Re: ESSAY: Goal Preservation

From: Philip Goetz (
Date: Mon Jul 31 2006 - 15:44:58 MDT

Thanks for the interesting observation about marriage vows and
goal-goals. I've often been puzzled by marriage vows, and why one
makes a promise to love someone rather than a promise to try to be

On 7/23/06, Joshua Fox <> wrote:
> Olie,
> These are a few goals built into our genes. Humans have the unique
> ability to set higher-level goals, but this is a shallow, recently
> evolved ability, and often breaks down, especially in the face of the
> built-in goals. That's why it is so hard to diet.

I think that dieting works when and only when the dieter believes the
benefits outweigh the costs. Most dieters fail because they have an
abstract notion that things will improve if they lose weight, but an
immediate, visceral sense of the pleasure they'll get from a
chocolate-chip ice-cream sandwich. Those who have something specific
that they want, that they believe they'll get if they diet - a mate, a
role on Broadway - succeed.

So I think the failure of diets has nothing to do with goal-setting
being a recently-evolved skill. I think setting goals is a very old
skill, not unique to humans, but fails when we set purely linguistic
goals rather than felt goals.

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