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Do things enjoyed earlier have more utility?

  1. May 1, 2017 #1
    Say there is a special type of cake, very delicious, one of a kind, and is to be given to you now or ten years from now. If you have it now, you can't have it later. If you have it later, you can't have it now. Would you have it now or 10 years from now?

    I argue that enjoying the cake now would imply that you get 10 extra years of good memories. Hence now is better than later in terms of utility.

    This might be a bit simplified as memories do fade over time, but still, delaying gratification only means overall less memories.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 1, 2017 #2


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    But if you liked it so much would you suffer over anxiety of never being able to have another slice?

    vs waiting 10 years to have it.

    On the other hand, it will probably be rat/roach infested and really moldy in 10 years and not so appetizing so have your cake now as you never know what will be in the coming 10 years.
  4. May 1, 2017 #3
    The "choice" sounds like a rorschach test to me. In other words, there isn't really a "right" answer, so your response is an indicator of your "personality characteristics and emotional functioning":

  5. May 1, 2017 #4


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    Kind of a stupid example. For something as trivial as a cake, i'll have my cake now. While wait for a cake for ten years, either way, in this case, you only enjoy it once. The fact of the matter is, memory sucks, so after a week, I doubt i'll even recall how great the cake taste and just remember that it was a pretty damn good cake. Tis all.
  6. May 1, 2017 #5


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    Why on Earth would I want to eat a 10 year old cake?
  7. May 1, 2017 #6
    Cake is just a metaphor. I'm referring to situations in life where there are tradeoffs: i.e something done now leads to changes later on.

    Another example is a vacation taken now leads to less money to be used on vacations in the future. More importantly, who know if the person will even like vacations in the future? So why shouldn't they just take it now while they can guarantee its value?

    By the way, remembering that it was a pretty damn good cake is rather comforting and can be drawn on any time down the line, even if the specifics are hazy.

    Things are better now. Wait too long looking forward to something, and it's quality just might change.

    I like your second point. If you wait too long, something good might turn to rot and you miss out on a good opportunity.

    For example, a kid likes to watch power rangers, then I'd tell that kid to watch power rangers, because if they push it off until they become adults, well it's taste will expire. It's no longer the same. If an adult likes to play basketball, well pushing it off until retirement also doesn't make sense. Their tastes may have changed by then.

    Interesting. I'm more talking about the utility of the memory though. Well, if someone, having ate the cake now, would feel nervous and guilty over having wasted it too soon, then sure the guilt and regret would negate the memory of a good taste. So personality can sometimes make delayed gratification the most optimal choice.
    Last edited: May 1, 2017
  8. May 1, 2017 #7
    Whether or not it is a rorschach test depends on where this question came from. If you heard this question, or some form of it, first and then decided it is a question about delayed gratification and the utility of memory, then it was actually a rorschach test.

    If, on the other hand, thinking about delayed gratification caused you to write the question as a kind of gedanken scenario, then the issue under discussion is the greater or lesser wisdom of delayed gratification. If that's the case, that you wrote the question to instigate that discussion, I think there are probably better ways to get a realistic discussion going about it. The particular scenario you posed is a bit too fictional.
  9. May 2, 2017 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    The cake is a lie.
  10. May 2, 2017 #9


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    In my apartment, the cake is eaten. Quickly.
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