Unification Thought

By Dr. Sang Hun Lee

Chapter III - Axiology

Some consistent idea of value should exist at the basis of each aspect of culture, such as politics and economy, for example. This theory of axiology, built on the foundation of "Ontology", tries to clarify the existence of the purpose of creation and the essence of value created through the give-and-take action between relative elements. Thus this theory's goal is to define the structure of value as fundamental principles of standard ethics as well as individual morals. This theory may also offer a great deal to counter the variety and confusion of the present-day view of value.

Section A - The Significance of Axiology

Axiology is the philosophical field that deals generally with the problems of value: how to judge, evaluate and recognize value.

Descartes and Locke systematically pursued the study of epistemology and finally formed one of the most fundamental fields of philosophy. Later, Kant discriminated between the field of theory (Sein, being) and that of value (Sollen, duty), and axiology thus became one of the basic fields of the modern philosophical world.

Kant's theory, however, dealt more directly with determining which things are valuable, while the value that is dealt with here, has more to do with ethics, since we consider value as that which decides the goals of man's activities.

In the history of philosophy, axiology occupies a very important position. It is interesting that it takes a place in history similar to the place it takes in the process of man's growth from childhood. Children ask the axiological questions such as, "Why do we do this?" or "Why must we do that?" soon after their ontological questions such as, "What is this?" or "How does it happen?"

Let us examine both purpose and value according to the Principle.

Section B - The Theoretical Foundation of Axiology

(i) Dual Being

What is value then? Can we expect to find a constant concept or standard of value regardless of the time, place or persons that we encounter? How do material value or personal value come to take concrete shape?

Truth is unique, eternal, unchanging and absolute, regardless of time or circumstances. Thus our first step is to theoretically consider the true meaning of the existence of human beings and, based upon this consideration, deal with the true significance of value.

We can readily note that man has two sides, both an internal (spiritual) and external (material) side, that is, his Sung Sang and Hyung Sang aspects.

Hence, man has two different kinds of desires: the desire to seek after spiritual values such as truth, goodness, beauty and love; and the desire to seek for material values such as the desire for the sensory joys found in food, clothing, shelter and sex. The former desire is called Sung Sang desire, and the latter Hyung Sang desire. [Note: In the Unification Principle view, man not only has the two aspects of Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, but also the dual body of spirit man and physical man. Resulting from the action of give-and-take between these two, various kinds of mental phenomena are known to take place.]

(ii) Dual Purposes

As stated in detail in "Ontology", man exists in a dual position both as God's substantial object, and as the subject of the whole creation.

To be God's substantial object means that man is in a position to offer joy to God. In other words, exhibiting his own God-given values, man offers truth, goodness and beauty to God in order to give Him joy and comfort. Since God is such that He contains every being, visible and invisible, He can be considered to be the complete whole, and to serve Him may be called the purpose for the whole.

Deep in his mind, man desires to do something or feels he must do something for his greater, wider and higher whole, namely, for his home, his nation and the world in which he lives. From this desire a sense of duty naturally arises which corresponds to "must be thus", "wish to be such" or "must act thus", "wish to act in such a way." The sense of duty or "Categorical Imperative" (Kant) generally comes from this purpose for the whole.

The fact that man is the subject of the whole creation means that he influences the creation (has dominion over the whole creation) with love and also he receives from it values such as truth, goodness and beauty which give him joy.

This receiving of value corresponds to the purpose for the individual which is indispensable to man as is the purpose for the whole already mentioned.

(iii) Dual Desires

The dual desires exist in relation to both the purposes for the whole and for the individual. One is the desire to realize value, to exhibit one's value toward God, and the other is the desire to seek after value in order to obtain joy through receiving truth, goodness and beauty from all things. These dual desires form an actual basis for feeling values and for a consciousness or a view of value.

What is the nature and basis of these desires according to the Principle? We can not help but think that the creation of man must have some reason or purpose, because man was created by God. However long this purpose may exist, however, it has no significance unless it is realized.

God gave man everything necessary to fulfill his purpose of creation, but this fulfillment was entrusted to man's free will. This purpose of creation can not be achieved if man remains in the state in which he was created. In other words, in order to achieve his purpose, man must grow by himself. This means that man has to be given the ability and impulse to fulfill his purpose. The impulse to fulfill his purpose of creation is the desire for value (both the value-realizing and value-pursuing desires).

