The Discovery of Value Intelligence: Unique to life, a full body/mind process

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The Discovery of Value Intelligence: Unique to life, a full body/mind process

By Norm and Skye Hirst, PhD

In looking at life with a new lens, we continue our series of life as organism, life as energy, life as processes of intelligence.

It is assumptions about reality that form experience, manifest structures of relationships, our inner and outer ways of being. Well, all that has little meaning without a shared understanding of processes, living processes. We are endeavoring to help usher in some of those understanding foundations.

The art of simplicity would seem to be the opposite of what we just said. However, it is the act of simplifying we choose to focus on in this column. Within the nature of living organism we are given an inherent knowing for finding our way. It's how we cut through the noise of daily living, the endless possibilities of action and choices; from the many kinds of bread and cookies in the grocery store to the choice of DVD at the video store, not to mention who we watch it with, when and how many times. Every act is a continuum of acts leading towards harmonization, the art of simplifying, unifying and feeling our way, choosing what adds up in us as "good," "bad," "right" or "wrong" and yes just plain "ooooh, that's it, it's priceless." There are organizing living principles operative here, but few know of their existence.

In the 1940s, philosopher and axiologist, Dr. Robert Hartman (check him out Hartman Institute ) the founder of formal axiological science, the study of values, discovered the existence of a value intelligence. We are born with this value intelligence. Dr. Hartman said such intelligence is operative through all living contexts. It's present in all cultures, races, ages, genders, and perhaps even species. From this inner intelligence we develop our inner assumptions about reality. We act from these assumptions and get results as to whether those acts were effective. An effective act produces the results intended by the actor. As living beings seek effective action, a continuum of acts (actions, inner and outer) produces results, effective or not. And this is on going and constant from birth to death (maybe beyond). It is our value intelligence we use to guide and choose the next act and the next and so on. We are born with this intelligence capacity. But until Dr. Robert Hartman made this discovery, we had no conscious knowledge that such intelligence existed.

Norm worked with Robert Hartman at MIT where Dr. Hartman was a visiting professor of philosophy. After Dr. Hartman left MIT he worked with the psychologist, Eric Fromm in Mexico where Fromm's students said, if there is such an intelligence, then it should be possible to develop a test that would give evidence of its existence. He developed such a test at that time. This test has been validated throughout the world's cultures. Scientific materialism could make no sense of this discovery in the 1950s. Hartman was clearly ahead of his time.

The Hartman Value Profile; a "tool for self-knowing"

This test is called the Hartman Value Profile. It is a test that identifies how we use this value intelligence. Today it has been applied in many contexts including business, sports, personal development, career training, executive and personal coaching and now psychologist, Dr. Leon Pomeroy, is forming Axiological Psychology based on this test. And now it is possible fore the science of axiology to come into use more fully as the discoveries of organismic organizing processes are being discovered.

Dr. Hartman discovered that this value intelligence includes three dimensions: intrinsic, extrinsic and systemic. Each of these dimensions accesses different aspects of valuing perception, each has different logical and axiological characteristics. Each dimension uses different aspects of the body/mind wisdom. The test identifies how well a person is able to perceive and use each of the dimensions of this value intelligence. Dr. Hartman also found that these 3 dimensions are hierarchical in importance with Intrinsic being the highest> then Extrinsic then >the Systemic.

Intrinsic gives you an awareness of the overall tone of reality in which you are connected with basically everything living, and very little is not living. And if life is organism, then intrinsic connects us to all life. The other two, Extrinsic and Systemic dimensions, are used by you to develop you in your unique way.

We've talked about these dimensions before, but hopefully with increasing clarity here.

  1. Intrinsic intelligence is our ability to love and be intuitive. We access this kind of value intelligence through "listening to our hearts." When we are connected to this dimension of value intelligence, we feel a direct connection, no boundaries, nor separation of our knowing into parts. We experience this intelligence directly; no objective analysis is required. It cannot even be described using words. Intrinsic values permit us to recognize the individual or situation as a whole, unique, one of a kind. It is the dimension of unconditional loving.
  2. Extrinsic intelligence is the ability to perceive goodness as any person, place or thing fulfills your concept of goodness. We access this kind of value intelligence through doing, action, and experience. Through experience we come to define what is good. Extrinsic value intelligence gives us ability to recognize concepts and parts within a whole, i.e., we value a person for his/her hair color, role or function, some part of the person.
  3. Systemic intelligence is the ability to perceive structures, systems of order, rules of engagement. We access this kind of value intelligence through analysis or judgment of relationships. After much action and experience, ideally we come to what is most effective and it becomes a rule. However, this value intelligence has been over emphasized in the many cultures where "getting it right" has highest value. The inversion of the hierarchy of value dimensions can cause much chaos and suffering.

