Much controversy arises or is made out of the question of values; what is meant by 'values'? Which values are good and which bad, if any? Which values are to be tolerated even if their rightness is controversial? Has one a right to express and teach values? Can any science or doctrine be neutral with regard to values? These are key issues of psychic and social development, not facts merely to observe and describe.

The modern tendency is to avoid firm and definitive statements of values, often in the imagined interests of maintaining a reputation for scientific objectivity or of cultural and social tolerance. This widely prevalent misconception assumes that the spirit of truth and liberality somehow binds us to remain passive observers and never to intervene in the free-for-all of moral conflict by asserting positive values.

The long-bemoaned loss of central values through the disruptions of traditional religious society and the consequent value relativism in all fields, from science and the humanities to religion, from morals to the arts, as world cultures come into contact and clash with one another has blinded the humanities to the existence of common denominator values that have always existed and been practiced to various extents in great world cultures. All the social sciences, from history to social anthropology, have failed to discern clearly the common essence of religions, cultures and societies, with the consequent chronic inability to isolate which values are necessary to the good life, whatever the race or creed.

The human sciences have taken refuge in the flawed doctrine of value neutrality, psychologists tend to be uncertain about professionally defending any values, other than the scientifically motivating value of truth, in case they are then seen as moralists, absolutists and worse. But all values - and the corresponding anti-values - are so much part and parcel of everyone's life that no psychologist is uninfluenced by them in any important decision. The desire to keep psychology clinically-cleansed of values so as to maintain its standing as a supposedly 'value-free' or value-neutral science has been institutionalised in the codes of most officially supported forms of psychology the world over.

World conditions today therefore call desperately for truly human science that not only describes ethical values scientifically, but is itself ethically-directed in its approach to all questions. Through the intelligent application of definitive values, both in theory and practice, psychology becomes a dynamic force for the good, rather than a floundering academic tradition playing at being a natural science. To do so it must not only articulate and explain values, but assert them in the face of anti-values.

This obviously need not exclude objective and comparative research into values and their consequences, experimentally and otherwise. Any theory of human values or principles must show its value in practice as well as having explanatory power in theory. The why's and wherefores of values - and also unfortunately anti-values - as expressed in a wide variety of ways in words and actions - provide major themes for research. It has become essential to recognise that the much-discussed degeneration, destruction and lack of values today has to do with their relative neglect in upbringing, education and not least in the sciences of psychology and pedagogy.

The values according to or against which we act are the unavoidable and essential element of all important decisions in the human arena. Values are the link that tie together personal perceptions and judgements, motives and actions. The same applies in understanding social and political life. A make-or-break idea is that values or precepts - and their various practical consequences in life - are at least as fundamental to understanding man and society as are the much-vaunted physical necessities. They are also essential in improving man and society too.

Values, even more than observable facts, are keys to understanding the reality behind the scene outwardly presented by human behaviour. Motives and purposes are value determinations. The best-attested of 'facts' can alter colour when explained by an interpreter. They appear in deeper perspective when looked upon as the result of meaningful, intentional 'acts' (provided the acts were voluntary). An action that seemed good at first can be seen as bad from a proper appreciation of motives, or unfortunate when the practical consequences are known.


In psychology, where one is always faced with the question of personal development and future aims, there is an unavoidable choice; whether to try to see, think and act on the 'idealistic' conviction that human nature is basically positive and potentially good (though temporarily afflicted), or whether to adopt the pragmatic stance of some so-called 'realism' and regard human nature as driven by nothing more than a complex of conflicting interests, of self-perpetuating selfishness. Both these viewpoints are attitudinal assumptions, and the test of them is which is likely to prove more fruitful. Only by adopting one, then following up the consequences of so doing, can its rationality and fruitfulness or practical validity be evaluated.

The relevant information for deciding this is itself doubtless extremely manifold and its overall interpretation is fraught with difficulty. History, anthropology and the comparative humanities all provide evidence that must somehow be interpreted or judged, as does world philosophy, literature and religion. This difficulty is much aggravated, however, if one lacks some firm, inclusive and consistent overall understanding of the human being to work from, which is one reason for the present such view based on Vedantic insights.

