Axiology: The Question of Value
We pass at last into our third and final set of philosophic problems, those which collect about the pole of what men have come to call "value." Man is not only a "knowing" organism; he is also a "valuing" organism -- he likes some things more than others, i.e., he has preferences. Man's valuing, moreover, is perhaps an even more decisive characteristic of his behavior than his knowing. This is the view, for instance, of many people who believe that the quality of a person's life, i.e., what he cherishes, what he truly wants out of life, is a better measure of his humanness than the "quantity" of his life, i.e., how much he knows, how widely read he is or how knowledgeable or learned he may be. We all know people who are highly educated and conversant on a great many topics but whose life values leave them, in our eyes, short of attainment of the humane and cultivated life.
So likewise do we judge whole societies and cultures. The true measure of a society, or even of a whole civilization, is better looked for in what the society basically wants, rather than in how sophisticated its technology may be or how efficient its political institutions are.
This is a particularly poignant reminder in our own time, for many