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Section -1

Human Values

Chapter 1

Overview of Human Values

1.1 Need of Human Values:

The Global-village in which we live today requires a common culture of human-

friendliness, mutual respect, integrity, loyalty, reliability and truthfulness for peaceful co-existence. Thus

there ought to be certain principles and code of conduct which can be universally accepted and applied. In

other words, there is a need for identification, inculcation and implementation of human values. However,

due to geographical locations, societal patterns, security concerns, economic variations and cultural

diversions, the human beings living in different parts of the world have different patterns of behaviour

.Today throughout the world, the human beings are facing the problems arising out of growing social and

economic disparities, fundamentalism, fanaticism, cut-throat competition and lack of discipline in all

walks of life giving rise to conflict, terrorism, corruption, inefficiency and injustice. This has deteriorated

the quality of human life with the creation of unbearable tension, frustration, diseases and unhappiness.

The solution to the problem appears by way of leading the life based on certain ethical principles in other

words the values.

The Philosophers, psychologists and social scientists all over the world have been studying the
human behavior since centuries. Aristotle observed that Man obtains great pleasure from an object
when it is his own, for the love of self is a feeling implanted by nature and not given in vain. There is
also great pleasure in doing a kindness or service to friends or guests or companies which is
facilitated by possessions. Others including Plato and Kant discussed aesthetics and deliberated over
the problems of government and citizens but could not propound any theory regarding human values.
Plato, while talking about the human behavior suggests that truth, goodness and beauty may be
used as ideal forms of value judgment at the relative level of human existence. This later became
the western tradition of conceptualizing the human values. In the Indian tradition, absolute or
classical human values are described as Sat, Chit and Anand. It is believed that ultimate objective
of human life is attainment of state of eternal bliss. Thus the perception of human values from
the point of view of both the eastern and western culture is the Theistic View or idealistic
normative approach. In other words it becomes a metaphysical belief system which believes in
the existence of a divine cosmic order and faith in the authority of God or Creator who is the
origin of all human values.

According to Indian philosophy, human life is an obligation based on the cycle of birth

and rebirth. The philosophy says that there is birth because there are debts (rinas) one owes, from

previous birth to pay off. Indians believe that there are three kinds of debts (rinas) to pay out one, to

sages, and seers (rishi rina), two, to fellow beings and deities (dev rina) and three, to souls of dead

ancestors (pitra rina). Thus life has been given a purpose. Accordingly one is supposed to adopt religious,

social and cultural practices in life which in other words may be called values. The total life period of

humans is supposed to be divided into four spans termed as ashrams

Brahmcharya Ashram: The span, in which one has to follow celibacy, acquire physical and

mental abilities, learn life skills and cultivate knowledge and wisdom.
Grahasta Ashram This is house holders life span in which one marries, raises family,

earns wealth, up brings children and becomes an active person in society.

Vanprastha Ashram- In which one takes up social welfare works, leads an austere and

aesthetic life, provide guidance and help wherever possible.

Sanyas Ashram Where one indentifies himself with universe and develops universal

consciousness and raises above all petty matters of the world.

Indian philosophers say that during each of the above span a person should imbibe a set

of values that will make life meaningful and happy. They call complete package of values as

Purushartha enumerated by wealth (Artha), desire (Karma), righteousness (Dharma) and freedom or

liberation (Moksha). Thus the Indian view point about the human values seems to be more pragmatic

because it attaches meaning to human life and values it. A human life without aim, without values is like a

rudderless boat which keeps on drifting but does not reach any destination.
People throughout the world want to live in peace. It is only possible by practicing

truth and right action. Violence has become rampant in the society due to which not

only peace has been lost but the human life has become insecure. Therefore if the

life is to be made peaceful, secured and happy, then a beginning needs to be made

in the form of faith in God or Almighty. Where there is faith, there is love. Where

there is love, there is peace. Human life should begin with faith and end with peace.

When we talk about human values we should think as to what is purpose of life?
Elbert Einstein has said Strange is our situation here on earth. Each of us
comes for a short visit not knowing why. Yet sometimes seeming to a
divine purpose. From the standpoint of daily life, however there is one
thing we do know - that man is here for the sake of other man above all
for those upon whose smiles and well being our own happiness depends.
It needs to be realized that each person acquires values with varying degree of
importance. A particular value may be very important to one person but
unimportant to another. As such there is a great diversity in acquisition of values
among the people of different nations, different societies and different regions.
However it is needed that all the human values should be conceptualized and
understood for the overall benefit of the mankind.

