Inherent Value of Materialistic and Non-Materialistic Things

Updated: Mar 5, 2019

Today, I talked to a friend about the value we give to everything around us whether it is the bottle we drink out of whether it is the friend who helps us in need or it is the planet that gives us the resources we need to survive without species.

The first thing that came to my mind was that we give all of these things a value. We can give a pretty accurate value to bottle because we connect it to the price we bought it for. However, when we go to the next step, the friend that helped us in need, we are already struggling to pinpoint a specific value for that. So let's take a certain aspect of that. Trust. Does trust have inherent value? I guess most would say yes. Trust is very important to build relationships, to get along in society and I guess most psychologists would agree that it is generally important for the healthy development of a human being. Let's keep the value uncertain for now, but it seems it has a very high value since it can determine how a human being is integrated into a society which can eventually decide about life and death. The next example was the planet earth. What value does the earth have? It seems invaluable since it is the source of all (to us known) living organisms. Therefore, I think it is justifiable to say the earth is invaluable to us. But we can still compare it with other planets. If we would have to decide whether Saturn or Earth gets destroyed it's quite obvious what all of us would choose.

As I see it, if something has an inherent value, it is not only valuable to us as humans to a specific time at a specific place, instead, if there is a thing such as inherent value it has to persist across time, across place and independent from the subjective perspective of the human being. That means the earth has to have the same value for other animals as it as has for humans. In this case, I would, of course, agree. Nevertheless, this also means the earth has to have the same value to all other living beings in the cosmos and not only to living beings but to non-living beings alike. So does the Earth has the same value for other planets let's say Saturn than it has for human beings?

For those of you that think this is way too abstract and who cares, here is another example. The value already fluctuates between human individuals how much value this water bottle has. In different currencies, it can be extremely expensive if you consider Philippine Pesos or cheap in other countries. Additionally, if you are in a situation in which you need to get water from the fountain to your dad, due to thirst dying dad, you would spend a lot more than under other circumstances. That means even within cultures the context can completely destroy the current notion of the value of a specific object.

However, the question can still remain in the sense whether there are certain things that have inherent value (e.g. human dignity) or is everything as valuable as dust when seen from a perspective out of the human society?

Do you think a life itself has an inherent value?

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