Gettin’ to the meat … or
“That which is of highest value”
Ok. How do we determine value? Peanuts vs. brazil nuts. Off the top – when i buy a can of mixed nuts it usually has a whole lotta peanuts and a few brazil nuts – ergo, i guess brazil nuts are more valuable in our economy. Scarcity = increased value, but is that intrinsic?
Consider processing. I can tear the tissue paper shell right off the peanut, while the brazil nut requires a tool and effort. If i was trapped in an empty room with a pile of both kinds of nut, the peanuts would be more valuable – no barrier to consumption.
What about a pearl in an oyster shell? No direct actual survival value, but in our society a much higher value. Why? Because its a symbol of wealth potentially attracting more wealth. So the pearl, as symbol, is a form of ‘meta’ wealth, at least at this level of sub-totality (civilization) in which agents interact. Value is determined by environment, which is the manifestation of our relationships. In some smaller situations, as stated above, peanuts may be more valuable than pearls.
What takes precedence, the whole or the part? In this world it appears that for the vast majority, priorities are determined by the immediate, the local, the individual among a multitude of sub-totalities – other individuals, families, communities, or allegiences of beliefs, or of skill sets, or of other power players – all pointing to the necessity of survival of all the various agents or groups. While there may be degrees of cooperation among some of these parts, the dominant form of relationship is conflct/competition.
Conflict implies games with winners and losers, which in itself implies eternal struggle. Is it possible to end conflict and thereby ensure survival for ALL agents? If so, how?
Reduced to the smallest of survival systems – that of the individual – air, water, and peanuts (or grains of wheat) may have more value than a warehouse full of pearls. Within a political system, symbols of wealth have more relative value – because the system will endure – despite the loss of individual agents due to the scarcity of survival necessities – winners will increase their winnings up to a certain point. Failure is built into the system. As competitors become more skilled at ‘winning’ symbolic wealth (fiat currencies, status, power positons, etc.) actual wealth is destroyed, simply because, in this physical world, at this point in history, resources – time, space, energy, and matter – are finite.
We have devoted the energy of evolution to the exploration, mapping, and controlling the limits of our environment – the outward – but to the mechanism that is doing this work, the human psyche, we remain ignorant. (Ignorant – root word – to ignore, implies will, conscious effort.) Why?
Why do we fail to confront our self? Because of death. Fear. It is fundamentally incomprehensible, within the framework of space/time/energy/matter, because it implies the ending of not only all the winners and losers, but of the entire structure of what humanity has created – civilization – symbolic wealth (but not necessarily actual wealth).
But this whole determination of value, this civilization, is actually a small sub-totality within the framework of a conscious universe. Civilization has divided itself from the whole. Granted, it grew from a seed of survival mechanisms, genes and memes, but it was so successful, so powerful within the confines of individual survival rates, that our whole mind was sacrificed for the individual mind.
Therefore i contend we are not conscious of ‘that which is of highest value’.