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Robert Hartman discovered a value intelligence inherent in all life as early as the 1950's but he was ahead of his time. Now learn how this value lens is formed within and how we can access it using the HVP.

Using the Hartman Value Profile as used in coaching by Hirst she discovers the absolutely unique inner landscape within that each individual has developed, we discover the world of values and value dynamics/intelligence from which we human beings and perhaps all organisms find effective action for life and living.

Skye Hirst, with Assistance from Norm Hirst

SKYE HIRST, Ph.D. is a Co-Founder of The Autognomics Institute (TAI), 1993, a non-profit organization doing research, consulting, facilitation, and education in the emerging field of living processes, to which she brings 30 years of study that is only recently being published. She has a Bachelor’s of Music from the University of Kansas and a Ph.D. in human dynamics and communication from The Union Institute and University in Ohio. She has consulted on team building, communications, sales, facilitation, negotiation, public relations, and community relations with Fortune 500 Companies and non-profits throughout the U.S., including State Arts Councils and the National Endowment for the Arts. With her husband, Norm Hirst, she founded TAI and started two technology companies based on original research from TAI. With 29 years of experience as a Jin Shin Jyutsu energy practitioner, healer, coach, and consultant to individuals and groups, Skye Hirst now works to bring this emerging knowledge to bear on change for the greater good.


I present here my interpretation of Dr. Hartman’s work through the lens of a professional human dynamics and communication coach of 30 plus years, with 23 of those years being tutored by Norm Hirst, friend, student of Hartman, and author of “Towards A Science of Life As Creative Organisms” in Cosmos and History; Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy (Hirst, 2008). I present here the idea of a Value-Intelligence present in living organisms – what I believe was Dr. Hartman’s original discovery.


In doing research working with hundreds of individuals I have found no more powerful tool than the Hartman Value Profile (HVP) to immediately access the inner relational realities within each individual and reveal how his/her value intelligence has developed. With this tool, I begin a dialogue with a person. Without exception, this process is amazing in how much focus the HVP gives to helping individuals quickly assess the inner relational patterns that have formed within themselves up to that point. In my experience, such a picture of the unique inner complexity of individual human organisms cannot be discovered in any better way. So powerful in the HVP are the particular frames of focus on a person’s tensions, strengths, and blindness, and how they all add up in each individual. Due to the last 20 to 30 years of emergent insights about living processes, organisms, and organismic laws, it is my belief that what Dr. Hartman began in the 1950s and 1960s can now advance rapidly. 2 This article is a brief overview of how I understand Dr. Hartman’s work as it applies to creative organisms. Norm Hirst (2008, 89) describes life as fundamental and as living entities functioning as a creative organisms. Valuation processes occur in the energetic fields of life. This hypothesis has inspired much of the way I work with my clients. Although we are clearly in kindergarten with much to learn, I see how organisms function according to organizing principles, including Hartman’s valuation. Each living entity must fulfill its unique identity. When that inalienable right is not understood, life is not lived, and many levels of violence may emerge. One could say that this is how war begins. (However, that’s another paper.) Hartman gave us the tools to better understand and support life and the vital processes of living entities.

1. How Norm Hirst Connected Values to Organisms

While a student at MIT, Norm Hirst experienced a traumatic realization that the causes of war were not understood, an experience that would drive his lifelong quest for understanding life and how it works. Dr. Robert S. Hartman came to MIT as visiting professor, where Hirst first met him following this value breakdown. As Hirst worked with Hartman’s ideas of values, what they are, and how they function in life, calling on the insights that the MIT-learned sciences could provide, he found that values could not be seen through the lenses of scientific materialism, physics, or passive descriptive logics. Influenced also by the philosopher Alfred North Whitehead, who first talked of the philosophy of organisms in his categories of obligation in Process and Reality, and by Charles Peirce’s semiotics, Hirst saw living process as creative change, becoming, choosing, and harmonizing. There is nothing passive about life, and new logics and a new metaphysics are required to work constructively with living entities.

2. Hartman Was Ahead of His Time

In the 1950s, Robert S. Hartman laid out the foundations for a formal axiological science, the study of values, and clearly pointed to the existence of valueintelligence. Hartman seemed to be saying that capacities for value- intelligence are operative throughout all living contexts—in all cultures, races, ages, genders, and species, that we are born with value intelligence capacities and perhaps are even connected to a greater, higher value intelligence. From this inner intelligence we develop our inner assumptions about reality.

