• Bliss
    28
    A golden band has some value. When that golden band is used as a wedding band, it gains value, but only to the people who used it as a wedding band and have a sentimental attachment to it. The people who are bound by it would buy it for more money than it was originally worth, but no one else would. That extra amount that the bound would buy it for is the value added through sentimental attachment.

    Why does sentiment add value, and why is that added value is unique to the frame of reference of those who feel the sentiment?
  • IbetThisSoundseliusGreekus
    1
    I'd argue it's a symptom of humans holding the past in high respect.. What other animal cares so much about what kind of person they were last year? Regardless, we're wired to pay careful attention to the details of the past by replaying the important details in the back (or front) of our minds. Maybe the memory playing when we see the wedding band reminds us why we're with our partners. Pretty rad tradition if you ask me, even if it means we show our respect to it buy spending a considerable amount of income on it. Or could it be a result of our respect and seeming obsession with income in the first place?
  • Bliss
    28
    So you'd argue that the amount of sentimental value added depends on how highly people regard the past?
  • Josh Alfred
    110
    Anything relating to the origin of life and its processes should by virtue of modern science be linked back to evolutionary theory.

    As I have yet to personally research the "evolution of sentimentality" I have little to offer myself, but I am sure there is plenty on google.

    Social animals are likely to feel bonding emotions, such as affection. There is a reason this is the case in that social animals tend to survive better in their grouping. So you get natural selection fine tuning the brain in such a way as to strengthen the pleasure that comes from attachment.

    Another example would be in the bonding between child and parents, which too requires that some pleasant feeling evolve, in order to ensure survival.

    Interestingly, evolution doesn't just evolve a mechanism whereby something happens, it also provides the mechanism with "sentimentality." Where exactly it started in the evolution of life, is probably a mystery to scientists.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    Objects gain 'sentimental' or 'emotional' value in a number of ways.

    We become familiar with the object. It has been around long enough to be a piece of our history. The chair may not look great, it may not be comfortable, it may not be worth much, but because it has been in the kitchen for 10 years, we are "sentimentally attached to it".

    We admire (really like) something about the object. It's a rock we found. It's shape is a flattened sphere; it is regular; it's surface is smooth; it's color is a pleasing gray. It's beautiful. It's mine. It's been a much beloved doorstop for 3 years...

    We invest an object with meaning, value, and power. That's what Sauron did with his big ring:

    One Ring to rule them all,
    One Ring to find them,
    One Ring to bring them all,
    and in the darkness bind them

    We do the same kind of thing with a wedding band, a cross, a rosary, a Bible, a Koran, prayer beads etc. We invest meaning in the particular object and over time our investment grows. Plus, we become familiar with the object, and we admire it. If we are not careful we (rational people) may even think an object like a ring or a cross has a bit of actual magic about it.

    A wedding band is the sort of thing that would gain maximum meaning and sentimental value. And "sentimental" isn't an insignificant feature. Just try throwing away something you are attached to, or worse, throwing something away that your spouse is attached to.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    There are many reasons for value. I'll try to name some:

    1. Symbolism: A trophy represents victory and a sportsperson values it as a token of his/her achievement.

    2. Shared history: A car bought fresh from the dealer slowly becomes the family car. Memories are attached to it and so we value it.

    3. Shared values: We like a particular philosophy because it appeals to our own values whatever they may be. So we have communists, capitalists, mathematicians, philosophers, etc.

    4. Ego: We value things that make us feel important. Our family and friends are the pastures where our ego feeds

    5. Effort: We value things that we acquire with great effort. What is cheap in terms of labor or money is usually undervalued.

    That's all I can think of at the moment.

