X-Message-Number: 11040
Date: Wed, 06 Jan 1999 00:12:34 -0700
From: Mike Perry <>
Subject: Self-Esteem vs. "Selves-Esteem"

There has been much discussion about "self-esteem" recently, with opinions
ranging from "not good" to "not half-bad" etc. Examples of self-esteem as a
bad thing seem to involve a narrow self-centeredness that treats number-1 as
something particularly special and exalted. An example I am familiar with is
that prominent scientist who enjoyed his superior status. He, it would seem,
had self-esteem but not what I will call selves-esteem--valuing others too,
on a more-or-less equal footing. True, he might have argued that his
self-valuing was justified on objective grounds, given his preeminence, yet
in the end he paid a heavy price (dying without being frozen).
Selves-esteem, on the other hand, does logically result in a kind of
self-esteem, because you are among the "selves" of the world too. To be
objective you must attach a reasonable, healthy value to yourself as to
others. I submit that this sort of self-esteem *is* a good thing, whatever
may be the problems with other forms.

As for anyone who feels they simply cannot value others as they do
themselves because of their own superior status, after objectively analyzing
the situation (with perhaps others grudgingly agreeing, given we are talking
about a truly accomplished someone here), I would offer a resolution based
on immortalism. That is, in the future we *do* expect that great
enhancements in abilities will be open to people in general, not just those
lucky enough to already have the right, undeveloped abilities or
predispositions. Potentially, then, other selves can be treated as "equal"
even if right now they aren't. Not many, however, are really in the category
of such "superiority" over others--maybe none, really, if you take all
factors into account. But for those who are convinced they are, the
"self-esteem" that requires others to be inferior is pathological. It is
interesting, in the case of the scientist, that the possible leveling effect
of future enhancements, not reducing his own capabilities but erasing his
relative superiority, was seen as a grave threat (literally, a threat worse
than the grave) rather than welcomed as it should have been.

Mike Perry

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