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Everything posted by DiscoveryJoy

  1. What are YOUR criticisms of Objectivism?

    I never understood how sex can be a topic for philosophy to make such statements on in the first place. This is a highly concrete and specialized issue that depends on an individual's concrete values, psychology and physical constitution. Who is to make statements about what your own concrete and objective values are? What values to look for in another person? How abstract they are to be? And in order to fulfill which actual needs of interaction with them and to what extend? And knowing that Objectivism enters into this topic, I typically detect certain ideas surrounding and relating to it, that I find rather strange: A ) Limitation of the need of "physical attraction" to a purely physical pleasure. No such thing in my opinion. Every physical feature you identify is an aspect of a conscious living being that perceives itself and this world through exactly those physical features of its body, and hence in that very form. And you know this, and only knowing this gives meaning to that attraction. Simple introspection tells you that. You like a particular form in which he or she exists as a perceptually conscious being (with certain implications even for some of its conceptual values). What you like is a form that physically best facilitates your contact to the reality of another human beings' existence. Of his or her existence as a conscious living entity. You cannot like "just his or her body", without demanding and knowing that it is the body of a conscious living being that you are liking. And you cannot like "just the aspect of his or her being alive and conscious" without it being so in a particular form that appeals to you. You are seeking some specific conceptual knowledge here, and you want it to manifest itself in a specific perceptual form. That's to a degree of 100% a mental, as well as of 100% a physical need, you cannot separate the two. Individuals may vary, but how one would exclude that this alone might form to certain individuals an indispensable prerequisite, possibly even a highly important value in and of itself, is incomprehensible to me. Just think of how you prefer watering certain plants only, and like to have certain animals as pets only. Now, how much more exciting is the case of a particular form of a human being?! It already starts with only wanting a particular sex to begin with. Not to talk about all the other physical features, of which there are numerous. B ) Sex as valid only in romantic love celebrating achievement. Well, what about things like "puppy love" among human beings? Love driven by infatuation? I can conceive of it as being an immense pleasure and source of mental energy. Certainly enough so, to be valuable. Something to want to keep living on for in order to enjoy. I find the idea of suppressing it repulsive, if not disgusting. Unless you can conceive of something more fulfilling. And assuming of course, the person in question is not harmful. I think I heard or red Ayn Rand say in some documentary that her sisters were into puppy love, while she was the only hero worshiper. And that she never really understood how that could be enough for them. Whether she outright condemned it, I don't know. But I'd rather doubt that she approved of it, given her demands for "appropriate sex". C ) The frequent emphasis that your enjoyment needs to be about your achievement. I find this mind boggling. There can be a million things I could value without having achieved them. Many of them come naturally (like beautiful landscapes I see in nature). Others were built by other people (like the sight of impressive Skylines). I certainly would like to keep them in reality, whether achieved by me or not. In some cases, I might even not want to know in detail how they came about (You certainly wanna eat the steak, but that doesn't mean you wanna meat the cow ). Identifying the fact that me or other people had to - or didn't have to - achieve those things to put them into this world is not what makes my enjoyment of them possible or impossible. My enjoyment stems from my need to survive, which requires having certain experiences that make it worthwhile. Knowing that "I build this" can be a pleasurable add-on, though. Achievement is also not the psychological root of the motivation. In order for me to say "oh, there's something I want to achieve", I must first say "oh, there's something I want to enjoy". All this tells me that values (realized or not) are considered values independent of their achievement, but rather due to the valuing, the prospect of their enjoyment. But achievement is very often necessary to realize them - whether on my own or on other people's part. Since other people cannot be my slaves and shouldn't, I recognize the need to engage in a certain amount of my own achievement. While recognizing also, that I benefit from the achievements of all the other people as well. Together, we're all better off, plus the free riding. The rest is done by mother nature. And due to all those achievements, the amount of daily achievement necessary to maintain a desired degree of enjoyment becomes less and less. Nevertheless, you must always maintain some level of achievement, to keep your brain active so you can figure out how to best enjoy. Or to prepare yourself in case some new idea happens to come about some time on what next to realize. Psychologically, this means that achievement is a means to the end of enjoyment. But it needn't be focused on explicitly. It's simply an implicit part whenever it is required. I would rather separate the means from the end this way, while still recognizing they're both necessary.
  2. Hi, I would like to use this thread to resolve certain statements by Objectivists in certain contexts that seem to contradict each other and try to resolve those contradictions.
  3. Volition vs Determinism; Nature vs Nuture.