1.2 Concept of Human Values

The word Value comes from the Latin word Valere which means to be of worth.
Conventionally speaking the term value has been used in economics where it means capacity of
an object to satisfy a human need or desire. Is there any value of human life? The researchers
have propounded the economic theory for value assigned to human life. Varying estimates have
been applied to value of human life running into order of million dollars. However, it can be said
that human life is invaluable. What makes human life invaluable? Obviously the answer is
human values. The other questions arise as to what are human values, what is meant by them and
why are they necessary part of human life? All such questions are dealt in details in a field of
study known as Axiology: Social Scientists consider human values as behavioural norms that
guide the human personality. Values also reflect the changes in society. The major characteristics
about the concept of human values can be mentioned as follows:

Values are linked with feelings and belief: For example people for whom liberty is
important will become unhappy when their independence is threatened and happy when
they realize it.
Values serve as criteria: People decide whether the beliefs and feelings they uphold are
to be observed as standards of practice.
Values according to perception: For example, do the people attach more importance to
novelty or tradition, materialism or spirituality and likewise for other facets of life.
Values according to utility: Whether practicing a particular value will prove to be

The western philosophers since middle of 20th century started propounding various theories
regarding values and value systems. It has now become a vast field of study and research.

The famous psychologist Rokeach has written The value concept is able to unify
apparently diverse interest of all the science concerned with human behavior. This statement
provides the concept of human values. Thus the values can be considered as a link between self
and society. Thus human values may be conceptualized as principles, standards, convictions and
belief that an individual and society may adopt as guide lines for human activities in life.

1.3 Definition of Human Values

Eduard Spranger, a German Philosopher, psychologist and an educator defines human values as
The Constellation of standards of qualities, characteristics or ideas that determine a persons
view of the world.

As told by Elbert Einstein in 1954 Students require an understanding of and a lively feeling for
values. They must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and morally good. Otherwise, he with
his specialized knowledge, more closely resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously
developed person.
Like most of the areas of human knowledge, the human values definitions have been varying
according to perception of scholars. Yet they are instinctively felt, cognitively grasped and shared
through experience. In most simple terms it may be stated that values are the beliefs that a person
holds about things and aspects of life. In a wider sense the human values may be defined as the
standards or codes for conduct which are guided by conscience, according to which a human
being is supposed to shape his life pattern by integrating his beliefs, ideas and attitudes to realize
the aims of life.

On the basis of studies and interpretations made by various scholars, the following statements
can be given about the values:

Values are the principles, standards, convictions and beliefs that people adopt as the
guidelines in life.
Values are habits of thought
Values are an integral part of education.
Values are doors of perception through which we look at the world.
Values are like rails that keep the train of life on track and help it move smoothly, quickly
towards the destination of success.
Values are the guidelines for doing rightful things to become morally strong.
Values are virtues leading to an enlightened and qualitative life.
Values are the corner stones on which professional ethics are built.
Values are the links which tie together personal perception and judgments, motives and
Values are the qualities that an individual should possess for making ones life qualitative
Values are the outcomes of human choices among competing human interests.
Values are the building blocks for development of personality.

Thus values give meaning and strength to a persons character. They reflect behavior and
relationships. They influence thoughts feelings and actions. They make a person to do a person
right or wrong things.

1.4 Classification of Values:

Values are evolved from the experiences of an individual from the childhood and develop
along with interaction of the society and environment. There are number of professions in which
the people work. Each profession has its own requirements in addition to the common ethics.
Keeping this in view, values may be classified into several categories such as economic, social,
political, territorial, religious, spiritual etc.

