Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nietzsche On The Individual As A Society

I have previously noted the problems for utility theory created by the application of Arrow's impossibility theorem to a single individual. And I had quoted a number of classic authors who wrote of themselves as being composed of more than one mind. Here's another:
"'Freedom of the will' - that is the expression for the complex state of delight of the person exercising volition, who commands and at the same time identifies himself with the executor of the order - who, as such, enjoys also the triumph over obstacles, but thinks within himself that it was really his will itself that overcame them. In this way the person exercising volition adds the feelings of delight of his successful executive instruments, the useful 'underwills' or undersouls - indeed our body is but a social structure composed of many souls - to his feelings of delight as commander. L'effet c'est moi. What happens here is what happens in every well-constructed and happy commonwealth; namely, the governing class identifies itself with the successes of the commonwealth. In all willing it is absolutely a question of commanding and obeying, on the basis, as already said, of a social structure composed of many 'souls'." -- Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (Kaufmann translation), paragraph 19
By the way, the idea of modeling an individual choice with a structure underlying the textbook treatment of preferences over the elements of a linear space of commodities is not necessarily non-mainstream. I cannot say I know much about the relevant literature. However, I stumbled over an example - a paper, "Multiple Temptations", from John E. Stovall, a graduate student at the University of Rochester.

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