Hartman came to MIT as a visiting professor of philosophy, and Norm Hirst began working with him there. After his time at MIT, Hartman took his work to Mexico where, as is my understanding, students of Erich Fromm told him that if there is such an intelligence, it should be possible to develop a method that would give evidence of its existence. His response was to develop the Hartman Value Profile. Although the value profile has been validated throughout the world’s Value-Intelligence in All Creative Organisms 3 cultures, scientific materialism could make no sense of this discovery in the 1950s and cannot today. Hartman was clearly ahead of his time.

3. Hirst and Hartman Point Me to Inner Formed Reality of Meaning

Within each living organism, meaning is sensed through a value lens formed from all that he/she has experienced. The value lens goes beyond facts and the limitations of language. (Hirst recalls philosopher Charles Hartshorne as saying that animals are metaphysically accurate because they are unencumbered with language.) The ways of organisms are just beginning to be known as we now study living entities instead of cutting up dead ones. Living organisms are like nothing we’ve understood before. They play by rules quite different than those of matter and physics. Hirst pointed to the “informed” reality of dynamic organisms, and now I see these processes everywhere in families, businesses, community organizations, nations, basketball teams, perhaps even in the cosmos. If anything is alive, it is a dynamic organism, and it functions according to similar organizing principles.

In the study of living entities, we learn they have the ability to communicate instantaneously between 73 trillion cells, to sense their wholeness, to act and learn concepts from experience, to analyze and then to create anew, to consider and harmonize many levels of variety, complexity, and paradox. With research participants, I’ve seen how they formed their reality and act from it using their particular value lens. This inner reality is formed, it seems, not in the brain, but in the whole bodily energy field. The brain is an interpreter of what it knows energetically. As children we develop our reality from interacting with our environment of other living entities and things and the connecting energy fields created from them. We learn the words given to things we touch, smell, hear, and taste early in life and come to know these things by a “felt sense” awareness that connects sensations, emotions, and a whole legion of inner relations of relations that are constantly changing with each living moment. Eugene Gendlin (1978) first used the phrase “felt sense” in his work on Focusing.

What Hartman and Hirst helped me see is that we won’t understand values until we move beyond the dominant perspective of materialism. Facts are without meaning until living entities bring meaning to them through their value lenses, and those facts are then endowed with “sensed” meanings. Meaning is formed within living entities as living energy patterns or flow, and it is experienced as a “felt sense” whether or not we are conscious of doing so. If it is a living organism, it is unique to itself and uses its inner sense of Hartman’s value hierarchy to navigate living. I call this “value intelligence.”

4. The Difference between Values and Value-Intelligence in Organisms

Today people talk about values as things to have or not have. “That person doesn’t have any values,” the saying goes. This implies that person has no morality, no 4 ethical compass. However, living organisms are doing valuation all the time. Values aren’t something you have or not. Valuation functions are a kind of intelligence process that is always active. There are different dimensions of value, and through lived experience and the uniqueness of our identity, each of us have uniquely developed uses of this intelligence. Perhaps we should call it a “value-intelligence quotient” or “VIQ.”

Living entities inherently have the ability to find their way using their inner felt sense. For instance, how I know that my thirst has been quenched is by a “felt sense” that I experience directly. As mentioned earlier, we begin developing these inner felt sense knowings early in childhood using all of our senses to establish our awareness of our world. We know what we like and don’t like early on, especially at the primitive level of knowing. This inner felt sense is why a child may cry for reasons not apparent; the child senses something isn’t right and wants it to change. As we grow older, it’s how we cut through the noise of daily living, the endless possibilities of action and choice—from the many kinds of bread and cookies in the grocery store to the choice of a DVD at the video store, who we watch it with, when, and how many times. Every act is a continuum of acts leading toward greater 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.” The ways of living dynamic organisms are operative here, but few know of the existence of such value processes.