    Okay, fair enough, I wasn't using the term "proof" in that strict of a sense, but merely indicating that something is somehow "demonstrated" or "made to surface" by my argument.
  4. Resolving seeming contradictions in Objectivism

    Here's another one: It is said that any society is guided by and needs philosophers. How is this possible, if on the other hand a people is said to be "at fault" when a Dictator gets into power?
  5. Resolving seeming contradictions in Objectivism

    I see. Fits to what I discovered in my reply to softwareNerd.
  6. Resolving seeming contradictions in Objectivism

    I see. See also my reply to softwareNerd.
  7. Resolving seeming contradictions in Objectivism

    I see. Seems to have more to do with the gender roles Ayn Rand expects in romantic love due to physical differences in strength among the sexes, and therefore perhaps some esthetic disharmony that Rand would ascribe to a woman being on top of all the men around her.
  8. Volition vs Determinism; Nature vs Nuture.

    What's the difference? If you've proven that free will is an axiom, you have proven it's metaphysically given existence.
  9. Volition vs Determinism; Nature vs Nuture.

    From my understanding there is very little required to prove free will: Determinism is a self-contradiction! If you had no free will, how would you even know you have no free will? Does that knowledge flow to you automatically? Yes? So it's not actually true that there's no free will, it's just those damn genes or whatever "forcing" you to think that?
  10. Resolving seeming contradictions in Objectivism

    Another one: It is said that you shouldn't be guided by your emotions but that emotions are what you should live for. Seems to me like a contradiction by itself. To aim at something (an emotion) is to be guided by that goal, or is it not? Even if it is the prospect of a future emotion grasped only cognitively now, you are still using that emotion as a guiding argument, therefore "being guided by your emotion". Put another way: It is said that acting rationally is fundamentally different to acting on your desires. But if after the end of all thinking and extrapolating all the effects of your possible choices to your lifespan, isn't it necessarily a "feeling" that tells you whether you still desire something or not? Starting already with the feeling that you "like to live at all" or not? Why isn't it more proper to say that acting rationally means acting on the broadest perspective on your desires? Or that you shouldn't be guided by your inconsiderate emotions, but very well by you your considerate ones?
  11. Resolving seeming contradictions in Objectivism

