Goetia Niflheim
8 min readMay 25, 2020


I. The basic principles of axiology

Axiology (from Greek “axia”— value and “logos” — teaching, word) — value theory; philosophical doctrine of values, revealing the nature of people, revealing the basic values, their role, ways and means of forming the value attitude of people to the world.

Axiology as a teaching arises in the second half of the 19th century. However, the desire to theoretically comprehend life-affirming values ​​arose many thousands of years ago in the first mythological, religious and philosophical constructions. Already ancient philosophers have seen that man not only learns the world, but also evaluates the objects that make it up, expresses his attitude to the knowable.

The Main Cognitive Tasks of Axiology:

  1. The establishment of the role, value, status of an object or phenomenon;
  2. Attracting the attention of other people to this phenomenon and thus multiplying the number of supporters of this assessment.

So, in the process of cognition, not only the epistemological question (“What constitutes a particular subject?”) is solved, but also the axiological question (“How to relate to this subject?”).

Central problems of axiology:

The dialectic of natural-bodily and spiritual values and anti-values. G. Hegel shares utilitarian values (housing, food, household items, etc.) and spiritual.

In modern philosophical, medical and other literature, attention has increasingly been paid to one central idea of the dialectics of the soul and body — their harmonious relationship. Originally solves this problem by a Russian professor, who believes that such harmony can only be set taking into account the existence of the spirit, the soul and the human condition to achieve spirituality.

It can be seen from the above examples that the dialectical approach in considering the role of the body and soul in human life is most preferable. It makes it possible, firstly, to avoid one-sidedness and absolutization in determining the essential forces of man; secondly, to see these forces in their extreme inconsistency, that is, in the unity and difference of their natural-bodily, bodily spiritual and spiritual organization and development; thirdly, to determine the range of basic values and antiquities.

The question of the ratio of objective and subjective in the category of value. The value is based not on subjective assessments, but on the objective significance of the subject, however, objective value and subjective value may correspond, or they may sharply diverge from each other. Assessments of the same phenomenon in different individuals (social groups, nations, etc.) are often different. It should be remembered that truth is objective, and values ​​are subjective. Taking into account the heterogeneity of cognitive and value methods of mastering the world, it is necessary to bring them into harmony, to balance. This is a complex spiritual and practical work that ensures the integrity of human experience, the entire system of orientation of a person in the world around him.

II. The concept of value. Types and functions of values

Axiology sets itself the task of identifying the basic values and antiquities, revealing their nature, showing their role in people’s lives, determining the ways and means of forming the value attitude of people to the world around them.

The term “value” in axiology are defined as objects of the natural world, and the phenomenon of material and spiritual culture of the person, such as social ideals, scientific knowledge, art, ways of behavior and etc.. In human history since ancient times to the fore three types values: Good, Beauty and Truth. Already in antiquity, they represented in the minds of theorists an ideal, integral triad, thus defining the sphere of moral values ​​(Good), aesthetic (Beauty) and cognitive (Truth). And for example, the main values ​​of modern American culture are:


According to Neil Smelser, values are generally accepted beliefs about the goals that a person should strive for. Values form the basis of moral principles, different cultures may give preference to different values (heroism on the battlefield, art, asceticism), and each social system determines what is value and what is not.

Values are such material or ideal formations that have life-meaning meanings either for an individual person or for all mankind; driving force of activity; specific social definitions of objects of the surrounding world, revealing their positive (and negative) value for a person and society.

Values ​​substantiate moral principles, principles — rules (norms), rules — representations.

For example, justice is a value, it is embodied in the principle of justice, a rule (norm) follows from the principle, requiring equal reward (encouragement or punishment) for the same actions committed by different people, or another norm requiring fair remuneration, and Already on the basis of the norm, we are forming our concrete ideas about what is fair and what is not (for example, we can consider unfairly low remuneration for teachers and doctors and unfairly high salaries for bank directors).

All phenomena from the point of view of their values can be classified into: 1) neutral, to which a person is indifferent — many phenomena of the microworld and megaworld; 2) positive values — objects and phenomena that contribute to human life and well-being; 3) anti-value — values that have a negative value in terms of human life and well-being. For example, the pairs of “value — anti-value” form such concepts as good and evil, beautiful and ugly, enclosed in the phenomena of social life and nature.

