In My morality 2.0: theory I decided to stop thinking about morality explicitly and instead to answer these 4 questions for myself to guide my life:
- What kind of person do I want to be? (as an end, not as a mean)
- What do I want my life to look like?
- Assuming I’m no longer alive, how do I want the world to look like?
- What would make me feel sense of accomplishment? What would I have to accomplish to feel in my deathbed that my life was well-spent and not wasted?
My wishes fluctuate. In the morning I might have one opinion and in the evening another. No one “version” of Saulius can decide what is best for all versions of Saulius that come and go. That’s why I answer these questions often to see what kinds of patterns are there. This post contains my personal answers. It’s a very personal post but I made it public because I have nothing to hide and because an example might be useful in case anyone would want to do the same.
What kind of person do I want to be? (as an end, not as a mean)
2017-03-19: Internally calm, warm, approachable, can make myself do anything I want to. Starts conversations with strangers, makes a lot of new friends, glows positivity, helps people to discover themselves and become better. Secure with myself. Alive. Resolved all the internal conflicts, in touch with my emotions.
2017-03-22: Previous answer feels a bit alien to me. I don’t want to be calm. I am frustrated now and I do want to feel this way sometimes. I want a colourful life with many diverse emotions.
2017-04-16: A perfect example of a human being: fit, knows a lot about everything, at peace with myself, knows many cultures, etc.
2017-04-17: Happy (I’m unhappy right now). Don’t want to hurt other people, don’t care about much else.
2017-04-18: I want to have visible deep emotions, child-like curiosity. I want to be an example to other people, to show them that it’s ok to be different, to dream, to feel, to get lost in the current experience, to forgo the adultness, integrity, seriousness and just be raw, emotional, silly. I want to have profound experiences and thoughts and teach others how to do it as well. Show them that there is more to life.
2017-05-03: Compassionate, emotional and passionate. Thinking with my own head and creative.
2017-06-21: Feels love and kindness for everyone, including myself. Clear mind, doesn’t ruminate. Has no desire at any level to show off, (other than to achieve a goal), humiliate others, be pitied, fail, be miserable, be an interesting story character, shock people, etc. Not doing or thinking things out of desire to be interesting so I would have something to say to people. If I’ll run out of things to say and will lose/fail to gain a (girl)friend, that is better than always sabotaging myself in order to be “interesting”.
What do I want my life do to look like?
2017-03-19: A job where I learn communication or some other useful skill. And that I find meaningful. Spend a lot of my time making meaningful connections, both romantic and not. Making many people discover more of themselves. Maybe living in some group house like event horizon.
2017-03-22: Having a girlfriend and a stable, deep, colourful connection with her, living together. Or living in a group house. Both would be especially awesome.
2017-04-13: In the span of couple of days I’ve had a strong desire to:
- get some work of art done, be famous and admired
- read a shitload of books
- work or volunteer as a developer for an EA org
- travel the world
2017-04-16: I want to find a programming job in London, donate money to charities, go to EA conferences. Yesterday I wanted to go to festivals like burning man.
2017-04-17: I want to be happy but not because of drugs or something like that. As strange as it may sound, being happy isn’t usually something I care about much. I want to check out research on what makes people happy to know how to achieve it. I also want to have my schedule full of meetings and events I am excited about, my mailbox to be full, etc. I want to live with a girlfriend.
2017-04-18: Intense, full of different profound experiences with various other people. I want to establish many deep connections that help us to learn how to live from each other.
2017-04-19: Same as yesterday, plus I want some intellectual challenges that I would work on together with friends
2017-04-21: I want to be in a romantic relationship with someone cool again and be surrounded with cool people in general.
2017-04-28: don’t care. I am unhappy at the moment and don’t even have a desire to be happy.
2017-04-29: an hour ago I wanted to travel. Then I was determined to try to become an AI safety researcher and study relevant topics. Now I want to get any kind of job in some EA organisation to see if that kind of environment will motivate me.
2017-05-01: After reading this I feel motivated to do something big and altruistic again. That’s the second time Nate’s posts make me feel very motivated. I think if I surround myself with very motivated people, I’ll be motivated myself again too. But the thing is that I don’t care what happens to the world at the moment, I just want to be doing something.
2017-05-03: Partly motivated by movie on trachoma, I want to be solving the world’s problems.
2017-08-17: 2017-06-21: Something different all the time. I want to experience as much of what life has to offer as possible, explore all the possible mind states and be living fully in the experience.
2017-07-23: Always relaxed, with friends and romantic partner(s) with whom we share mutual love.
Assuming I’m no longer alive, how do I want the world to look like?