These value dimensions provide organization of life so we can all live together, find ways to harmonize within ourselves all the variety, yet they don't control, they liberate and free living entities to find most effective acts in whatever context they must navigate. We are born with this adaptable intelligence or we couldn't live. When we are born, it is not pre-determined what the contexts we will have to function within. Yet, we are given this inner intelligence to adapt, to learn, to use the organizing principles of organism to find our way. Otherwise we couldn't live unless we stayed within very narrow confines of existence. This confinement is against life. When living beings are not free or able to act from this inner natural intelligence, chaos will often follow, just as it does with children as we've seen on the TV Program Super Nanny show. When children, or adults for that matter, cannot make sense of their circumstances and form a harmonization or coherence within, they rebel. They fight for their freedom to be themselves, to find their way. It is messy when parents don't know either.

The amazing gift Dr Robert Hartman gave the world was this very simple test that can tell us how well we can perceive and use each of these dimensions of value intelligence. It only takes about 15 minutes to complete. One can hardly believe all the information this test can reveal by prioritizing 18 items, in two parts, one that focuses on how you view the world, and one that focuses on how you view yourself.

Norm began his life's work trying to understand values, what they are and how they function in life. What he has found is that values don't become visible in our sciences of materialism, and physics because values only show up when there is living process, change, becoming, choosing and harmonizing. These value processes are essential aspects of living intelligence. The ability to sense the whole, to act and learn concepts from experience and to analyze, then to be able to adapt, to consider and harmonize many levels of variety, complexity and paradox, these are the ways of organism. If it is alive, it is organism. If is organism, it uses value hierarchies to navigate living.

When we hear someone say, he doesn't have any values. What that implies is that he has no morality, no ethical compass. Hartman would say, everyone is doing valuing of some kind all the time. This is key. Values aren't something you have or not. Values function like a kind of intelligence that is always active, but we may or may not be able to use all three dimensions equally due to a range of reasons including contextual experiences and identity.

All this may sound very abstract and complex because it is. It's life and it's full of variety and choices to make. However, when you understand the living principles organizing it, it becomes simple. The biggest problem is that living organizing principles are just now being discovered as such, organizing principles of organism, of living processes. With materialism, the way of knowing is to focus primarily on what are observable facts of what materialistic assumptions allow. To know living process, new forms of observation are necessary with different assumptions about reality.

For instance, it is an inalienable right for living entities to be free to act according to their own knowing from which they can learn. This is a foundational principle of democracy. However, with people not knowing about this inalienable right, some people believe it has to be taken away in order to impose controls by law or punishment to keep order. That very act of laws/policies that prevent self-organization and interfere with autonomy within living beings produces chaos (as we witness on the Super Nanny). We may see the result of such acts as facts, but what brought the chaos about is not observed or known until now.

So what are values? Google points to lists of words, ideals to be fulfilled. That would be one kind of value dimension, the systemic. Then there are instructions such as “pick ten” or list them in order. Such words, ideals, abstractions treat values as things to possess, not inner living processes that are guided by an inner intelligence we all have and use whether we know it or not.

Every minute of our lives we make choices based on what we value. I chose Skye to be my wife. We chose to live in Maine. We chose this house, this car, and this cat. We are fortunate since we tend to choose the same. Behind each choice may be an infinity of factors we will never know; and they are probably different in each of us. We are fortunate because, though different, they lead to the same or compatible choices for us.

Your choice of values is entirely up to you, but if you cannot perceive some dimension of value, it's like trying to navigate out of one eye and not both. Our body/minds will seek ways to make sense of what choices we make and then try to find meaning. For example if the only dimension you can perceive is the systemic, that of rules, and laws, without the other dimensions, it can degenerate life into a black and white, right and wrong reality, a chaos can be the result. The living organismic processes will seek to rectify that imbalance by trying to break free of such limitations.

There can be an unconscious incompetence that occurs when we repeatedly make the same choices over and over and they don't produce the results we intend. This would be an indication of a value dimensions blind spot. Something isn't working, but we don't know what, or where to look to make a correction. This is when the Hartman Profile can be most useful in bringing conscious those blind spots.

We think of the profile as analogous to an eye exam. It can be an impediment if your eyes don’t focus properly or if there is astigmatism. An eye doctor can detect such conditions and prescribe corrective lenses without ever needing to see what the patient sees. Similarly the Hartman Profile can detect the quality of one’s value vision without revealing the patient’s values or prescribing what they should be.

The test is not a psychological test; it is an axiological test. It is not based on statistical sampling. It is not static; it can change and improve if the tested works with the insights gained.

So there are organizing principles that allow for maximum freedom for all life to be co-creative, self-organizing and finding its way to harmonizing actions. We are born with this value intelligence. We can use it or lose it. Thanks to Hartman, we can now learn how to use it, consciously to help improve the quality of our living. There are many sources for where you can take this test. We are doing research with this instrument and are excited about telling Inner Tapestry readers about its existence.