• Shawn
    12.1k
    I'm reasoning the following about 'intrinsic value'. I framed the question not in the traditional manner of asking for a definition as to what IS intrinsic value, as that is classically defined as a good in-of-itself. However, encountering this way of framing the question brings the following reasoning, according to my understanding:

    A1) If nothing in this world has intrinsic value, then the following follows;
    A2) Intrinsic value is entirely subjective.

    Please keep in mind, that we cannot call any 'need' an intrinsic value, because it is dependent upon something else, meaning that it has instrumental value to ourselves rather than intrinsic value. If the above is true, then what has intrinsic value is most commonly associated with intrinsic needs, which leads us to a vicious circle or entrapment inside or outside of which is most important to ourselves. However, if we speak of importance, then we are confined to discovering what we want or need, therefore, again we reduce intrinsic value to instrumental value.

    How does one escape this vicious circle?
  • khaled
    3.4k
    What's the problem with intrinsic value being reduced to instrumental value?
  • john27
    661


    I'd say community has intrinsic value. That may in and of itself be subjective, but since most humans tend to agree that we need (not a need, but y'know) community to function at our best, I'd say it takes a more objective role when it's about us.
  • Agent Smith
    1.2k
    Camus-Kant Riddle of Value

    Kant was adamant that people should be considered as ends in themselves, never as means i.e. loosely speaking, a (human) life has intrinsic value.

    Enter Camus. People desire meaning and none exist (Absurdism). Now, what people refer to by meaning of life, they usually mean some kind of purpose i.e. use which is synonymous with instrumental value.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    Intrinsic value is entirely subjective.Shawn
    If you mean value is always wrt to some standard, then sure. But is that really the case? I invite you to think a bit more about what value is. Is gold valuable? How do you go about answering that question? Or if not gold, then food, water, shelter, or tickets to the opera.

    Your question would seem to be, can there be value where there is no valuer? A nonsense question until and unless the details qualified, but qualification then being/providing the answer.
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    What's the problem with intrinsic value being reduced to instrumental value?khaled
    Good question.
  • Shawn
    12.1k
    What's the problem with intrinsic value being reduced to instrumental value?khaled

    Mainly a definitional one. Things that have intrinsic value are good in-of-itself. Something with instrumental value is regarded as something that has relative value depending on needs or wants. Hence the issue with the definitions not coinciding...
  • Shawn
    12.1k
    I'd say community has intrinsic value.john27

    It's somewhat vague to say that community has intrinsic value. Comparative to what else?
  • Shawn
    12.1k
    If you mean value is always wrt to some standard, then sure. But is that really the case? I invite you to think a bit more about what value is. Is gold valuable? How do you go about answering that question? Or if not gold, then food, water, shelter, or tickets to the opera.

    Your question would seem to be, can there be value where there is no valuer? A nonsense question until and unless the details qualified, but qualification then being/providing the answer.
    tim wood

    I take it as following. A good-in-of-itself is recognized as valuable to a person or even government. The issue with determining value or ascribing value to something that has worth is complex because it has utility, as far as I can tell.

    When you rule out utility and preference, you are still left with subjective an aesthetic appreciation of value, as you describe it being tickets to the opera or some such?
  • tim wood
    8.4k
    My take: no valuer, no value. But once a valuer, then the value assigned can become intrinsic within that value system. This can be developed at length, but I'm sure you can do that as well as I can. Extending "value" to any not strictly factual judgment (and maybe those too), we end up with systems in which things can both be and not be, which goes back to particulars, and with particulars, often the questions evaporate.

    The logic that covers this being rhetoric. No is or is not, but instead usually whether better or worse. Is human life categorically, absolutely, irreducibly valuable? Of course it is. Is his or her life valuable? Well, maybe not so much. And there is no reconciliation of these, beyond recognizing the error of trying to subsume different ideas under the same words and rules.
  • john27
    661
    It's somewhat vague to say that community has intrinsic value. Comparative to what else?Shawn

    Comparative to a solitary life, I'd say that community/society/relationships is good in and of itself.
  • Agent Smith
    1.2k
    Value:

    1. Intrinsic value only [useless] :sad:
    2. Instrumental value only [useful] :smile:
    3. Intrinsic + Instrumental value [useless + useful] :chin:
  • Wayfarer
    14.6k
    ‘Either everything is a miracle, or nothing is’ ~ bogus Einstein quote.