As human beings or becomings, we act from assumptions that are formed through our value lenses to determine whether the results of our acts are effective or not. An effective act produces the results intended by the actor. A simple example would be similar to the one used for “felt sense:” when I reach for a glass of water because I’m thirsty and it satisfies my thirst. I’ve achieved closure around my intention for the moment. As living beings seek effective action, a continuum of acts (inner and outer) produces results that are determined to be effective or not by the organism him/herself. I alone can know if my thirst has been quenched and whether it was or was not an effective act to drink the water. Processes like this are numerous, on-going, and constant from birth to death (and perhaps beyond). Our value intelligence guides us. We “feel” our way. Each new act informs the next act. Each act produces results, the next act, and the next, and so on, out of which we form our valuing perspectives of what is “good.” We are born with this intelligence capacity to create and choose what is effective, depending on the conditions and circumstances in which we find ourselves. But until Hartman made his discovery, we had no way of using it consciously. It’s like the law of gravity. Long before it was discovered, we knew that if we jumped up we’d come back to the ground, but it was only 300 years ago that the law was discovered, and now we use the principles of that law to fly to the moon.

From my observations as a researcher of human organisms, I make this distinction using the HVP: Using the HVP, individuals can access their own uniquely formed inner landscape as they experience it to observe and better Value-Intelligence in All Creative Organisms 5 understand the different environments and actions that may evoke “felt sense habits.” Language is, I believe, a “felt sense habit” learned from childhood. The words of the HVP evoke our felt sense habits, and I believe much more research needs to be done on exactly how this works.

5. The Hartman Value Profile: A “Tool for the Organism Knowing Itself”

The Hartman Value Profile identifies how we use our valuing intelligence or evaluative judgment. It has been used in many contexts: business, sports, personal development, career training, executive and personal coaching. Psychologist Leon Pomeroy has produced an Axiological Psychology based on this instrument (Pomeroy, 2005). The science of axiology is now evolving more fully as organismic processes are being discovered. Living processes are those that are fully capable of creating new reality, manifesting something that has not existed before. Living processes have their own goals, their own reasons for being, and their own powers. With process, you can have change; with life process, you can have growth. Living processes are self-knowing, social, intentional, and driven by values. Robert Hartman’s gift to the world is a very simple tool that points to a reality unknown before, a living reality knowing itself. Even more important are the deep insights behind Hartman’s thinking. His simple tool tells us of an inner energetic reality.

The HVP only takes about 15 minutes to complete by prioritizing 18 items in each of two parts. Part I focuses on how we view the world, and Part II focuses on how we view ourselves. This value profile points to the existence of the organizing principles of value-intelligence within life as a creative organism.

Hartman discovered that value-intelligence includes three dimensions: Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Systemic. These dimensions represent different aspects of valuing perception and intelligence, each having different logical and axiological characteristics. Each uses different aspects of living entity wisdom. The profile identifies how well a person is able to perceive and use each dimension of value intelligence. Hartman also found that these three dimensions are hierarchical in importance, with Intrinsic being the highest, then Extrinsic, then the Systemic. Each individual is constantly creating a “soup-like” mixture using these three kinds of value dynamics to form an inner landscape of meaning. By coming to know this landscape through a felt sense, individuals can better understand rules, emotions, and attitudes, and how they meet their needs, or not, depending on their learned use of the different dimensions, and whether they applies it to self/world or to others/world.

The Intrinsic dimension gives an awareness of the overall tone of reality in which we can experience a connection with the richness of living processes (including ourselves) at many levels at once. We can experience love, creativity, wholeness, and relatedness and connect with what Eleanor Rosch calls “primary knowing” (Senge, et al., 2005). There is very little that is not living, and since life is a dynamic creative organism constantly evolving and changing, there are no 6 words that can capture what I call this “feeling” dimension. We know it through intuition, through “felt sense.” Through the Intrinsic dimension we can connect to all of life, perhaps even to universal consciousness. The other two dimensions, Extrinsic and Systemic, are outgrowths of the Intrinsic, extensions by the intension of what is experienced fully through it.

6. Three Value-Intelligence Dimensions

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 from our knowing or separation of it 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 an individual, oneself, or a situation as a whole, as unique, one of a kind. It is the dimension of unconditional loving.

