V. Determination of Actual Value and Standard of Value

1. Determination of Value

Value is determined, or appraised, through a give and receive action between a person (subject) and an object. The condition that must exist in the object, the “object requisite,” is, as mentioned above, a harmony between its paired elements, centering on its purpose of creation. On the other hand, there are also certain conditions that must exist in the subject (human being), the “subject requisites,” in order for value to be determined. First, the subject must possess the desire to seek value; next, the subject must have a concern for, or interest in, the object. Moreover, one’s philosophy, taste, individuality, education, view of life, outlook on history, world view, and so on, which one (as subject) possesses as subjective elements are all conditions that will influence any determination of value. These subjective elements, including the desire to seek value and an interest in the object, are the “subject requisites” which the subject necessarily must have. Actual value is determined through the correlative relationship between these subject requisites and object requisites (see fig. 4.1).

The Determination of Value

Fig.4.1. The Determination of Value

When both the subject requisites and the object requisites are present, give and receive action will take place between the subject and the object, and this is how value is determined. Determining concrete value means determining the quantity and quality of value. The quantity of value refers to the quantitative appraisal of value, such as “very beautiful,” or “not so beautiful.” There are also qualitative differences in value. For example, in beauty there are various nuances, such as graceful beauty, awesome beauty, solemn beauty, comic beauty, and so on. These are qualitative differences in value.

2. Subjective Action

As mentioned already, subjective elements significantly influence the determination of value. That is to say, the particular actual value which an individual subject will feel is determined when such subjective elements as one’s own philosophy, taste, individuality, education, view of life, outlook on history, world view, and so on, are projected upon the object (or added to the objective requisites), and reflected back once again.

For example, when the moon is observed by different people, it may appear sad to one person but happy to another. Even when the same person looks at the moon, if the person is sad, the moon may look sad, but if the person is happy, the moon may look happy. Differences in beauty arise depending on the mood of the subject. This can be said not only about beauty, but about truth and goodness as well; the same applies to the value of commodities. Thus, quantitative and qualitative differences in value arise because the subject’s subjectivity is projected onto the object, and reflected back. In other words, the subject conditions significantly influence the determination of value. This effect is called “subjective action.” It refers to the action through which a subject’s subjectivity is projected upon an object, and reflected back.

This idea corresponds to the idea of “empathy” in aesthetics as mentioned by T. Lipps (1851-1914). Empathy means that when one looks at natural scenery, or appreciates a work of art, one projects one’s feeling or idea upon the object, and appreciates it. Let me cite a few examples of subjective action. While speaking about heart, Rev. Moon said,

Suppose the Son of God gave you a handkerchief. That handkerchief is worth more than gold, more than life, more than anything else in the world. If you are a real Son of God, whatever humble place you may lay yourself, it is a palace. Then our clothing is no problem, and the place we sleep is no problem, because we are already rich. We are the princes of God. 2

The meaning here is that if one is aware that he is the son of God, even a shabby hut would seem like a luxurious palace. This is an appropriate example of subjective action. There is a passage in the Bible: “The kingdom of God is in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21), which is also an example of subjective action. In Buddhism also, there is a saying, “The three realms are only manifestations of the mind.” This means that all the phenomena of the three realms (i.e., the entire world) are manifestations of the mind. 3 This is also an example of subjective action.

3. Standard for Determining Value

3.1 Relative Standard

As a result of subjective action, the determination (or appraisal) of value will differ according to different individual subjects. Yet, when there are many commonalities in the subject conditions, there will also be many points of agreement in the appraisal of value. Among people who believe in the same religion or philosophy, the way they feel about values will be almost the same. For example, “filial piety toward parents,” which is a virtue of Confucianism, is always highly appraised and is universally held as good in Confucian societies.

This means that among people who have the same religion or thought, the unification of values is quite possible. For example, during the period of the Pax Romana, the Stoic spirit of self-control and cosmopolitanism were the dominant, unifying values. During the Tang period in China and the period of Unified Shilla on the Korean peninsula, when Buddhism was the state religion, Buddhist morality was the central value system. In the United States, a Christian nation, the Christian (especially Protestant) moral view has been the unifying value system of the people.