All the other created beings besides man are also given purposes of creation by God. Even inorganic matter has usefulness and law, and this usefulness and law both can be said to be realizations of the purpose of creation. That is, inorganic matter becomes useful by its law. On the other hand living creatures possess an autonomous nature (plants) and an instinctive nature (animals). By these they grow automatically or instinctively to perfection and realize the purpose of their creation.

Besides these laws, autonomy and instinct, man possesses creativity (dominating ability), namely the desire to create values (Sung Sang and Hyung Sang) by which God's purpose of creation is to be consciously realized.

The basic factor of the desire to realize and pursue value is the impulse to achieve the purpose of creation. Here we find what the Principle considers the basis of the whole system of axiology.

Section C - The Kinds of Value

(i) Truth, Goodness and Beauty

In order to survive individually man must fulfill his Hyung Sang desires such as his desire for food, clothing, and shelter and he must fulfill his sexual desire in order to preserve his own kind. These desires, however, provide only the groundwork for the achievement of man's purpose of creation and are not enough to completely fulfill the original purpose planned by God.

Let us consider, then, the desires (Sung Sang desires) which are directly concerned with God's purpose for creating man on earth.

Three kinds of value are usually mentioned first. They are truth, goodness, and beauty. These three forms of value (truth, goodness and beauty) are equivalent to the three functions of man's mind (intellect, emotion, and will). Furthermore they are both what man wants to realize in himself to give joy (spiritual), and what he searches for in others in order to find his own spiritual joy.


Man wants to live a true life, not a false one. In other words, according to his purpose of creation, man has a desire to be true, not false. If we live a false life, our conscience begins to bother us. This is evidence that man has the desire to realize truth. Furthermore, man wants to see true things, persons or lives. Man tends to dislike anything false, whatever it may be, even when he just happens to see it. Moreover, man attempts to obtain truth (knowledge) from objects such as nature, social circumstances, history, etc. This is the desire to seek after truth.


Man hopes to dedicate himself to God and the whole around himself so that he may be of value and may lead a good life according to God's purpose for creation. Man has a desire to realize goodness, and he is always eager to see and know good things, attitudes, behavior and to hear good language in the beings around him. This is the desire to pursue goodness.


Man has the desire to realize beauty through his deeds and life by offering beauty to the whole such as family, neighbors, society, nation, mankind and God for their enjoyment. And he wishes to gain joy from seeing or hearing about beautiful countenances or beautiful deeds. This is the desire of seeking after beauty, and the former desire is to realize beauty. This is why there can be both creation and appreciation in art. An artist's creation comes about due to the desire to realize beauty, and appreciation comes about due to the desire to pursue it. [Note: From the standpoint of communism, only deeds which are useful to achieve the purpose of accomplishing revolution and which are useful to the victory of class strife for the side of the proletarian class are considered to be the true, good and beautiful. Thus the communists are limited to a very narrow, one-sided view of value.]

(ii) Love

Love itself can not be called value in the exact meaning of the word, but love is inseparably related to the already mentioned values of truth, goodness and beauty.

These three values are the values offered to the subject from the object as objective value. Love is an emotional force (force of Heart) given to the object by the subject (man or God). For example, God, as the subject, gives man (the object) his purpose of life, and parents as subjects give (teach) their children standards (Principles) of life. This purpose and these standards come from the love of the subject (God or parents). This purpose and these principles then become goals to be realized in order to realize the above stated three values, and thus this purpose and these principles serve as the measuring standards for these values. If the object displays "value" following these goals, the subject is pleased to see it and loves the object all the more. When man, as the object, offers value (beauty, goodness, etc.) to the subject, it is necessary that his heart or his love becomes the basis of the deed, because, for example, beauty is a kind of emotional stimulation to the subject from the object.

Suppose that we acted and lived with only love in mind, without any sense of the values of truth, goodness and beauty; nevertheless the subject, observing the deeds done before him would accept the deeds as the three values. In this sense, it may follow that love is both the source of, or motive for realizing truth, goodness and beauty, and yet it is also the base from which the appreciation of these same values comes. In other words, love is the beginning and end of value.

