-operation are divided unevenly between participants. Are you a wolf or a sheep?
Attitude to power Power is legitimate, it hierarchy enables a group of people to get things done better. There's nothing wrong with being a servant in a legitimate hierachy that gives you better results than you could achieve alone.
Power is means for the strong to exploit the weak. You should get as much of it as possible. Serving others is necessary sometimes, but in the long run a sign of failure.
To gain happiness, you should be...
1. Resourceful in order to have something to give, so that you can participate in exchanges and get things you want.

2. Trusted so that other people are willing to engage in activities that carry a risk.

3. Networked and Informed so that you hear about the opportunities.

4. Social so that you can organize things and exchange views and information.

5. Intolerant agaist people who break the rules in order to create a deterrent.


1. Strong so that you can bully others into submission.

2. Ruthless so that you are not prevented by so-called "moral".

3. Cynical in order to prevent others from exploiting you.

4. Able to fake it to create a good impression.

Attitude to other people
Other people are an opportunity to gain information and get deals. You should take a positive attitude to socializing with other people, until they prove themselves untrustable or send signals that imply untrustability.

Other people are trying to manipulate resources from you by their emotions. You should be careful and wary of them.
Other people's happiness
Most people can achieve happiness, since if we set some reasonable standard of living, with suitable economic growth it is achievable for Joe on the street.

It is impossible for everyone to achieve happiness, since for each person who is above average in wealth or status there is another person who is below average. In the end, other people's happiness is your misery.
Opinion on current system
Democratic free martket system has achieved unprecedented standard of living. If you are not happy in this environment, the mistake is either in your attitude or the company you keep. The unemployed are nowadays enjoying many benefits unavailable for the nobility in the past, and this trend of improvement is continuing.

The income differences are starker than ever due to economies of scale and winner-takes-it-all competitions. Due to media, people increasingly compare themselves to the top, making them feel more inferior than before. Global competition for scarce resources is tougher than ever, forcing people to take desparate actions.
Attitude to information
Trying to talk true and insightful facts enhances other people's trust towards you. It is also important that other people know your interests, since it increases your chances to hear about opportunities to further those interests.

You should talk sentences that create positive/negative associations that serve your interests. Talking truth is unessential, since everyone knows it anyway and if they don't, it gives you a competitive advantage. The main thing is that the other believe you. You should always ask: Whose interests are these "facts" serving?

6 comments:

Jari said...

This is an excellent post. People that represent such stereotypes are rather rare, though. The features you described can be found mixed and combined in most peoples' behavioral patterns.

I'd like to hear more exact definitions for your terms 'objectivist' and 'individualist'.

Anonymous said...

Could you also include a "buddhist"-column?

Timo said...

Taking into consideration the whole polemic impact of the table you presented, the terms "objectivist" and "individualist" may have slightly too strong and misleading connotations.

Jari said...

anonymous:

Your comment on adding a 'Buddhist' column reminds me of Hawk and dove game.

Simo's 'Individualist' is quite similar to Hawk strategy while 'Buddhist' would be Dove. 'Objectivist' would be a mixed strategy; treating other hawks like a hawk, but other doves like a dove.

Simo said...

Objectivist is a person who believes that the objective amount of resources determines his happiness.

An individualist (or a relativist) is a person who believes that the amount of resources relative to others determines one's happiness.

The point of the table was that your beliefs about the nature of happiness affect the ideal personality that you consider as the best way to gain happiness.

In fact it was an attempt to pinpoint the personality difference between me and Jari. Basically, I am the objectivist and Jari is the individualist. When I still used to read Jari's blog - which I don't do anymore, since it's too cynical, depressing and irritating - all his writings defended the individualist worldview, as defined in this table.

The table missess some lines, which I didn't remember when I wrote it.

Attitude to other people:

Objectivist: Other people are an opportunity to gain information and get deals. You should take a positive attitude to socializing with other people, until they prove themselves untrustable.

Individualist: Other people are trying to manipulate resources from you by their emotions. You should be careful and wary of them.

Objectivist: Everyone can achieve happiness, since if we set some reasonable standard of living, with suitable economic growth we'll achieve that for everyone.

Individualist: It is impossible for everyone to achieve happiness, since for everyone who is above average in wealth or status there is another person who is below average. In the end, other people's happiness is your misery.

View of the current world:

Objectivist: Democratic free martket system has achieved unprecedented standard of living. If you are not happy in this environment, the mistake is either in your attitude or the company you keep. The unemployed are nowadays enjoying many benefits unavailable for the nobility in the past, and this trend of improvement is continuing.

Individualist: The income differences are starker than ever due to economies of scale and winner-takes-it-all competitions. Due to media, people increasingly compare themselves to the top, making them feel more inferior than before. Global competition for scarce resources is tougher than ever.

Anonymous said...

Objectivist = absolutist (what have you got), individualist = relativist (do you have more/less than others), now it would make more sense, although, you seem to be desrcribing relativistic point of view by negative terms, distinction like this is artificial, of course, when you are in competition, both matters