Psychological theories always tend to have some kind of legitimising effect, as well as a self-fulfilling leaning: the theory, say, that egoism is the primary motivating force of all human activity must surely tend precisely to make it more legitimate and also forward egoism by giving it a scientific aura of acceptability. Likewise, Marxian theory has attempted to justify - and has historically hastened attempts at - changing society through revolution. Those who hold physicalistic theories strongly, may themselves tend to validate various consequences of their own theories in their own behaviour, not least because of this mind-set.

A simple example shows how 'scientific prophesies' can have mass psychological and practical influence; a study of the opinions of private car owners, combined with measurement of traffic trends, suggests that more roads be built, which then attract more traffic, thus 'fulfilling' the continuation of the original trend.

More important psychologically perhaps is laying much weight on the evolutionary animal origin of the human being, which tends to legitimise more animalistic behaviour than would emphasis on human discernment and conscience as our inherent intellectual, moral faculty. Ideas and theories can work in various subtle ways to become long-term self-fulfilling prophesies. This does not, of course, make them true ideas, only to realise them in action.

The self-fulfilling effect in any important area of a person's life is extremely hard, often impossible, to study by reliable methods. One peculiar reason for this is that even our perceptions, through time, can come generally to conform with a viewpoint after prolonged thinking on it, as is recognized in the adage 'as one thinks, so one becomes'.

Despite the above, and though there will most likely still be both local errors and uncharted gaps in all theories, some will still be closer to the whole truth than others. One important outcome of this line of reasoning, however, is that which theory one chooses to develop is itself primarily a moral question, based on the value of truth.

A theory with a wide scope and which can embody the full range of human values will tend towards greater fruitfulness and higher fulfilment than lesser visions. Intellectually, the wider the scope the better, for it will be closer to the whole truth. Whether it therefore receives widespread support is quite another question. One would expect that explaining human behaviour holistically at all satisfactorily, taking account of its endless complexity and its factual occurrences world-wide would open for good activity as a result. For this reason, among others, the aim of the present attempt is to bring the deep, universal insights available in the Vedantic tradition to improve human understanding.

Modern psychology is still all too ineffective in practice... as shown by the very striking lack of positive results world-wide according to unbiased modern research into the effects of therapy.1 This is demonstrated in practice not least by the fact that most psychological and psychiatric treatments now consist mainly in drug-taking. Above all it is seen in the failure in this century of scientific explanations of human problems that are continually on the increase world-wide, like violence, sexual aberration, mental disorders, suicide and many another.

There is little doubt that the attitude or mind-set of the psychologist is of great importance for therapy, and no less is that induced in - or reinforced in - the client. A mind-set based on the direct assertion of positive values (such as is prescribed for many forms of therapy) rather than the standard approach based on value neutrality, ethical caution and general reservation and uncertainty, must surely therefore be preferable.

Here, therefore, I argue for the primacy of values as the motivating factor behind much or most conscious human activity. More than that, I adopt the Vedantic assumption that good is intrinsic to human nature while bad is an aberration from it. This is often regarded as 'mere idealism' for, in the face of the ills that humanity afflicts on itself and on creation generally, the current widespread pragmatic view is that observation shows human nature to be 'partly ill, partly good'. Strict scientific observation, though, cannot at any stage register either goodness or its contrary, for this means making value judgement. Values, which consist in subjective attitudes, judgements and so forth, cannot be observed directly, that requires evaluative interpretation by the observer, who thus becomes a participant instead.

One of the founding fathers of scientific empiricism, David Hume (1711-1776), however, did not believe a value-free psychology was possible. He held that, "reason is, and ought to be, the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve them".2 By this he would simply show that we cannot act on the strength of reason alone, unless some emotion moves us to do so. So far so good... but from there he diverges from our view. By emotions, Hume was referring to what we today more often term 'values'. For Hume, reason can only tell true from false and it cannot even distinguish right from wrong, for that was what he observed to be the role of human emotions. Hume called for a new psychology which would made an empirical study of the emotions and their influence in the formation of character and on the development of the social contract and society. He saw physical pleasure and pain as the driving force behind all morality, not the sense of right and wrong, which was nothing more than a complexity of feelings and of abstract ideas built upon them. However, instead of Hume's sensible vision of psychology, a physics-dominated, physiological-experimental form arose instead, soon supplemented by the bio-physical models of Darwinism, genetics etc.

