Principles of an Epistemology of Values: The permutation of collective cohesion and motivation

Principles of an Epistemology of Values: The permutation of collective cohesion and motivation
Author: Corbí, Marià
Published: October  2015 by Springer
Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures
Hardcover, 242 pages  /  ebook
ISBN-10: 3319232096
ISBN-13: 978-3319232096


Explains how to construct collective axiological projects within the new cultural circumstances

Presents pioneering research on how to cultivate spirituality within a technoscientific society

Is now available in English, making it accessible to a wide readership

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This book addresses the need to create an “axiological epistemology”. This term refers to knowledge of what is axiological, i.e. everything related to human values, and the know-how on how to manage the study of values. In knowledge societies, we know and live axiological projects that we do not receive from anyone, but that we must construct ourselves in a situation of continuous change. In view of the fact that the axiological crisis in which we are immersed is the most serious one that humanity has suffered over its long history, the seriousness and urgency of the issue in question is evident. Adequate knowledge is required to solve this problem, which is at the root of all the problems we are experiencing. This work offers a potential solution that, in contrast to the past, cannot be definitive, but must be transformed throughout the continuous changes to ways of life as a result of technoscience. It will prove of great value to all those who must operate within human values and motivate groups, as well as to those interested in spirituality.

Table of contents

  • General Principles Pages 1-50
  • Principles of Specific Formal Parameters Pages 51-71
  • The Interdependence Between Natural Language and Collective Axiological Systems Pages 73-82
  • Mythical Analyses
  • The Creation of Collective Axiological Projects in the New SocietiesPages 135-179

Abstract: This publication addresses the need to create axiological know-how, referring to know-how on all that relates to human values and qualities. Societies of knowledge and innovation have demonstrated that we do not receive collective axiological projects from anyone or anything. Rather, we must construct them ourselves, like technoscience, within a situation of constant change. We are aware that the current axiological crisis in which we are immersed is the greatest experienced by humanity throughout its history. There is no doubt about the seriousness and urgency of the matter in question: the need to gain know-how in order to solve this problem, which is at the root of everything we are experiencing. Our aim is to offer a solution that, in contrast to the past, is not definitive, and cannot be perceived to be definitive. Instead, it must be transformed as constant changes in modes of life occur, as a result of the rapid growth of science and technology.

The collective axiological projects that we create must be able to manage our scientific and technical creations so that they are for the good of our species, as well as for all life and the habitability of the planet. Individual and collective human quality is essential in order to create these projects. How should we proceed? We cannot start from zero. It will be necessary to learn to receive the legacy of the wisdom of the past, without being able to think, feel or organise ourselves as our ancestors did. In the new type of society, human quality is no longer optional.


CHAPTER I. General Principles

The starting point to construct axiological epistemology is anthropological, linguistic and social. This epistemology must not be wrapped up in any religious or secular beliefs. Our starting point must be without any axiological alternatives as a methodological option, insofar as possible for a living being. We start out on the basis of facts, without any reductionism. The first fact is that culture is a phenomenon of living beings. It is the way of life of a living animal. Humans are cultural animals. It is important to start from this basis, free from reverie.

Aspects considered in this section include the effect of our condition as living beings who speak constituting a dual access to reality; one relative to our needs and another that not relative to them. This dual dimension is the basis of our flexibility as a species. For the same reason, silence is the basic resource of our species.

Another aspect considered is the structure of language determining the anthropological, axiological and communication structure. Other aspects include scientific abstraction and axiological abstraction, the boundary between the intralinguistic and the extralinguistic, and the objective distance. This section asks whether a natural world exists.


CHAPTER II. Principals of Specific Formal Parameters

Living creatures, both human and non-human, do not live through abstract concepts. They live through the sensory, the qualitative and the specific, both regarding themselves and their environments. The difference is that, in humans, shaping the environment and the system of responses and action is not genetic. We must do this through language. It is a cultural phenomenon. Humans live in a world of representations. This does not change the fact that, as living creatures, we must operate with the specific, with the qualitative. This fact has serious consequences for the societies of knowledge.

