Originally posted on Facebook Notes
A lot of the topics I discuss hinge on the principle of ‘value’. A topic that seems simple enough but that requires further clarification because ‘value’ is a very subjective concept.
Since I am often speaking about – or at least from – an objectivist standpoint, value plays a very important role in that one of the key tenets of Objectivist philosophy is that any interactions between men, to be ethical and moral, must involve an equal exchange of value. So what is value and how do we define it – especially in the case of these interactions? In this case, the value is relative to each person involved in the exchange – i.e. they must mutually agree that what they are giving and what they are receiving in such an exchange is a worthy exchange of value.
To demonstrate this fact I often use an analogy, interchanging the nature of the allegory to suit the circumstances and to better suit the audience. The most basic form is essentially as follows:
Imagine that at some point in your life, someone you care about and have great admiration and respect for offers you a gift. Perhaps you are seeking your first job or leaving home for the first time, and this person you admire – for example your grandfather – hands you a copper penny. You ask them “what is this for?” and they tell you that when they were first going out on their own, their grandfather handed them a penny as a gesture to get them started. They explain to you that they carry that penny with them always and even go so far as to pull out their wallet to show it to you and you see the tell-tale circle worn into the outside of the leather to back up the claim that he always had it with him.
You too carry this penny with you until you find that first job and continue to carry it with you always as a reminder of your grandfather’s gesture to teach you a lesson or show you support when you got started.
How much then is that penny worth? To everyone else it is worth $0.01 but to you it may be something with a sentimental attachment that you would not give up for all the money in the world.