Hierarchy of values. Axiology - the doctrine of values

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Hierarchy of values. Axiology - the doctrine of values
Hierarchy of values. Axiology - the doctrine of values

One of the most important differences between man and animals is the presence of a conscious attitude to reality, as well as a creative and creative beginning, spirituality, morality. It is not enough for any person to satisfy only his physiological needs. Possessing consciousness, emotionality, intellect and will, a person became more and more interested in various philosophical issues, including the problem of values, their types, significance for themselves and society, humanity as a whole, as well as highlighting the most important of them for themselves, creating their own system. ideals. Since ancient times, people have formed worldview values corresponding to the era.


Value is considered to be the positive or negative importance of objects and phenomena of existing reality for people, a social group or society as a whole. This term refers to the personal and socialcultural significance.

"Value" is a philosophical concept that is the realm of the human mind. Only people are characterized by the ability to evaluate, to give meaning, to consciously perform actions. Describing the difference between man and other living beings, K. Marx noted that people, in contrast to animals, are also guided by aesthetic and ethical principles. Therefore, the term "value" includes both the objects of the natural world and the phenomena of the material and spiritual culture of man. For example, these are social ideals (goodness, justice, beauty), scientific knowledge, arts.

nature of values
nature of values

In ancient times, good (moral criterion), beauty (aesthetics) and truth (cognitive aspect) were considered the most important human values. Nowadays, people strive for personal success, development and material well-being.


Values, acting as guidelines for people in life, contribute to the stability of the world, form the basis for an orderly activity aimed at achieving certain goals and ideals. Thanks to them, various needs and interests (higher and lower), motivations, aspirations and tasks of people are formed, ways to achieve them are developed. Values regulate and coordinate human actions. They are a measure of his actions, as well as the actions of others.

It is important that without awareness of values it is impossible to understand the hypostasis, the essence of a person, to realize the true meaning of his life. The individual possesses concepts of values not from birth, notgenetically, but as a result of involvement in society with its specific attitudes and norms. Since man is a social being, he becomes the bearer of these principles and rules. Values are the subject of his needs and aspirations, a guideline in actions and positions in the assessment of various objects and phenomena.

personal values
personal values

However, value orientations may not be consistent with each other, be diametrically opposed and change based on specific conditions. This is due to the constant attraction of the human soul to achieve perfection, certain standards and truths that can change over time.

National values of different nations determine the core of their moral principles. Each nation, in the course of its historical, cultural and moral development, defines, puts above all certain standards, for example, heroism on the battlefield, creativity, asceticism, and so on.

But the values of every culture and people in any period are impossible without the participation of human consciousness. Also, rooted life guidelines play an indispensable role both in society and for the individual. They perform cognitive, standardizing, regulatory, communication functions. As a result, they contribute to the integration of the individual into the social system.

Thanks to values, the inner, spiritual world of a person, higher motivations, the desire for self-improvement are formed.

Prerequisites for awareness

The very concept and types of values arose in a particular person due to the need and interest to realize, comprehendits essence, as well as the concept and laws of society.

Life processes and functions in the world of people are undergoing changes, members of a particular community develop certain views on life, beliefs, ideologies, as well as standards, measures of perfection, the highest goal of aspirations. Through the prism of comparison with ideals, there is a designation, recognition of value, acceptance or disapproval of something.

As a result of the continuous formation and improvement of public consciousness, the most important value was recognized by the people themselves in all the diversity of their life.

The most important human values
The most important human values

Philosophical issues of understanding the significance of any person, regardless of his status, gender, age, nationality, and so on, were formed and rooted when comparing people with the highest value (deity or spirit), as well as as a result of the flow of common patterns of social life. For example, Buddhism began to preach the equality of people, awareness of their significance due to the fact that any living being is waiting for suffering, which must be de alt with and attained nirvana.

Christianity considered the value of people in the permissibility of the redemption of sinfulness and the transition to eternal life in Christ, and in Islam - in the fulfillment of the will of Allah.

Historical milestones

At different time periods of world history, specific worldviews formed their awareness and development of the society's value system.

For example, in the Middle Ages, values hadreligious in nature, were associated mainly with the divine essence. During the Renaissance, the ideals of humanism, the importance of each individual, acquire a dominant role. In modern times, the flourishing of scientific knowledge and the emergence of new social interactions have left a significant mark on the ways of analyzing the world and the phenomena in it.