    Also TLP 6.41 The sense of the world must lie outside the world. In the world everything is as it is and happens as it does happen. In it there is no value—and if there were, it would be of no value.

    If there is a value which is of value, it must lie outside all happening and being-so. For all happening and being-so is accidental.

    What makes it non-accidental cannot lie in the world, for otherwise this would again be accidental.

    It must lie outside the world.

    Comment: this is a reference - one of the last! - to ‘the unconditioned’ which has elsewhere sunk beneath the notice of philosophy (so-called.)
  • Yohan
    380
    The only thing I intrinsically value is not being bored and not being dead.
  • Yohan
    380
    Edit: Isn't the one intrinsic value wellbeing?
    Isn't even the motive of curiosity rooted in well being?
  • boagie
    216


    One must remember that nothing in the world has meaning in and of itself, but only in relation to a conscious subject. Another way of clarifying might be to say that the physical world is utterly meaningless. It only gains meaning when biological consciousness bestows meaning upon it. So, your struggle is right on the money. Intrinsic value is necessarily a value to biological consciousness, it may well be a property of an object, but it can only have value if consciousness determines it so.
  • javra
    1.5k
    In reply to the question of "What has 'intrinsic value'?" and to add to some of the previous posts:

    To my mind the answer is: that for which anything is instrumental. More precisely: each and every first-person subject itself relative to itself in nonreflective manners (“nonreflective” here meaning: intrinsic value doesn’t pertain to the thoughts one thinks of oneself - for these are instrumental - but to oneself as, in part, thinker of such thoughts).

    Given that each sentient being holds intrinsic value relative to itself, it can then be possible for some sentient beings to find other sentient beings’ personal intrinsic value to be of intrinsic value to their own selves: we address such tendencies by terms such as “compassion”, “love”, and so forth. Their suffering becomes our suffering just as their joys become our joys.

    This to the effect that if one’s compassion for some other is strictly instrumental then it cannot be genuine compassion. For example, if you hold compassion for another strictly so as to be praised by the general public so as to get a promotion at work, you in fact don’t genuinely care for the other. But to the extent that you do genuinely care for the other, their being - replete with its intrinsic value relative to itself - will become intrinsically valuable to you.

    When we don’t (intrinsically) value the intrinsic value of another, they at best become only instrumentally valuable to us. And this is where they get used.

    If all this holds, then by shear fact that subjective beings occur in the world, so too occurs intrinsic value. If any one of us doesn’t find anyone else to be intrinsically valuable, the individual will nevertheless be intrinsically valuable to him/herself.
  • Astrophel
    72
    To my mind the answer is: that for which anything is instrumental. More precisely: each and every first-person subject itself relative to itself in nonreflective manners (“nonreflective” here meaning: intrinsic value doesn’t pertain to the thoughts one thinks of oneself - for these are instrumental - but to oneself as, in part, thinker of such thoughts).

    Given that each sentient being holds intrinsic value relative to itself, it can then be possible for some sentient beings to find other sentient beings’ personal intrinsic value to be of intrinsic value to their own selves: we address such tendencies by terms such as “compassion”, “love”, and so forth. Their suffering becomes our suffering just as their joys become our joys.

    This to the effect that if one’s compassion for some other is strictly instrumental then it cannot be genuine compassion. For example, if you hold compassion for another strictly so as to be praised by the general public so as to get a promotion at work, you in fact don’t genuinely care for the other. But to the extent that you do genuinely care for the other, their being - replete with its intrinsic value relative to itself - will become intrinsically valuable to you.

    When we don’t (intrinsically) value the intrinsic value of another, they at best become only instrumentally valuable to us. And this is where they get used.

    If all this holds, then by shear fact that subjective beings occur in the world, so too occurs intrinsic value. If any one of us doesn’t find anyone else to be intrinsically valuable, the individual will nevertheless be intrinsically valuable to him/herself.
    javra