Extrinsic intelligence is the ability to perceive goodness as any physical process, place, or thing that fulfills our 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 the ability to recognize concepts and parts within a whole, i.e., we value a person for his/her hair color, professional or personal role, or function, as a part of the person. We also can measure the fulfillment of these concept(s) as we experience them.

Systemic intelligence is the ability to perceive concepts, structures, systems of order, and rules of engagement. We access this kind of value intelligence through the analysis or judgment of properties and relationships. After much action and experience, we ideally come to what is most effective, and it becomes a rule. Systemic intelligence applies to external laws, rules, and policies, as well as to one’s internal moral compass or personal standards, principles, and belief systems. However, this value intelligence has been over- emphasized in many cultures where “getting it right” has become the highest value. The inversion of the hierarchy of value dimensions, considering the Systemic to be of greater importance than the Extrinsic or Intrinsic, can cause much chaos and suffering, the least of which might be the ineffective performance of tasks.

These value dimensions provide our inner organization of life. When we are born, the contexts in which we will function are not pre-determined. Yet, we are given this inner intelligence by which to create, to learn, and to use the organizing principles of organisms to find our way. This inner intelligence does not control; it liberates and frees living entities to find the most effective acts in whatever context they must navigate. We are born with this creative intelligence and could not live without it unless we stayed within a very narrowly confined existence. Such confinement is against life.

When living beings are not free to act autonomously according to their own inner driven Intrinsic identity, using their inner developed value-view, war-like Value-Intelligence in All Creative Organisms 7 reactions will develop sooner or later. War and violence occur when organisms have to fight to be themselves. Perhaps you have seen the television program, “Super Nanny,” in which considerable violence is created by children whose parents don’t understand this fundamental requirement for life. When children, or adults for that matter, cannot make sense of their circumstances that prevent the closure necessary to find effective actions for themselves, to be themselves, people will seek to be free in any way they can to fight the un-life-giving situation. We fight for the freedom to be ourselves, to find our way. It becomes messy when parents don’t know how to support this process.

7. Hartman’s Discovery Helps Us with the Complexity of Life

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

For instance, it is an inalienable right for living entities to be free to act according to their own beinghood. This is a foundational principle of democracy. However, as many of us do not know about this inalienable right, some people in power take it away by imposing overly tight controls with harsh rules and punishments, believing they will keep order. The over-emphasis on rules/laws (Systemic) in attempts to control organisms actually breaks a living law. Organismways will always push to maintain the freedom to be autonomous and to act by “self-law.” Arbitrary authoritarian and domeering constraints are never strong enough to stop an organism’s power to create itself from these value process laws. Each organism appears to be acting with an awareness of the existence of this lifegiving “norm.” It’s creative being ourselves while living in different conditions and situations and finding the mix of value dynamics that enable us best to function where we are.

8. My Approach to How Value-Intelligence Works in Organisms

Every minute of our lives we make choices based on what we value. My husband and I chose each other to be husband and wife. We chose the place and state we wanted to live. 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, these factors lead to the same or compatible choices for us.

Your choice of values is entirely up to you, but if we cannot perceive some dimension of value, it’s like trying to navigate out of one eye and not both. Our organism-self 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, your lack of perception can degenerate life into a black or white, right or wrong reality that you can never achieve because it requires perfection or non-perfection and succeeds only in creating anxiety. Your living organismic processes will seek to rectify that imbalance by trying to break free of such limitations.

An unconscious value incompetence will repeatedly bring about the same choices over and over; yet the results aren’t what we intend. This iterative process indicates a blind spot in some dimension of valuing. Something isn’t working, but we don’t know what or where to look to make a correction. When this situation occurs, the Hartman Value Profile can be most useful in shedding light on the blind spots.

I think of the HVP as analogous to an eye exam. It can be an impediment to your vision if your eyes don’t focus properly or if there is an 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 directly experiencing one’s values or prescribing what they should be. Prescriptions come with the interpretations.

I introduce these dimensions of valuing to my clients as follows. To introduce the Intrinsic dimension, I ask them how it feels in their body when they think of an Intrinsic feeling of loving, and where specifically that feeling is located.

