Submitted by emil10001 on Thu, 11/18/2010 - 01:23
I remember when I was at University, while taking a course on Nietzsche, I decided that I would really think about what values I wanted to have for my life. I think that a lot of people don’t do this explicitly, and if you asked them, they probably couldn’t really tell you what they value. Some people might be able to list off some things, and a few might be able to back up some of those values. Others might take offense to the idea that you can choose your own values, thinking that values must be external to have worth.
I think that values are important because they can inform us in difficult situations. If we are facing a particularly difficult problem, we might want to stop and think about what we consider to be important, qualities that we respect in others, and the implications of a particular decision. Values can also serve as a measure for your life when you’re feeling reflective.
Here is a short list of things that I value in no particular order (this might get edited over time):
- Truth (notice the capital ’T’)
- Hard Work
These are mostly personal reasons for the values that I hold. But, I think that values, in and of themselves, are personal things. I am also not suggesting that anyone else should adopt my values, or that the reasons that I have for holding something as important should persuade anyone else.
I think that the search for objective truth is important because it is the main thing that pushes us forward as a civilization. The more our scientific understanding grows, the more we know about our place in the universe, where we came from, and the places that we should go. I look at Truth as synonymous with a scientific understanding, and what science is trying to get at, what it is working towards. I think that metaphysical truth is a lot more slippery, not in the sense that it doesn’t or can’t exist, but in the sense that it is much more difficult to nail down and to understand. What I respect about philosophy is that it tries to take a scientific approach in trying to answer questions.
This is a tricky one, but is not too difficult for me to hold as a value, as I am a terrible liar. I think that it is worth being honest with people because I don’t want to give people excuses not to trust me, not to give me work or not to discuss things with me. It also feels good to be honest with people. I never need to look back with regret at something that I said, wondering if maybe I should have been a little more forthcoming about some detail. Instead, I can look back and feel comfortable taking responsibility for what I had said.
I also have trouble with situations where I feel like somebody is expecting me to act in a certain way, or to bend to their views. In those situations, depending on the circumstances, I might be more apt to keep my mouth shut, and not say anything, but if I am asked a direct question, I will give an honest response.
Intellectual honesty is also important. If you aren’t going to be intellectually honest, then there is very little point in having a discussion with you.
I think that from a metaphysical point of view, moral responsibility is very difficult to justify. But, from the personal perspective, taking responsibility for a mistake can not only make you feel better, but it can provide you with opportunities. Namely, if you screw up and admit it, you can then learn from your mistake and make sure not to repeat it. If, instead you refuse to take responsibility, you might be tempted to repeat your mistake again, since you are claiming that whatever it was that went wrong before wasn’t your fault. When somebody screws up with me, I want them to just tell me so that we can figure out how to fix it and move on. I worked for a guy who refused to do that, and his stubbornness cost the entire team lots of time and money.
This one has really paid off for me. I remember growing up and observing my family. The extended family on my mom’s side has a few cottages on Lake Ontario, and every weekend during the summer we would all stay down there. The whole family would work on projects all weekend, usually a couple of different things going on at a time. One of my uncles doubled the size of his cottage over the course of a couple of years, and built an automated boat ramp. Another uncle actually built a cottage from the ground up. Hard work has been something that I had always respected, but it didn’t really click until I sat down and seriously considered what I thought was important.
For me, it is what got me my current job. I had spent a few years after college working at a job that I didn’t really like, and was eventually laid off when we lost a big client. I spent some time thinking about what to do, and what I decided was that I wasn’t just going to sit around all day sending out resumes. Instead, I took some classes and completed some of my own personal projects. I wrote a couple of small video games, as well as one or two other software projects. When I applied for the job that I have now, my interviewer was really impressed with what I had done on my own and decided to hire me. Since then, I haven’t disappointed, I just kept working. I know that there have been several people that have come and gone from my group, but the CEO keeps calling me with work.
This is an essential way for us to grow. I love learning new things. I’ve been out of school for almost five years now, but I’m still taking classes when I can. I’m on my fourth course since I graduated. I’ve taken Intro to Computer Science, Data Structures, Game Development and now Free Will. I love reading about new studies, or new ideas. I want to keep learning things for the rest of my life, and I want to take as many courses as I can to learn things in-depth. I think that this also ties into Truth, in that education is required for us to move towards a better understanding of the world that we live in.
What are your values? Original comments here.