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The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 40, 1998

Philosophy of Values

Tong-Keun Min
Pages 67-75

A Study on the Hierarchy of Values

I attempt to look into the issue of the ranks of values comprehensively and progressively. Anti-values can be classified into the following six categories by ascending order: (1) the act of destroying the earth-of annihilating humankind and all other living organisms; (2) the act of mass killing of people by initiating a war or committing treason; (3) the act of murdering or causing death to a human being; (4) the act of damaging the body of a human being; (5) the act of greatly harming society; (6) all other crimes not covered by the above. Higher values can be classified into the following five categories in descending rank: (1) absolute values such as absolute truth, absolute goodness, absolute beauty and absolute holiness; (2) the act of contributing to the development and happiness of humankind; (3) the act of contributing to the nation or the state; (4) the act of contributing to the regional society; (5) the act of cultivating oneself and managing one's family well. Generally, people tend to pursue happiness more eagerly than goodness, but because goodness is the higher value than happiness, we ought to pursue goodness more eagerly. In helping people to get the right sense of values and to internalize it, education and enlightenment of citizens based on the guidance of conscience rather than compulsion will be highly effective.

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