Brain dump: personal and social value

My reflection exercise took an interesting turn over the weekend. I’d like to work this into a proper essay at some point, but as I don’t know when or if I’ll take the time, and if the exercise would improve it enough to be worthwhile, I’m posting the notes for anyone who is sufficiently board and curious.

In the broader sense, what is essential?
Flow experiences. Personal value and social value.

Is flow personal or social?
Personal. The experience itself is usually of value to the person. Socially, it depends on the value placed on the work performed by society.

What are the arguments for social value?
According to Robert? Pirsig, social order is a higher form of quality than a conscious individual. ‘Good’ is frequently defined as benefiting someone else (society) – as defined by society.

What are the arguments for personal value?
Flow is a state of optimal operation. A person operating within his natural gifts can accomplish more than one operating outside them. Production tends to be strongly correlated with personal value.

Is producing more necessarily of value?
Of value to who? Benefit is amount * valuation. For society it is possibly that low valuation of an efficiently produced product could make it less valuable than an inefficiently produced product of high value. 10 * 1 is less than 5 * 3, but the same as 1 * 10.

Does personal value have any benefit to society in cases of low societal value?
A person operating in low value may be less happy/more stressed. He might be a less complete person, have a shorter life, and therefore be of lower value to society. In part it depends on the social value of happy and effective people.

Does societal value have any benefit to a person in cases of low personal value?
Humans are social creatures. It depends on how much the person values societal approval.

This is getting complicated…
Personal benefit = amount * personal value + amount * societal value * personal value of societal approval?
Societal benefit = amount * societal value + amount * personal value * societal value of personal happiness?

N could be factored out. That is probably too simple.
PB = PV(N) + SA(SV(N))
SB = SV(N) + PH(PV(N))

Of course N depends on personal value/ability…

pb: x -> v
let n = pv x C
return pv x n + pv SA (sv x n)

sb: x -> v
let n = pv x C
return sv x n + sv PH (pv x n)

pv: x -> n -> v
sv: x -> n -> v
match x; A = n, B = log n, C = n^2, etc.

Set up to remove recursion, but they probably are fully recursive; i.e the societal valuation is itself a function of the amount, which is a function of personal value, which is in part a function of societal value…

Can valuations be negative?
Consider the societal valuation of prostitution, drugs, gambling, and selfishness which is an effective deterrent _for those who value society_. The personal valuation of drudgery and sacrifice, which is often an effective deterrent _for societies that value personal happiness_

If pv SA >> sv PH…
Society is rigid and the people repressed.

If sv PH >> pv SA
Anarchy and hedonism rule.

The current state of affairs?
America has tradition of freedom (PH), but a momentum towards SA > PH. The use of slaves back at the dawn of the freedom age is a bit of an issue. The founding fathers appear to have been concerned with their own happiness but not that of others.

The model doesn’t fit. A large number of people are oppressed under a society that values happiness?
If PH>SA is a state of anarchy, people are free to do as they please – including enslave other people. SA is in part the concern with what other people think; both outsiders and those enslaved.

Personal benefit/happiness is maximized when personal value correlates with societal value. Yet the betterment of society/others requires allocation of resources to them, perhaps at one’s own expense. Production increases in proportion to pv; the more one has the more likely one has enough, and therefore has enough to give.

Yet Thomas Jefferson had slaves. He had a lot of things, but in large part because he had slaves. For all that he did, his means were not entirely his own; he wasn’t self sufficient enough to have the surplus required to free his slaves as unnecessary.

Societal benefit is maximized when societal value correlates with personal value. (both terms large positive) Additionally, n ~ pv. Yet an over-concern with pb leads to selfishness…
Only in a state of of scarcity. If people are operating in an optimal state with the approval of society, there should be a no scarcity.

What of theft, people seeking to maximize their own benefit at the expense of others?
Clearly high pv and low sv. The crux here is that theft is taking, not making. Moving, not creating. The pv/sv cancel each other out.

This relates to the best argument I’ve heard against communism – it’s a system of wealth distribution, not wealth creation.

Jefferson’s slaves created value, he took it. TJ created our government, but that doesn’t pay well; his basic needs were covered by taking, giving him the leisure to participate in, at the time, a low sv activity.

What of help and giving?
Creation of value, with a higher sv than pv. In a sense it is also moving, but for the sake of sv (or pv SA) It also often involves creation for the sake of giving, whereas only slavery is creation for the sake of taking.

One Comment

  1. harpie says:

    Brain… hurts