On things which are hard to communicate

I think many of the most important things that I discovered are ethereal ideas or feelings such as the feeling I associate with the sound of airplanes, certain feelings with certain night skies, etc. I think these are much more important than the stuff I work in; in fact, I think they are among the most important parts of life.

So why don't I become an artist, or someone who somehow works with these things? It is hard to communicate many of the things which I find of true value to others. With our current levels of technology and language, it seems like it is easiest to set things up so that others might find them for themselves (I've tried poetry but it doesn't work for me). Of course, one way out is to improve technology to the point of enabling some sort of telepathy, and that's one thing I'd like to help bring about if possible. But that is probably many generations off. What I can do in the meantime is make the world a better place, so that more people in the future have the economic wellbeing to sit back and appreciate things instead of pursuing their safety and livlihood all of their time.

On being happy

I think on important goal for life is to appreciate things as much as possible. For instance, try to see the beauty in the cracks on a sidewalk, or in a puddle of oil, or a rainy day. Try to get some sort of thrill or interestingness out of pain. Try to enjoy all the food you eat, even if it's not so great.

I find that with practice, I really can enjoy these things better. If you focus on finding things to enjoy, I think that over time you become happier.

This leads to accusations of bad taste from others (because you start to enjoy bad food and "ugly" days a lot). That's fine; would you rather have good taste or miss out on one third of the happiness that the world has to offer?


I think that the goal of life is for various states of mind to be consciously experienced. E.g. the particular feeling you get when you are appreciating the beauty of some particular lake in a forest.

I think that the people experiencing these states of mind are of lesser importance. So for me, morality is fundamentally about the goal of having people frequently experience beautiful thoughts and feelings, happy thoughts and feelings, diverse thoughts and feelings, and about having them not experience miserable and horrible thoughts and feelings, with less emphasis on which particular person happens to be experiencing which thoughts and feelings; although there is some importance attached to the fair distribution of good and diverse experiences, too.

So, at first principals, i am a utilitarian, with the utility function having to do with conscious experiences. However, i think that the best policy to achieve joint utility maximization is not actually for each person to maximize utility at each decision-point, but rather, for people to follow rule. So although i think that the fundamental motivation for ethics is utilitarian, actually my prescription for how ethical people should behave is deontological. See notes-philosophy-ethics-deontologicalVsUtilitarian.

Furthermore, i think the best way to achieve joint utility maximization is to attempt to maximize interpersonal structural things like freedom in addition to the actual utility. An attempt to make an abstract list of other things to maximize may be found at notes-philosophy-ethics-abstractGood and other things to minimize at notes-philosophy-ethics-abstractEvil.

So I am what Gensler calls a "pluralistic rule utilitarian" (see ).

Gensler gives some candidate rules which seem pretty good: ,

Gensler's equal liberty principle says that

{ 1 } - society ought to safeguard the greatest liberty for each person compatible with an equal liberty for all others.


and, I favor the utilitarian justification for favoring equality of wealth. (based on the diminishing marginal utility of wealth)


Meaning of life

Another short summary on much of the above, with a little more added:

There are multiple goals which contribute to the 'meaning of life'. Four of the big ones are:

Notes on what i mean by some of these:

'holy' qualia: i don't mean to define such qualia as possessing a relation with external spiritual forces, merely to state that there are some qualia which seem to be more easily describable as 'holy' or 'sacred' or 'related to spirituality', and others (such as the color red, or the smell of garbage) which seem to be less so (i am not here asserting that there cannot be mental states in which every external stimulus is perceived with holy qualia; i am just asserting the existence of non-holy or at least less-holy qualia). I also don't mean to assert an opinion either way on whether it is the qualia themselves that are 'sacred' (and if so, if this sacredness is 'real' or just a feeling that we have), or whether they are merely pointing to some sort of holy reality or calling; clearly there is no consensus as to the answers to such questions, and i dont possess any special insight there; all i claim is that these things should be sought out, and that they have a crucial role in the process of giving meaning to life.

assist kids: i feel that for whatever reason, kids' minds are more amenable to perceiving 'better' qualia when faced with the same external simulus as adults (eg i remember playgrounds seeming significantly more wonderful when i was a kid). Therefore, for the same amount of effort (the economic effort in constructing a playground, taking the child there, etc), one can get more results (better quality qualia) if the effort is focused on kids. In addition, there is the whole return-on-investment in improving the skillset and mental health of someone who will probably live a long time (a kid) vs someone who will live less long (an adult). For these reasons, it's important to focus on making kids' lives better, at the expense of adults.

(mb someday write a book starting with qualia and love and niceness; qualia and love are as above, niceness is justified by the fact that in the past it seems like some ppl who let their ethics be guided by what they saw as rationality ended up doing very evil things)

See also [[notes-philosophy-philosopy2?]].