Marks and Remarks
Food for the Mind and Eye

No. 0002, January 20, 2015


DEPT. OF PHILOSOPHY
(Honorary Dean: Prickles)

Value and Desire



An object of desire


      Do we desire things because they have value or do they have value because we desire them? We make the distinction between wanting and needing. Things that we need seem to have value unrelated to what we want. We are frequently faced with having to choose between one or the other, the thing we need being deemed the rational choice. Why?

      Why do we need things we do not want? Because they are necessary means of ultimately getting what we do want, like a nice place to live, good health or a position of influence. A need is an indirect want. In most cases we are forced to go about getting what we desire in a roundabout way.

      Sometimes we are forced by circumstances (or other persons) to act directly against our desires. This is the evil that comes with being a conscious, intelligent, individual entity. Much of it is unnecessary or self-inflicted (that's another story) but there remains an intractable residue that is actually a necessary condition of existence (for reasons we won't go into here). Clearly, anything that helps minimize the evil we cannot avoid has value which, like our perception of evil (as negative value), reflects our desires.

      The fact is, neither things nor actions have any intrinsic value (positive or negative) in themselves. What value we perceive in them is generated by our own individual desires, directly or indirectly. Hence one man's trash can be another woman's treasure. As somebody said (politically incorrectly) "man is the measure of all things". But note that people are not all created equal (fortunately).

      "So if desire creates value, as you say, is that what it's for? Is that its value?" practical Prickles wants to know. "What is desire anyway and where does it come from?" That, Madame Dean, is another story for another time.



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