    As you can see, some cases overlap. If there's one overarching reason for value then it's shared history. We value things that are part of our lives. We prefer the good experiences though but there are people who value even bitter moments.
  • Joshs
    716
    All value is already sentiment. Valuation is the way we are affected by something or someone. The value does not originate in the thing nor in ourselves but in the particular way we relate to the thing, the way we interpret, evaluate it. That is its meaning for us, and it is a function of the way our own unique history intersects with the thing.
  • Echarmion
    480

    I'll second @Joshs here. Value is not an inherent attribute of an object, it's a relation. All value is dependent on the frame of reference, as you put it. Objects that seem to have inherent value appear that way only because by growing up in a society, we absorb certain value judgements.
  • Bliss
    28
    I like to imagine value as emerging from broken symmetry; more specifically, from broken possibility symmetry. That is, different objects have different values because they make different numbers of futures possible. If every object could be used to make the same number of futures possible - if possibility symmetry existed - then every object would have equal value.

    The most common variation of tic-tac-toe can roughly be described as a game where two players take turns placing a single object on a 3x3 grid, with the goal being to be the first player to place 3 objects in a row. The player who goes first can choose from any of the 9 positions to place their first object, and (assuming rationality) will choose what appears to be the most valuable position. The most valuable starting position - the one which makes you least likely to loose or tie, and the one which has the largest number of subsequent possible game outcomes - is the center*. If instead of on a 3x3 grid the players are playing on an infinityxinfinity grid, then there is no more center, and consequently there is no more most valuable starting position. Because the exact same game outcomes are possible no matter where the first player starts, possibility symmetry remains unbroken, and value has not yet been introduced into the system. Once the first player goes, though, possibility symmetry is broken, and value exists for the second player, and for both players throughout the remainder of the match.

    There's nothing you can do with a gold band that you can't do with it once it's used for a wedding, but, by wielding the sentiment attached to it, there are things you can do with it once it has been used as a wedding band that you can't do with it beforehand. That is the origin of sentimental value.


    *there's an argument that the best starting position is a corner (by symmetry which corner doesn't matter), and it is true that there are more futures where you win if you start in the corner than if you start in the center, but there are also more futures where you lose: you're more likely to tie if you start in the center than if you start in the corner, but also far less likely to lose.
  • Bliss
    28
    I'd like to replace the necessity of human judgement with the necessity of human knowledge. That is, I'd like to imagine that human valuation of an object depends on the knowledge humans have of the number of futures which can be created with the object, and not on human judgement of any specific futures the object can create.

    different societies with different sets of knowledge are capable of making different futures with the same object, and consequently value the same object differently
  • Echarmion
    480


    But it seems like this approach can not account for sentimental value, or can it?

    And I don't think you can get around a judgement of some kind. You still need a mental operation that takes the knowledge of possible futures and transfers this into a statement of value.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Why does sentiment add value, and why is that added value is unique to the frame of reference of those who feel the sentiment?Bliss

    All value is subjective. It's dependent on an individual caring about the item in question. No one cares, then that thing has no value. Someone cares a lot, that thing has a lot of value to that person.
  • Bliss
    28
    The approach does account for sentimental value as I understand it. For example, imagine a commodity X which can be used for set of purposes Ux and a commodity Y which can be used for set of purposes Uy. If the relation between X and Y is Y = X + sentiment, then size(Uy)>size(Ux), because Y can be used for any purpose X can be used for, but, by virtue of the added sentiment, Y can be used for purposes X can't be used for.

    I don't think it needs to be a mental operation which turns the knowledge of possible futures into a statement of value; it could be a mathematical operation instead. For example, value = number of possible futures, or, borrowing from statistical mechanics, value = ln(number of possible futures)
  • Joshs
    716
    Your attempt to assess value via a calculative procedure reduces the 'value' of value so severely as to make it useless except in extremely narrowly defined contexts. It does little more than what is achieved by defining the value of money as the quantity of money.
    If you are running a business, this can be a useful way of understanding your product's appeal , but only within very narrow parameters. It will not help to explain why people lose interest in your product when trends change, because it ignores the real basis of value in qualitative interpretation.
  • Bliss
    28
    I'd argue calculative procedure enlarges the 'value' of value so severely as to make it useful in every context except the extremely narrowly defined. For example, the value of life can be understood as being caused by the fact that a human body with life can produce a far greater number of futures than a human body without life.