Differences in the views of value do arise, however, among different religions, different cultures, and different philosophies. For example, in Hinduism, eating beef is prohibited, whereas in Islam, eating beef is allowed, but one is not allowed to eat pork. Another example is when Communists talk about peace; in so doing they mean something quite different from what that same term means in the free world.

Thus, in those regions and societies where people have the same religion or thought, their views of value become almost identical. Between different religions or thought systems, however, the views of value are not identical. In such cases, the agreement in the view of value is limited to a certain sphere. In this way, when standards for value judgment apply only to a limited sphere, we can call them “relative standards.”

3.2 Absolute Standard

Humankind’s values can not be unified on the basis of such relative value standards, nor will the conflicts and struggles resulting from differences in values come to an end if we base ourselves on relative standards alone. In order to realize true peace for all humankind, a standard for value judgment must be established such that it can apply to all people in common, transcending all differences in religion, culture, thought, nationality, and so on. This standard of value appraisal would be an absolute standard.

Then, is it possible to establish such an absolute standard and, if so, how can it be done? In order to show that it is possible, we must first clarify that the causal being of the universe, the being who gave rise to all religions, cultures, thought systems, and all ethnic groups, is only one, and is an absolute being. Furthermore, we must discern the various commonalities which originate from this causal being.

As was explained in detail in “Ontology,” all things in the universe exist in innumerable ways, but they all move in a specific order and according to certain laws. Also, all things have common attributes. The reason for this is that all things in the universe were created in resemblance to the causal being, or God. Likewise, although there are many religions, cultures, philosophies, and ethnic groups, all of them being different from one another, if there is one causal being that gave rise to all of them, then there must be certain commonalities shared by all of them, which originate from that causal being, or fundamental being.

Numerous religions have emerged throughout history, but they were not just arbitrarily established by their founders. In order to save all of humankind, ultimately, God established specific founders in specific regions and at specific periods of time, seeking to save the people of each region and in each period. This is because God has been carrying on the dispensation of salvation for peoples of different languages, different customs, and different environments, and He has established religions in such a way that each was most suitable for a particular age, and for each region.

Thus, in order to discover the commonalities among the different religions, it is necessary to clarify that the causal being, who established all religions, is one and the same being. The causal being of all things in the universe is variously called Jehovah in Judaism, Allah in Islam, Brahman in Hinduism, Tathatā in Buddhism, and Heaven in Confucianism. According to Unification Thought, all of these terms refer to the same being as the term God in Christianity.

Yet, the attributes of this causal being, or fundamental being, have not been clearly stated in any of these religions. For example, in Confucianism, the concrete nature of Heaven is not sufficiently explained, nor is there a sufficient explanation given about Tathatā in Buddhism, or about Brahman in Hinduism. The same thing can be said about God in Christianity, Jehovah in Judaism, and Allah in Islam.

Beyond this, the reason why the causal being has created humankind and the universe has not been clearly explained by these various religions; nor is it explained why this causal being has not been able to more quickly save suffering humanity. Accordingly, this causal being, as understood in the various religions, has been vague, as if hidden by a veil. Furthermore, since each religion grasps only certain aspects of this causal being, this being appears to be different in the different religions.

In order to show that the causal being of these different religions is, ultimately, one and the same being, we need to understand correctly the attributes of God, His purpose of creation, the laws (or Logos) of the creation of the universe, and so on. If we were to acquire such an understanding, we could quickly come to realize that the people of all religions are brothers and sisters originating from one and the same God. We would also be able to put an end to the long-lasting conflicts and struggles among religions, and could come to reconcile with one another and love one another. Thus, we will find that a correct knowledge of the nature of God is the key to the solution of actual problems. The same thing can be said with regard to cultures, philosophies, and peoples. Once we understand that the fundamental being that gave rise to all cultures, philosophies, and peoples is one and the same being, then the commonalities among them can also be clarified.