Values were born and determined due to the needs of the individual in understanding society and himself. Human life activity changes over time. The realization of the intrinsic value of human life did not immediately come. In the process of life, people form ideological ideals. An ideal is a model, a prototype, the concept of perfection, the highest goal of aspirations. Through correlation with ideals, norms, assessment is carried out — the determination of value, approval or condemnation of what is happening, the requirement to implement or eliminate something, i.e. assessment is normative in nature. Thanks to the values ​​of different levels (higher and lower) are formed, the needs and interests, motives and goals of people are determined by the means to achieve them. They are regulators of human actions, serve as criteria for evaluating the actions of others. And, finally, without taking into account their role, it is impossible to understand the essence of man, to understand the true meaning of his life. Outwardly, values ​​appear as properties of an object or phenomenon, but they are not inherent in nature, not because of the internal structure of the object itself, but because it is involved in the sphere of human social life and has become a carrier of certain social relations. In relation to the subject (person), values ​​serve as objects of his interests, and for his consciousness they play the role of everyday landmarks in any activity, designations of various practical relations to objects and phenomena surrounding a person. A person must have a certain value orientations.

The reason for the extreme inconsistency and instability of value orientations is:

· On the one hand, the indestructible desire of the human spirit to achieve ideals, ultimate truths, that is, the highest spiritual values.

· On the other hand, the well-known limitations of our cognitive abilities, means.

· As well as the well-known conservatism of our feelings, reason and reason, which inevitably lead to the alienation of a person from natural-bodily, bodily-spiritual and spiritual values, that is, from his essence and leading people away from determining the true, rather than illusory or utopian ways of becoming this entity.

The presence of certain values in people’s lives provides a specific individual with the freedom to choose life goals. Human life is unthinkable without a goal. Goal-setting is a generic characteristic peculiar only to man.

The meaning of values in the being:

· The formation of interests, motives and goals.

· Regulators and criteria for evaluating people’s actions.

· Serve to know the essence of man, the true meaning of his life.

III. The dialectic of fundamental moral values (by the example of Good and Evil)

Any value (or anti-value), if taken to the extreme, can turn into its opposite: freedom — into anarchy, truth — into destructive force, good — into evil, love — into hatred, etc. In turn, such anti-values as destructive passions (envy, vanity, ambition, jealousy) often stimulate the will and activity in achieving the goal, contribute to the development of talent, creativity. And, finally, this contradictory situation is complicated by the fact that in real life all values ​​and anti-values seem to interact and interpenetrate each other. Consider this dialectic interweaving on the example of fundamental moral values: Good and Evil.


It is a value representation, expressing the positive value of something in its relation to the standard or the standard itself; this is all that is morally valuable, which contributes to the well-being of man, society, humanity as a whole. Like any moral category, Good is socially and culturally determined, that is, it depends on the worldview prevailing in a given era, class interests, established traditions, aspirations and needs of different social, professional or gender groups, existing personality types.

History abounds with examples when criminals of one era became heroes of other eras. Sentenced to death for immorality, Socrates has been considered a model of morality for more than two millennia. Burned for the heretical danger of public morals, Giordano Bruno became a symbol of human selflessness. Even more evidence can be given of how over time the characters turned into villains (ideologists of the Inquisition, Napoleon Bonaparte).


Evil is a value representation opposite to Good (blessing); this is all immoral, deserving of condemnation, contrary to the interests and vital needs of man and mankind. Evil encompasses the negative state of a person (aging, illness, death, poverty, humiliation). The concept of moral evil defines what morality counteracts, what it seeks to eliminate and correct.

The religious and philosophical doctrine of the Manichaeans (III-XI centuries) consistently affirmed the equality of the two principles of the universe: light and darkness, good and evil. In the world and in people they are mixed in different proportions, and therefore they are constantly fighting among themselves, but good is predetermined for the final victory. In the ancient Chinese classical “Book of Changes”, the world is also explained through the dialectics of two principles: Yang (light, good, creative) and Yin (dark, evil, passive). No matter how you regard them, one of them is not stronger than the other. Both poles make sense relative to each other. Evil is not something terrible, but only the flip side of good, and vice versa. “Light is the left hand of darkness, Darkness is the right hand of light”.

This idea goes through the whole history of philosophy and is concretized in a number of ethical provisions:

  1. Good and Evil are known in unity, one through the other.
  2. Good and Evil are not just interdependent, they are functionally interdependent: Good can only be understood as an active resistance to Evil.

One Chinese parable tells of a young man who wanted to know what Goodness is. The sage offers him first to know what Evil is, so that there is something to compare. Understanding Evil is not enough. This alone will not lead to Good. It is not enough to explore the road to Hell to enter Paradise.