Effective altruism in the garden of ends




  • I’d already learned a hard lesson: My life goes poorly when revolves around one end only. What would happen if I failed to partake in a well-rounded life of ends, eudaemonia, in other words? The real punishment of giving up on making art or serving a flourishing world was not that a god strikes me down or that society punishes me. The punishment was that I would start to feel empty, depressed, weak, irritable, or brain-foggy, as if I was missing some vital spiritual nutrient. And the reward of pursuing my ends was simply that I would feel healthy, energetic, wholesome, content, alive.
  • It takes serious care to harmonize spiritual nutrients without subjugating one to the other. But one of the most simple ways to change one’s life is to ask: of all activities I currently engage as means, how can I find elements in them to engage as ends?
  • The ideal community is like a shared garden, growing all the ends for a regional cuisine, i.e., the particular composition of ends enjoyed by your people. In my ideal community, for instance, infrastructure for enjoyable parenthood would be grown alongside support for effective altruist projects. Tending to the growth of one another’s ends not only involves reciprocity (β€œI benefit you so that benefit me.”), but also mutuality, symbiosis, alignment (β€œI benefit both of us at once, by tending to shared ends.”).
  • If a mutualist community were to include EA-inclined people like myself, effective world-scale service needs to be supported in conjunction with other ends. A parsimonious idea can be applied to a community that supports flourishing at the level of the self, the neighbor, and the world. For this, I’ve been trying on the term β€œfractal altruism.” This is simply where similar principles of effectiveness and altruism are applied across scales.
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