|Syntactic Confectionery Delight|
Vice to virtue and back againby tilly (Archbishop)
|on Dec 10, 2000 at 23:50 UTC||Need Help??|
Consider for a second self-interest. Is it a virtue or a vice? It can be either. In the form of greed it is a vice. But enlightened self-interest is a virtue.
Larry's points is that traits which are traditionally vices like laziness, impatience, and hubris, are really virtues when you look at them with the view of enlightened self-interest. Doing things right is not just done for an abstract reason, it is done for the reason that you expect to reap the benefits of it again and again.
A true experiment to ponder. At one point a group of researchers took a group of kids and collected a bunch of data on them at 6. Then when the kids were all grown up they did a follow-up study. One of the questions that the follow-up study asked was what characteristics at 6 affected the eventual income level.
The single biggest factor did not turn out to be the result of a question on an IQ test, family income, or any of a number of factors you might expect. Instead it turned out to be a demonstrated capacity for delayed self-gratification.
Their test was simple. What they did is put the kid in a room with a piece of candy. Then told the kid, "The candy is yours if you want it. But if it is still here when we come back, we will give you another as well." Then left for 20 minutes. The kids with the control to leave the candy wound up making more. It is as simple as that.
Well read Larry's descriptions of his virtues again looking for the following. In every single description of why each trait can be a virtue the trait is combined with a capacity for delayed self-gratification. Without that ability to recognize and apply enlightened self-interest the trait remains a disgusting vice. With that capacity you wind up (like the kids) always winding up ahead.
Now read your argument. Whose arguments pre-suppose an ability to delay your gratification, and whose do not? None of your arguments have caught the spirit of what Larry Wall said. Every one of your roommate's arguments did.
I call that a slam-dunk.
And for a related note, whenever you disagree with someone then learn something useful from their explanation, that is a win for you. Learning opportunities only count as losses in my book if you refuse to admit that you had something to learn. Sure it isn't easy to say, "You are right, I was wrong." But being willing to do that and take it to heart will wind up with your being right more often in the end. And so again we see the difference between hubris without enlightened self-interest and with. Without you hold to a ridiculous position which you know you have lost. With you learn to deserve that pride and ultimately earn more respect because of it!