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Topology of Valuing: dynamics of collective engagement with polyhedral value configurations


Topology of Valuing
Elusive nature of fundamental values: practice
Elusive nature of fundamental values: comprehension
Varieties of ways of "having" values in practice
Distinguishing varieties of value "hardness" and "softness"
"Carpe valorem": existential engagement with values?
Identification of comprehensive sets of values: Human Values Project
Holders of value configurations -- and their "pillars"
Polarization and its possible dynamic reframing
Eliciting engagement through value "frames of reference"
Cognitive fusion: "Light" of comprehension -- of values?
Sharing value and ethical frameworks
Configuring sets of values and principles as polyhedra
From "value frameworks" to "value vehicles": statics vs dynamics ?
Incompatible value frameworks: "token agreement" vs "bloody disagreement"
Value-based crisis: values as instruments of memetic warfare
Value embodiment: participatory engagement with environmental reality
Value-engendering psychoactive environmental dynamic
Engendering psychoactive resonance through the mnemonic qualities of complex topologies
Re-enchantment of environmental engagement through polyhedral animations
Wisdom -- to be elicited through metaphor?

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Associated with Towards Polyhedral Global Governance: complexifying oversimplistic strategic metaphors (2008), Polyhedral Pattern Language: software facilitation of emergence, representation and transformation of psycho-social organization (2008) and References


The 20th century saw a multitude of studies and commentaries on values. It is ranked as one of the bloodiest centuries of all times. Nations continue to engage in extreme violence in the defence of values -- and are prepared to make use of pre-emptive nuclear strikes to that end. Nevertheless, appreciative inquiry into values and discussion of their nature remains a very "safe" and respectable topic. Appealing to values is a standard process in which all authorities engage -- frequently as a means of disguising agendas in conflict with those values and avoding exploration of differences in values labelled by the same words.

The challenge explored here is whether it is possible to break out of the trap of what might be framed as the "values game". This may be especially important in response to the seemingly unmanageable crises of the global knowledge society of the anthropocene era. Given the elusive nature of values, the question addressed here is whether individuals and groups can engage with and embody values more effectively as a means of engaging with these crises -- which strategically are essentially crises of values. This applies especially to those strategic crises relating to the environment.

The initial context for the following exploration was the instigation by the author in 1972 of the Human Values Project that formed part of the Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential (online since 2000). This work, briefly summarized below, highlighted a range of issues -- notably the strategic implications for any transition from a knowledge society to a wisdom society (see Documents relating to Human Values and Wisdom).

Of particular importance now appears to be the recognition of the limitations of the typical descriptive focus on values and their significance -- avoiding consideration of both the challenge of tokenism and the manner in which people might better comprehend and engage with configurations of values in enabling more appropriate navigation of emergent psycho-social complexity. A distinction ios not made here between "ethics", "morals" and "values", the argument focuses more generally on the latter as including the former.

Following clarification of these issues, the question explored is how people and groups can comprehend and engage with configurations of values. The issue of "topology" is highlighted to contrast this approach with the universal tendency to present sets of values as a checklist, organized simplistically and asystemically. There is little consideration for the mnemonic factors that reinforce and sustain engagement with them -- and appropriate use of them as a strategic vehicle appropriate to a global knowledge society challenged by the "political will to change".

The argument is further developed separately (In Quest of Engaging Values: context of the Human Values and Wisdom Project, 2008; Coherent Value Frameworks: pillar-ization, polarization and polyhedral frames of reference, 2008; Psychodynamics of Collective Engagement with Polyhedral Value Configurations, 2008). The argument is summarized in a final paper (Embodying Values Dynamically through Alternation: integrating sets of polarized static values through indicative metaphor, 2008). The argument has also been presented in poster form In Quest of a Strategic Pattern Language: a new architecture of values [also available in PDF].

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