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Casanova on Rewards and Virtue

I started reading Casanova's Memoirs recently. While his fundamental ethics and the reason why he does things doesn't appeal to me, he certainly had a hell of a lot of adventures.

I thought this quote was quite good -

It is not true that a wish for reward is unworthy of real virtue, and throws a blemish upon its purity. Such a pretension, on the contrary, helps to sustain virtue, man being himself too weak to consent to be virtuous only for his gratification. ... In fact, I do not believe there is an honest man alive without some pretension [for reward], and here is mine.

I like that quote, and think it's a good one. Everyone looks for reward from their virtuous actions - at the very least, the good feeling for having done them. Social status is another commonly sought reward.

I like how Casanova puts it - he puts it right out there in the open that he's comfortable with this and thinks virtue doesn't suffer from the virtuous man wanting to be rewarded. He goes on to say that he thinks people are too weak to keep being virtuous without reward.

Roughly What You Deserve

On Tynan

Back when I was gambling professionally, it seemed like everyone had an opinion on which casino was rigged. I never really thought that, but I also didn't really think that I was winning as much as I was supposed to. To test this, I recorded every single session I played for over a year. Guess what? I was within a fraction of one percent from where I was supposed to be statistically. I learned that not only were the casinos not rigged, I wasn't very good at mentally aggregating lots of independent events.

I think that in real life, we all have a natural inability or unwillingness to accept that we generally receive what we deserve. Before I get into this, though, I'll say that it definitely isn't true all of the time. I offer the idea here just a useful tool and framework, not to pass judgement. For example, I know people who have lost close family members, people who have been raped, and people who have been affected by other horrible things. I don't think that they deserve those things or earned them in some way. I think they're an unfortunate side effect of the chaos and variance of life, which is otherwise a good thing.

When I was around twenty, I knew for a fact that I would become rich by the age of twenty-five. Twenty five was really old and I knew that I was special, so it made perfect sense to me that I'd be rich by then. I put in a moderate amount of effort, and made moderate progress towards my goal, but didn't really even close. When I turned twenty five, I was at least a little bit surprised that I wasn't a millionaire yet.

I'm still not a millionaire, but I'm not surprised about it anymore. I've seen people work harder than me and work smarter than me and become rich. I've seen the dedication it takes, and I've seen how that compares to what I have typically put in.

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