This section also analyses the elasticity of linguistic formations: denomination/definition and its consequences in creating metalanguages, both abstract and axiological. It addresses the problem of formalising all that is specific or qualitative; the elementary structure of signification and the formal parameters of transformation; discourse and its actantial structure.


CHAPTER III. The Interdependence between Natural Language and Collective Axiological Systems

This section addresses axiological epistemology and the cultivation of the absolute dimension of the real. Cultivation of the absolute, selfless dimension falls to axiological systems built with specific reference to the particular features of our human condition; we have an inherent need for access to both dimensions of the real: the functional dimension and the selfless or absolute dimension. Axiological systems must encourage and induce cultivation of the second dimension of the real, and must lead individuals and groups to turn to the great teachings of the masters of past generations, found in humanity’s great religious and spiritual traditions.

The new axiological systems must warn of the urgent need to cultivate this dimension so that individuals and communities may possess the human quality needed to prevent our technoscience from working against us and against all life on the planet.

The section analyses the diverse uses of language. Principles of axiological epistemology are collected and methodological observations made.


CHAPTER IV. Mythical Analyses

This section studies myths as axiological systems constructed with the purpose of collective programming. It analyses the key myths from the Sumerian-Babylonian-Assyrian societies. It also addresses Christian mythology as another instance of agrarian-authoritarian mythology. Analysing cultures that fall outside our own tradition allows us to work with more impartiality. Further on, we can apply them – also impartially – towards the comprehension of Christian mythological structures. We analyse the key myths: those referring to authority and those referring to cultivation. We analyse these great myths in order to learn how these peoples constructed their collective axiological programming so successfully that it lasted, with slight alterations, for nearly four thousand years. Knowing how our ancestors built, in order to know how to build, is part of what we have labelled axiological epistemology.

We also analyse the myths ‘Enûma Elish’, ‘Inanna’s Descent to the Nether World’, and the ‘Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed’.


CHAPTER V. The Creation of Collective Axiological Projects in the New Societies

All forms of knowledge and feeling, ranging to the highest and noblest, must be explicable from our basic condition as a living creature, with needs, that speaks and is symbiotic. Axiological epistemology must be able to give an account of the emergence of axiological systems, of the sciences and the arts and of spirituality.

An important task for axiological epistemology is to give an account of how collective axiological systems were created in the past in the context of the different pre-industrial modes of survival, as well as why and how such systems change when modes of survival undergo change. We must study how religions come about and how they fell into crisis or others emerged. Axiological epistemology must be able to give an account of the shifts that occur when pre-industrial modes of life disappear, and of the consequences of such change for religions and for the cultivation of human quality. It will need to study how to formulate collective projects in the new societies of knowledge and constant change.

This section studies the creation of collective axiological projects in societies of knowledge. It suggests a general project for this type of society and for a research team. Finally, it studies how spirituality – profound human quality – should be cultivated in societies of knowledge.


CHAPTER VI. The Cultivation of Profound Human Quality in the New Industrial Societies

This section studies the absolute dimension of the real from the perspective of epistemological axiology. All that appeared, in the axiological projects of the past, as the religious or spiritual dimension of culture is subject matter for study through axiological epistemology, because it is related to our fundamental structure as living beings. We will study why the absolute dimension is linked to the revealed, untouchable beliefs. We will study the ways of cultivating it without religions, systems of beliefs or gods. We will analyse which could be appropriate way to cultivate these dimensions in societies of constant change.

Is the absolute dimension possible without beliefs, religions or gods? In the new societies, we cannot base the cultivation of the absolute dimension on beliefs, because members of the societies cannot believe. The cultivation of the absolute dimension must have a rational basis, and inherit all the wisdom developed and verified in the past by the wise. We review some of the main recommendations made by the traditions on cultivating human quality, taking the circumstances of the new societies into account.