On the Origin and Character of Human Values: A Complementary Reflection

Mesembe Ita Edet


In an earlier paper entitled “Human Values and their Foundations: Towards an Ethic of Living Right (EOUSLY)”, I had advanced the view that “valuing” is an inevitable consequence of man’s rationality. It is so intrinsic to man that just as one can say that man is a rational animal; it could be said that man is a valuing animal or that man is an “evaluating animal”. His behaviour is grounded in valuation. Values are the basic and fundamental substructure in all matters of our choices, preferences and decision making. This is to say that valuing is an inherent component of human nature. That paper explored the various realms of values and their foundations. The present paper extends the analysis and seeks to unravel the origin and character of human values. The thesis advanced here is that, values being an inherent component of human nature, must derive from human interests, intentions, and appetites. Thus, the paper espouses and defends an axiological theory that tends to be subjectivist in orientation. However the paper takes a departure from strict subjectivism in its identification of self preservation as the fundamental driving force of the world and also a sense of “common good” which derives from the regulation of self interest, as the basis for the construction of structures to sustain human values, intrinsically designed to fulfill man’s goal of individual and collective preservation and survival. These structures constitute the vehicles which stimulates us to desire and seek objects (physical or abstract) as possessing of value. The point of the paper is that there are subjective and objective elements of value and valuation. This way the paper seeks to reconcile subjectivism and objectivism in Axiological inquiry. The methodology adopted in the paper is expository and analytic, in line with the principles, assumptions and praxis of Ibuanyidanda philosophy 1and its method of complementary reflection2.

Keywords: Human values, Human desires, Self preservation, subjectivism, objectivism, complementary reflection, Ibuanyidanda philosophy common good.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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