Values are "coherence conditions" of life
Coherence Conditions Essential of Life
I believe the most serious mistakes result from the failure to understand Life itself and the role of values. Life itself needs a huge variety and harmonization. The many different societies are like different cells in the larger organism of unity. Each society has it's own coherence. However, too often people have different criteria for coherence. Some societies are seen as analogous to cancer cells needing to be destroyed. Finding ways to harmonize and utilize that variety creates a healthy body/world. However, not being aware of the possibility of harmonization we resort to violence and destruction.
n this moment of now, what might you be aware of? It is certainly not restricted to sensory input. If you only believe in what you can touch and measure, you are disconnected from primary knowing based on connectedness of all life. Your intuitions and feelings are telling you all about this connectedness, unless you choose to ignore it. In your holistic awareness of the moment, there are three distinct interwoven value domains. Each value requires a different way of knowing.
The three distinct domains of value are: Intrinsic, Extrinsic and Systemic described as follows:
- Living entities that are self-defining, self-valuing and self-acting. Any interaction with a living entity will produce results beyond our expectations and, perhaps, beyond our control. Living entities are valued intrinsically; living entities must be valued for their own uniqueness; that is called unconditional loving.
- Things that are passive. They cannot violate forces of nature. Otherwise we can control what they do. Things are judged extrinsically by comparison to other members of the class concepts to which they belong, i.e., chairs or jobs.
- Structures and rules that are invented by us. They are invented to provide order, reason, agreement and the possibility of creativity. Since we invent them, they are what we say they are. We judge them by applying them to our experience and then judging them as to whether or not they work, judging them as right or wrong. This is the domain of systemic values.
Now begins valuation leading to harmonization-valuation
Organisms(Living Entities) Require Coherence. (I think of coherence as conditions permitting freedom to act in parallel with a multitude of acts without destructive interference.) Life is the process of forming a coherence or unity within, which is developed through a multiplicity of events within and coupled with events without. It is a series of evolving events of birth, growth, maturation, integration and fulfillment.
Values are the coherence conditions that life imposes on living processes and entities. I have come to think of values as the "coherence conditions of life." Strictly speaking I believe it is valuation processes that are important to living entities. The necessary autonomy of living entities prevents their having any informational inputs. Yet they do need to discover what works in their living context. They do that by acting, to find effective acts. Acts that produce the organism’s intentions are effective acts. (see definition of Autonomy).
Substance metaphysics (started over 2500 years ago) has forced upon on us worldviews precluding values. With a few exceptions, the literature on values is rather ridiculous. Values are not things. They are conditions on living processes.
- I think of coherence as conditions permitting freedom to act in parallel with a multitude of acts without destructive interference. For example, driving on a designated side of the road. That gives maximum significant freedom to drive anywhere without crashing into someone else. It makes coherent traffic flow, gives us greater freedom to drive to a destination and really doesn’t need enforcement. Living entities are autonomous; they are intended to individuate; to develop their unique potential to become a unique actor while staying within the coherence laws of their identity.
- Reviewing the characteristics of life gives the concept “harmonize” a specific emphasis.
- Life is the process of forming a coherence or unity within, which is developed through a multiplicity of events within and coupled with events without. It is a series of evolving events of birth, growth, maturation, integration and fulfillment.
- Living processes are carried out by living entities capable of acting. Actions are based on perceived facts of experience when an event is starting. Those facts set the stage for what is possible. Value processes select the most effective acts. The living entity acts and the stage is now changed to include a mixture of old and new perceived facts ready for the next event.
- Harmonization is the process by which we creatively find a way to resolve differences between conflicting coherence conditions to find a new coherence unity. Understanding the role of values and valuation is essential to carry out this process.
- Talking about values with our current linguistic habits turn values into ideals to live by. For example, always tell the truth. However, there are times when truth is essential and there are times when truth is better not said. What life requires of us are the value process skills to know when truth is required and when it is not.
- If you think values are ideals, then you make harmonization impossible because your values are right and theirs are wrong and there is no room for harmonization. Rather, ideals are abstractions. Abstractions do not hold the entire reality in which they are thought to function. Thus they cannot be achieved, and even if they could be, given the dynamics of life, there is no absolute right and wrong set of ideals that apply to everyone all the time.
I suggest that in Hartman’s hierarchy systemic valuation and extrinsic valuation are in consciousness. Intrinsic valuation is in awareness. Intrinsic valuation is the highest because it provides the ground for the others to develop.
Living Process Coherence Events called valuation
To talk about values I want to look at the events in a living process, i.e., those events when you choose a set of acts for the next step in your evolving process.
It is the sailor in me that wants to say, “values are navigation aids”. When I set sail I may know where I want to go, but I have no idea how I am going to get there. It all depends on the wind and tides. A sailboat has to be in equilibrium with its environment. Motorboats can crash through the environment. Sailing is a good teacher for life. I am free to go wherever I like, provided I maintain coherence with the sea.