    I think you are close, or, closer than anyone I have come across. But you don't quite say what intrinsic value IS. The having it as something on the value end of a desire, that is, in the valuing agency herself, is of course right, but how does the having such a value make that value an intrinsic value? What makes it intrinsic? Being non contingent. This means among all the things one can say to contextualize the value, once these are suspended, there still remains what is independent of all this. Once it is linked to a contingency, like ice cream or skiing, then you find difference, you find indeterminacy. Intrinsic value can't be something that is relativized to a particular person's tastes, for if, say, skiing were an intrinsic value, it would be a value for all. Intrinsic values are not variable.
    The trick is to reconcile the vagaries of subjectivity with the requirements of intrinsic value.
  • Astrophel
    72
    One must remember that nothing in the world has meaning in and of itself, but only in relation to a conscious subject. Another way of clarifying might be to say that the physical world is utterly meaningless. It only gains meaning when biological consciousness bestows meaning upon it. So, your struggle is right on the money. Intrinsic value is necessarily a value to biological consciousness, it may well be a property of an object, but it can only have value if consciousness determines it so.boagie

    But you have to see that conscious subject ARE the world. There is nothing localized about a person at the broadly conceived totality. I am what the world does under certain conditions and this physical existence just the form of something eternal. So, when consciousness "bestows meaning" upon a thing, this act has only apparent boundaries of locality. But the concept of locality altogether disappears in the broadest conception of things.
  • Astrophel
    72
    1. Intrinsic value only [useless] :sad:
    2. Instrumental value only [useful] :smile:
    3. Intrinsic + Instrumental value [useless + useful] :chin:
    Agent Smith

    Useful instrumentality begs the question: instrumental for what? This will no doubt point to something else that bears the same question, until something that is not questionable is reached.
  • Agent Smith
    1.2k
    instrumental for what?Astrophel

    For anything at all. We don't need to specify what exactly something is useful for; that something can be used (Wittgenstein & meaning of life) is all that matters.
  • Astrophel
    72
    For anything at all. We don't need to specify what exactly something is useful for; that something can be used (Wittgenstein & meaning of life) is all that matters.Agent Smith

    No, no. I mean, you say intrinsic value is useless. Yet the notion of instrumentality implies something that is not useless, something that is for what is not instrumental. Otherwise, you end up with a system instrumentality that has no designated value.
    Wittgenstein put value up front, but insisted we couldn't talk about this, even though he talked about it. Its the "ladder" explanation.
  • Agent Smith
    1.2k
    No, no. I mean, you say intrinsic value is uselessAstrophel

    Yes, it has to be. How would you isolate the variable intrinsic value otherwise?
  • javra
    1.5k
    I think you are close, or, closer than anyone I have come across.Astrophel

    Wow, thank you much.

    But you don't quite say what intrinsic value IS. [...] What makes it intrinsic? Being non contingent. [...] Intrinsic value can't be something that is relativized to a particular person's tastes, for if, say, skiing were an intrinsic value, it would be a value for all. Intrinsic values are not variable.
    The trick is to reconcile the vagaries of subjectivity with the requirements of intrinsic value.
    Astrophel

    In my defense, I took my best shot at answering the thread’s question of “what has intrinsic value?”, not bothering with the issue of what intrinsic value is in the metaphysical sense.

    Doing so is no easy task. But I’ll just say that if intrinsic value is a non-contingent end-in-itself this to me strongly connotes concepts of an ultimate reality. Brahman as an eastern, Hindu notion of this; the One as a western Neo-platonic notion. The underlying idea pivoting around the supposition that all sentient beings are, for lack of a better phrasing, fragmented emanations of this ultimate reality which is not contingent and is an end-in-itself. Thereby making each sentient being endowed with that which is not contingent and an end-in-itself, i.e. with intrinsic value, relative to itself.

    I’m quite certain that this will be odd sounding to many hereabouts. And I don’t mean to defend this position. So far though it's my best understanding of how your question can be addressed. Open to alternatives though ...
  • Astrophel
    72
    Yes, it has to be. How would you isolate the variable intrinsic value otherwise?Agent Smith

    Oh. I get the point. Intrinsic value is useless, it has no utility, not good for something else.....I was a bit slow on this. I thought you had no use for the idea itself.
  • Astrophel
    72
    Doing so is no easy task. But I’ll just say that if intrinsic value is a non-contingent end-in-itself this to me strongly connotes concepts of an ultimate reality. Brahman as an eastern, Hindu notion of this; the One as a western Neo-platonic notion. The underlying idea pivoting around the supposition that all sentient beings are, for lack of a better phrasing, fragmented emanations of this ultimate reality which is not contingent and is an end-in-itself. Thereby making each sentient being endowed with that which is not contingent and an end-in-itself, i.e. with intrinsic value, relative to itself.javra

