By Emilee Clark
Emilee currently attends Texas A&M University where she studies Animal Science for Pre-Veterinarian.
Think about the relationship you have with people in your daily life and the status of those relationships? Do you value some more than others? One might wonder how relationships become meaningful in the first place or what fundamental qualities must exist for relationships to form in such a way?
One answer may be value itself.
Value can be defined as the relative worth, utility or importance of a thing. In discussing the role of value in relationships, emphasis will be placed on the significance of importance in this article. Humans are social animals and desire connections with others. When we begin forming a relationship with another person, it is connection we seek. However, to ensure this connection, we must place importance not only in the emerging relationship, but also the person we are forming the relationship with. Then, for the relationship to advance, a degree of value must be applied. Therefore, value can be attributed as one of the most critical characteristics in a meaningful relationship.
But where does this value come from? Dietrich von Hildebrand, a twentieth-century German Roman Catholic philosopher, and theologian believed that value is created, not found, meaning that we are responsible for not only placing value in our relationships with others but also creating this value. But how much value do we as individuals truly create?
Hildebrand states a great deal of what we perceive as value comes from the culture of which we are a part. This phenomenon has been called Popular Value Subjectivism, which states that values are subjective, their internal consistency depends intrinsically on the personal subject who valuates, who proposes and identifies those things that are valuable. Thus, it seems the forces that allow for the formation of a relationship as well as the maintenance of one is further complicated by the various factors influencing our perception and therefore subjective judgment.
Hildebrand also states that things have either a positive, negative or neutral importance in our lives. Axiology, a branch of philosophy that considers the type of value that comes from something, focuses on how, why and to what degree people value things. As we are influenced by our perception of things having either a positive, negative or neutral importance, we create different degrees of value.
Even if we recognize that we place value on a person, it’s the type of value that matters almost as much as appreciating that person. However, these actions and perceptions are ours and our responsibility to maintain. We are responsible and able to control this thing, we are the ones in charge of determining what is good and bad and what may or may not be worthy of our value. It’s up to you to recognize and place worth in others.
Why do we even need value? Well, what if we lived in a world fully motivated by our own selfish desires with no recognition or appreciation of others; what if we lived in a world where friends and the intimate bonds that come with friendship didn’t exist? We need value as a fundamental quality of building relationships to inspire appreciation. In a world that’s often feuding, take time to step back and understand that you are capable of changing the things you want to change. So go get lunch with that long lost friend and tell them you appreciate them and value them and watch as perceptions change. Maybe you need to have this talk with yourself and begin to place value in yourself and understand your worth. If you do, by all means, do so. You are valuable too.
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