Where does value come from?

January 21, 2011 by Joshua
in Awareness, Blog, Nature

What creates value? Do things have inherent value?

Many parts of society value gold, money, status, and so on. But if you’re hungry enough, those things will lose their value relative to a modest apple.

On the other hand, if your material needs are covered, a simple apple loses its value. Water and oxygen are necessary for life, but since they are nearly freely available at least to individuals reading these words, people take them for granted, which means they don’t behave like they value them much.

My current working model is that things don’t have inherent value. Value — and for that matter meaning, purpose, importance, and related concepts — comes from the person considering the thing in question. So a thing’s value can change based on the person changing.

In particular, my current working model says that a thing’s value comes from the emotions and motivations evoked in the person. A thing that evokes, say, long-term and complex emotions, like a relationship with a person or a hobby, that thing will have long-term and complex value. A thing that evokes short-term intense emotions, like a delicious meal or ski run, will have short-term intense value.

Talking about value, meaning, purpose, importance, and so on is talking about one’s emotions. The more aware you are of your emotions, the more aware you are about your values and vice versa.

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