If we see people with loving hearts, their deeds appear much more true, good, and beautiful even though their deeds are not consciously done for value and are extremely ordinary. In this sense, love may be called the union of truth, goodness and beauty. In other words, the reason the three kinds of value (truth, goodness and beauty) are all increased by one thing, love, is that love is the union of all values, just as a lake is the union of the rivers.

Axiology can not be separated from ethics since the principle of deeds done through love is ethics.

(iii) Holiness

"Holiness" is often considered as a value along with the other common values like truth, goodness and beauty. The reason for this is that man became separated from God's love and fell into a narrow-minded egoism, and thus came to express nothing that originated from God; that is, nothing holy.

In the holy world (the world created by God) all was united with God as one body and the three values were all sacred. It is meaningless, therefore, to emphasize the value "holiness", as only truth, goodness and beauty are dealt with as values in the original world.

Section D - The Essence of Value

(i) The Essence of Value

What is the essence of value? What is the ultimate substance which creates value and makes something valuable?

Value includes two aspects: the actual and the essential. The essence of value consists of the factors which fulfill the desire for the values truth, goodness, and beauty (the desire which seeks after value). The actuality of value (actual value) signifies the joy expressed by the subject when it comes in contact with concrete things or actions with such factors.

The essence of value consists of the following two factors.

(ii) The Purpose of Creation

The first factor is the purpose of creation.

All objects created by God have purposes. In the case of all the created beings, other than man, God's purpose of creation is straightforwardly expressed. Man, on the other hand, can find this purpose of creation (mission or responsibility) with his free will and must fulfill it himself. Thus, God's true purpose of creation is not always realized by every individual. The same thing can be said about man's actions and the works (products) made by human hands. Thus, behind all existing beings, we find God's purpose for making them.

These purposes, however, should not remain hidden or as mere potential but should actually appear as definite purposes of individuals (purposes for the whole and for the individual) so that they might be achieved. Any existing being without a purpose is regarded as worthless.

(iii) The Give-and-Take Action of Relative Elements and Harmony

The second factor is the G-T action (harmony). Centering on the purpose, the relative elements which are Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, positive and negative, movement and quiescence, large and small, strong and weak, and so on, should remain in harmony through their mutual G-T action. Whether natural or artificial, all things necessarily have a purpose of creation and should be in harmony through the give-and-take action between the two elements within each being. This harmony through the give-and-take law is another essence of value.

For example, man's highest purpose is to act for the whole or God and to offer joy to the whole (God). When man, centering on this purpose, creates harmony through the G-T action between his spiritual mind (Sung Sang) and physical mind (Hyung Sang), or when he carries on a life of harmony through the give-and-take action with others (for example, brothers or friends), in Unification Thought this harmony is regarded as the essence of value of human beings. In such cases, the man who forms such harmony, even though he is a man, is dealt with as the object, not as the subject of the judgment of value. In other words, the man who is fulfilling his purpose and maintaining harmony must be an object to the subject which is needed to accept the value.

Considering the blooming flowers of the natural world, we find that they too have a purpose to fulfill beauty so that they may please human beings. Here again a smooth give-and-take action can be seen between the external relative elements centering on this purpose. This smooth action, in short, is harmony. This harmony occurs, for instance, among a flower's colors, shapes, sizes, positions and so on which are all external elements of flowers. In other words, the relative elements of things' Hyung Sang aspects express differences. Harmony comes from the differences of these external elements. Seeing the external forms of objects, various differences are noticed in their width, size, movements, height, length, color and so forth. When the differences of these relative elements are united into one by a mutual action (union of variety) then truth, goodness, and beauty appear. White clouds against a blue sky, and butterflies or bees flying around flowers are good examples of such beauty (harmony).

In these examples the former things show movement and the latter quiescence, and all the differences of color, size and shape including movement present a harmonious state. Beauty is not perceived strikingly in the monotonous but rather in stirring variety and difference, because harmony appears only among variety and differences. Nature is beautiful by itself, but if man, the subject, appears in it, he makes it more beautiful; he makes the harmony even more striking, because by man's presence, more variety (difference) has been added.

