A Value Proposition
A historical review
A historical review
If we can take a moment and understand, western philosophy is in chaos, as we look at politics, identity group formation and the human rights advocacy reaching far beyond the sanctity of the individual, we could recognize at its core it is man's search for meaning. The dogma of this debate is reminiscent of the church up to the 1600’s. I don’t necessarily propose an answer of how humanity should move forward but would say that at the 1600’s man separated from a belief system that has now created a vacuum that wants to fill itself.
The essence of mankind is bringing value to themselves and the culture they participate. Value is a subjective narrative that up to the 1600’s was controlled by the church. Science did what politics couldn't do up to this point in history, they destroyed the poorly laid foundations of the church over centuries. Martin Luther saw this unwinding in its beginning and began to establish religious thought at the personal level, while later John Locke introduced a balance between science and religion, it was too late. The tardiness was not related to the enlightenment that had pretty much established itself by his time, but it was late to save the ideals embodied in Martin Luther. The Postmodern experiment was inevitable.
From Locke forward we experienced the benefits of science much as the Romans had done in their time. But it started a clock where successive generations were not introduced to the cultural spiritual underpinnings of the science, meaning. Science saw this opportunity to replace the “dogma” of religion with its own. Darwin feed the prominent philosophers the guns they needed to burn religion at the stake. Some such as Nietzsche saw this happening and posited the attitude of materialism would lead to nihilism. I don't think he missed the mark.
The proposition is afoot.
Within the 21st century we live with the Darwinian belief that each of us must take what is ours so that our evolutionary family can build itself better within successive generations. No matter how hard we try we can't eliminate the hierarchy that prevails within such a dynamic paradigm. But enter the super hero’s to save those who have now become victims of the postmodern experiment (As i refer to it. My diagnosis is that the cure may be successful, but the patient dies.). This is where the Nietzschean prophetic comment of nihilism being the natural evolution begins to play out.
The superheroes who are dividing us into identity groups and establishing governments pedestal as arbiter, will eventually make the meaning of life worthless. Making the road to personal and group value almost impossible. Value will become a homogeneous conclusion of the thought police. Again not much different than the aristocracy of the church from 400 AD to 1600 AD.
I have laid forth a very subjective opinion. My expectation is that i can be rejected out of hand or one can test my thoughts through action. Through rediscovery of value. Start with the premise i am totally wrong, institute a blank experiment whereby you must create value in self, family/close social and community in that order. I could offer rules of engagement but would say the only rule is, you can't give up.
Value can only be measured within the context of self, family/social and community. Those terms where honor and integrity and the service to others created a sense in those who knew/know us as a “valued and trusted friend”. I believe that value and meaning are insufferably tied to our existence. Meaning being the nebulous search while value creation defines meaning.
This leads to the ultimate question, “Can i draw value from my world with the beliefs i carry within my shadow self?” In an effort to find meaning?
We start out life in a totally dependent state where caregivers “adults” supply us with a narrative through their own existence and beliefs that bring them value. From this narrative we step into the world with some pretty crude understandings of what value is, or how value is reflected from our activities.
Socially and professionally we also get reflected back to us the narrative of those who have been awarded some form of leadership title that may or may not be congruent with our own understanding of value. This is the point where i believe that our naive value and chaos meet. The challenges we face in working through our own narrative of value while living in someone else’s bubble of value.
Say what you will about “religion” but i have always thought this is the epistemology of how to navigate the value statement you have with those around you. The order chaos concept in fact is this search for value creation within a world where each of us has our own worldview of where and how to find value. Religion offers a mechanism whereby we can learn the value proposition in such a way we can be successful. We discount these ancient stories of wisdom at the altar of our own demise.
Let’s start at the point where material value is important and where it drops you off. Early in our adult life material things are very important. The need for independence drives our need to provide for ourselves food, clothing and shelter. Primitive needs. If our childhood narrative, at a minimum stressed the primitive survival tactics, then we usually can accomplish the fulfillment of the primitive needs very quickly. Before we accomplish this our value statements would read more like climbing a very physical mountain with urgency.
Once we meet this need though we no longer have this value equation driving us. This is where we begin to ask ourselves about meaning and the values we subscribe. The first thing we recognize when we slow down from the security of the primitive needs being met is that others are stuck in the primitive needs cyclone while others seemingly have a value set that either aligns or doesn't with our own.
We recognize these challenges as chaos. A place where two belief systems or narratives bump into each other at a risk point. Much like the comedy scene where both people try and get through the door at the same time and get stuck. In the past this was met with a simple form of empathy and dialogue. Today it seems to be challenged in the arena of right and wrong. A very fractious dialogue begins. Having the ability to sort out into various echo chambers we can find solace within our own narrative that others share within a feedback loop. A very general statement not meant to devalue the aspect of finding folks like you, but rather to discuss the word value. Not exposing our values within our family/community of diversity will keep us rotating around a single belief that never carries us forward.
If we address value across three dimensions we could see the word from a whole new perspective. Value for self, that helps my family derive value and family derived value assists the community in finding value. Establishes a community belief system that trust can develop.
I am a proponent of the individuals rights to discern value for myself. But can the individual be happy within a family or community that doesn’t derive value from the individual?
This question then creates even more chaos for ourselves as we begin to sort out our narrative of youth. Mainly because we have to confront the family/community with our own narrative and discuss the differences.
Do we abandon our own narrative and take on the family/community narrative?
Well we did this in the beginning, maybe blindly, but we did in order to get past the primitive needs. But now we are starting to question this narrative or find our own.
Do we double down with our own and seek to get others to join our narrative?
This has some advantages on your side of the equation but offers chaos to those who have a different narrative.
Maybe we use knowledge as a source of a new narrative?
Yes we can go this route but keep in mind your own narrative is pretty well established and difficult to change. The other issue with knowledge as a basis of a value in and of itself is not very satisfying. Knowledge has to return value back to you. In the form of money at first but in the end it has to be more in the arena of contentment with self.
Maybe we could use philosophy as a way to engage the chaos of existence?
Philosophy is very contextual. Meaning that when we bring forward historical philosophers into our present we are mixing two very different social/material settings and issues into something that we have to form fit into our own paradigm.
I believe that we should look at value from the perspective of the three dimensions. First i seek value for myself and then means test it against the family/close social group and then expand that testing to the community. This is not easy and comes with its own set of challenges, but offers up a process of value creation that we attempt to speak life into ourselves, those closest to us and then to the broader community.
This also causes something else to happen. Some belief systems would be formed along the lines of what it means to bring value to the three different groups. A common set of beliefs would emerge that could become the core vision of all three groups.
I would submit that you would very quickly realize that the Abrahamic story where God asked him to sacrifice his long awaited son at an alter is truly a story of chaos in creating value. Within chaos is always an answer of value that will be provided at the right time. But we cant give up.
Amazingly this is what the Bible represents. Thousands of years of understanding chaos and order. Our ancestors have battled this question with deadly and life giving results. They offer in their language a good starting point of understanding meaning through value creation.
I would challenge you to truly listen to politics, science and philosophy as it applies to meaning and notice they only offer what is wrong with society. While pointing to some nebulous place of existence where the journey is really not mapped out clearly. If a true effort of finding value in the three dimensions is attempted you may find that what science has presented isn't enough to find meaning or in action, value.