Sunday, August 23, 2015

Preferences are good; but only if you are open to changing them

This is a reply to an FI post:

On Sun, Aug 23, 2015 at 3:04 AM, Elliot Temple [fallible-ideas] <> wrote:

> Preferences are good. Liking things is good. It's about having some idea that things are better one way rather than another.
> Preferences don't need to be justified. You don't have to prove your wants are logical. Just look for and solve problems.
> At least preferences about nature and reality are good. But preferences about humans are dangerous.

In the abstract, I don't see the problem.

If you are willing to rethink your preferences as you get new information, where's the danger?

> If you have a preference about a person and they have a different preference about themselves then that can cause conflict. People can fight over their clashing preferences.

I think the fighting can only happen if the person is having a hard time rethinking (i.e. changing) his preferences. It could be that he doesn't want to rethink them. It could be that rethinking his preferences is frustrating for him. It could be that he doesn't know how to rethink his preferences. These are avoidable mistakes.

> How do you avoid fighting with people but also avoid giving up having preferences about people? People are a huge part of life so avoiding preferences about them makes a big difference.
> How do you maintain autonomy without giving up being selective and discerning? Or do you have preferences about people but then never ask anyone to meet them and just kinda passively hope?

I don't think that preferences for non-persons is that much different than preferences for persons.

I think people can hurt due to non-person-preferences not being met like people can hurt due to person-preferences not being met.

To clarify that, I'll explain something that happened to me a few years ago. I remember telling somebody about a new plan I had for doing something (it was a career-type plan). I was excited/happy. The person I told this to immediately got upset. I was confused about why he got upset. So I asked. I found out that he was upset because he fears that I'm going to get upset if my plan doesn't become reality. I think he assumes that about me because that's what happens with him. I asked, "so you think it's better to not make plans for fear that the plans don't become reality"?

That's ridiculous. I will make plans optimistically, and if my plans don't become reality, I'll change my plans accordingly, without having any negative emotions around the fact that my past expectations didn't get met.

It's fear of making mistakes. It's wanting something perfectly, or not wanting it at all. But both of those suck. One of them is impossible, and the other is worse than death.

The same thing works for person-preferences. If I make a plan with somebody to do something, say a long project, and then we start the project, but then later something comes up and then the project ends (seemingly permanently), that's ok. And it should be expected a lot. And feeling bad over it is a mistake.

So my point is that rigid preferences *for things* can hurt people like rigid preferences *for people* do.

I think it's the rigidity that is problematic. I don't think a preference for a person is problematic just because it's for a person.

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