However, when existing beings fulfill their actual purpose of creation and also produce harmony through the give-and-take action between relative elements, this does not yet mean that they have created actual value. Actual value appears to the subject as a judgment while the give-and-take action between the subject and object occurs. A judgment is a subjective view. To realize a value, therefore, a subject must exist as the active judge of the value.

Section E - The Decision of Actual Value and the Standard of Value

(i) The Decision of Actual Value

How is value realized and actually decided? Generally, it is decided by the mutual action (give-and-take) conducted between the "objective conditions" and "subjective conditions." Objective conditions are the essence of the above-mentioned value, that is, the purpose of creation and the harmony brought about through the give-and-take action of the relative elements in the object. (This harmony corresponds to that created by the law of give-and-take of the relative elements in the subject.)

The subjective conditions are mainly the subject's internal conditions- thoughts or conceptions, views of life or of the world, his God-given personality and so forth.

For example, man feels joy as a creator only when he has an object; that is, when he sees the product of his work, whether it be painting or sculpture, in which his plan is substantiated. In this way, he is able to feel his own character and form objectively through the stimulation derived from the product of his work. (Divine Principle, p. 42)

In this way the three values-truth, goodness and beauty-all come to be perceived and the subject, above all, can feel his own Sung Sang in the object. Then, what is the Sung Sang of the subject in this case? While perceiving value, the Sung Sang consists of the thoughts, conceptions and views of the world based on the thoughts, individual character, feelings and so forth of the subject. Namely all these compose the Sung Sang (conditions) of the subject. Value is decided by the give-and-take action between these conditions of the subject and the objective conditions (the purpose of creation and the harmony of the Sung Sang elements). For instance, the actual value (e.g. beauty) of flowers is decided by the reciprocal relationship between the objective conditions such as the purpose of creation of the flower (the harmony of colors and size, etc.), and the subjective conditions (such as the thoughts, tastes, artistic feelings and the view of nature and so forth).

(ii) Subjective Action

The fact that the subjective conditions are important in the decision of value means that the subject sometimes projects his own thoughts, conceptions, feelings, views and so on onto the object. Such a projecting action of the subject is called "Subjective Action." When poets view flowers or the moon, for instance, they add a variety of imaginations and ideas to it and put forth new meanings, different from those of scientists. Thus the flowers and the moon are seen differently by poets and scientists. When one has a sorrowful heart, the moon often looks lonely. Even the same flowers, according to our different feelings, whether we feel good or uneasy, display different beauties. Thus, the subjective elements greatly influence the decision of value. In deciding beauty (appreciating beauty) this projection of subjectivity onto the object is called subjective action. At any rate, attention should be paid to the fact that the process of the realization of value is not a passive reflecting of the objective world to the subject but is the active recognition and pursuing activity of the subject.

(iii) The Importance of the Subjective Conditions

The importance of the subjective conditions can be clearly understood when we see historical remains, cultural assets or other relics of the past. As we gain wider knowledge about these historical things, they take on new meaning and display deeper beauty. Likewise in the case of art, for example, through special knowledge of music and sculpture, we can perceive more value (beauty) in them.

Thus it is by forming a correlation, namely it is by the give-and-take action between the subjective condition and the objective condition, that the actual value is decided. The decision of goodness is the same as that of beauty. Since "the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (Luke 17:21) when love fills in our spirit, we can honestly tolerate all the faults of others. Thus if the thought and feeling of the subject were reformed, the object would acquire new meaning, the dark side of him would be hidden, and new value revealed.

To state the above briefly, both the objective and subjective conditions are involved in the decision of value, but the subjective factor is more decisive.

(iv) The Standard of Value

What is the standard for the decision of value?

As already stated the subject factor plays an important role in the decision of value. So the "self" (subject) becomes very important. Self and others both have common objective elements (elements separate from the subject) like thoughts. The purpose of creation and the relative elements which the object includes, are also considered objective elements.

But even though there are a number of common, universal, objective elements in the conditions of both the subject and object, they can not become the complete standard of value. Each person is a unique individual truth body expressing an Individual Image of God. Individuals, therefore, have their own peculiar ways of accepting value, which is quite natural for men. The standard for the decision of value is the union of both the universally common, objective side and the peculiar, individual side. Neither of these two sides should be ignored.

