What Are Values?
Generally, value means moral ideas, general conceptions or orientations towards the world or sometimes simply interests, attitudes, preferences, needs, sentiments and dispositions.
According to sociologists, value means
“the generalised end which has the connotations of rightness, goodness or inherent desirability”.
These ends are regarded legitimate and binding by society. They define what is important worthwhile and worth striving for. Sometimes, values have been interpreted to mean “such standards by means of which the ends of action are selected”. Thus, values are collective conceptions of what is considered good, desirable, and proper or bad, undesirable, and improper in a culture.
R.K. Mukerjee, a pioneer Indian sociologist who initiated the study of social values, says that
“values are socially approved desires and goals that are internalised through the process of conditioning, learning or socialisation and that become subjective preferences, standards and aspirations”.
Familiar examples of values are loyalty, equality, justice, fraternity etc. These are generalised ends consciously pursued by or held up to individuals as being worthwhile in themselves.
Types of Values
Values can be classified into two broad categories:
Individual values: These are the values which are related with the development of human personality or individual norms of recognition and protection of the human personality such as honesty, loyalty, veracity and honour.
Collective values: Values connected with the solidarity of the community or collective norms of equality, justice, solidarity and sociableness are known as collective values.
Values can also be categorised from the point of view of their hierarchical arrangement:
Intrinsic values: These are the values which are related with goals of life. They are sometimes known as ultimate and transcendent values. They determine the schemata of human rights and duties and of human virtues. In the hierarchy of values, they occupy the highest place and superior to all other values of life.
Intrinsic value means that something is valuable for its own sake as opposed to being valuable for the sake of something else to which it is related in some way.
Extrinsic values: These values come after the intrinsic values in the scheme of gradation of values. These values are means to achieve goals (intrinsic values) of life. They are also known as incidental or proximate values.
That which is extrinsically good is good, not for its own sake, but for the sake of something else to which it is related in some way.
Intrinsically good means non-derivatively good; it is good for its own sake.
Extrinsically good means derivatively good; it is good, not for its own sake, but for the sake of something else that is good and to which it is related in some way.
Intrinsic value thus has a certain priority over extrinsic value.