AbstractThe value of values: a christian-philosophical reflection on the nature and directional power of values
To counteract the crisis of direction in contemporary culture, added values to organisations, institutions or businesses are very popular nowadays. What exactly is meant by the concept “value”, however, is usually taken for granted. Even when an explanation is provided, it is usually done in very vague terms. For philosophically-minded people, this situation is unsatisfactory and problematic. Therefore the aim of this article is, from a christian-philosophical point of view, to arrive at more clarity on the question of what precisely the nature, status and directional power of values are. In a previous contribution in this journal, on the value system of the North-West University (NWU), this problem could not be solved satisfactorily, since it mainly focused on practical rather than theoretical aspects.
For a better appreciation of the value of reformational viewpoints on values, the investigation begins with a short review of the western history of philosophy. It is only against the backdrop of this historical review that the contribution of reformational thinkers can be fully understood. It then moves to a brief description of D.H. Th. Vollenhoven’s philosophy in order to determine the place of values in one’s view of reality as a whole. The third section deals with H.G. Stoker’s view on values, which clarifies the nature and power of values. An investigation of the viewpoints of J.P.A. Mekkes, J. Olthuis, S. Fowler, J.J. Venter and D.F.M. Strauss provides further clarification enable a formulation of some statements about values which could clarify the current confusion about values, that of the NWU included. Since general values are not capable of providing clear normative direction in multi-religious and multi-cultural institutions, the last section reflects on an alternative way to solve the problems of the NWU as well as other institutions and organisations which have to accommodate different viewpoints. A brief review concludes the study.
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