The unsolved problem of alternative living

To you this could mean eating paleo, managing a traditional marriage, being an introvert, or all of these, or any number of other things. The main problem is that society expects you to live this way, but you live that way. The optimization problem then becomes how you structure your life to minimize the costs of your strange ways and maximize the benefits.

The dietary example is one of the simplest. Maybe you’re allergic to gluten or something else that’s a staple of the common diet. Staples get produced in mass and are cheaper, so you’re pretty much stuck paying more for less common foods or spending the time and up front financial cost of growing your own. It’s a simple version of the general problem with an easy, intuitive solution, if a disappointing one.

But optimization becomes far more difficult very quickly when we increase the number of variables. Maybe you want a traditional marriage in a marriage 2.0 society. Should you learn and practice Game to maximize your relationship skills? Should you move to a marriage 1.0 country? Marry an immigrant? The principles involved are far more difficult to balance.

As far as I’m aware, there is not yet any general solution to this problem because the theory of subjective value prohibits it. (Still, I bet William Sidis had one in his desk drawer.) As I mentioned once long ago, I’ve lost my faith in the subjective value theory except as a means to build a macroeconomic science, which would anyway be invalidated by the apocalypse of post-scarcity.

It is clearly a perversion to pay more than five dollars for a grilled cheese sandwich just because someone has told you it vaguely resembles our lord and savior, so it is folly to live as if value is subjective. Clearly, this is only true because of the fall of man.

The problem is further confounded in our post-scarce world because most of our social apparatus is specifically designed to deceive us and waste our time so that we are continually dependent. Imagine if automation really had reduced the average workweek to twenty hours, or ten. I think we’d be seeing a lot more hydroponic greenhouses in hobbyists’ backyards.

About Aeoli Pera

Maybe do this later?
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6 Responses to The unsolved problem of alternative living

  1. Zeke says:

    Tell me more about your doubting of subjective value. It seems value is both objective and subjective. In terms of human capital, a new employee is worth less than an employee you’ve known for 10 years even if their skill level is the same. It can’t be entirely objective, can it?

    • aeolipera says:

      I doubt it because objectivity can only be a religious phenomenon, whereas economics is a secular science that cannot make such assumptions as “that which pleases God more is the greater good”.

      And so we observe such strange behavior as buying a grilled cheese sandwich for $20K rather than caring for the poor and the needy.

  2. Subjective value theory is fine – when you acknowledge that subjective value is an expression of natural order, no two subjectives are equal, and some subjectives are more adaptive, forward thinking and survivalistic than others.

    Pretty sure people who spend 20K on grilled cheese sandwiches instead of weaponry and supplies have defective subjective assessments

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      We may have to disagree on this. I’m still pretty young in this belief, but I’m currently thinking that value judgments may be subject to divine fiat in the same way moral judgments are subject to divine command.

      Our belief on this is somewhat similar, except that my natural order is imposed rather than emergent.

      Then again, I’m speculating beyond my ken. I can summon zero support from the Bible.

      • Buttercup says:

        The is/ought gap is bridged by deconstructive analysis and sideways thinking rather than external imposition. Dunno what you mean by ‘Divine fiat’ either.

        Natural order is not imposed. It is a response to a set of contraints. If it *is* the case then X Y Z, logical analysis and ‘neat hacks’ mean there are a variety of solutions, that something ‘ought’ to do this that or the other if it wants to find a secure and prosperous mode of existence.

        I cannot see how natural order can be imposed, because ‘natural’ by its very definition means ‘arising of its own accord’. I know very well that I don’t provide answers, but merely facililate them arising of their own accord.

  3. The One Who Resents Alphas Cuz He Yearns To Be one (Make me voxday!) says:


    They don’t add, though, that vanity, pride, and power-obsession are the root reasons behind what’s described.

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