2017-03-22: Honestly? I don’t care much at the moment. I used to care a lot. I’d like to be the kind of person who cares a lot again. Maybe this is like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, I only care about future of humanity only when my own needs are satisfied and currently I my social needs are not satisfied and I feel frustrated.
2017-04-15: somewhere there is a women being raped, an animal being eaten alive. I want there to be less of that. I want there to be more orgasms and dogs being ecstatic about their owners getting back home. Yes, I guess that’s classical utilitarianism mostly.
2017-04-16: I want a diverse world to exist, rich of nature, different experiences, etc.
2017-04-17: Don’t care
2017-04-18: When I asked myself the question, for a while there was silence in my head. It felt like I was pouring water on almost perfectly flat surface and any small force can radically influence the direction it’s going. I didn’t find any caring for people far away inside myself. Finally a thought entered my mind: I want my mother to be happy. The thought made me laugh out loud for a couple of minutes uncontrollably. I was laughing at myself, at inconsistency of my wishes. Of course, I’ve always cared about my mother, but this time it seemed like one of the most important things in the world, which was new. When I meditated on the question more, I also realized that I want people to stop torturing animals and start feeling empathy for both farm and wild animals. It’s interesting that I felt that creating empathy (making people understand that animals matter too) is more important than stopping actual suffering.
2017-04-21: I can only ask myself this question when I don’t have any problems or strong active desires. Currently that’s not the case.
2017-04-29: hedonium shockwave, although I don’t really care. I want there to be no suffering but don’t care much for happiness.
2017-05-03: People living in societies and helping each other. The act of helping, good intentions seem to be more important than the actual help.
2017-07-23: Lots of cooperation, little stress, no wars, open minds. I want there to at least be an island (or a community) like that, that consist of people who don’t know about the world outside. At the moment I can’t manage to care whether there is suffering in other parts of the world/universe.
What would make me feel sense of accomplishment? What would I have to accomplish to feel in my deathbed that my life was well spent and not wasted?
- Writing a work of art that many people like and praise
- Donating/raising money for effective charities
- Writting effective-altruism.com posts that receive likes.
- Expressing myself, successful youtube channel
- Sharing memorable experiences true long-term friends and romantic partners
It might be worthy to ask myself “What would make me feel sense of accomplishment after today?” every morning
2017-04-16: being a complete human being, learning something new each day, having memorable experiences
2017-04-17: In my current state of mind – nothing. Having plans for my future would make me feel accomplished in short term, but this question is about long term.
2017-04-18: Trying out as many different things as possible, having deep feelings and memorable experiences and sharing them with other people. Also doing good deeds for people around me and seeing their reaction. A separate concern is doing a lot of good in terms of utilitarianism/effective altruism.
2017-04-29: Achieving utilitarian goals.
2017-07-23: Lots of novel experiences, expanded my mind as much as possible, made a positive impact on the world (or at least really tried).
Should I continue doing any altruism?
2017-03-19: If everyone lives selfishly, humanity is likely to go extinct and everyone will be worse off. I don’t want to be a free rider in x-risk reduction. Also, part if me still feels like I should do something utilitarian. I’m fine continuing to donate money because that takes little effort and doesn’t cause akrasia. Also it’s a fun task to choose the best charity. But should I change criteria how I choose it? I can postpone this question. Let’s just say that I’m staying with my pledge to donate 30% of my income . What if I find out that I want to live a freegan lifestyle with no money earning? Ah, I’ll deal with that only if it actually happens.
Are these answers truly genuine?
2017-04-29: I’ve written down that I just want to achieve utilitarian goals and went on to play a pointless computer game. Sometimes this can happen, you can want to be on a diet but a wish to eat a cake can win. But I didn’t even have an intention to do anything that would make sense from utilitarian POV today. It felt that I want my wishes to be inconsistent to be more unconventional. Although it’s also true that my passion is low today even for utilitarianism. On some days there are many wishes in me competing for importance. Today, the only wish is utilitarianism and I can barely feel it.
Should I travel?
2017-04-16: I don’t list any truly new experiences here. Maybe because I don’t I want them because I haven’t experienced them. Maybe I should try them anyway. Though I’m uncertain. I want to be passionate about something. But do I really want to find out that I love doing something expensive and/or dangerous like mountaineering?
2017-04-18: I think that correct type of travelling can help me to become a better human being on various fronts, better equipped with achieving all my other goals. But I shouldn’t do much of it.
2017-07-23: Well, I guess I am travelling. Part of me wants to stop and focus on work but another part of me says that I can still do both at the same time, I just have to try harder.