    As an example of how this definition does more than what is achieved by defining the value of money as the quantity of money, consider the difference between someone with one billion dollars and someone with ten billion dollars: by value of money = quantity of money, the person with ten billion dollars is ten times as valuable than the person with one billion dollars; by value of money = number of possible actions given access to that money, the person with ten billion dollars is effectively equally valuable as the person with one billion dollars, because there are only a small number of actions a person can take with ten billion dollars that they cant take with one billion dollars. Note the similarity to the idea of marginal value.

    I don't see why you'd think it can't explain why people "lose interest in your product when trends change". The explanation is that people gain knowledge that an alternate product(s) can be used to produce more futures than your product given the same investment.

    I'm generally familiar with most of the historically prevailing qualitative and quantitative interpretations of value; which one do you think is being ignored?
  • Joshs
    716
    "I'm generally familiar with most of the historically prevailing qualitative and quantitative interpretations of value; which one do you think is being ignored?"

    My background is in cognitive science, continental philosophy and I have a modest understanding of analytic philosophy. I havent come across your formulation of value before, but maybe that's because it comes out of economics or finance.

    You have defined measurement of value in terms of "number of possible actions" or "futures". I'm trying to figure out in a basic sense what one is counting in finding a work of art or piece of music or dinner or potential friend to be valuable, or more valuable than another. What for example, could be the difference in 'possible futures' between the value to me of a Rembrandt painting vs a Picasso?
    What do we make of the person who chooses to write a book rather than purchase a book? How do we measure the value to them of the book they're writing vs the monetary value of the book they would have purchased?
    It seems to me that that value, as meaningfulness, is less about number of possible futures than about the meaningfulness of those futures. The thing about value as meaningfulness is that what provides meaningful satisfaction tends not to be something that we can increase in a calculative, linear way by just repeating what we were doing but doing more and more of it.
    Qualitative meaningfulness as value becomes bored and satiated with repetition of the same theme.
    We can continue to use money but will find that what we spend it on will change with our changing tastes. We may even become bored with money and decide to give it away.
    It is in the nature of what we find valuable that in order to continue to find value, we have to qualitatively change our relationship to what we find meaningful. This cannot be subsumed under a quantitative measurement scale because the scale will always be stuck in a prior definition.
  • Bliss
    28
    My background is in physics/statistics, and I couldn't even tell you the difference between continental and analytic philosophy.

    I've definitely been a bit inconsistent with my terminology. In my defense, I'm still trying to figure out which terminology allows me to express myself most consistently. Let me do my best to clarify.

    The universe consists of matter condensed into objects. Every object in the universe exists in some position, with some orientation, and has some relation to every other object in the universe at every moment in time. The position, orientation, and relation to every other object in the universe of every object in the universe is the "state of the universe", and at every moment the universe is in one of its possible states.

    To take action is to move the universe from an initial state at an initial time to a final state at a final time. The number of possible actions which can be taken at any given moment is related to the number of states which can be reached from the current state. Not every state can be reached from every other state. For example, If I am in state (position=0m,time=0s), and I have access to an object which moves at a max speed of 1m/s, then reaching the state (position=2,time=1) is not possible, and consequently taking the action (position=0,time=0)->(position=2,time=1) is not possible.

    My own universe consists of all the objects I am able to use to take action - all the objects I have access to. The actions I am capable of taking correspond to the ways the objects I have access to can be positioned, orientated, and related. My assumption is that humans naturally attempt to maximize the number of possible actions they can take, or equivalently that humans naturally attempt to maximize the number of states which can be occupied at future times. Consequently, humans value an object in proportion to the number of states which can be "unlocked" by having access to that object.