    Okay, let's start with the first. It is my understanding that Rand considered men and woman equal in intellectual capability. And that all humans are capable of moral perfection. But then a horror-strickenly uttered sentence I heard from Rand herself in one of Donahue's shows rings in my ear. It was about the idea of a female US president and went something like: "A woman as a head of command of the armed forces?! Are you kidding me?" How does this fit together? If a woman really was to be considered incapable of pulling the trigger if necessary, wouldn't this mean she is also incapable of moral perfection?
  12. Not sure about what the recent posts have to do with the thread's topic, but I, too, hope that at least some top students of Objectivism are among the posters here. For professional assistance, I think it is still a good idea to tune into the Yaron Brook Show and ask questions, or to post your questions to peikoff.com
  13. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Hey guys, do you agree that empathy for other people is something we have to choose to engage in? That it is not automatic? And that it should be chosen for those that you care about? And if you don't do so, it automatically means you don't care about that person? Do you also agree that once you have embarked on the path of empathy in a case where you see someone under extreme suffering (like being burned alive or being physically tortured in the most ugly way) - whether friend, stranger or foe - it is impossible to maintain focus on any actual values except the need to be free from such pain? That it is psychologically impossible to empathize with the person in the scene and not feel an urge to end that suffering immediately? An urge that overrides anything else in your mind, no matter what positive values to your own life you would have to sacrifice for that? I could also ask: Do you agree that the most horrible pain is stronger than the highest pleasure, so both cannot be experienced simultaneously for weighing the pros and cons? Or I could ask: Do you agree that the only reason we can stand seeing Hitler tortured is because we don't feel any need to empathize with him? So now: What if - for some odd reason, be it like living under a dictatorship etc. - you had to make an explicit choice between being able to making love to someone or something you really enjoy most in life, or saving someone else that you are close to - maybe your parent or one of your siblings - from such extreme torture that he would otherwise have to endure for the rest of his life. To put it bluntly, your dictator has captured your close brother and says (and you have no prospect of escaping the country or winning a rebellion etc.): "You either give up any contact with your most sacred earthly pleasures and shun any contact with the opposite sex for the rest of your life, or we will physically torture your brother and physically harm him for the rest of his life, permanently, making sure he's fouled up beyond all recognition!" So it's a pure either-or choice. The reason I'm making up this scenario is not because I'm crazy, afraid it might happen, or think it is anywhere near likely to happen. But it couldn't be better suited for self-testing on values. It is not easy to really prove your values when there is no real conflict, so you have to come up with the most extreme scenario thinkable, however bizarre that may be. So unless you have any objections to the physical possibility of this scenario, please don't pester me with questions about "why would this happen". When making a decision here, the following things come to my mind: Should the amount of suffering that the brother has to endure play any role whatsoever in this decision making? Is absence of pain for someone you care about itself already a value? If yes, what would you have do to assess the situation? Wouldn't it mean you would have to try to simulate the pain in order to get some taste of what it is like? In order to achieve the maximum amount of empathy that you can still undergo without seriously harming yourself? That is, trying to put your hand on the stove for a little bit longer? Or putting the shower at maximum heat level and leave it that way until you're close to burning and run screaming out of the shower? Or hitting yourself into the balls until you almost loose conscience? Just to name a few things, and just to get an idea about what the brother would have to endure on a daily basis all the time. After all, you care about him, right, so you need to stay in the reality of his suffering. None of these simple pains like getting an injection, having a headache or a stomach ache, or stumbling and falling to the floor. Those pains are so common and known to you, you can easily expect someone to tolerate them. No! We are talking about the real pain here, and it's huge! Nothing you can easily imagine and just brush off as endurable. We're talking about the kind of pain that makes you wish to die immediately, if it doesn't stop right now! But your torturers will never grant you that wish. You cannot really know this pain because it would make your life unworthy of living. So you actually need to learn about it by experiencing it first hand as far as you have the nerves to. But then again, if it is psychologically impossible to maintain a focus on your own positive values that way, wouldn't this be the wrong approach? This would always mean, the brother wins. Or should you ask yourself the following first: How much is the other person worth to you independent of the amount of his suffering, that is, just in terms of how much his existence as a person means to you? Don't look at his suffering, don't look at his pain, just evaluate what you gain from him compared to what you gain from making love to a partner. Well in this case, the partner wins, of course. But then, assuming you choose the partner, you still have to psychologically deal with your brother anyway: With the fact of his suffering and the idea that you are restricting yourself from helping him. And in order to allow yourself the status of "I care about him, he means something to me", you really need to grasp the reality of his suffering, so you still have to empathize, and in order to empathize you have to put yourself under the aforementioned physical pain, too, in order to really get the picture. Which again would lead you to reversing your choice, the pain is so unbearable. Or committing suicide, because it's so unbearable regularly undergoing all these self-torture sessions just to stay in reality. The other option is - having chosen your partner - to psychologically treat your brother like a stranger and engage in no empathy for him for the rest of your life, to completely forget about him, pretend like he doesn't exist, in order to make the time with your partner worthwhile. Because otherwise, it would be "plus" the joy with your partner and "minus" the extreme pain you feel for your brother, which boils down to a zero sum - or rather negative sum - game. You would have to pretend like he died, even though this would mean you are doing something at least close to evading. In one sentence: You care about him, but you have to act opposite. Would this be the best thing to do? If, on the other hand, you were to choose your brother, you sure wouldn't have to deal with the pain problem and could spare yourself all your self-torture sessions. But now you have a bad conscience, because you have placed your brother above your partner. "It shouldn't have been him, it should have been my partner!", you revolt in deep shame. You have given up your highest value and most likely will contemplate suicide out of misery and due to the prospect of never being happy again. Which approach do you think is the proper one? Or would you just brush off the whole situation as one of those so-called "lifeboat situations" to which morality doesn't even apply? Also, do you think this is a perfect demonstration of why Bentham's calculus of value doesn't really work?
  14. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Not sure about what your thoughts are on my recent replies, since many of my questions remained unanswered. But I am meanwhile reflecting about the following proposal: The fact that a lower values suffers by itself does not make it right to give up a higher value for it. The degree of the suffering is irrelevant. It is therefore wrong to engage in empathy on the sensual level by inflicting slight doses of physical pain to yourself only in order to be in touch with the degree of the suffering, in order to be able to include it in a calculus of the kind: "How much value for me minus how much pain for him?". It is even wrong to engage in empathy on the cognitive level with that goal. Because the whole calculus is wrong. It is wrong because it places someone else's suffering on the same level as if it were your own. It is wrong because it says that "Your suffering is my suffering, so I have to consider it equally alongside with my higher values, in order to make a decision". It is wrong because that kind of calculus must always lead to giving up the higher value, since it is always overridden by the pain grasped: If you pretend like the one whose feed are burning all the time is you, then you cannot allow yourself to enjoy any value at the same time, ever. A value-based approach only asks the question: "Which of the two values is actually higher, independent of whether it is suffering or not?" The higher value must be given precedence in any case. If necessary, one just needs to be brave enough to ignore someone else's pain now in order to implement the proper decision, and learn how to deal with the pain later. Deal with it later, not in the sense of constantly seeking empathic experiences, but only in the sense of learning how to move on and not wanting any more when and if the topic comes up. You can let me know what you think about that if you like. The only question remaining to me is what to say if someone considers a certain "regular awareness of certain people's emotional wellbeing", such an awareness by itself, kind of a value. Not necessary because one values those people more than or as much as one's higher values, but because of some idea that one generally needs to be "conscious of what's going on out there in close people" on principle, perhaps as an expression of one's own character etc., and the idea that one needs to bear that awareness on the back of one's mind all the time as permanently as mentally possible. As a psychological precondition to allowing yourself to enjoy your higher values. So if the situation is so bad that sticking to this principle makes the enjoyment of your higher values impossible, but you still stick to that principle "for the sake of the principle", having to forgo your higher values, what would that mean? Would that be a valid principle to have in the first place? Or would such a principle invalidate the idea that what you call "your higher values" really are your higher values, because you are placing that principle above those "alleged higher values"? Or would you say "No, the principle is just a principle, it can backfire in certain highly improbable cases, but the value is still a value and sticking to the principle does not invalidate what you think is your value hierarchy, even if it might seem so. You cannot compare principles against values!"?
  15. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Just "not at the moment"? Or possibly "not even at all"? Assuming that it is true that you don't need to feel them now, is it then even necessary to feel them ever? As your answer is that you can create a perceptual basis by reasoning and conceptual thought, it seems like you want to construct a perceptual concrete in the mind from some memorized concretes, so that the result resembles the would-be real experience? Some "ultra-light" dose of that same intensity that somehow lets you stay in touch with how it would feel like, but not so strong as to overwhelm your ability to loose sight of your other values? What if you did that and then later accidentally experienced it in reality, totally taken by surprise that a particular physical pain is actually much much worse in practice than you had imagined in theory? Would this demonstrate an inability of reason to extrapolate an emotion from the related emotions? Or what else would or could that demonstrate? Affective empathy matters, but only to a certain extend then? All levels on the pain scale can be extrapolated from experiences of level 1 pain alone, so we need to experience no more pain than that? Notions of "unimaginable pain" are all bogus? Assuming that cognitive empathy is sufficient, it still leaves the following unanswered. I'm still wondering what you think about the following, if I replace all occurances of "empathy" with "cognitive empathy":
  16. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    I don't have a problem with not literally seeing birds, I'm confident of grasping their reality when thinking about them. The reason is that I have experienced birds in reality. Just have a hard time comparing such emotionless object-grasping like birds to the grasping of pain on the highest level. It is my understanding that according to http://www.healthcentral.com/chronic-pain/coping-403768-5_2.html there are up to ten levels of pain. How is it possible to claim to be able to conceive of levels 9 and 10, if experiencing such levels would actually require causing serious damage to yourself? How would there even be a perceptual basis on which to conceptualize? I'm a bit confused here. What are you implying about how the proper moral thinking should go? How would you form a positive-minus-negative "calculus" for decision making? Is it: "All I need to care about is whether I need to feel the empathic pain. If at best I could just swallow some magic pill every time the pain occurs, it would actually all be fine. So I actually only need to include my own empathic pain in my calculus, which is quite marginal in the long run, so it doesn't destroy the higher value kept. This calculus doesn't include the real extend to which the lesser value actually suffers, but that's not important to me." or is it: "What I should actually care about is the pain that all the time actually exists out there in the other person as such. Not just how occasionally I will have to empathize with it. I actually need to extrapolate the empathy over time to fill in the gaps. So there's a lot more to include in my calculus, which keeps it terrible in the long run, so it actually destroys the higher value kept. But I'm fairly including the extend to which the lesser value actually suffers in my calculus." ?? Would the latter case already be an example of altruism, of talking above one's own head, and of being concerned with things completely outside of one's own responsibility?
  17. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    The question is - put in a nutshell - which is worse: Loosing a higher value (being with a partner) for good, or a lesser value (e.g. a close family member) suffering permanently under extreme pain? A scenario was constructed in which a mutually exclusive choice has to be made among these two. Since witnessing a value suffering involves empathy, there is a perceived dilemma: Engaging in empathy at the price of seemingly loosing a clear focus on one's own values, versus cutting down on empathy at the price of seemingly loosing contact with the reality of the suffering. While discussing this, there have been attempts at getting into how empathy works, what actually constitutes real empathy, how much of it should be employed, and to what extend that is even a choice etc.
  18. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Let's go deeper: What about having the urge to seek the empathy in the first place, in order to stay in touch with reality, with what's going on? If that's at the root of the problem, would that itself already be poor emotional control? Or just a natural consequence of one's chosen principles, proper under normal circumstances? That's why I call it "the dilemma of choosing empathy". If you agree with my 3 distinctions, would acting based on the knowledge of one's "poor emotional control" still leave the metaphysical value hierarchy unaffected? "It's actually a higher value, but unfortunately the circumstances are such that I can no longer keep it"?
  19. Is there a word to describe this type of thinking?

