What are values?
A human value is a statement of the form “x is good.” For example, to say that we “value honesty” is just another way of saying “honesty is good.”
Values are ordered by priority. We may, for instance, value freedom over comfort and comfort over equality. This would represent the statement “freedom is better than comfort, and comfort is better than equality,” which is equivalent to saying “if necessary, we will sacrifice equality for comfort and comfort for freedom.”
Every human value is a ‘goodness’ that exists in people’s minds. It exists as a sociomental construct that guides collective and individual action.
Wait—is that true? “What about my own, my personal, my individual values?” you may ask. Individual values are delusions.
Individual values are delusions for the simple reason that values cannot exist in isolation from society. Instead of creating his own values, a man’s values always arise from a social context. This may be a culture, a nation, a tribe, a class, a church, a company, a club, a clan, a family, a team, or any group one can affiliate with. It can even be a spiritual connection to an ancient pagan tradition or an intellectual connection to an old philosophical school. Whatever your values may be, they are never uniquely your own.
Where do values come from?
Human values originate in everything that makes us human: our biology and society. Values are formed in their embryonic state by our human needs, wants, and desires before they are born from the womb of a particular social group, whose core values are determined by its purpose:
- In a tribe, core values may be courage, loyalty, and honesty because the purpose of a tribe is to stay together and survive.
- In a sports team, core values may be discipline, mental toughness, and competitiveness because the purpose of a sports team is to train and win. The same holds for military platoons.
- In a school class, core values may be popularity, sociability, and emotional intelligence because the purpose of a school class is to develop social skills.
- In a college class, core values may be wit, knowledgeability, and rationality because the purpose of a college class is to debate and share knowledge.
- In a monastery, core values may be simplicity, quietness, and punctuality because the purpose of a monastery is to pray.
- In a church, core values may be humility, devotion, and self-restraint because the purpose of a church is to subdue.
- In a poor nation, core values may be natality, patriarchy, and security because the purpose of a poor nation is to reproduce and survive.
- In a company, core values may be innovation, perseverance, and assertiveness because the purpose of a company is to make deals and profit.
Every man belongs to numerous social groups with specific purposes and differently prioritized values. His personal value system is a function of those societal values based on how strongly he associates with each group, for example:
- A man who cares more about his gym buddies than about his classmates or coworkers will value physical strength and competitiveness over resourcefulness and friendliness.
- A man who cares more about the scientific community than about the mainstream culture will value facts and rationality over fun and popularity.
- A man who cares more about his conservative family than about his liberal friends will value culture and tradition over fairness and equality.
In juvenile terms, your values categorize the fucks you give in life. Every time you give a fuck about something, you can be certain that there is a value underlying that ‘fuck’ (and probably a fear underlying that value). If you care about how your friends and colleagues think of you, it will be best for you to align your actions with the values of those groups in order to improve their judgment of you. If you “don’t give a fuck” about their opinions, this only means that there is another person or social group, real or imagined, whose approval you need even more.
More broadly, your values depend on all your social identities, and only insofar as you have multiple social identities can your value system can be individualistic. For example, if you belong to a particular gender, age group, family, culture, ethnicity, company, university, political party, football team, and hunting club, you have multiple social identities and thus a complex value system that is uniquely your own. However, no single value will ever be uniquely your own because no value exists outside of a particular community. Although a man’s value system may be personal, every value within that system is communal.
Why are values important?
Values are important because they connect you to a group of people. Values tell you—in a more abstract way than norms—how to behave if you want to be accepted, respected, and venerated by a social group. The more you align your actions with a group’s set of values, the more popular you become in the group. You rise higher in a social hierarchy the better you implement its value hierarchy (= the more virtuous you are).
Human values are the key to power, to leadership, to social status. Values are signposts for acquiring high social status, for maximizing one’s influence within a social group. They are conscious expressions of testosterone and the will to power. That is the importance of values in life. Some examples:
- In a group of prisoners who value loyalty, people rise in social status by violently asserting dominance over members of an enemy gang.
- In a group of leftists who value equality, people rise in social status by signaling their anti-racism on social media and yelling at university professors.
- In a group of young men who value masculinity, people rise in social status by building muscle and banging more and hotter chicks.
- In a group of entrepreneurs who value profit, people rise in social status by developing innovative products and marketing strategies.
- In a group of rational people who value ethics, people rise in social status by maximizing the well-being of conscious creatures.
Values are important because they guide our actions to help us gain influence among those people who matter most to us, whose love and respect we crave. This also explains why there seems to be a universal desire for pride and a universal hatred of hypocrisy. A hypocrite is someone who professes to adhere to a group’s values while his actions profess otherwise. Because he violates the value hierarchy, he loses social status.
By contrast, a revolutionary is someone who reminds people of their ‘true values’ and who, by proving through his actions his commitment to these values, becomes the group’s leader. He is not a Nietzschean Übermensch who “creates new values,” but rather a Socratic anamnesist who entices core values out from under the dirt of moral degeneracy. A revolutionary helps people to remember their collective True Will.
What does this mean practically?
The purpose of this article is to make you reflect on your ‘own’ values by considering two questions:
- What social groups do you belong to (or want to belong to) and what is the value hierarchy within each group?
- What social environments do you spend most of your time in and where do you resonate best with others?
Remember, your personal value system is a list of values ranked by how strongly you are emotionally invested in each of your social identities. Some people, for example, do not feel a strong sense of belonging to their nation or culture, whereas others might lack a sense of belonging at home, at school, or at work; this deeply affects their value system.
As a practical consequence, you can alter your values only by altering your social environment or your emotional investment in it. Ideally, you choose social groups that value things you are talented in and naturally inclined to do. If your personality sorts well with a certain community, you will organically align your actions with its values. Then you can rise to the top of the social hierarchy—to power & pussy.
Am I saying that power & pussy (or their biological equivalents) are more important than ethics? Well, what I am saying is that morality itself is just a way towards power & pussy. If we primarily value universal well-being, then morality ‘should be’ more important than power & pussy, but not every social group has that value hierarchy.
Addendum: Can we create new values?
Around the devisers of new values revolveth the world:—invisibly it revolveth. But around the actors revolve the people and the glory: such is the course of things. (Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra)
I reckon that most if not all human values have already been created throughout the process of evolution and civilization. To truly create new values, we would have to create a new sociobiological type. Or an abiological artificial intelligence.
(You may read this also as a hint at what I think about the ethics of AI: If values make sense only within a given social context, then programming human values into a machine is infinitely more difficult than writing a few utilitarian algorithms. Who knows, maybe the creators of new values, i.e., computer scientists, have little desire to devise human values anyway.)
The other way one could become a true creator of values is by identifying entirely new problems. During the Industrial Revolution, for example, the first person who recognized its impact on forests, water, and air quality and decided to oppose unregulated industrialism was the creator of ‘environmentalism’ as a value. Maybe technological singularity will present us with similarly novel problems that enable or demand the creation of new values.
- Against Values & Principles
- Why Will Precedes Morality
- Why Should We Care About Ethics?
- Where Does Meaning Come From?
- Values We Fight, Bleed, and Die For