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Selfishness - Omnia mutantur, nihil interit. — LiveJournal
October 11th, 2004
05:54 pm
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Selfishness

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From:kenoubi
Date:October 11th, 2004 08:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Not antagonistically motivated, just curious

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Is it not possible for some people to exist in a gray area of indifference, not wanting to do you harm even if they don't specifically wish you well?

Most people exist in a grey area of indifference. There are times when I actively want someone else to suffer, but they're rare and usually even when they do occur only last for a few hours, or a few days at most.

Also, how does someone demonstrate to you that they value you as a person whom they want to grow - how long does it take, when do you become convinced?

It seems to happen quite quickly (within the first 10 times I interact with someone, and often the first 2 or 3) when it happens at all, and the judgment is close to irrevocable.

It seems to me like a danger that you might alienate someone who would have potentially been a member of the first category, by assuming the worst of them before they get a chance to learn that you're someone they want to get to know.

I think you misunderstood me. I wasn't saying that I think this is a good strategy, just that this is the way it seems to be. I don't have control over my emotional reactions (and mistakenly thinking I do has caused huge problems for me).

From:ixiel
Date:October 12th, 2004 01:08 pm (UTC)

Perfectionism

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Of course he will. I'd wager almost everybody "alienate[s] someone who would have potentially [want[ed one] to grow as a person]" all the time, and that the only way to not do this would also admit many malevolent people in the process of setting so low a standard. The closest analog I see to this argument is what I hear from pro-lifers all the time, that when any given fetus becomes a person, it could be the next (figure of worship here). Where one draws the line between how much one wants the good and how much one wants to avoid the evil is just a matter of taste. Just my $.02.
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From:papertygre
Date:October 12th, 2004 02:51 pm (UTC)

Re: Perfectionism

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FYI, I only found out about this answer because Kenn forwarded me his email notification. The way LJ notifies posters, you get an email about ANY comment on a post if you are the author of the post, but if you are commenting in someone else's journal, you ONLY get email when someone else replies directly to your comment (so only Kenn got notification about your comment above)

Enough meta; response: You're right. And arguably, defending oneself against the malicious is a more important goal than catching every last potentially valuable person who brushes up against your sphere. It all depends on how malicious you perceive people as likely to be. :)

I agree that the pro-lifer argument is without substance. The main problem I see with it, though, is that it's universal - people using that argument claim that it's a justification for controlling others' behavior - whereas I'm thinking more of an individual's assignment of value. The value Kenn derives out of knowing and exchanging with other people may not be the same amount of value that I get out of it. Or, more to the point, he may not value variety of such experience as much as someone like I would.

Hence, it seems to me, the two together => different standards.
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From:kenoubi
Date:October 12th, 2004 05:11 pm (UTC)

Re: Perfectionism

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It all depends on how malicious you perceive people as likely to be.

I think actual malice is quite rare, restricted to psychopaths, cases where someone has the impression he has been deliberately harmed by another and seeks revenge, and a few other limited cases. Apathy combined with selfishness (thus, the desire to suck one dry), on the other hand, I find very common.

The value Kenn derives out of knowing and exchanging with other people may not be the same amount of value that I get out of it. Or, more to the point, he may not value variety of such experience as much as someone like I would.

It's amusing to me that I still can't take statements of this form without feeling slightly insulted. :-)

Seriously, though, I'm not sure that's it either. I do value variety of experience with people, but I don't see any need to value as people all those with whom I interact. In fact, I don't really see all that much cognitive dissonance in interacting with the same person day after day while knowing that if they died I wouldn't care emotionally at all. From statements you've made in the past, it seems like you'd probably find that view crazy, but that's how it seems to me.

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From:papertygre
Date:October 12th, 2004 07:36 pm (UTC)

Re: Perfectionism

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Sorry, didn't mean to make you feel insulted...

although, I just realized something, and I don't know how you're going to take this. But I thought the "sucking one dry" thing was odd, and I thought the only reason it seemed odd was because I don't remember your talking about it when we were dating even though we discussed social insecurities, but actually, I think now the reason it struck me as odd was because "sucking me dry" was exactly how I described the way you made me feel. And now to hear you talk about it as one of your issues seems exactly backwards. What if through some bizare psychological twist, what we fear from others is exactly what we tend to do to them ourselves?
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