    I didn't really get what you mean by the "balancing act" from the part where you introduced that term. Do you mean a view that culture itself just practically doesn't make any difference at all? Not the view that they lead to different results that should both be respected? But the view that they just are not an influencing factor, do not produce any difference in the existential result? Why not call it a view of a general insignificance or impotence of culture? Well, there is a legitimacy to that view, if you really define culture just in the "look-and-feel" sense I described. Wearing Lederhosen instead of Jeans truly makes no difference, it's just an aesthetic taste. Unless of course, you got people associating or expressing certain values with a certain aesthetics.
  20. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    So let's get back to the scenario in a less graphical way, because your mentioning of trauma suggests to me that you are still picturing the scenario the wrong way: The scenario is such, that there isn't even any time for trauma, the victim is being tortured in perpetuity, while you as a closely related person have to deal with it in perpetuity. So there is no "after the event" like a trauma, because there is no single "event", just ongoing torture for the rest of the victim's life. So you as the observer have to decide: Stay with the partner and deal with the emotional consequences or save the victim and loose the partner. Option 1 forces you to make another decision: Endure the empathic pain all the time as an expression of personal concern for the victim while watching yourself doing nothing against it, which makes the relationship with the partner suffer severely if even still enjoyable at all. Or mentally part with the victim and forget about him so he no longer takes your energy, which means treating him injustly, evading? Option 2 forces you to ask yourself the question: Do you need to have a bad conscience? Does your decision necessarily mean that you have treated the victim as more "valuable" to you than the partner? Or is it fair to say that the necessary empathic pain would have just been such a drain on the relationship that it could no longer have been enjoyable? Even though the victim per se is not as valuable to you as the partner, but still valuable enough for his suffering to destroy the higher value? This is why I am trying to make all those highly related remarks in the second part (just jump right into that A, B, C part) of the following post: What can be said about that? Can giving up a higher value be moral if a lesser value suffering cannot be stopped without evasion and unjust treatment of the lesser value?
  21. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Well it depends on 1) for what length of time you choose to empathize and 2) whether you are the one in trouble, doesn't it? Emotions are quick? Only a few moments? Are you saying that most of the time in our lives there's nothing really to enjoy? And are you saying that if thrown and locked into cell with a 100 degree Celsius hot floor for hours, it will all be over "quickly"? Well I believe you, if the pain made you unconscious after a few moments, its so unbearable. But otherwise? You're kidding, right? ;-) I hope you agree that this example, too, deals with emotions? Emotions that arise from the pain in an instant flow, as you put it. Sorry I'm getting too graphical again. Just trying to make sure we are on the same page. I'll get to the rest later. Meanwhile I'd also be very interested in what you think about my attempts at categorizing into (A), (B) and (C) and my thoughts on those categories in my previous answer (see second part of the post):
  22. Are we on the edge of the Peter Schiff dollar collapse?

