An Introduction to the Thought of Sun Myung Moon: Unification Thought and V.O.C. Theory

Chapter 4 - Axiology

The present age is an age of great confusion and loss due to a collapse of traditional views of value. What, then, are the causes that brought about this collapse?

First of all, God has been excluded from all areas of human life (e.g., politics, the economy, social life, education and the arts), and religion is often dismissed. Second, this collapse was caused by the infiltration of materialism, atheism, and especially atheistic communism. Third, there is the conflict among religions and worldviews. Fourth, traditional moral principles promoted by the great religions of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Confucianism fail to persuade modern people who tend to think scientifically. Thus, a new perspective on values is absolutely necessary. The future society will be established by people whose faculties of intellect, emotion and will are harmoniously developed centering on God's Heart. Accordingly, it will be a society of trueness, beauty, and ethics. Axiology is the theory that generally deals with the values of trueness, beauty and goodness and serves as a basis for the three particular theories of education, art, and ethics. In conclusion, to make possible a future society based on a culture of Heart (realizing the values of trueness, beauty, and goodness centering on Heart), a unified culture with a new view of values is a real necessity.

I. What Is Value?

In Unification Thought, value is defined as the quality of an object that satisfies the desire of a subject. In other words, whenever an object has a quality that satisfies the wishes of a subject and is recognized as such by the subject, this quality is called a value. Actual value is the value of an object that is recognized by a subject; otherwise, it cannot be actual. Therefore, in dealing with the topic of value, the desire of the subject cannot be ignored or the focus be put exclusively on the objective aspect.

Among the values pursued by humankind, sungsang-type values and hyungsang-type values can be distinguished. Sungsang-type values refer to spiritual values corresponding to trueness, beauty, and goodness, while hyungsang-type values refer to material values such as food, clothing, and shelter that are needed for physical life.

II. The Principle Base of the Theory of Value

For what purpose do human desires exist? They exist for the fulfillment of the purpose of creation. If human beings were deprived of any desire to fulfill the purpose of creation, they could never achieve that purpose. Human desires can be divided into the sungsang-type and the hyungsang-type. The sungsang-type desires are desires of the spirit mind pertaining to trueness, beauty, goodness, and love that are aimed at the realization of sungsang-type values.

The hyungsang-type desires are physical desires pertaining to needs such as food, shelter, clothing, and sex, and they are aimed at the realization of hyungsang-type values. Since the physical body serves as a basis upon which the spirit self can develop and grow, hyungsang-type values are a necessary means for the realization of sungsang-type values.

As we have seen, each human being is a connected body that encompasses dual purposes: for the whole and for the individual. This means that all humans have dual purposes (for the whole and for the individual) in the sphere of sungsang (the spirit mind), and dual purposes (for the whole and for the individual) in the sphere of hyungsang (the physical mind). Next, since the human wish is the desire of our heart to achieve a given purpose, humans have a desire to achieve the purposes for the whole and for the individual. The former is called the desire to realize value; the latter is called the desire to seek value. Thus, for both sungsang-type desires and hyungsang-type desires there is the desire to realize value and the desire to seek value.

III. The Essence of Value

A. Potential Value and the Essential Element of Value

As previously stated, value is the quality of an object that can satisfy the desire of a subject; it is the potential value that the object possesses as its quality. Potential value is also the essential element of value, i.e., the content of the object, its attributes and its qualifications. Thus, values such as trueness, beauty, and goodness are not themselves given to the object. Rather, the constituent element that can become value or essential element resides as potential in the object. This is what is meant by the potential value of that object.

Concretely speaking, what are the contents, attributes, and qualifications that form the essence of value and the essential element of the object? They are the purpose of creation of the object and the harmony between paired elements existing in the object. First, every created entity has a purpose for which it was created that represents the essential elements of value. Second, all things resemble God's Original Image and thus necessarily contain sungsang and hyungsang, yang and yin, as well as principal elements and subordinate elements, which create harmony through their mutual give-and-take action. The state of harmony thus created represents the essential element of value.

B. Actual Value

In terms of value, there is both the essential, potential element carried by the object and the actual aspect that is determined by the give-and-take action between the subject and the object. The former is called potential value; the latter actual value. The value needs to be evaluated in terms of actual value, which is done through give-and-take action between the subject and the object. The value that is determined is the actual value.

IV. The Determination of the Actual Value and the Standard of Value

A. The Determination of Value and Subjective Action

Actual value is determined through the mutual relationship between the condition required of the subject, or subject requisites and the object requisites; i.e., it is determined through give-and-take action. In the case of the object, the requisites are its purpose of creation and harmony among its paired elements (sungsang and hyungsang, yang and yin, principal element and subordinate element), which form the essential element. Thus, in the determination of value, the essential elements belonging to the object are the object requisites. But, in that process, subject requisites are equally needed. When facing the object, the subject needs to have the desire to seek value and have concern and interest. The subject requisites also include subjective factors, i.e., the condition of the subject's mind. These factors determine the amount of quality and quantity of value. The subject's philosophy, viewpoints, taste, personality, education, view of life, view of history, worldview, etc. are conditions that influence the determination of value. In summary, the requisites needed on the part of the subject in the determination of value are the subject's interest and desire to seek value, and the attitude of taking the position of subject. It is only when these subject and object requisites perfectly fit that actual value is determined.

The reason the subjective element is so important in the determination of value is because it is through the subject's appraisal that value is decided. The subject's way of thinking, worldview, and other subjective elements are reflected in the object, because they are crystallized as a specific actual value that can only be perceived by that subject. Thus, the appraisal of value by the subject, which is influenced by the subjective element, is called subjective action. In other words, the fact that the viewpoint of the subject is reflected in the object in the course of determining value is called subjective action. This is summarized in Fig. 13.

Fig. 13: The Determination of Value

B. The Correlative Standard and the Absolute Standard of Value

The determination and appraisal of value established through subjective action will vary from person to person. Yet, when there are many commonalities in the subject requisites, there will be many points of agreement in the appraisal of value. Among people sharing the same religion or philosophy, the view of value will be nearly the same. However, to the extent that there are differences in people's religious and philosophical views, their worldviews, their views of life and history, etc., the appraisal of value will only coincide within each particular sphere. These phenomena are due to the common factors shared by the subjects who determine value. Since the common standard for the appraisal of value that is gained in this way remains limited to a particular sphere, that common standard or criterion will be called a correlative standard.

However, if true peace is to be established among humankind, a standard for the appraisal of value that transcends religions, nationalities, cultures, and philosophies (i.e., an absolute standard of judgment that is common to all human beings) is absolutely required. To establish such a standard, we must be able to clearly expose the nature of the Being that is the root cause of all religions, nations, cultures, and philosophies; next, we must clarify the exact nature of the common elements derived from such a Being. A standard common to all people throughout the world can only be found through God's absolute love and truth. Only then can we speak of an absolute standard in the appraisal of value. A true unification of the views of value will thus be possible when all humankind comes to experience God's absolute love and understand the absolute truth, the eternal and unchanging Logos (reason-law) that governs the universe.

But even when there is an absolute standard for the determination of value, a certain subjective input depending on each person's individual character is inevitable. This is due to the obvious fact that, based on common factors and elements, individual differences are present everywhere. This in turn is due to the fact that absolute values are universal values that encompass and include individual differences. As long as this is the case, there will not be confusion in the view of values due to personal differences. The reason for this is that in this case the difference is not of a qualitative nature, but merely quantitative. In conclusion, the unification of views is possible through absolute values. 

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