In general terms, questions about values primarily affected the discussion of the problems of defining the good and ways of expressing it. In understanding this topic, the ancient Greeks already put forward different points of view. At the same time, in general terms, the good was understood as something that has meaning for people, is important.

hierarchy of life values
hierarchy of life values

Initially, the problem of values was raised by Socrates and became the core of his philosophy. The ancient Greek thinker expressed this theme in the form of a discussion about what is good. In Socrates' hierarchy of values, wisdom was the highest good. In order to achieve it, the philosopher offered each person to realize, understand himself.

Democritus believed that the highest ideal is happiness. Epicurus revered pleasure, sensual knowledge, and justice.

In the Middle Ages, the main value was considered good, which meant something that everyone wants. And in Thomas Aquinas, goodness is identified with God - a kind of hypostasis representing the primary source and resource of goodness and perfection.

In modern times, the good began to be divided into individual and collective. At the same time, the latter, as the English philosopher F. Bacon believed, invariably befits to play a leading role intowards individual welfare. The culminating expression of the public good, this scholar defined duty as the necessary obligations of an individual towards other people.

The concept of the good, as well as the understanding and principles of obtaining it in the surrounding reality, were the core of the European tradition of understanding the problem of values.

Evaluation of ideals

Evaluation is considered to be a reasoning about the importance of an object or phenomenon for an individual, as well as society as a whole. A value judgment can be true or false. Any score for a particular factor is provided on the basis of a specific feature. There are different views on this topic.

philosophical questions about values
philosophical questions about values

The most popular point of view is the perception of the importance of any feature of an object or phenomenon as a criterion for evaluating the benefits. But this evaluative feature has a significant indicator of uncertainty, since the same concept, phenomenon or object can carry a diametrically opposite meaning - to be either useful to a person or harmful. It depends on various circumstances and properties. For example, a medicine in small doses can cure a person, but in large quantities it can kill.


The sphere of values is very diverse and affects materially expressed and speculative criteria, social, aesthetic and ethical values. They are also divided into "lower" (material) and "higher" (spiritual). However, in the hierarchy of values, real,biological, vital criteria are as significant for people as moral, mental and spiritual ones.

Processes and objects, when assessed by an individual, can be divided into neutral, positive and concepts that have a negative meaning. People can show indifference to neutral phenomena (for example, the reproduction of bacteria or the movement of cosmic bodies). The positive ones are objects, processes, condoning the existence and well-being of people. Anti-values are seen as undesirable. For example, this is evil, something ugly, murder, alcoholism.

Also, values are classified according to the level of community and, accordingly, with their owner: individual and group (national, religious, age) and universal. The last of them include the concepts: life, goodness, freedom, truth, beauty. Individual reference points are well-being, he alth, family well-being. National values are characteristic of a particular ethnic community and may differ significantly in some matters between representatives of different ethnic groups. They include, for example, independence, creativity, patriotism.

Each area of human life has its own system of values. According to the spheres of public life, material and economic (natural resources), socio-political (family, people, Motherland) and spiritual values (knowledge, rules, morality, faith) are distinguished.

In addition, they can be objective and subjective, depending on what and on what basis is evaluated. They can be external (what is accepted as standards insociety) and internal (the individual's own beliefs and aspirations).

Hierarchy of values

In the modern world, the highest (absolute) values and the lowest are shared in order to achieve certain goals. It is also important that they are directly interconnected with each other, predetermine a holistic picture of the world of the individual. Thus, there are different ways of the hierarchy of life values.

society's value system
society's value system

In the development of civilization, various attitudes can be traced, some of which replaced others, reflecting different value systems. But despite the different ways of dividing, the highest and unconditional is the life of a person, himself.

In the hierarchy of values, the question of spiritual landmarks that make up the spiritual capital of mankind, formed over thousands of years of human history, passes through the red canvas. These are, first of all, moral and aesthetic values, which are considered values of the highest order, since they play a significant role in human behavior in other reference systems.

Moral guidelines mainly concern questions about good and evil, the essence of happiness and justice, love and hate, the purpose of life.

Higher (absolute) values are not aimed at acquiring benefits, being ideals and meaning for everything else. They are eternal, important in any era. Such standards include, for example, values that are significant for all mankind - the world, the people themselves, children, victory over diseases, prolongation of life. Also, these are social ideals - justice, independence,democracy, protection of human rights. Communicative values include friendship, camaraderie, mutual assistance, and cultural values include traditions and customs, languages, moral and aesthetic ideals, historical and cultural objects, art objects. Personal qualities also have their ideals - honesty, loy alty, responsiveness, kindness, wisdom.

axiology as a doctrine of values
axiology as a doctrine of values

Lower (relative) values are tools for acquiring higher ones. They are the most changeable, dependent on various factors, they exist only for a certain time.

