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Anirudh Silai

Actual and Potential Values

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I was on this closed thread - http://forums.4aynrandfans.com/index.php?/topic/4332-weighing-actual-versus-potential-values/&page=1 - and I came across a puzzle that I can't quite figure out. One of the commentators said that, for any value X, the actual X is always more desirable than a potential X. But, is he wrong if I value a potential X while not valuing the actual X? Is it even possible for me to do so - to value a potential X without valuing the actual X? If so, what is an example?

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1 hour ago, Anirudh Silai said:

One of the commentators said that, for any value X, the actual X is always more desirable than a potential X.

As stated, it's a false alternative. What is preventing you from having the actual X and also pursuing the potential X? Can you provide specific, clear examples, where we cannot have both?

If both X's are the same exact value, then the question is self-contradictory. If they are different values, then why can't you have them both? If you can't have them both, then either one could be more desirable based on its relation to your personal values. You should not reduce your personal value choices to a universal dictate. They need to be tied to the specific facts of your life.

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Thanks for the quick reply. I'll elaborate with two questions:

Let's say that Bob is raising money for a procedure that could restore eyesight to his blind brother Dick, and he values the potential of Dick's eventual sight. Then Dick ends up getting the procedure and begins to see. After his recovery, would Bob categorically value Dick's actual sight as well?

Likewise, let's rewind the scenario back to when Bob is raising the money. He values Dick's potential sight, and also values his own efforts to help his brother. If a bank robber were to steal some money, would he be attacking Bob's potential value so as to give Bob psychological distress? In other words, does the failure to reach a potential X cause as much distress as losing the actual X? What is the comparison?

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I think potential value is ill defined.  You can pursue values, and pursue actions which create values.  It doesn't really matter whether the object or situation of value exists or it must be created.  Action may be pursued in either case to secure the value.  Of course different values require different action or different expenditure of effort, time, or money... so a value that has to be created might take more time... 

Without a grounded valid definition of just what you mean by potential value your puzzle is intractable.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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3 minutes ago, StrictlyLogical said:

Without a grounded valid definition of just what you mean by potential value your puzzle is intractable.

I see your point applies to my 2nd question about psychological impact.

Let's say now that I am applying for a job. If I am expecting that I will get the job, then I will be bummed out if I end up not getting it. However, if I am not expecting that I will get it, then I will not be bummed out by not getting the job.

Maybe the impact of a "potential" value on you depends on your expectations. If you go in with either realistic expectations or with no expectations at all, then you have nothing to lose emotionally. But, if you go in with unrealistic expectations, then you may be crushed.

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The psychological impact probably also depends on the relative importance of the value to your life. You might be bummed that you did not get a particular job, but then you should be devastated if the money for your brother's operation was stolen.

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7 minutes ago, MisterSwig said:

The psychological impact probably also depends on the relative importance of the value to your life.

So the causal factors would be both, then? Both the relative importance to you and your expectations?

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Psychological impact is very complicated and its importance or relevance (or irrelevance) to your ultimate value, your life, is also complicated.

What one thinks and chooses to do despite how one feels is far more important than how much of a sting one experiences when one spills some milk or misses the chance of getting a free glass of it.

Edited by StrictlyLogical

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8 hours ago, Anirudh Silai said:

So the causal factors would be both, then? Both the relative importance to you and your expectations?

There's no doubt that expectations are critical when it comes to emotion. Imagine a poor person person somewhere, who has to skip meals occasionally, and a rich person who can afford a fine-dining restaurant any time he wishes. A free coupon to a mid-range restaurant would elicit very different emotions from the two of them. 

Good sales people are always tuned in to their customers expectations. Even though they want to promise the moon, they also understand that it is important to exceed expectations. So, they use this in to figure out what to promise and what picture to build prior to delivery.

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On 11/20/2016 at 6:59 PM, Anirudh Silai said:

So the causal factors would be both, then? Both the relative importance to you and your expectations?

I think so. There might be other important factors, such as energy expended in the effort. That might tie into expectations.

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