To introduce the Extrinsic dimension, I ask my clients how the chair where they are sitting in meets their Extrinsic measure for a good chair on a scale of one to 10. Clients are usually quick in giving a number that measures that moment’s experience with other experienced chairs, using their “felt sense” of the history of their experiences with chairs. It’s common, though I suspect inaccurate, to think that we quickly go to our logical cognitive memory, review the characteristics of all the chairs we’ve sat in, and then come up with the results as quickly as the instantaneous response just mentioned.

For clients to know and understand the Systemic, I need only mention some rule like driving on the “right” side of the road, or keeping the speed limit as a way of agreement for living in a system of order that works for everyone. However, most people have grown up with rules imposed on them, and in at least some ways are in the process of resisting them.

The value profile is not a psychological test; it is an axiological profile. It is not based on statistical sampling. It is not static; it can facilitate change and improvement if clients choose to work with the insights gained to reach higher levels of personal and/or professional growth. From this process of inner knowing, people can come to feel their way in life by connecting to their own unique Intrinsic Value-Intelligence in All Creative Organisms 9 being and seeking expression and creation that reflects theirown sense of what is good, of what has meaning.

Many research participants and clients I’ve worked with have lost, or never had, a strong sense of meaning for their lives. They are seeking the inner guidance of Intrinsic knowing, of which their all too dominant Systemic environments have stripped them. Working with the HVP, these individuals have connected to the inner wisdom of their own value intelligence and “felt senses” to realize a more peaceful, rewarding, and meaningful existence.

One case study of such anxiety, is a client who worked in the financial industry, a Systemic culture of rules, regulations, and exactitude. He was hugely successful at his job, but he felt no purpose and couldn’t sense his role in the world. He was a workaholic, never perceiving any closure or satisfaction from what he did, no matter how many ways his successes proved evident. Part I of his HVP indicated that one of his strengths was Intrinsic. He was over-attentive to the Systemic in himself and was completely blind to his Extrinsic self. Through our working together, he discovered he was more of an artist than a financier and that he was comfortable with creative tension and could “love” or easily empathize with his clients. Through humor and artistry, he could find creative ways to bring deals together. Everyone loved him. When he began to sense consciously how good it felt to be authentically himself in these transactions, he began to sense his fitting role, his purpose in life. In his words, his purpose was “to heal the world with love whenever possible.” His former over-valuation of the Systemic in himself and sensitivity to the Systemic culture in which he worked had produced a false reality, one of perfectionism, which left him feeling anxious and without personal fulfillment.

He had tried to “get at” these anxieties for many years using behavioral/ cognitive therapies and approaches, but he would repeatedly create a lifestyle that was making him ill, overweight, and having too little sleep. Each approach seemed to impose yet another set of Systemic “shoulds” on him that he could not achieve. Seeking out Systemic rules for changing his Systemic behavior wasn’t working. Then I introduced him to the Hartman Value Profile. His is one of many examples of how the Hartman Value Profile can bring the blind spots in a person’s conscious awareness into clear focus.

In summary, there are organizing principles that allow for maximum freedom for all life to be co-creative, self-organizing, and find ways to harmonizing actions. We are born knowing this value norm and live constantly working with our value intelligence to navigate our living. Thanks to Hartman, we can now learn how to use it consciously to help improve the quality of our living on a much higher moral plain. Now that we are learning about life and living processes, Dr. Hartman’s science of axiology is coming into its time.

Works Cited

Gendlin, Eugene (1978). Focusing. New York: Everest House Publishers.

Hirst, Norm. (2008). “Towards a Science of Life as Creative Organisms.” Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, 4:1-2.

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Kybernetes, 26. Retrieved from Merrell, Floyd. (1997). Peirce, Signs, and Meaning. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Inc.

Pomeroy, Leon (2005). The New Science of Axiological Psychology. Amsterdam - New York: Editions Rodopi.

Senge, Peter, Otto C. Scharmer, Joseph Jaworski, and Betty Sue Flowers, eds. (2005). Presence: An Exploration of Profound Change in People, Organizations, and Society. New York: Doubleday.

Varela, Francisco J. (1979). Principles of Biological Autonomy. New York: Elsevier North Holland, Inc.

Whitehead, Alfred North (1951). The Philosophy of Alfred North Whitehead, Second Edition. New York: Tutor Publishing Company.

__________ (1978). Process and Reality. New York: The Free Press.