    The hard part is to ground intrinsicness. Language itself, the defining and contextualizing, gives whatever it takes up a form that can be controlled, totalized, if you will, into familiar categories. Speaking qua speaking puts things in familiar contexts; it is inherently contextualizing, which is why philosophers have so much resistance to something like "qualia". If we could talk about qualia, then that would be talk about ultimate reality.
    Not much you can say about Brahman, is there. The atman is Brahman is pretty empty, but then, there is the bliss of this realization that is qualitatively different from qualia, the "being appeared to redly" kind of thing. This bliss is not just a good time. It is deeply profound in a way that is alien to everydayness. This is where concepts like ultimate reality (you find this in the Abhidhamma) get interesting: it is an intuitive experience, not found in our language because it is not normalized for sharing. It would be different if we were all Tibetan monks, who, I have read, talked readily about this kind of thing. Ultimate here is the big impossibility of Wittgenstein, who told us that our world is structured such that certain concepts are just nonsense. this kind of thinking stopped philosophers from moving beyond the commonplace thinking of science and culture. Witt was no mystic.
    Anyway, as I see it, if you are looking for ways to talk about ultimacy, you have to go "to the things themselves" and here, you have to discover the "Otherness" of the world. In my thought, this begins with Husserl. See his Ideas I, and prior (or contemporaneously) the last books of Logical Investigations which I am just reading now for the first time. Husserl gets very intimate with the intuitive disclosure of the world and gives the whole affair ground breaking language. One cannot SAY the world, but one can approach it, negatively (apophatically) go into it. Husserl's phenomenological reduction is like this: a method, not unlike meditation!
  • Joshs
    2.5k


    Husserl's phenomenological reduction is like this: a method, not unlike meditation!Astrophel

    I wrote a paper comparing Varela and Thompsons’s approach to meditation to phenomenology. It’s titled A Phenomenological Critique of Mindfulness. You might find it interesting.

    https://www.academia.edu/41670442/A_Phenomenological_Critique_of_Mindfulness
  • javra
    1.5k
    Anyway, as I see it, if you are looking for ways to talk about ultimacy, you have to go "to the things themselves" and here, you have to discover the "Otherness" of the world. In my thought, this begins with Husserl. See his Ideas I, and prior (or contemporaneously) the last books of Logical Investigations which I am just reading now for the first time. Husserl gets very intimate with the intuitive disclosure of the world and gives the whole affair ground breaking language. One cannot SAY the world, but one can approach it, negatively (apophatically) go into it. Husserl's phenomenological reduction is like this: a method, not unlike meditation!Astrophel

    I have affinities to this branch of philosophy. Very much enjoyed reading Thompson's Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, for example. Haven't yet read Husserl, though. Still, I've so far not found in it a satisfactory exposition of meta-ethics. And meta-ethics naturally addresses issues of value such as those we've been discussing. If you, @Joshs, or someone else disagree and knows of such, please inform me of them / point me toward the reading.
  • Joshs
    2.5k
    Very much enjoyed reading Thompson's Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind, for example. Haven't yet read Husserl, though. Still, I've so far not found in it a satisfactory exposition of meta-ethics.And meta-ethics naturally addresses issues of value such as those we've been discussing.javra

    You mean you haven’t found in Thompson a satisfactorily meta-ethics?
    I think the kinds of suppositions that would make a ‘meta’ useful or even coherent have been unraveled by phenomenological approaches.
  • javra
    1.5k
    You mean you haven’t found in Thompson a satisfactorily meta-ethics?Joshs

    Or in any of my second-hand readings regarding phenomenology as an established philosophy, such as in its established distinction between noesis and noema.

    I think the kinds of suppositions that would make a ‘meta’ useful or even coherent have been unraveled by phenomenological approaches.Joshs

    OK, I'm definitely curious. What is the non-conditional good that is universally applicable to all value judgments that anyone can make (to be clear, from Saint Teresa to Jack the Ripper) as described by phenomenology? If it is a long argument that you'd rather not engage in, can you point me toward where such exposition is given.

    Edit: On second thought, in case I've misinterpreted this quoted statement, I of course agree that subjective experience needs to be analyzed - this as systematically as needed - so as to facilitate any hope of discovering that which is the "non-conditional good" of meta-ethics. And, my bad if my possible misinterpretation irked you.
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