Wednesday, June 24, 2009

theory of value

A bit more on Japanese educator and philosopher Tsunesaburo Makiguchi mentioned in the previous post, and whom I’ve been reading up on lately.

Makiguchi reckoned that the ‘lifelong happiness’ of students to be the goal of education, rather than simply churning out ‘knowledgable’ citizens.

His philosophy toward developing the value-creation potential of students can be summed up as being that each individual has the inherent ability to significantly influence the world (should they decide to) based on the notion of interdependence - between humans and the environment and also humans in their ‘social relations’.

Makiguchi said that the creation of value as the ultimate purpose of human existence, ie a happy and fulfilled life is one in which the ability to discover and create value has been fully realised.

According to traditional Western philosophy, Value is made up of three elements;
Truth, Beauty, and Good.

Makiguchi's theory of value, however challenges the notion of ‘Truth’ as a value.

For Makiguchi, truth is found in the ‘correspondence between an objective reality and the words and concepts applied by humans to that reality.’

In other words, value is ‘relational’.

To illustrate this, think about the a news report of some incident or other. The news report itself is either true or false.

But the truth or otherwise of the said report is independent from the concept of value, ie the value lies in its positive or negative impact on people's lives.

Makiguchi considers truth a matter of ‘qualitative equivalence’.

Value must then be viewed as the 'relational power of the object measured by the quantitative response of the subject'.

So value is derived from the interaction between humans and their environment. It’s relational.

So Makiguchi proposed a different three elements of value.

'Beauty' (or it’s opposite, Ugly?) relating to sensory response.

'Gain' extends and expands the total experience ('loss' is obviously the flipside).

is the ‘social’ benefit (ie in the same way that gain is to the the individual ('evil' being the b-side of that).

This philosophy of value, therefore, is an invitation to engage with and create beauty, 'gain, and good.

In this way individuals, organisations, networks or brands can create ‘potentially limitless value’.


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