    What for example, could be the difference in 'possible futures' between the value to me of a Rembrandt painting vs a Picasso
    You are an object in your universe. Maybe you relate to the Rembrandt painting in more ways than you relate to the Picasso painting. Maybe you relate to both paintings equally, but you know society relates to Rembrandt more than Picasso. Maybe you have knowledge that the girl you like is into Rembrandt but not Picasso, and the Rembrandt makes a future with her possible that the Rembrandt couldn't. Maybe neither you not anyone you know relates to either painting, but you know the Rembrandt has more exchange-value than the Picasso and that you can take more actions with more money. There are any number of answers.

    What do we make of the person who chooses to write a book rather than purchase a book? How do we measure the value to them of the book they're writing vs the monetary value of the book they would have purchased?
    Unlike the one between the paintings, I don't know that this is a logical comparison, because these aren't really situations where you're required to choose one option over the other; writing a book and buying a book are not two alternate means of reaching the same outcome, generally speaking. I've written and published a book, but I don't have a copy of it.

    It seems to me that that value, as meaningfulness, is less about number of possible futures than about the meaningfulness of those futures
    This is the traditional understanding of value, yes. I find this traditional understanding limiting, and I'd like to push the limitation.

    It is in the nature of what we find valuable that in order to continue to find value, we have to qualitatively change our relationship to what we find meaningful. This cannot be subsumed under a quantitative measurement scale because the scale will always be stuck in a prior definition.
    If you think dynamic relationships cant be modeled quantitatively then boy does the 1700s have some news for you.
  • Joshs
    716
    ......
  • Joshs
    716
    You're trying to use a mode of description(mathematical description of motion of physical objects) designed for one purpose, and apply it to an entirely different stratum of phenomena, subjective valuation of human beings. But there is no one-size-fits-all description for different aspects of our world as we encounter them. Your mode of thinking is called objectivism.
    The philosopher Francisco Varela wrote about the problem with this approach:

    "To be objective, one would have to have some set of mind-independent objects to be
    designated by language or known by science. But can we find any such objects? Let us look at an extended example from the philosopher Nelson Goodman.

    A point in space seems to be perfectly objective. But how are we to define the points of our everyday world? Points can be taken either as primitive elements, as intersecting lines, as certain triples of intersecting planes, or as certain classes of nesting volumes. These definitions are equally adequate, and yet they are incompatible: what a point is will vary with each form of description. For example, only in the first "version," to use Goodman's term, will a point be a primitive element. The objectivist, however, demands, "What are points really?" Goodman's response to this demand is worth quoting at length: If the composition of points out of lines or of lines out of points is conventional rather than factual, points and lines themselves are no less so. ... If we say that our sample space is a combination of points, or of lines, or of regions, or a combination of combinations of points, or lines, or regions, or
    a combination of all these together, or is a single lump, then since none is identical with any of the rest, we are giving one among countless alternative conflicting descriptions of what the space is.
    And so we may regard the disagreements as not about the facts but as due to differences in the conventions-adopted in organizing or describing the space. What, then, is the neutral fact or thing described in these different terms? Neither the space (a) as an undivided whole nor (b) as a combination of everything involved in the several accounts; for (a) and (b) are but two among the various ways of organizing it. But what is it that is so organized? When we strip off as layers of convention all differences among ways of describing it, what is left? The onion is peeled down to its empty core."

    You're operating under the assumption that the 'real', irreducible scientific truth about valuation is to be found in reducing psychological process to the behavior of physical objects, but that sort of of account wasn't designed to handle subjective phenomena. Tracking the neural activity of a human brain will tell you different things than a molecular analysis will, and a cognitive approach will reveal yet other dimensions that neither of the other accounts will. We can't simply reduce any of these to the others. We can't understand the software of a computer by reducing it to hardware or the behavior of molecules.