In practice, values have to be deduced from behaviour, unless perhaps where they are clearly and honestly expressed in words. Values themselves are neither physical facts nor human acts, they move human emotion and thought or are expressed through motivations that can be traced back to certain ideals of common humanity.

A value judgement can by identified as a judgement expressing one's belief in the desirability or undesirability of some personal, social, cultural or other state of affairs. A value judgement may be made either in full or only partial awareness of one's own motivations, or it may be unwittingly expressed through behaviour, reflecting aims that one has absorbed from one's background or identified with in a variety of subconscious ways. Any individual (or collective) value judgement may itself be seen as expressing one of the 'universal' human values (see below). Universal values are the origin of all true values, however well or poorly each of us under our divergent circumstances recognizes them and acts them out in reality.

In order to understand one's own nature, to know the psyche, examining the brute conditions of life and social facts is less than half the task. Values must also be accounted for. Values cannot simply be studied neutrally and isolatedly, as if in some space laboratory, without doing violence to their distinctive character, their value.

Human values and the corresponding anti-values are crucial in the psychological doctrine of self-transformation that is here to be developed on the Vedantic basis. This includes values vs. anti-values, such as self-confidence vs. self-denigration, selfless action vs. egoism and self-discovery vs. ignorance etc.


Whether any values exist that are universally held in esteem and have objective validity as an essential part of the human make-up is today often either doubted outright or regarded as an unverified hypothesis. Whether such a true ethic is somehow commonly inherent to humanity or not, has been the subject of centuries of debate. Methods based on natural science cannot decide the issue, precisely because values are not facts. Opponents to the idea assert that such values that exist are simply the result of sensible adjustments to circumstances or pragmatic behaviour for ensuring survival, reducing conflict, maximizing security or even pleasure and so on. Hence, morals in modern societies today are in practice often made dependent on the perceived interests of either the individual, the group or the nation, and are thus 'relativistic', that is, without any definite or fixed value basis. Or they are simply denied, as in out-and-out moralism on the lines of 'every man for himself' and the idea of a free-for-all with an ethical carte blanche.

The idea that there are 'human values' is becoming widespread, but few people can actually explain just what these may be. A general disillusionment about the disunity of humanity amid the great cultural clashes of the 20th Century seems to have hindered realization of a common human value system coming to expression through the fundamental strivings of humanity in much of history. Research into this hardly occurs, even though we are in a process of increasing world integration and the global interaction of value systems.

Most of the statistical and analytical methods of social scientists are ill-designed for reaching broad understanding of differing cultures and human conditions. Comparative, holistic methods guided by daring constructive ideas and progressive values are evidently required for any future-oriented understanding of the human psyche.

As one world-famous social scientist, Professor Gunnar Myrdal, has said "...specification of values (on the scientist's part) aids in reaching objectivity since it makes explicit what otherwise would remain implicit."3 So as to make explicit as far as feasible the underlying value assumptions upon which the present outline of higher psychology bases itself, what human values are seen more specifically to consist in is detailed below.

Common human values, to be essentially human and common, must be demonstrably derivable from universally-held precepts, however differently the values are articulated in different situations in varying cultures, societies and religions. There should be no question of human values representing any mere ideology or philosophical speculation, for the implicated values and norms should be testable both by reason and, where relevant and possible, by empirical and historical research, not excluding experimental 'trial and error method' in action research.

The great predominance of violence, war, hate and crime in most societies and eras of history may seem to refute the universality of human values. However, the values do go back to the earliest recorded human societies and religions and have somehow persisted throughout all the eras and all cultures. In this sense they are universal, added to which is the evolutionary nature of the human being and civilization, whereby the assertion of these values becomes eventually more and more secure... and now on an interactive global scale through international laws and practices.

The essential goodness of human nature is ultimately something for us to reach out to together, through discovering, experiencing and further developing it personally. Progress in this direction invokes many kinds of feedback from others in one's personal sphere of experience, which strengthen the conviction that, despite all, values are a human heritage, while anti-values are but the result of ignorance as to our this heritage and shortcomings in so far discovering and pursuing our true destiny, whether individually or collectively.

