Subject: Re: Questions about Symbolics lisp machines From: Erik Naggum <email@example.com> Date: Wed, 27 Mar 2002 15:42:40 GMT Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp Message-ID: <firstname.lastname@example.org> * Kent M Pitman > Because they offer nothing of value. Where "value" is defined by > "something above the baseline of what you can get for free". * Lars Magne Ingebrigtsen | Well, that's an, uh, interesting definition of "value". "Value" is often thought to be an absolute or argued as if it were, but while one may always be able to quantify some value for the purpuse of a monetary exchange, I think even then it is a relative concept. This is just like "priority". People say they "value" something just like they say they will "prioritize" something. How utterly meaningless. To give this any meaning at all, it must have more or less value or priority than some other thing. In this regard, something is valuable if you are willing to do something to acquire it and/or willing to do something to maintain it. If you need not take any action at all to either acquire or maintain something, I think the concept of value does not apply to it. Since all choices of action related to value thus defined boils down to at least its relative value to the time and energy you need to spend to acquire or maintain that value, I think it follows that those things that can be acquired with the least amount of time and energy spent or "what you can get for free" does indeed define the baseline, but this definition only works in a context where "value" means "more valuable than" which means "higher willingness to spend time or energy to acquire or maintain than", and for all practical purposes, nothing ls less valuable in this scheme than that which has no cost. (That is, the cost of maintaining something may be considered the negative value of not acquiring something you do not want. I choose to ignore this and instead use "maintain", but feel free to translate it to "acquire or prevent".) | I assume that you can get air for free around where you live. Does air | have no value for you, then? If nothing has to be done in order to continue to breathe, who cares? It actually took mankind a _really_ long time to figure out what breathing was all about. One reading of the very early Jewish mythology likens their early images of deities to that which inhabited breathing life. I mention this only to suggest that not only has air been "free", it was "valued" only because it could leave a living thing and it died, but there was nothing anyone could do about this, so this became religion. Water is generally considered free, too, but I think I pay a nickel for each cubic meter of tap water and about a quarter per liter of bottled water because I think the tap water tastes funny. However, the third world war is expected to start, at least, over water access. Then there are the smokers, who are facing ever harsher reactions for soiling the air that non-smokers want to be free of their pollution. All of these indicate that something that was free _gains_ value (i.e., a willingness to _do_ something about it) only when it is under threat. This I believe, is not unusual for natural resources. For whatever this is worth. /// -- In a fight against something, the fight has value, victory has none. In a fight for something, the fight is a loss, victory merely relief.