    We can view ourselves via a Newtonian account as objects in space, and we can talk about our encounter with things of our world in the same way. But let's say we are trying to choose between two objects put in front of us. One is a robot dog with a randomizing program , so that its behavior will always be unpredictable. Next to it is a live dog. Most of us would say that the live dog is more valuable in general to us, not necessarily in monetary terms(the robot could be made of pure gold and diamonds). What makes the live dog more interesting than the robot? We could interact with the robot in a potentially infinite variety of ways given its randomness. But the dog will appear valuable to us in terms of its purposefulness and its ability to relate to us, to understand and care about us.
    In other words, it doesn't seem to be sheer number of possible actions or states that corresponds to value(variety for variety's sake), but how those possible actions fit into our goals. Value is possible states organized on the basis of a purpose, USEFULNESS. Purpose UNIFIES those possible states. Without a unifying theme to make something significant to us, to make it matter to us, for us to care about it, to make it useful, sheer quantity of possible states is another word for chaos and meaninglessness. Pure freedom of change of state without something that relates each state to the prior and the next along the lines of a goal is no freedom at all.

    In one sense you have stipulated a motivation. Physical objects don't have goals, the just have assigned properties. But you have assigned humans the goal of increase in possible actions.
    It's a mechanical goal, though. You have half the equation right. Humans do crave differentiation, novelty , freedom, choice. But in equal measure they crave integration. Value implies the inseparability of both differentiation and integration, as generations of psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you. Hell, even stock market analysts, at least those who follow behavioral economics, will tell you that.


    A psychologist by the name of George Kelly defined optimal human functioning as the capacity to embrace new elements of the world. This sound a bit like your correlating value with number of possible actions. But Kelly realized that we can only embrace new experiences if we can find a way to assimllate those experiences effectively, which means to recognize new elements not just on the basis of what makes them new but how we can relate them to what we already know. Absolute novelty cannot be assimilated.
  • Bliss
    28
    You're trying to use a mode of description(mathematical description of motion of physical objects) designed for one purpose, and apply it to an entirely different stratum of phenomena, subjective valuation of human beings
    I was tempted to use an additional example, one not based on motion of physical objects, because I feared you would interpret the motion example as being encompassing of the entire idea. Ultimately, I decided you would probably be able to see how motion is only one of the infinite stratum of phenomena the idea applies to, and that you would generalize motion to other phenomena instead of assuming I'm reducing the other phenomena to motion. My mistake.

    Here's an example - your example, actually - which applies the same mode of description to the subjective valuation of human beings:
    let's say we are trying to choose between two objects put in front of us. One is a robot dog with a randomizing program , so that its behavior will always be unpredictable. Next to it is a live dog. Most of us would say that the live dog is more valuable in general to us, not necessarily in monetary terms(the robot could be made of pure gold and diamonds). What makes the live dog more interesting than the robot? We could interact with the robot in a potentially infinite variety of ways given its randomness. But the dog will appear valuable to us in terms of its purposefulness and its ability to relate to us, to understand and care about us.
    First, some disambiguation; just because the robot dog has "random" programming doesn't mean you can interact with it in more ways than you could the live dog. In fact, I'd argue the opposite: randomization algorithms have a necessarily finite number of outputs (every random algorithm inevitably repeats itself after a finite amount of time, or, equivalently, after some finite amount of time it is impossible for a random algorithm to produce a novel output), whereas live objects do not necessarily have a finite number of outputs, and it is always possible for a living object to produce a novel output. Under the assumption that the robot dog is a perfect physical recreation of the live dog, such that they are physically capable of taking all the same physical actions, the live dog will necessarily take a larger number of actions over a long enough duration of time.