The values that have been at the essence of the 'perennial philosophy' are here regarded as 'human values', but these are supplemented by the values of the Greco-Roman origin, most notably the ideas of justice, natural right and democratic freedoms. The human values can be taken as 'universal' in that, though values are not always held in the sense of being followed, they are everywhere generally held in esteem... hence are universally held as being values. These values spring from and in turn regulate five different faculties in which human beings share.

Since values are more primary than facts from the higher psychological viewpoint, I suggest that insights in psychology can be better ordered in respect of value systems common to human endeavour and expressed in the form of commonly-supported individual and social goals. These values need to be ordered in various ways, especially according to the levels of the scope of their application, and their importance as ideas or principles. More inclusive values become articulated as they become more specified and concrete in respect of differing cultures and other environmental circumstances. Sub-values can thus be concretised as goals of action in given contexts.


Universal values expressed at the highest level of generality can be formulated in various ways. According to the connotation defined for each high level value, a different number of them can be isolated. In the following model, five such high-level values of importance to virtually all cultures are outlined:-

Truth. The truth in any matter does not depend upon the will or wish of the individual, but is independent of desires and their related interests and opinions. Truth has both individual and communal aspects. Just as individual truthfulness is the basis of a secure society, the common effort towards truth about life and the cosmos is represented, for example, by the sciences, by jurisprudence and philosophy. The faculty for rational thinking possessed by all humans, however much developed or not - or in whatever form it takes, is in the first and last instance what enables us to distinguish the true from the false in so far as this is humanly possible. Evidence that truth is an inherent value in the human psyche is found in the fact that no-one likes to be called a liar, not even most liars. Further, it is much harder to sustain a lie than to maintain the truth, because one lie leads to another until the complexity is unmanageable.

Care is a basic human value which again relates to concern and respect for others and the environment. It is often expressed by the word 'love' used in a broader sense than in common parlance. Love as care does not refer to an emotion or a state of mind so much as to a human faculty of identification with others, sympathy with all beings, creation and - in spiritual or religious beliefs - of Divinity. Love seeks many and various channels of realization. It's essence can be characterised by the words "Love is unselfish care and concern for the well-being of others and the world at large." The less selfish it is, the more it enriches life. Being universal, it takes on different general forms in different relations; mother love, fatherly love, conjugal love of one's partner, loving friendship etc. Patriotic love is for one's country, true brotherhood expresses love of mankind, care and respect for nature is love of creation and - for those who profess religious belief - devotion is love of the Creator. All these have in common the 'heart' and an intuitive identification with spirit, with the universal miracle of Being. Thus, love of oneself (contrasted with egocentricity) is also a valid expression of this power and, moreover, a duty to all at the same time. Being neither a sensation, an emotion nor a mere conception, but being identifiable only at the heart or core of the human consciousness, love in this universal sense is the characteristic par excellence of the human soul or psyche.

Peace. Peacefulness in a persons's life, in society and in world terms is a product of all positive values working together sufficiently. Without truth, caring concern (or 'love') and justice, conflicts arise and peace is endangered or lost. While peace is the absence of disturbance, violence, war and wrongdoing generally, it is tangible present when experienced individually as peace of mind, the mutual respect and pleasure of friendliness and tolerance.. As a universally-accepted positive value, peace refers to the experience of harmony, a balanced but nevertheless dynamic mental condition. Peace of mind can be independent of 'externals' like the absence of disturbance in 'peace and quiet', or the intrusion of an environment through noise, violence, terror etc.). Peace of mind - as contrasted to mental agitation - is a primary goal for human strivings to reach happiness. Peacelessness, in whatever respect, is not conducive to the happiness of equanimity. Peacefulness is not to be confused with lack of activity or mere physical quiet. As a psychic condition it is closely related to control of the mind, positivity of attitude together with calmness of mind. Inner blissfulness which is not dependent upon external sensory or physical conditions is a high expression of peacefulness.

The peace of nations at least partly arises and is sustained through the cumulative efforts of society, including the peaceful and just behaviour of at least an aggregate of individuals. It can first be fully realized when we have confidence in the inherent ability of humans to see good, do good and be good. Thus, its internal connection with rightness of action and other human values becomes evident. As a social condition, peacefulness is clearly a state of freedom from violence and from destructive influences generally, whether it is war, the over-exploitation of people or the destruction of nature. Because of the emotional and mental dependencies that arise from attachment to material things, peacefulness is related to controlling one's desires, limiting them when necessary. This implies temperance in all things from quantity and type of foodstuffs taken in, the number and type of material possessions as well as the type or quality of 'sensory impressions' to which one subjects the mind. Peace of mind is individual, but peace in society is the result of positive acts, which are not violent or destructive but tolerant and constructive.  

