Re: Taking the billion? Re: Gedankenexperiments

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From: Ka-Ping Yee (
Date: Wed Aug 16 2000 - 21:48:19 PDT

> I'm just suggesting that having more money probably doesn't suck.
> That's all.

Okay, Jeff. Now you're backpedaling. That is not what you were
suggesting at all; if you want to change your position, that's fine,
but i think most of the responses to your messages on this thread
have been reacting to quite a different point.

You have variously stated that point as follows:

> I dunno, 'cuz I clearly don't have that kind of cash, but I suspect that
> only people who don't have lots money say "there's more to life than
> having lots of money."

> My only real point in my message was that folks who say "there's more
> to life than money" are (a) most probably speaking from a position of
> ignorance, and (b) expressing an opinion which may differ from the
> opinion held by somebody else, rather than a fact.

> it's awfully amusing and pointless for any of us to say "there's more
> to life than money" (assuming money == uberwealth) because, AFAIK,
> none of us on the list are billionaires. [...] We're arguing from a > position of total ignorance.

The statements you have made can be roughly summarized as:

        The opinion that "there's more to life than money" is
        unsupportable because most (or all) people holding that
        opinion don't know what they're talking about.

This position is highly disputable.

First, you assume that it is *necessary* to be a billionaire in
order to hold any supportable opinion about the value of large
amounts of money. It is not necessary to be in an actual situation
to extrapolate reasonable opinions from our own experiences; in
fact, humans do it all the time. For example, most people would
agree that being dissolved alive in a vat of acid would be an
unpleasant experience, even though most people have not personally
experienced such an event.

Second, you dismiss in a single sweeping gesture the experiences
and wisdom of most of the others in this discussion by claiming
they are "totally ignorant". To do so is unjustified, and will
naturally evoke cries of protest as you have observed.

Furthermore, in your examples and in your statement:

> One reasonably good definition of "life" in my book is, basically, > "freedom." And having the dough gets you the goods in that respect.

you imply quite plainly that you *oppose* the position:

        A. "there's more to life than money"

The opposite position -- the position you are taking -- is then:

        B. "there's nothing more to life than money"

You were *not* simply suggesting that "having more money
probably doesn't suck". (With that statement, i would be
likely to agree.) You were arguing specifically that
position A is not a valid position for any of us to take.

Yet there is no middle ground between A and B. B is by far
the more absolute and unlikely proposition, and A is by far
the more flexible -- A suggests that whatever there is "more"
to life could be *anything*. Providing even a single example
of something that satisfies A is sufficient to disprove B,
and of course many such examples have already been provided.

You could argue that all the examples provided are irrelevant
to you personally, and that you value none of the things
(such as respect, love, etc.) that money cannot buy you.
But that would only apply to your personal definition of
"life". It is clear from the generality of your claim that
you are really talking about "life" as mentioned by *anyone*
who says "there's more to life than money". Hence, we can
take this one step further and state that even a single
example of something that satisfies A, even for *any*
person's definition of "life", is sufficient to invalidate
your position.

-- ?!ng

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