(v) Relative Elements and Absolute Elements

Thus, the value of the object is decided by the relationships between the object, which has established a harmony through give-and-take action of relative elements centering on the purpose of creation, and man's desire to seek after value. The value of these relationships [may be] merely temporary and of a relative nature [or eternal and absolute, depending on the degree to which the purpose of creation is fulfilled.]

Then how can we acquire eternal absolute value? The purpose for which God created this world was to be filled with joy at seeing created beings (namely men) express values of truth, goodness and beauty and exchange love among themselves.

God's purpose of creation is absolute. Accordingly, the purpose of existence of each created being is also absolute. The created beings are all individual truth bodies, so they contain God's Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, or positive and negative elements (relative elements). These polarities of God are absolute, too. Therefore, if man completely perceives the purpose of creation of the object (all things) and the relative elements of the Sung Sang and Hyung Sang, and if he fully understands God's purpose of creation for himself (mission) and completes the give-and-take action with others, then the values which he seeks and realizes become absolute. Embracing the whole creation, Christ fell into great grief and sorrow but yet perfectly fulfilled the mission given to him (purpose of creation) and conducted the give-and-take action (love) with his neighbors most completely. He did his best for the salvation of mankind even when he was crucified on the cross. So the value realized by Christ is absolute. To live in such a way is man's absolute standard of value. Every man has such a standard of value as a possibility (dynamis). As his purpose of creation is absolute, and as man is created as the substantial object of God (the absolute), his standard of value can not but be absolute.

Section F - Present Day Life and Value

(i) The View of Purpose and Value

Finally, let us consider the relation between present-day life and value in view of today's serious mental and material crisis. Today, we live in material plenty, but, on the other hand, the true purpose of our life is not clear at all.

Since value is decided by purpose, once a clear view of purpose is lost then value also naturally loses the foundation on which it stands. Then all of life becomes worthless and hollow. Without purpose, creativity and duty (the standard of ethics) will also vanish.

Kant explains that it is by practical reason (reason used for practical action) that the will to do good is grounded and decided. By practical reason the duty (standard of our actions) is established and man is directed toward this obligation by good will. This is ethics and morality.

In this case, the purpose is set up by practical reason. Thus practical reason becomes the lawmaker of man's will. But Kant regarded the law as an inevitable, unconditional order and soundly refused to regard it as a means of realizing some purpose.

But is there meaning in deeds merely done by "duty" without a purpose? Even if there is some meaning, it would be difficult to perceive the deeds as valuable and to feel joy without a sense of purpose.

Why did Kant say that there is no sense of purpose guiding man toward ethics and morals? Is it not because he did not have a clear understanding of God's purpose for creating man? Today, people are not clear about the purpose of creation. As a result, they have many various views of purpose, all different from one another-this is the cause of the present collapse of the view of value.

(ii) The Necessity of a New View of Value

This problem of value has been dealt with simply by traditional religions. Buddhism, for instance, starting from the study of human suffering, tries to develop the inner human spiritual powers and by individual practice, accomplish the true human nature, which is the highest ideal of their doctrine. It preaches that to reach this goal (ideal), man must have mercy on all living creatures as well as on other human beings, and, founded on this merciful heart, moral practices and meditation are required. But in relation to Buddhism's attitudes toward society, it just generally refers to an individual's success in life, and does not clearly indicate the way that families, nations and the world ought to be.

Christianity also has a basic teaching in its doctrine, that one must love God and his neighbors. But within this doctrine, individual morals are emphasized too, and the purpose for the creation of the whole world, this purpose which links the world, nations, families and individuals together, is not clearly explained. Traditional Christianity can not give a distinct answer to the complicated social problems such as how a nation should be and how struggle should be solved.

For this reason people today can not completely depend on the existing religions, philosophies and thought systems. They are, therefore, remarkably inclined to be skeptical about these ideologies and a disuse of ideology appears. In spite of this men are desperately groping for the real view of value, a unified and dependable view, since they find their lives worthless because of this loss of their mental support and this collapse of value. The life led by hippies is a good example of this.

In the fields of politics or economy, as they are also based on human relationships, the establishment of a view of value naturally becomes necessary.

In conclusion, we consider that since this world was created by God, there is no other way to find the true view of value than to perceive exactly what God's purpose for creation is.

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