Duty Because human actions are physical events brought about at some stage through the medium of the body, this value is obviously closely related to human behaviour. No definitive and specific codes of behaviour can be prescribed for all times and places independently of environmental, social and other conditions. The human values themselves provide the general criterion for good behaviour, but because of the changing nature of life and society, they cannot be formulated as explicit norms, laws, rules or regulations.

Towards living nature in general, the human value of doing one's duty is closely related to non-violence. This is the reasonable tendency to wish to avoid harm to creatures or their environment wherever avoidable. Respecting the integral nature of eco-systems or of a social-natural environment as against the destructive influences of pollution, misuse and excessive exploitation exemplify the spirit of non-violence (the Hindu concept of ahimsa as well-developed by Gandhi). It is the inherently-sensed value that prompts us to draw back from unethical meddling in life processes, such as where its consequences are beyond the range of well-tried and proven knowledge.

Knowledge of what is true combined with insight into what is good are the basis of duty, also conceived as 'acting rightly'. Behind any conscious act lies the thought. If the thought is fed by the will towards the true and the good - in contrast to purely selfish aims - the act is 'right'. This is also found in the Eastern concept of dharma or action in accordance with the universal laws of nature (both physical and human nature). Central to dharma is truth, that is - action based on truth and in accordance with one's deeper or potential nature. A full understanding of right action, whatever the circumstances, presumes thorough insight into the mutual relations of dependence between humans, between all beings and within creation as a whole.

Justice. The European tradition has long embraced justice as one the highest human values, even as the highest (eg. Socrates & Plato) 4. Because jurisprudence is (optimally) based upon the widest possible considerations. These include right or wrong, good or ill, blame (responsibility) or guiltlessness and the institutions exercising justice take into consideration past events, behaviour, motives, intentions, personal and social change, and the circumstances conditioning all these, the idea of justice is difficult to define satisfactorily... and certainly cannot be set in concrete terms. It is based on fairness, where the equality of every individual before the law is fundamental. As such it is a social value in that it aims to resolve and reduce conflict, guided by the principles of care and non-violence (involving the minimum use of force required). The aim to achieve social justice for the perceived common good (however ineffective or wrong in view of current standards) has certainly a long pre-history as a central idea in all human societies. The Classical Greek idea of justice eventually gave rise to that of 'human rights', first formalised in the Charter of the 1948 Geneva Convention, which is continually undergoing further development and extension. The human value justice also has wide-ranging political relevancy, such as in the strivings of egalitarianism in political democracy and other systems of rule. As such, justice is a major human value that embraces most aspects of social life.

This value is to be understood in the deep Vedic sense of Ahimsa, being universal in implying respect for all living beings. This is founded on recognition of the (truth of) the unitary nature or 'integrity' of creation, in which all individual beings together make up one integral whole within which all parts or aspects are ultimately mutually-interrelated.

It is expressed in all forms of human interest in and care for living nature, obviously including humans, while it clearly also remains an ideal to be striven for in the interests of peace of mind and love. Towards others it is positively realisable in such ways as through protection, circumspection, understanding of real needs and sympathy etc. and thus in all forms of social activity that protect and forward the personal integrity of persons. Thus, human rights are duties we have towards our fellow men to avoid harming them physically, emotionally or otherwise.


The values outlined are not independent, separate principles or categories but are all mutually interrelated while having an inter-dependent essence in each case. They serve to summarise and unify all other (positive) values, which come from them in one way or another. A value usually appears as a guideline or norm that helps us to judge what is or is not right or good in any situation. A person's value judgements may be seen as expressing one or more of the 'universal' human values and sub-values. Societies concretise many values as statutory laws and so forth, or even as unwritten norms. As soon as values are interpreted and expressed in definitive laws or explicit rules and regulations they become specific to given situations and are no longer necessarily universally valid.

