The human brain is a value machine. It constantly ascribes value to things, experiences, people, events etc. It forms a value hierarchy and ranks everything it contacts. The question is whether that hierarchy is based on a pre-existent, innate template, or it simply evolves as the person matures. Perhaps both take place; some things are ascribed value de facto (‘basic’), while others depend on the conditions and knowledge of the person. Survival, for example, is a de facto value. Every living creature strives to maximise/extend its physical life. But in the course of life – certainly for humans – other values may supersede survival. People may gladly die for ideals, beliefs or even to save other people. A de facto value can be modified.
Category Archives: Philosophy
Blaise Pascal was right. Everybody is looking for happiness. The entire of human history can be described in terms of people trying to achieve the state of affairs that they perceive as the happiest possible. Even those who kill themselves do so because they think that death will make them happier than life.
If we don’t understand this, then we can’t claim to know anything about the human condition.
Quote: Two kinds of intellect
There are then two kinds of intellect: the one able to penetrate acutely and deeply into the conclusions of given premises, and this is the precise intellect; the other able to comprehend a great number of premises without confusing them, and this is the mathematical intellect. The one has force and exactness, the other comprehension. Now the one quality can exist without the other; the intellect can be strong and narrow, and can also be comprehensive and weak.
Blaise Pascal, Pensées