    I'm not an economist, but there was a time shortly after the financial crisis where I used to follow everything by Peter Schiff, Jim Rogers etc., really thinking that they're up to something. Meanwhile I'm more sceptical about such people's ability to predict such things in the short term. In the long run, they're right of course, but in the short run, a lot of other things have the power of delaying things: Wealth is very elastic. Once you've created a certain oversupply, you can go on for decades before really paying the full price for your mistakes, never actually feeling that something is deteriorating. Just look at socialist Europe, how they can make socialism look like a recipe for success. Look at Dubai, where they just live off of stolen wealth, until one day the material resources will be used up. As Peter Schiff himself said, it takes two to Tango. China doesn't seem to have the self-confidence and/or the right system of their own - real capitalism - in order to shrug off the US. Just like other "imminent Doomsday" apostle's like LarouchePAC etc., Peter Schiff, too, seems to have a disproportionate focus on the material economy as measurable in factory output, food production, or generally, energy density. Wealth creation isn't just manufacturing and farming, it's primarily originating ideas, inventions, patents and providing services. Virtually anything that people want to buy, care about, value must be considered wealth. And economists often don't even measure all the mental energy that goes into those products. Just because e.g. the iPhone gets built in China doesn't mean they created it. Its created by brilliant minds like Steve Jobs and his successors. Add Google, Microsoft and the many tech-companies with enormous wealth creation in Silicon valley, and you get much closer to reality.
  23. Is there a word to describe this type of thinking?