Sub-values represent more specific forms of the five values and can be organized in their inter- relations beneath one or more of the main values. Truth, for example, summarise many sub-values such as 'factual accuracy', 'honesty', 'personal disinterest', 'reasonability' (under which we might again subsume rational judgement, logical self-evidence, consistency etc.). Some sub-values derive from one or more of the five values; eg. 'fairness' and 'justice' relate both to truth and non-violence, while 'enthusiasm' may relate both to love and right action.

While the chief human values are universally found in some form or another, world culture also presents a hugely variegated spectrum of less universal notions of goodness, truth and beauty. Some may be meaningful only when the peculiarities of the society, era and people are understood, making them less than universal as values. Meanwhile, others result from unquestioned traditions based on a mixture of truth and distorted ideas. The possibilities are legion and the variety is obviously of a thousands blossoms, quite apart from the many weeds too. In this changing world, there will doubtless always be valid debate as to the exact formulation of values, so the matter is left open to further discussion and research. Therefore, the list of sub-values given below is obviously not held to be definitive or complete. However, is gives one guideline for seeing how commonly recognized ideas of goodness are related, how a hierarchy of values is derivable from one or more of five key values. The number of values involved is arbitrary, for there are many different possible forms of expression or terms of varying connotation that can cover the field more or less adequately. There can never be any final or 'absolute set' of human values, for this depends on cultural forms and the different features of various languages:-







In contradistinction to the human values are what I prefer to term 'anti-values'. There is a cogent reason for not referring to ill-will, destructiveness, jealousy, covetousness and so on as 'negative values', for they are not really values at all, but denials of values To every value one can surely find a corresponding negativity, and this fact itself illustrates that we are dealing in such cases with a lack of the value rather than a definitive quality which has substance. Essentially, it affirms the reality of goodness as something with substance and experiential fullness, while its relative lack or absence has no similar autonomous existence. Falsehood (untruth) is the absence or lack of truth and it can have no eternal validity as does truth. Some hold that, strictly speaking, falsehood cannot be present, only truth absent. Though this point may seem somewhat philosophical, it can have consquences for thought and action, especially the desire to overlook lies and untruth as not conducive to encouraging changes to positive behaviour. One favourite analogy used by believers in such agendas, 'as a shadow is cast by a hindrance to light, bad qualities are the adumbration of good ones.' On this scheme, ignorance is defined by those of that very optimistic outlook, the lack of knowledge but is nothing in itself. Howevrer, ignorance is lack of knowledge, learning, understanding and is often all too tangibnle.Non-violence, however, presents a difficulty, for it refers verbally to the absence of violence. Most instances of violence real enough. Nonetheless, violence in whatever form does not manifest value, at the very best it is only a 'necessary evil' and an 'anti-value'. Non-violence as a value refers to the harmony, mutual respect and love of peaceful and right living, so the entire issue is largely semantical.

In theological terms, the Absolute Good is believed to exist, and even Absolute Evil or Eternal Hell. The origins of these ideas are primitive but theology has totalized them, made them absolute... even though there is nothing in all human experience to support this.

Love, peace of mind, non-violence, doing right and holding to truth are somehow intrinsically human aims. Thus one may argue that violence is necessary under some circumstance, it is only the deranged mind that refuses to accept it would be better had violence been avoidable. The same applies to all five values. Doing bad and hate may be understandable, but good acts and love are preferable by far.

All 'bad' tendencies are therefore here strictly regarded as 'anti-values' or 'non-values', not as the expression of divergent or alternative values. The kind of so-called 'liberalism' that in principle makes values dependent upon nothing else but subjective, personal choice or belief is rejected here as self-defeating and self-contradictory. Values cannot be without distinguishing between good and bad, for that is what values are about. The assertion that there are universal 'human values' implies what is truly good is the good of all. This is shown clearly in that no human society has lasted long if it has set up as ideals any of the opposites of the human values (i.e. falsehood, wrongdoing, hate, peacelessness, violence).

By seeing values as more fundamental in human development than observable facts, scientific psychological thinking is as if turned 'inside-out' so that its preoccupations with external facts is replaced by development of the inner qualities. The causal materialism that dominates orthodox psychological 'realism' today regards values merely as externalised results of evolutionary, historical and social causal processes. Much social thought has been effectively misdirected by Marx to regard values as mere ideology, a product or result of social processes like class struggle. Yet values had always previously been seen as a driving force in human affairs. What is needed is a view that combines the best of realism/materialism and idealistic aims, where each are always kept under the critical eye of the other.

