Internal and external value systems

In the post Individual Ideological & Philosophical Classification System, I discuss internal and external value systems:

External value system: “How society & culture should behave.” External things such as political, societal, and culture issues, position on left-right spectrum; moral realism & prescriptivism; value-based.


Internal value system: “How I and those close to me should behave.” Rule-based at the individual level, and includes rules, idealism, and idiosyncrasies. It’s possible to have a strong personal rule-based system (such as opposing media hype and sensationalism, and being strongly fact-based) but still be a moral relativist. This relates to shared narratives and how Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets, /r/badphilosophy, and /r/badeconomics are related even though they are about entirely different topics; the internal value system unites them.

This is one of the most fascinating ideas I have come across lately, due to the contradictory or counter-intuitive nature of internal and external value systems, specifically how people with strong internal value systems often have weak external ones and vice versa. You would think that people and groups with a weak external system would have a weak internal system, but that is not the case. In terms of group dynamics, the internal value system is a relatively new development (originating over the past decade or so) and tends to be somewhat arbitrary, but is necessary to maintaining order, when external systems are not enough. In terms of ingroup-outgroup dynamics, external value systems concern outgroups; internal ones concern the ingroup. Internal value systems are stronger than external ones. An example of an internal value system are rules on various blogs and forums that are explicitly delineated that everyone must adhere to, but also rules and customs unique to the group that are tacit and implied but equally important. As an example of the counter-intuitive nature of value systems, /r/The_Donald/ has a very strong external value system (anti-liberal, anti-SJW), but a relatively weak internal one. This is why /r/The_Donald/ has very few rules (no overt racism, threats of violence, no anti-Trump stuff) and otherwise has a very chaotic, everything-goes atmosphere. Other subs such as /r/JordanPeterson/ also have weak internal value systems but very strong external ones. There is a also a positive correlation between IQ and the strength of the internal value system. Although /r/nrxn/ and /r/The_Donald/ have similar external value systems, due to the high-IQ of the former, the internal value system of /r/nrxn/ is strong, and there are a set of discourse rules one must adhere to in order to participate. Lazy, low-effort discourse is frowned upon. Hacker News has perhaps the strongest internal value system of anywhere on the internet, yet is neither a left-wing nor right-wing community, but tends to be libertarian and moral relativist; its external value system is almost non-existent. In terms of Jung / Meyers typology, there is a high degree of ‘thinking’, ‘orderliness’, and ‘judgment’. The somewhat arbitrary and deontological yet punitive nature of the internal system is necessary for maintaining order, and is why /r/nrxn/ is curated like a library and /r/The_Donald/ is more like a zoo. But the strong internal value system is a relatively new development, specifically the emphasis on ‘kindness’ and its low-tolerance towards laziness or even being wrong. The intellectuals of decades ago tended to have weak internal value systems, unlike the younger intellectuals of today. Paradoxically, they could be unrestrained when criticizing the work of others, yet easy-going and indefatigably patient at the same time. For example, literary critic Harold Bloom, 87, dismissed David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest as “just awful. … He can’t think, he can’t write.” On the other hand, those with strong internal value systems are liable to being capricious, due to the arbitrariness of the value system, so one must tread carefully at times. The downside of strong internal value systems is that there is a steeper learning curve, but the discourse and community is better when it all clicks.