Education: A First Book

By Edward L. Thorndike | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER II THE AIMS OF EDUCATION

§ 3. The Values of Life

The value of any change in things or men is its value to somebody, its satisfaction of somebody's want. Things are not good and bad for no reason. Better and worse, worthy and harmful, right and wrong, have meaning only in reference to conscious beings whose lives can be made more satisfying or more bearable.

All values depend on wants.

A thing or event or act or condition is not, in the last analysis, desirable because it is valuable. It is valuable because it is desirable, --because it satisfies a want or craving or impulse of some man or other conscious being. Suppose, for instance, that all creatures had been, and now and in the future were to be, blind. The most beautiful painting would be no better than the ugliest; for it could have made or make no difference to anybody. Suppose that all beings, past, present and future, existed equally well and equally happily without as with food -- that no one wanted food or drink. Temperance would be no longer a virtue, and gluttony no longer a sin. They

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