If people lack higher ideals in their daily lives, this does not prove that such ideals are figments of the imagination... for lack of imagination and ignorance of one's true nature can be the reason. The human values are inherently felt and understood by us, making their presence known through conscience and the rationally-discriminating intelligence. The relative clarity of individual conscience is itself also caused by karma and thereafter it is influenced by the will. Only by heeding the dictates of conscience and by seeking to become more aware of them can these karmic limitations eventually be overcome. This indicates the crucial role which human values have in our development as human beings.

All values - as opposed to anti-values - are part and parcel of our human identity, that towards which societies and people strive and/or evolve. Without values, there is no humanity.

Worldly-situated person's values - and the potentiality for realising them - are not self-evident and are developed through experience and subsequent understanding of it. They are relatively obscured by our physical embodiment and the environmental demands and possibilities on each individual. That is, the degree of realization of values in thought and action depend on the nature of the accumulated tendencies of each person interacting with others... in particular and differing social and cultural environments.


What relevance have these human values and anti-values for the study of the human psyche? The thesis here is that they provide a crucial key to understanding human action; our motives, our successes and failures in life as happiness-seekers and as members of society. Understanding of the dynamic role of values in people's lives has degenerated very greatly in the modern age of one-sidedly physicalistic thought. At least an entire volume would be required properly to explain the many-sided role of values and the possibilities of constructive experiential-experimental action research into the subject.

The process of evaluation begins in life with simple, concrete experiences and instances. It is almost a platitude of psychology that these can be vital for the growth of a harmonious personality. As the mind develops and learns a great variety of generalizations about human behaviour, human values have to be understood in much wider contexts and in respect of the whole spectrum of challenges that face us in daily life. This has given rise to a great range of social norms and codes of behaviour.

A code of behaviour is a set of practical rules or maxims valid for certain persons and circumstances. There are professional codes, institutional codes, local regulations, national laws as well as traditional religious or philosophical values 4 etc. Such codes rely for their eventual 'rightness' on more general values but are not themselves universal as human values are. This is because they do not have the certainty of truth and permanence. As pointed out earlier, laws and codes are subject to change along with altering societies and conditions. Human values, however, are always inherent to the human psyche.

The chief thesis concerning human values in psychological growth, to be pursued in the following parts of this book, is that optimal psychic balance and the closely-associated qualities of equanimity and non-dependency (non-attachment) are attained and established firmly only as a result of the long-term integration of values in personal behaviour. This is to say that their presence or absence in life provides the key to psychic stability or health.

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1. House of Cards: Psychology and Psychotherapy Built on Myth by Robin M. Dawes. N.Y. 1994), concludes from statistical researches into 500 research studies that laymen and professional clinical psychologists achieve equally good (or poor) results with clients. To the considerable anxiety of the community of psychologists throughout the West, his study has raised a fundamental issue as to the efficiency not only of various established therapies but also of current psychological theories. On statistical evidence, he concludes that the effect of psychotherapy generally is not dependent upon the education or experience of the therapist. There is no proof that clinical psychology has any special effect. Professional therapists have no special abilities for understanding or predicting the behaviour of individuals. Therapists do not learn anything for their work with mental sufferers that they could not have read up in textbooks. The problem is that they do not get, or cannot take in, feedback about their own activity. Despite this, however, Dawes is of the opinion that there is also proof that psychotherapy can be effective.

2. Treatise On Human Nature David Hume, 1739. 'Passions' in that context then meant those noble motives that move us, much more akin to the modern meaning of 'values' than to what is usually associated with passion today, which is more like a powerful, involuntary attachment.

3. Prof. Gunnar Myrdal, Value in Social Theory (London, 1958)

4. The Classical philosophers of Greece from Socrates to Aristotle, and many others, recognised various faculties of the soul to which corresponded certain 'virtues', by which was meant the proper or right function of a thing. Fulfilment of the faculties of the human soul was found in practice of the virtuous ideals, such as wisdom, moderation and courage. These qualities, not least because they are obviously not directly perceptible, were disregarded quite early on in the development of psychology along the lines of scientific physicalism.


(The text of 'The Human Whole' revised ed. on this website is copyright of Robert Priddy. 1999)