    I thought it's called multiculturalism. Although I don't think that most people really understand what that officially means. Usually, when we think of culture, we think of everything but abstract ideas. We think of concrete customs, aesthetics, ethnicity and the like. The look and feel of it. For example, if you think of Italian culture, you think of Pizza, you think of Pasta, you think of Opera Music, you think of predominantly European men and women with dark hair, you think of typical old Italian Roman-style houses with thick roofing tiles surrounded by Mediterranean cypresses, you think of Italian language, and on and on. I think that's why most people are just completely flabbergasted and offended when you tell them that some cultures are superior to others. You can easily come across as a racist, because we usually think of and identify a culture on the perceptual level I described. So to most people, you appear to be saying, e.g., that British Eggs and Bacon should be considered something objectively "better" than Pizza. Or that English should be objectively "better" than Italian. Hence they just brush you off as stupid. For the same reason, it is often said by most people that Americans have "no culture", "no cultural identity", just a hodgepodge of elements borrowed from "real cultures", and otherwise just "commercial stuff" from Coca Cola to Nike in a landscape dominated by public advertising and super malls. Its mostly intellectuals who really identify a culture on the abstract philosophical level of individualism versus collectivism, science versus faith, capitalism versus socialism etc. It took me a while, too, to get what certain people really mean, when they talk about the "culture" of a country. So I think its most important to get the terms straight before starting a discussion with people about culture. You could otherwise easily be talking at cross-purposes with people. So you might misidentify their thinking, just as they might do yours.
  24. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    What about the anti-value perception, the pain? Grasping it requires perceiving it and allowing the instant flow you describe to happen. Then comparing it against a positive value requires recreating that space in your mind. Which requires shutting down the previous negative emotion. Which requires blanking out the percept that created it, to prevent this overwhelming instant flow. Which means being left with no two things to compare any more, just one. It seems to be impossible to hold both the extreme negative and the extreme positive in consciousness simultaneously. That's where I see the conflict.
  25. The dilemma of choosing empathy

    Interesting. Never thought of the term of "compassionate duty". How do you draw the line between compassionate duty and a legitimate attempt at knowing the reality of the pain that someone you care about is going through? To what extend would inflicting physical pain onto oneself in order to grasp the nature of his pain, i.e. to stay in touch with that reality, be justified? And wouldn't it be an act of evasion not to make such an attempt? Why would it lead to destroying one's empathic feelings, if you're actually providing yourself with more sense data? Shouldn't it rather enhance those feelings? Yes, but the choice in the scenario is not simply between "preventing physical pain for someone you don't know or care less about" and "preventing the same pain for someone one loves". That choice would be easy. The choice in the scenario is a mutually exclusive choice between "preventing physical pain for someone you care less about" and "staying with someone you love". If you follow my answer to Eiuol, you'll see how I'm attempting to consider pain as a third category alongside "value being present" and "value being absent". Pain as kind of a negative influence in the equation. One that substracts from the value. Even more so in case of the most extreme pain.