    Now, to the example. Say the difference between the robot dog and the live dog is that the live dog is capable of "loving" you and the robot dog is not. If I start in state (time=0,has_dog=false,loved_by_dog=false), then choosing the robot dog over the live dog makes the transition (time=0,has_dog=false,loved_by_dog=false)->(time=future,has_dog=true,loved_by_dog=true) impossible. This is a gross oversimplification, but, under the assumption that they have the same physical capacities, there are ways you can relate to the live dog that you cannot relate to the robot dog, but there are no ways you can relate to the robot dog that you cannot relate to the live dog, therefore the live dog is more valuable to you.

    But there is no one-size-fits-all description for different aspects of our world as we encounter them. Your mode of thinking is called objectivism.
    I am absolutely not assuming any object has an objective value. My entire argument is, in fact, that the value of an object is relative. For example, a life jacket is much more valuable to a drowning person than it is to a person on land, because without the life jacket zero actions will be possible for the drowning person in the future.

    A point in space seems to be perfectly objective
    As someone who wrote their thesis on the relativity of points in space, I would disagree with this wholeheartedly. Every point in space can be represented in an infinite number of ways, and none of those ways are objectively correct, or incorrect. That said, I don't see how this argument in any way contradicts mine.

    We can't understand the software of a computer by reducing it to hardware or the behavior of molecules.
    Uh, yes we can. Quantum software in particular is entirely governed by behavior of objects even smaller than molecules. All non-quantum software is reducible to binary operations, and all binary operations can be reduced to uses of hardware. Given enough people, any non-quantum software can be reproduced by people pulling levers. People have built functioning computers in Minecraft, even.

    If you're going to make a statement X in an attempt to disagree with a statement Y, then you should quote statement Y and indicate which subset of Y statement X disagrees with. I literally get paid to teach analytic reading and writing, but I don't know how to respond to the rest of your reply because I can't tell which of my arguments you're attempting to disagree with. To clarify, I can tell what you're disagreeing with, but its unclear how what you're disagreeing with relates to what I'm arguing.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I like to imagine value as emerging from broken symmetry; more specifically, from broken possibility symmetry. That is, different objects have different values because they make different numbers of futures possible. If every object could be used to make the same number of futures possible - if possibility symmetry existed - then every object would have equal valueBliss

    Google definition of sentimental value: the value of an object deriving from personal or emotional associations rather than material worth.

    As you can see, the definition more or less talks of association. When something, like a car, is associated with a person the future possibilities for that car decreases from n number of associations to just the one or a handful. So, it seems to me that value, in your terms, is about decreasing possibilities rather than increasing possibilities.

    Your theory of value is also a bit too cold. Where is the "sentimental" in it? People have things of sentimental value because of an emotional investment. This component is missing from your analysis.
  • Bliss
    28
    When something, like a car, is associated with a person the future possibilities for that car decreases from n number of associations to just the one or a handful. So, it seems to me that value, in your terms, is about decreasing possibilities rather than increasing possibilities
    If I were the car, then my possibilities might be diminished. For that reason, if I were a car, I might feel some apprehension about being purchased. Because I am the person buying the car instead though, my possibilities increase; assuming I transition from has_car=false to has_car=true, then I will be able to go places I could not have gone before, and there's nowhere I could've gone before that I no longer can. What you've highlighted, though, is the relativity of the value of events: different perspectives can value the same event differently.

    Your theory of value is also a bit too cold. Where is the "sentimental" in it? People have things of sentimental value because of an emotional investment. This component is missing from your analysis.
    I think measuring different components of value in different units is a limitation. The emotional component of my analysis of value is missing precisely because I'm trying to avoid making it separate from my underlying notion of value.
  • Joshs
    716
    “Live objects do not necessarily have a finite number of outputs","the live dog will necessarily take a larger number of actions over a long enough duration of time."

    You completely missed my point. My point was that capacity for novel action by itself is not how humans perceive value. Valuative meaning has to do not with pure novelty and ideal randomness but with a particular kind of non-randomness, a certain kind of organized patterning that we perceive within an object's behavior that connects with our ongoing interest and understanding. Value is a matter of meshing of patterns of thought is the human and patterns of behavior in the object(patterns of thought in the dog).
    Pure randomness or capacity for novelty in a dog is by itself useless to us.


