Value Logic

Addendum II - Concept Type Definitions

          This Appendix amplifies the earlier definitions given about the concept types. It is essential to remember that Value Logic provides an analytical technique for uncovering how we value something, and not what we should value. In asserting the basis for the logic, certain postulates are made. One may agree or not agree with these postulates, but such agreement or disagreement is irrelevant to the valuation system provided. In particular, one postulate that people may disagree with results in the assignment of non-human forms of life to the Extrinsic concept group. Even if you disagree with this, you can still apply the Value Logic thought process in real life situations. You could try this out by assigning all forms of life to the Intrinsic concept category and see where it leads you.

1. Systemic concepts (S).

          These are concepts with a fixed finite meaning set. All properties of the set are known. Such concepts are highly conducive to, and even require, black and white, right or wrong thinking. Systemic concepts are the realm of ideas, all the things that are constructs of the human mind. The following are examples of systemic concepts.

          The existence of systemic concepts depends on our having invented and accepted their meanings. They are very clearly and accurately defined, and application of the definition determines whether the subject to which it is applied fits the definition. That’s what determines if someone is a descendant, an illegal immigrant, a murderer, a citizen, or a legitimate heir.

          Only one degree of goodness exists in this dimension - perfection. Either it’s a square or it isn’t, you are or are not a descendant, you’re either guilty or innocent. No shades or degrees of gray exist for this type of concept.

          Systemic valuation is essential in situations that demand precision and discipline. The imposition or restoration of order require systemic thinking. Without systemic valuation, civilization would be reduced to utter chaos. However, when systemic valuation becomes characteristic of and dominates the thinking of a person or social group, everything is seen as a dichotomy - all or nothing, black or white, right or wrong. Systemic thinking, when applied to other types of concept, leads to a mind-set of dogmatism, fundamentalism and perfectionism.


2. Extrinsic concepts (E).

          These are the concepts that have elastic finite meaning sets. This means that while the properties in the set are all countable, some, but not all of the properties are known. Extrinsic concepts are the realm of tangible objects, concrete things and observable behaviors. All the things we discern through our sensory receptors. The following are examples of extrinsic concepts.

          Extrinsic valuation is the model of everyday pragmatic thinking. We compare things in this realm and therefore use such comparative labels as good, better, best. A house is still a house whether or not it has central air conditioning. This allows us to compare two houses and make a choice based on the number of our preferred properties or features each has.  Extrinsic valuation leads to practicality and making comparisons and therefore has its proper place in a person’s view of the world. However, when Extrinsic valuation becomes characteristic of and dominates the thinking of a person or social group, they tend to see other people merely as functions or as a resource (what can you do for me or how can I use you) rather than as unique individuals. Such people and cultures are primarily results oriented, materialistic, and base the goodness of something in nature or other people solely on utility to themselves.


3. Intrinsic concepts (I).

          These are those concepts which are in their own meaning set, each having an infinite number of properties. This means that the number of properties is not countable. These concepts relate to and induce sorting and screening for uniqueness. Intrinsic concepts are individual human beings - each one in all his/her uniqueness. The following are intrinsic concepts:

          Every human being is a unique individuals and as such has the same degree of goodness: no person is inherently better than another. Note that, however, people often classify other individuals as good, bad, or some better than others. Such classification when based on factors such as appearance, ability to function, ethnic origin, religion, etc. are comparisons made using Extrinsic valuation rather than the more appropriate Intrinsic valuation on the basis of each individual's personhood. Intrinsic valuation addresses the infinite and unique worth of each individual. If someone’s parent, spouse or child dies, one never says “Don’t worry, you can always replace him/her with another one.” We instead commiserate with sympathy for their irreplaceable loss of a unique human being.

          In Value Logic the concept person does not refer to a class of things exemplified by people in the same sense that the concept chair refers to a class of things exemplified by chairs. The concept person is equivalent to the concept John Adams or Mary Smith i.e. an identifiable individual. A group of people is not like a group of chairs. Each chair is a member of the class of chairs while each person is in his or her own class - a unique being in a class by him- or herself.

          Intrinsic valuation provides the capacity to look beneath the physical appearance and behavior of a person and see the person’s individuality and infinite worth. Showing consideration, compassion, and respect for others result from Intrinsic valuation.  This capacity can be extended, however, from identifying with another person, to identifying with an object or idea. When we identify with someone or some thing, the person or thing affects our well being. Intrinsic valuation of a piece of art could lead to risking a life to save it from a burning building. Intrinsic valuation of an ideal could lead to killing in the name of the ideal.

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Page last modified on July 9, 2008