Patrick wrote an article – about a week ago? – that was an interesting treatment of the “what would you wish for?” thought experiment.  He defied other gamers in the room and claimed he would not wish for anything.  Why?  You can read it here, but basically, I boil it down to two fundamental reasons:

  1. The universe is in the correct state right now, even though it might not seem like it.
  2. The result of a wish has little value compared to the result of one’s own experience and actions.

I couldn’t agree with Patrick’s conclusions (not to use the wish) but I had a hard time framing why until today, having mulled it over quite a bit.  I just disagree with the first reason, but I think it is by far the weaker of the two – my ideal universe bears only a small resemblance to the current universe, and others may not assign the same moral weight to those ideals.  I do agree with the second reason – human experience is very valuable.  I believe things are essentially worth what you pay for them (the value you assign to them), not what others are willing to pay.  However, though I am a fan of promoting this particular virtue, I think there is a spectrum of reasonableness in promoting virtue and this falls outside the line I would set for myself.

Yes, I do want to live my own life and make my own experience – the good and the bad.  But I also think there are things more valuable than one’s personal, human experience and those are the kinds of things I would wish for.  It is the value that we assign to things that makes them matter, and I am quite capable of receiving a boon or gift from an altruistic person I’ve never met – it becomes a tool I can use to do good.  (I may write more about tools in a later post.)

I do think it is admirable in a way to push the virtue of self-sufficiency (doing things on one’s own, enjoying the labors of one’s own hand(s)) so far, but I would not do the same.