Characteristic values are, for example, love, he alth, freedom, absence of wars, material well-being, objects and areas of art.

Anti-values, that is, concepts that have negative features and opposite ideals, include diseases, fascism, poverty, aggressiveness, anger, drug addiction.

Term and history of axiology

The study of the nature and significance of phenomena, things and processes that are important for people is the study of values - axiology. It allows the individual to form his attitude to reality and other people, to choose guidelines for his life.

One of the tasks of axiology is to identify key values and their opposite phenomena, revealing their essence, determining their place in the world of the individual and society, as well as recognizing ways of developing evaluative views.

As an autonomous doctrine, axiology appeared much later than the emergence of the problem of values. This happened in the 19th century. Although attemptsphilosophical understanding of life values, high ideals and norms can be traced in the very first mythical, religious and ideological sources. For example, the question of values was considered in the era of Antiquity. Philosophers realized that in addition to knowing the world around, a person evaluates things and phenomena, showing his personal attitude to the knowable.

One of the founders of axiology is the German thinker of the 19th century R. G. Lotze. He gave the concept of "value" a categorical meaning. This is everything that is important for a person, carries an individual or social meaning. The followers of the scientist improved the concept of values, supplemented the fundamental concepts of the doctrine.

Significant importance in the approval of axiology as a self-sufficient theory was introduced by I. Kant. He declared man to be the highest value, blazing a fresh path for the perfection of this new doctrine. Therefore, a person must be treated only as an end, and never - as a means. Kant also developed the concept of morality and duty, which, in his opinion, distinguish people from animals and make possible the path to the good, which makes sense only in the human dimension.

B. Windelband considered axiology to be a doctrine of a priori, obligatory ideals, and the primary task of the individual was to put values into practice.

Philosophical approaches in axiology

Currently, it is customary to distinguish four main axiological concepts. According to the first of them, values are phenomena of reality that do not depend on a person. They can be identifiedempirically, and they are able to satisfy the natural and mental needs of people. This approach is called "naturalistic psychologism", the most prominent representatives of which are C. Lewis and A. Meinong.

The second approach is axiological transcendentalism. Its supporters (W. Windelband, G. Rickert) consider values to go beyond the limits of norms and experience into the realm of the spirit - the highest, absolute and necessary for everyone.

Supporters of the third trend, personalistic ontologism, to which M. Scheler belongs, also considered values independent of the subject, of any entity. According to him, value must be studied in an emotional way. Moreover, it does not lend itself to logical thinking. The philosopher also believes that the highest ideals and values are inherent in the divine principle, which is the basis of all objects and phenomena; however, the only place where God becomes is in the consciousness of humans.

The fourth approach is a sociological concept presented by such figures as M. Weber, T. Parsons, P. A. Sorokin. Here, ideals are considered as a means of existence of culture, as well as a tool for the functioning of public associations.

Personal values form the system of her value orientations. This is done on the basis of the most significant properties of the personality itself. Such values are peculiar only to a particular individual, have a high degree of individuality, and can integrate it with any group of people. For example, the love of music is typical for music lovers, singers, composers and musicians.

The essence and meaning of values

First of all, axiologists try to reveal the theme of the nature of values. There are different points of view on this issue. So, this is the ability of an object or phenomenon to satisfy the needs of people, their dreams and motivations, ideas, concepts and principles.

Significant is the understanding of the objectivity and subjectivity of values, the presence of beauty, honesty, nobility. In addition, the role of individual requests, ideas of the personality, its inclinations is important here.

Ideals are mostly abstract, speculative, absolute, perfect, desirable. They coordinate actions, actions of a person, based on the current reality.

Values, especially intangible ones, play the role of spiritual and social guidelines, a person's aspirations for their real embodiment through specific actions.

They also retain a relationship with the past: they function as cultural traditions, customs, established norms. This plays an important role in the formation of love for the Motherland, the continuity of family responsibilities in their moral meaning.

Values are involved in the formation of interests, motives and goals; are regulators and criteria for evaluating people's actions; serve to know the essence of man, the true meaning of his life.