Then, what, concretely, are the commonalities that can become an absolute standard in the appraisal of values? They are God’s love (absolute love) and God’s truth (absolute truth). God created humankind in order to obtain joy through love. The love of God has been expressed variously, as agape in Christianity, mercy in Buddhism, jen (benevolence) in Confucianism, compassion in Islam, and so on. The teachings of love in all religions were inspired from the love of the one God. God’s love is especially manifested among human beings in the form of the three object partners’ loves, namely parents’ love, love of husband and wife, and children’s love. (If children’s love is further differentiated into their love for their parents and love they share among themselves, namely brotherly/sisterly love, we arrive at four object partners’ loves.) The practice of love for one’s neighbor in Christianity, the practice of mercy in Buddhism, the practice of jen in Confucianism, the practice of compassion in Islam, and so on, have all been emphasized in order to actualize these three object partners’ loves.

Since the eternal God created the universe, the truth or law through which God created the universe and which governs all the movements of the universe, is also eternal and universal. The fundamental law of the universe is that all beings exist, not for their own sake, but for the sake of others, for the sake of the whole, and for the sake of God. That is to say, they are beings for others. Accordingly, the universal standard of good and evil is whether one lives for other people (humankind) or lives for oneself in a self-centered way. 4

3.3 Absolute Standard and Human Individuality

As explained above, an absolute standard for the appraisal of values comes to be established only through God’s true love and truth, and this appraisal can become identical among all humankind. Then, what about a person’s unique individuality? Since a value judgment is influenced to some extent by the subjective elements of individual persons, certain differences in value judgment necessarily arise, depending on different individualities. Then, the question may be raised: “If value judgments should become identical in view of an absolute standard, won’t human individuality be disregarded?”

Fortunately, even if the value judgment does become identical in the context of an absolute standard, individuality will neither be disregarded nor abolished, but rather it will be preserved as it is. Let us look at the reason for this.

Since human beings are individual truth beings, they resemble God’s Universal Image (commonality), and His Individual Images (particularity). Also, since they are connected beings, they exist with both the purpose for the whole and the purpose for the individual. Accordingly, an absolute standard for value judgment is connected to the universal image and the purpose for the whole, while one’s subjective action is connected to the individual image and the purpose for the individual. These are always united.

Thus, even if absolute values are determined by an absolute standard, naturally there will still exist individual differences due to subjective action. In other words, absolute value is a universal value which includes individual differences, in the same way as when one finds that in an individual truth being the universal image includes the individual image. Human beings, through their individual image, pursue the purpose for the whole; they thus express their individual image while maintaining the universal image.

Therefore, the appraisal of value, though based on an absolute standard, can not be done apart from one’s subjective action based on one’s individuality. Nevertheless, individual differences must still be based on commonality. As long as there is a common base, there will be no confusion in value perspectives. This is because the differences in such cases are not qualitative but quantitative.

For example, in the case of the appraisal of goodness, “to help the poor” is judged as good regardless of religion and thought. In the ideal world, there will be no one who judges it as evil (qualitative judgment). However, depending upon persons, there can be quantitative differences such as judging it as “very good,” or “moderately good,” or “ordinarily good.” The same thing can be said of the judgments of beauty and of truth. In sum, an absolute standard in the appraisal of value refers to the agreement of the qualitative judgment. In fallen egoistic society, however, qualitative differences have arisen and, as a result, a confusion of values has also emerged.

Here, with Unification Thought, the establishment of a new view of value and the unification of existing views of value become possible. It is possible to unite the various standards of value appraisal, centering on absolute love and absolute truth, while yet preserving individuality in the value appraisal. This new view of value is one based on the absolute love and truth of God. This new view of value is none other than the view of absolute value. 5 Absolute value can harmonize and embrace all value systems. This can bring the unification of various views of value. In order to unify systems of value in this way, the correct understanding of God’s attributes, His purpose of creation, Heart, Love, Logos, and so on are required as prerequisites. The unification of religions and the unification of thought systems becomes possible through such a unification of the views of value.