Archives for posts with tag: values
For John Locke and his followers “what makes a person identical with herself over time is her remembering or being able to remember the events to which she was witness or agent.” (According mostly to the followers. What Locke actually said is something else, to which I’ll come back shortly)
Jesse Prinz has another opinion.


In this video Prinz seems to advocate that we maintain the continuity of our selves by sticking to a set of values. But this is only ‘skin deep’.
He didn’t actually say ‘what keeps us ‘together’ over time but ‘what people think that is ‘keeping us together’ as time passes’.
These two are not necessarily the same thing.
The way I see it memories are just the ‘resource’ from which our identity is continuously being built and the ‘values’ we stick to are the ‘blue-prints’ we use/update during the process but that the ‘driver’ behind all this is our self-awareness/free willing soul.
All three are interdependent.
As Locke observed, without our memories we would be like balloons drifting in a cloud of deep fog. We wouldn’t even be able to determine whether we were moving or not.
As Prinz said, without our values we’re like ships which have lost their ‘compass’.  Just imagine a boat sailing during a starless night or in a cloudy day. There are ways that experienced sailors can use to determine whether the ship is moving – relative to the surrounding water – but not even Black Beard nor Magellan would have been able to reach their destinations without ever seeing the Sun, some stars or using a compass.
Not to mention the fact, sorry Jesse, that without our memory we wouldn’t be able to remember today what set of values we had been using yesterday.
Finally, but not lastly, without our self-awareness/free willing soul we would be like perfectly sea-worthy ships which have been abandoned by their crews. Adrift in the middle of the sea, at the mercy of the elements. Elements themselves being not merciless but amoral…
 I’m sure that by now you have already figured out what I mean.
It is “we” that ‘compares’ and ‘considers’ things, that forms “ideas of identity and diversity”, that sees “anything to be in any place in any instant of time”, that is “sure” of anything (or not)… and so on and so forth…
Without this “we” no discussion about memory nor values would have ever been possible
Without memories the “we” would go ‘hungry’. Or nuts.
Without values the “we” would be ‘toothless’. Or antisocial/in jail.
And all these have already been mentioned, albeit in different terms, by both Humberto Maturana and Stephane Lupasco.
Don’t tell me that none of you have ever thought, however passingly, of the other meaning of ‘stool’.


That makes a lot of sense, doesn’t it?

What would we be without ‘our values’?
How could we judge things/people and evaluate situations without being guided by them?

But what if the ‘objects of our judgement’ do not belong to the same value system as we do?

What then?

I’m writing this immediately after reading a FB post. A female teacher, who ‘tries to be vegan’, has rather abruptly informed one of her female students “I don’t eat animals”, right after she had finished boasting about hunting a deer with her father. The student’s face ‘fell of’ and the teacher was wondering whether the Principal will chastise her.

Is ‘not eating animals’ a value?
What is a value, after all? And do we go on affirming our values on every occasion?

By Google-ing ‘value’ one gets “principles or standards of behaviour; one’s judgement of what is important in life.”they internalize their parents’ rules and values””
It seems that a value is something extremely personal, ‘one’s judgement of what is important in life’, but also something that is learned from somebody else, “they internalize their parents’ rules and values”…

In this situation it would it be safe to say that a value is something which is simultaneously considered important by both a group and the individual members of that group?

Doesn’t make much sense? Except from an ‘arithmetical’ point of view?

Well… Let me give you an example.
Europe used to be a Christian continent.
Not anymore. A considerable number of Europeans no longer belong to any church and a lot of them do not consider anymore that God is their Maker.
But, on the whole, most Europeans still consider Christianity to be a ‘value’. Because they understand the role played by Christianity in the development of humankind, because there still are a lot of people who share this faith… the really important thing here being that very few Europeans would purposefully deface a Christian symbol, even when/if nobody would ever find out who did it. And this is valid even for the majority of the hard-core atheists.
At the same time, very few Europeans would – even among the believers – dream of imposing their creed, by force, on other people.

So what is the real value here? ‘Faith in God’ or ‘Live and let live’?

Actually I’m convinced that there is a direct connection between these two.

The Old Testament teaches us that ‘God made Man in his own image.’
It is very simple to make another step forward and understand that those who had written this believed that all men (or at least all those who shared their values) were equals among them (simply because they had been cast in the same ‘mould’) and, at the same time, that each of them shared at least a spark of divinity (the mould having a divine origin).
Europeans shared this value for two millennia.
No wonder that at some point it had morphed into what we now call ‘the human rights’ – a very similar concept/value, which produces the same social consequences: ‘Live and let live’.

Then how come some of the Christians felt very comfortable when using the sword as an argument to convert ‘the pagans’ to the only ‘true religion’?

Well… an alternative definition for ‘value’ could be ‘a certain conviction, reached out rather as a consequence of a specific set of circumstances than as a rationally deliberated conclusion, and shared by the members of the group living under those circumstances’.
According to this hypothetical definition the functional role of a value would be to ‘make it easier’ for each of those people. The ‘shared’ value would constitute a communication medium among the members of the community and a standard/guide for each of the individuals.

The problem with all this, as proven all along the human history, being that from time to time people act as if ‘values’ are ‘castles to be defended’. Or even ‘banners which have to be implanted on conquered soil’. Remember the Christians who used the sword to baptize pagans? Or the pyre to cleanse the souls of the sinful witches and those of the wicked heretics?

What happened in those moments with ‘Live and let live’? What drove those people to forget that ‘the others’ were also made ‘in His image’?

Or, in our days, how come there are so many people who consider that it’s OK to practically insult others while professing their own ‘values’. Which are not so widely shared as they would like them to be.

The strangest thing of all being that this very insistence, which sometimes becomes bullying, constitutes one of the reasons for which some of those values have such a hard time being accepted by ‘the others’.

Yesterday I went to the French embassy in Bucharest and lighted a candle in mourning for the people killed during the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack.

I, an agnostic, using a religious symbol in remembrance of a group of people killed by a couple of (intolerant self proclaimed) defenders of religious values for poking tasteless fun at some religious symbols.

Je suis Charlie

While there I noticed a mother who brought her very small child to a ‘shrine’ build in the memory of people who authored such extreme works of art that some of them cannot be shown, under any circumstances, to underage audiences.
(I really do consider that what those people created were indeed works of art. Only not all art is contemporary with the moment of time when it was created so, maybe, it should be saved for ulterior audience… and, hence, shown to a very limited selection of the people currently roaming the Earth.)

Something nagged me back to school some five or six years ago so I took up sociology at the Bucharest University.
When faced with the hard decision ‘you need to write a thesis as part of your final exam, what will it be about?’ I had no problem in coming up with ‘the fate of a system is shaped by the way pertinent information is passed between the successive generations of decision makers relevant for that system’ (unfortunately this version is in Romanian but I’m currently working on a revamped one in English).

It seems that I was up to something.
Ghost Whisperer, a television drama about how unfinished businesses between successive generations might influence the destinies of the survivors.
Merlin season 5,  episode 3, “The Death Song of Uther Pendragon” a passionate exchange about what ‘preserving the legacy’ means.
The roiling discussion about home schooling and about what higher education means today.
The renewed interest in ‘values’ that need to be passed over to the next generation.

And so on.

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