According to the UN Charter, Human values have their roots in a single universally-held
premise- the inherent dignity of every human being. Thus dignity of human being is linked with
the human values. In the Charter of United Nations, the declarations of the human rights are
conducive to the evolution of the human values. In view of this, the values may be classified
with respect to the human nature and its interaction with the world on the basis of following:

Man and Society

Man and Environment
Man and Technology
Man and his Profession
Man and his family

In addition, there are several more ways of classifying the human values. Some of these
are indicated below:

On the basis of the nature which act as means to some end: - such as food, shelter,
clothing, health, strength etc, and those which act in themselves - such as honesty,
truthfulness righteousness, goodwill etc.
On the basis of who exercises: For example, personal, organizational, societal, business,
national and global etc.
On the basis of benefits expected: Such as material and physical, spiritual, health ,
productivity, charity, freedom etc.
On the basis of beneficiaries: For example individual, family, society, institution,
organization, nation, etc.
On the basis of nomenclature: Such as intrinsic, fundamental, universal etc.
On the basis of time: For example- eternal and temporal

A particular value may fall in more than one category. For instance non-violence is
fundamental, personal and societal value.

There is a considerable amount of extensive study and research going on human values
since 1950s. It suggests that while the values display character and personality at individual
level, they are found useful for describing societys collective consciousness. In organizational
behavior they represent the corporate strategy. In political field the values serve as predictors of
attitude towards governmental policies. Efforts are being made to understand interaction and
interdependence of one set of values on others. Famous psychologist Rokeach identified a set of
36 values that may be called instrumental values. Similarly Schwartz specified a set of 56 values
which he grouped into 10 basic types depending upon the subjectivity. Rescher classified values
in accordance with their utility. On the basis of these studies, the values may be classified:

Group Values societal, professional, national etc.

Object Values Personal or individual, environmental etc.
Subject Values material, economic, moral, religious, spiritual etc
Purposive Values- behavioural, intellectual, inspirational etc.

A particular value may fall in more than one classification.

During 19th and 20th Century, some important values were identified as follows:

Democratic spirit- originating from Greece and England.

Liberty, Equality and Fraternity originating from France
Non-violence and Satyagraha originating from India
Scientific temper originating from the study of science and logical thinking.

1.5 Associated Terms-

There were some terms associated with values such as ethics, values, principles etc. They are
used synonymously with values and are complimentary to each other.

1.5.1 Ethics:

There are various terms associated with human values such as ethics, virtues and
principles. They are synonymous with each other. However, each of them are used in different
context. The terms ethics is derived from an ancient Greek word ethikos which means relating
to character of a person. Ethics is commonly used interchangeably with morality. It is also
characterized as the science of moral duty which involves systematizing, defending and
recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. Ethical standards are very close to human
values. The concept of ethics has been developed by moral philosophers over a long period of
time in the human history, and now used to distinguish between morally right and wrong
behavior. The code of ethics includes ethical system, moral rules and moral judgment. Apart
from the personal behavior, ethics applies to organizational behavior. In the words of Peter
Ducker Ethics deals with the right actions of individuals. The term Business ethics came
into common use in USA in early 1970s and business organizations started highlighting their
ethical stature since then to distance themselves from the scandals. By definition, ethics is a
system of accepted moral conduct by an individual or society. Bertrand Russel describes ethics
as The art of recommending to others the sacrifices required for the cooperation with oneself.
In normal usage ethics is referred to as the text that investigates about good conduct.
Investigating what is right and what is wrong, it formulates the code of conduct. In Hindu
philosophy ethics is called Dharma Shastra wherein the study is made of right conduct and
positive values. The basis for deciding what is right and what is wrong may be described as

Ethics cannot be decided on the basis of feelings.

Ethics should not be decided on the basis of religious beliefs.
Ethics cannot be decided based on law.

Thus the term ethics in general can be applied to any person, profession and society.

1.5.2 Virtues: The term virtue is derived from Latin word Virtus meaning moral excellence. A virtue
is a positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good. The opposite of virtue is vice. Again
values and virtues are very close to each other in terms of their meaning. Whereas values are
related to culture, society and person, virtues are related to person. Virtues are values which
elevate the standards of human life.

During the days of Roman Empire, virtue meant manliness or valor, but over the time period the
meaning settled into the sense of moral excellence. Now-a-days, the term virtue is being used as
the phrase By virtue of thereby meaning As a result of or By authority of . According to
Aristotle, Virtue is more clearly shown in the performance of fine actions.

