An attempt to list out my core values and virtues

post by Ruby · 2019-06-09T20:02:43.122Z · score: 26 (6 votes) · LW · GW · 1 comments


  My Values/Virtues
1 comment

Last week a friend pressed upon me the importance of writing your own culture. It was a small part of a multi-hour conversation, and I'm not sure if I'm interpreted their meaning correctly, but the correct-seeming-to-me position I took from it was something like this:

Write your own culture. Identify your values the things you consider to be virtues. Not those of the broader culture you exist in or those putatively held by the groups in which you have an identity. Those which are yours, for you, separate from what others might value or consider virtuous.

Perhaps for convenience, to date, I would round off my values/virtues to being Rationalist and EA values. Succinct, perhaps easier to communicate or even convenient as an internal mental handle. But with less personal ownership, or something. Like perhaps they're only "my values" because I'm part of those groups. And that's not true. While the groups might have helped me flesh out and identify my values, they are my values. Also when held this way there is far less nuance to them.

I already have them floating around in my head with my own particular characterization. Yet they float around individually, not as a coherent list. So here goes. Here's a first attempt to capture my values and virtues.

(What's the difference between a value and virtue? I'm not sure exactly, but my brain is labeling some items as more one than the other. Maybe values are things I optimize for and virtues are behaviors I endorse.)

(Also, this isn't an exhaustive list of absolutely everything I'd say I care about or think is good. These are top high-level virtues which subsume all the other things for me. I value cake, but cake arises as something I value further down the chain than anything list here.)

My Values/Virtues

(very loose/hazy ordering of priority)


I can't tell you exactly where I'm going, but I can sure see which direction the arrow points.
It's easier, in a way, to talk about the negative motivations — ending disease, decreasing existential risk, that sort of thing — because those are the things that I'm pretty sure of, in light of uncertainty about what really matters to me. I don't know exactly what I want, but I'm pretty sure I want there to be humans (or post-humans) around to see it.
But don't confuse what I'm doing with what I'm fighting for. The latter is much harder to describe, and I have no delusions of understanding.
You don't get to know exactly what you're fighting for, but the world's in bad enough shape that you don't need to.

From You don't get to know what you're fighting for on Minding Our Way


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comment by David_Gross · 2019-07-07T20:27:17.127Z · score: 10 (3 votes) · LW · GW

This strikes me as a worthwhile exercise for people to undertake. It can give valuable perspective and suggest important avenues for self-improvement. For what it's worth, here's what I came up with the first time I tried it: