Method for reevaluation of all values?

Assume I am the average joe, that went true life only semi-consciously, and has accumulated a host of different beliefs and values that I adopted for a mix of reasons. Some of them I got through my eductation, some of them by experience, some of them on faith, some of them are derived from false premises… Now it finally dawned on me, average Joe, that there are no idols, that values can’t be pulled out of thin air. I’m convinced I need to test them on life.

How would I go about this proces? Do I go about my business, but this time with my eyes open and fixed on the world? Do I set out to test specific values and assumption empirically? Do I try new and different things? Do I sit down and think, compare different values, apply logic and look for more consistency? Do I read Nietzsche again, and other nice books?

It’s probably a mix of all these, and maybe different for different people. But I wanted to hear what you all think about this anyway, so I can get a more clear view on the different possible methods.

it seems that you would want to reexamine previously held ideas and beliefs from new angles which you had presumably not seem through before.

this would amount to logical testing, which is usually done by constructing thought experiments which are intended to falsify a statement-- if you can falsify a statement, it takes only one example to “disprove it”, rather than trying to prove it true… so, if you have a value which tells you that it is wrong to lie, first you would quantify and qualify this value by A) defining the terms, B) postulating the necessary and sufficient relations between the terms, and C) determine the limits of the value itself (i.e. where does it apply? where does it not?). once this is all formulated, you would begin the logical testing, by constructing thought experiments and situations which are designed to refine and strip away the false aspects of the value itself, where it might be wrong, and where it generates a contradiction. during this process you would be re-defining the value itself, re-forming A, B and C above, and then re-testing it again under new logical situations.

once this process has been done sufficiently to yield some form (even an ambiguous or ill-defined form) of the value which you can work with conceptually (i.e. it has relative stability over time, and it picks out specific areas of concepts, even if the edges of these areas are blurred), then you could begin to differentiate the value. this is done by using a two-fold process: 1) deconstructing the language and logical relations to yield underlying assumptions which are generative of the eariler ‘yes’ ‘no’ or ‘maybe’ results that you got while logic-testing, and 2) apply the value to itself, or rather you find the limits of the limits, i.e. WHY do the limits (whatever they are) of the value exist, what are the reasons for these limits and what are the limiting factors which determine THAT it is a limit, as opposed to not? differentiation is basically taking the semi-formed or relatively constant value as a conceptual area within your mind/ideation and looking through it, beyond the surface level, to see the mechanisms which generate this surface… every conceptual area is composed of an area(s) which the words/value identifies and “picks out”, and which exists at the exclusion of the rest of the conceptual universe. once this totality is seen and quantified, it is important to begin to see the further subtle relations of lesser and scaffolding ideas underneath which GIVE RISE to the conceptual area itself (i.e. that which is the value itself).

basically, first its “WHAT is the value” and “HOW/WHERE does the value”, and then, later, “WHY these what/how/where?” answering this question will get you closer to the unconscious assumptions, conditionings and inherent beliefs which you hold, which shape your concepts and beliefs. all values have such pre-existing structures and functions, but until you clarify WHERE THE VALUE IS itself (i.e. where is it geometrically, in 4D space, within and relative to the mental universe itself as a whole and also in relation to its parts) you will not be able to pinpoint these underlying causes.

of course, in addition to all this logic testing and introspection, you can, as you say, empirically test your values. try using them in the real world, and more importantly, always BE AWARE when youre in a situation where the value is being used by the conscious mind as a heuristic to guide your thoughts and intentions/actions… for example, youre at work and your boss asks you “what do you think of this new policy?” now, you think its pretty stupid and you dont like it, but you know he wrote it, so instead you say "its pretty good, i like this thing here, and i think this other thing will be useful… " etc. while youre doing this, before during and after, be conscious of WHY you are saying and thinking what you are: be aware of IF and HOW the value of “not lying” is working or not working in the situation itself. where are the limits of the value? how is it skewing your behavior? what situations would be similar which the value might find a stronger or weaker expression and causal force over you? how does the value seem to conflict with either your other held beliefs, your internal paradigm or the needs/demands of the situation itself (i.e. cost-benefit analysis)?

so you can empirically apply your values systematically to real world situations, seeing how they are tested “under fire” by your various environments. this gives you a good clue of WHAT the value actually is, i.e. it helps in that first step of logic testing.

so yes you are right, that you should “do all of these things”, you should think about, examine empirically, read thought-provoking authors, and try to logically derive your values if you want to understand and justify them to yourself. its an ongoing process, and will mean that as you reexamine certain values you hold, others will become problematic, and you will need to reexamine these as well… a great deal of fortitude and mental strength is needed to face all the inconsistencies we hold, as well as our emotional attachments and investments in them… in the end its about developing a coherence framework, in which every piece should ideally fit into the whole in a non-contradictory manner. of course, in reality likely we will always hold some contradictions in our beliefs and assumptions (especially unconscious conditionings we have and are not aware of), but we can still work to expose and eradicate them as best we can, and this will lead us to better, more useful, more realistic and more comprehensible belief- and value-sets…

and really, thats the entire point from the beginning: getting a better understanding of who we are and what we believe, and justifying these things as best we can. perfection is of course impossible, but that doesnt mean we shouldnt always be striving higher, always moving TOWARDS perfection itself. that is the essence of intellectual honesty and self-awareness, which should both be highly prized for any intelligent and thinking person, especially those who consider themselves philosophers.

  1. God or no god

  2. We are A) bodies, B) spirits c) minds D) all of the above (although two out of three ain’t bad)

  3. Good and evil are A) knowable objectively B) merely handy ideas

  4. Knowledge is A) a priori, B) a posteriori C) either D) neither (impossible)

  5. Absolutes are A) useful ideas B) the seat of true knowledge C) a curse to be avoided

That shoukd get you started. The Big Questions are big for a reason.

Or you could begin by asking this question - what is my goal, to know, or to live well?

My 1 through 5 are probably a chronological order of what became, as I looked back on it, my “method”. But that’s merely biographical - I’m sure it doesn’t matter. My answer to the above question is more important than any method - it’s motive.

Hmm, you could make that into a personality type quiz and then we could find out how much we like the crust on the apple pie or something.

Revaluing all values is a personality quiz.

And it’s always autobiographical.

Fun stuff. :slight_smile:

Faust, thank you.

You probably didn’t intent for me to answer these questions out of hand, but i will try to give an answer anyway, so i can see what you’ll say next :smiley:.

No god. I was never raised believing in a God, and I never really gave the question any serious consideration. I don’t think I’m about to begin believing in one now. And even if there were a God, I probably wouldn’t want to care about what he commands me to do.

As of late i’m beginning to see clearly the human reasons behind believing in a God or equivalent principle everywhere. It’s deduction gone awry, probably fuelled by fear and a quest for certainty. It’s not about God. You can see the same rationalist tendencies in a number of different theories, going from libertarism to any ideology or theory that isolates some piece of reality, and elevates it to the basis of a whole system of deductions.

This I can’t really answer, yet, mainly because I don’t know what you mean by spirits. I believe the mind is an extention of the body, but this belief is still a bit shaky. I’ve not quite given up the hope that maybe there is something more to it. Intuïtion, awareness seems able to do remarkable things.

Not knowable objectively definately, and I even doubt if they are all that usefull. I’m not sure I see the importance of this question, or a least not the choice you present me. Objective morality basicly goes out the window with God.

I haven’t thought about knowledge all that much in terms of a priori, or a posteriori. But i’d say a posteriori or neither, i’ll definately have to look into this one.

A curse to be avoided, maybe useful. Lately I began to see all knowledge as a relative and simplified abstraction of what we sense in the moment. I may be usefull, but I don’t know anymore if it’s really worth the effort.

This is difficult. Up to now i seemed to favor knowing, maybe more so understanding, but as is evident from my answers on the knowledge questions, doubt is creeping in my faith in knowing as a goal. But then again, i’ve never been really well at living well, and I’m not sure there’s an easy way back. Plus, I can’t say I like the ignorant.

And 3XG thank you for your post. I’ll get back to you.

Okay, so you’re giving it some serious consideration now. That’s good. And you seem to have ruled out rationalism. You may already have learned that philosophy is more about getting rid of bad ideas than about trying to find new, good ones. At least at a basic level.

Spirit usually implies God. Some religious outlook, at least. So, you’re a materialist struggling with vestigial dualism.

Usually. I think you can come up with a Natural Rights bit without God. Rousseau doesn’t need God, and neither does Rawls.

Another blow against rationalism.

So you are probably a particularist.

So what are the ramifications of all this? Do you make all the money you can, and give ten percent to charity? Do you move to Montana and live in a debris hut? Do you lie to your friends?

Some decisions are easier to undo than others. Knowing your values helps. Ever found yourself in a moral dilemma? You get out by examining these values, testing the case against the values, and the values against the case. Will probably take more than a weekend.