    "Every point in space can be represented in an infinite number of ways, and none of those ways are objectively correct, or incorrect. That said, I don't see how this argument in any way contradicts mine."

    " All non-quantum software is reducible to binary operations, and all binary operations can be reduced to uses of hardware."

    The point is different ways of describing things tell you different, often incompatible things.
    In talking about software vs hardware I'm talking about different languages of description. Software is a code, an alphabet. If I show you a written language you've never learned you may or may not be able to come up with the following range of descriptions, depending on the circumstances:
    I recognize that it is in fact a language, but that's all I can say.
    it is a language and has individual letters
    it also has individual words composed of strings of letters.
    It has English letters and familiar words but the words seem to be used in unfamiliar ways such that the sentences are incoherent to me.

    On the other hand, you might only end up with this description:

    To you it looks lie a random pattern of squiggles that you can describe in terms of shape, chemical composition, etc.

    These are all descriptions of the same object(the string of writing) but they mean different things and the value of the object is a function not of the number of possible states of the object but of a narrowing down of its possibilities. Intelligible reading depends on each letter narrowing down possibilities for what the following letter could be, and each word narrowing down the possibilities for what the following word could mean, etc. This contextual narrowing down is what makes language language instead of just random patterns. It CAN say anything in principle, but it is not meaningful language until it actually says something, and that requires
    that it instantiate a very specific range of possibilities at a given point. All objects that we perceive are languages to us and thus your model has to be a model of language comprehension. Pattern recognition software used to understand speech takes into account the need for a machine to be able to accommodate new arrangements of symbols and at the same time recognize context, organize and disambiguate.
    You may argue that what you're after is value, not comprehension, but I don't think we can get to one without the other.

    We could describe human motivation in terms of stimulus-response. That's one type of 'code'.
    Or we could model drives in terms of internal intentional states. That's another kind of code.
    Or we could track the patterns of firings of neurons in the brains.
    These are all true representations , but they are incompatible with each other in terms of their
    predictive abilities.
    Is your model another code to add to these? Since the cognitive-intentional level of description of valuation is the most sophisticated psychological account today, that would be the one to compare to yours. We would have to ask what advantages your account has, perhaps in the process delving into the history of cognitive science, including what it has absorbed along the way from various fields, including Shannon's information theory, linguistics, cybernetics, etc.

    "My entire argument is, in fact, that the value of an object is relative. For example, a life jacket is much more valuable to a drowning person than it is to a person on land, because without the life jacket zero actions will be possible for the drowning person in the future."

    IF that is so, then how do we assess in the object itself its value? Of 10 people choosing to buy a dog,
    how do we assess what it is in the dog itself that makes it valuable to those 10 people , give that each is looking for different personality attributes in the dog. How do we translate "friendly', 'frisky', 'quiet, 'loyal', 'smart' into number of possible states without having to determine how the dog's capacities and each of the 10 persons' capacities mesh? i mean, we could just hand wave and say 'friendly' reduces to number of possible states relative to a particular person's disposition, needs, background knowledge, etc, but isn't that just an overwrought way of saying we like what we like?

    And if we do create a 'code' in terms of number of possible actions that takes all this relativity into account, have we really added anything useful to the descriptions we already have? Do we end up with something like a software programming language , which uses quantitative language to express qualitative features? (Note that this does not 'reduce' the qualitative to the quantitative, any more than writing a Shakespeare sonnet in binary does).
    Is that what you're after here, a variation on a programming language?
    If you're trying to contribute something original to basic understanding of what it means for humans to value something, the only way you can know if you're on to something rather than reinventing the wheel (or an unusable wheel) is by familiarizing yourself with the current conversation within cognitive science, philosophy of mind and a.i.
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