1.5.3 Principles: The term principle refers to a law or rule that has to be followed. The principles are
framed to ensure smooth and transparent working system based on values. Thus values become
building blocks of principles. The word principle is derived from the Latin word Principium
meaning A beginning, origin, first part. Now-a-days it is most widely used in all areas
including philosophy, sociology, psychology, commerce, science, medicine and others.
The relationship between values, ethics, virtues and principles in terms of knowledge,
beliefs and behavior can be understood from the Figure -


Beliefs Values Behaviour

Knowledge Principles Ethics

Relationship between values, ethics, virtues and principles

Figure 1.1

As seen in the figure, the prime source of principles and beliefs is knowledge- the driving
force. The values are imbibed on the basis of certain beliefs and principles. The behavior of an
individual depends upon the values and ethics. The values can become virtues when they lead
towards excellence. In a normal manner it is the behavior which is of utmost importance. The
knowledge, principles ethics and values together affect the behavior of an individual as well as
that of society. Summing up it may be said that values describe what is important in a persons
life, while ethics prescribe what is appropriate to behave. Potter Steward has rightly said Ethics
is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do. The
ethics, virtues and principles are like three sides of a triangle in the centre of which human values
1.5.4 Values and Anti-values:

There can be some values that are opposing others. For example conservatism and
openness oppose each other. Such values cannot be termed as anti-values. The bad tendencies
which are harmful to an individual or society can only be called as anti-values or negative
values. Sometimes absence of a value leads to anti-value or negative. For example, absence of
truthfulness may be called as falsehood. Therefore, if truthfulness is a value then falsehood is an
anti-value. Anti-values are those values that have a predictably bad outcome. It is important to
note that anti-values are not synonymous with excess or deficiency of another value.
Cowardliness is the deficiency of courage. Foolhardiness is an excess of courage. Neither
cowardliness nor foolhardiness designate a value that anyone may strive for.

1.6 Basic Human Values:

We are all, by nature, clearly oriented towards the basic human values of love and compassion.
We all prefer the love of others to their hatred. We all prefer others generosity to meanness. And
who is there among us who does not prefer tolerance, respect and forgiveness of our failings to
bigotry, disrespect and resentment?

---- Dalai Lama

The above statement of Dalai Lama indicates the importance of basic human values in the
life of every human being. Each nation in this world has its own heritage and culture.
Accordingly, the people of different nations follow their own value system. However, there are
some universally accepted values that are common in all nations. They are also sometimes
known as Universal Human Values and are described below:

1.6.1 Righteousness:

Under this category conduction of self and society for benefit of both is considered. Some of the
examples may be hygiene, diet, tidy appearance, self reliance, good behavior, helpfulness,
courage, respect for all, perseverance, initiative, responsibility etc. In Hindu scriptures Right
Conduct is terms as Dharma.

It is well known that without peace there cannot be any progress. Even otherwise peace becomes
essential of wellbeing of self as well others living in the world. The factors which contribute
most for peace are tolerance and understanding. The parameters related to peace are contentment,
discipline, harmony, optimism, patience etc. In Hindu scriptures peace is termed as Shanti.


It is the highest form of human value. Quest for truth has been the prime focus of all the great
human beings. For a common man truthfulness is required to lead a normal life. The factors
affecting truth are justice, purity, trust , sincerely fearlessness, etc . In Hindu scriptures Truth is
called as Shanti.


It is basic inherited characteristic of man. It is a sign of expression of heart. For sustaining the
existence love is essentially required. Some of the attributes delineating love are acceptance,
affection, care, compassion, kindness, selflessness etc. In Hindu scriptures love is termed as


The Non-violence and peace always go together. For person practicing non violence the whole
world is his family. It is the highest achievement of a human being to live in harmony with
nature not hurtling any living organism by word, or deed. The associate links with non violence
are harmless, benevolence, concern for others, respect and regard forgiveness etc. In Hindu
scriptures non-violence is terms as Ashimsa.

The five universal values directly affect the human personality in its five dimensions:

Truthfulness Intellectual dimension (Intellectual truth)

Rightfulness Physical dimension (Physical right action)
Peace-Emotional dimension (Emotional Peace)
Love-Physic dimension (Physic Love)
Non-violence-Spiritual dimension (Spiritual non-violence.