Beyond Good and Evil

More than moral reasoning.

Why Is It Easier to Organize Evil Than Good?

Value Science or Natural Science?

Introduction

History teaches that organizing evil is easier than organizing good. The simplicity of evil and complexity of good appear rooted in human nature. This imbalance favoring evil is made worse by evolving science and technology without a science of values and morals. Today’s growing interest in “computer coding” as a basic life skill promises to speed up the “pace of life,” and education devoted to reading, writing, and arithmetic, without moral education, may not be enough.

Humankind has never known a science capable of giving us moral education beyond the concerns of moral relativity and “who’s morality?” The ancients searched for the moral law within us when they began discovering the law of the heavens above us. Yet, thousands of years passed without defining “good;” even as we defined the atom to build atomic bombs. Are we destined to remain “moral pygmies” better at organizing evil than good?

Tour of Historical Horizons:

Sigmund Freud wrote Civilization and Its Discontents from exile in London where he fled to escape Hitler’s war. In so doing, he failed to grasp the nature of the tragic flaw in the character of civilization and discontents; a flaw that involves run-away natural science without moral science and moral education. Like many, Freud failed to see the need for two systems of science with one capable of studying atoms and the other capable of studying values. The asymmetric evolution of the one without the other began with the Greeks and was advanced by the Europeans of the Renaissance and Age of Reason. During this period, the best minds failed to come up with a definition of good without using examples of good; without which there can be no science of values and morals to keep up with advancing natural science and technology, and its unintended consequences. 

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This record of failure begins to change in the 20th century with philosopher G. E. Moore’s search for a definition of good. He devoted his life to finding this "elusive understanding," and he died without success. His effort, and the clues he left behind, inspired philosopher Robert S. Hartman who went on to discover the definition of good without using examples of good...which avoided what Scientists call “circular reasoning” and Moore called the “naturalistic fallacy.”

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Axiological psychology (i.e., valuecentric psychology) is based on axiological science (i.e., value science) and two instances of converging psychological and philosophical thought. One involved Albert Ellis who took philosopher Epictetus seriously. The other involved my decision to take philosopher Hartman seriously when few in my profession chose to do so. The combined Ellis-Epictetus and Pomeroy-Hartman “projects” in psychology gave birth to a new science of psychology (i.e., values-based cognitive psychology) while transforming Hartman’s theory of value into a science of values which some consider to be the holy grail of psychology and economics and all the social sciences. Given the state of these disciplines this development is long overdue.

Without a science of values the social sciences remain pre-scientific disciplines, and the world is left to suffer in many ways because of the poorly understood moral dimensions of individual and collective behavior. Without a science of values there can be: 1. No science of positive psychology; 2. No preventive psychology, 3. No preventive medicine, 4. No strengthening of the General Capacity to Value, 5. No knowledge of the world beyond good and evil; 6. No moral science discipline to guide natural science or the judicially isolated decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court; 7. No restraint of run-away science and technology; 8. No moderation of today’s fastest growing failing businesses of medicine and incarceration, 9. No elementary moral education to accompany the teaching of reading, writing and arithmetic, 10. No restraints on the impact of computer coding which is bound to increase the “pace of life.”

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A world without a science of values remains a dangerous world, and one becoming increasingly more dangerous. Accelerating the “pace of life” means time isn’t on our side! The historic stagnation concerning the scientific study of values begins to end with philosopher Moore’s struggle to define good followed by philosopher Hartman’s successful definition of good resulting in the construction of an elegant, logical, and testable mathematical model of values and morals at the core of his general theory of values that some clinicians and scientists like myself are comfortable working with. 

My contribution to the development of value science involved research establishing the validity of Hartman’s operational definition of good demanded by science, his theory of value; his concept of the General Capacity to Value (GCV), and his test of valuational-styles known as The Hartman Value Profile (HVP); all of which exists beyond good and evil where philosopher Nietzsche could find nothing but the Social Darwinism that inspired Hitler’s organization of evil on an industrial scale.

Dimensions of Value:

Hartman looked at values. He thought long and hard about values. He came up with a simple and successful definition of “good” called “concept fulfillment.” This implies that a “good chair” is one that fulfills the definition and meaning of a chair. He discovered the universe of values is three dimensional; meaning values are organized around three axes or dimensions he called the Intrinsic (Feeler-Dimension); the Extrinsic (Doer-Dimension), and Systemic (Thinker-Dimension). One might invoke an optical metaphor and think of these dimensions as "lenses" of valuation," or a systems metaphor and think of them as "axes of valuation."  

In my research I use a statistic called “factor analysis” to find the smallest number of underlying dimensions needed to explain something more complex. Consider the example of ten boxes varying in size, shape and volume. They can be measured in many ways but in the end all we need to know about boxes is given by the variables of length, height, and width; from which everything else can be computed. In like manner, Hartman effectively "factor analyzed” human values and reduced them to three underlying dimensions of value whose combinations reveal what psychological testing reveals, and more.   

Much as the dimensions of length, height and width tells us what we need to know about boxes; so too the Id, Ego, and Superego tell us what we need to know about personalities...if Freud is right. It can also be said that the dynamism of three dimensions of value tell us what we need to know about personality and behavior. I don’t know about you, but knowing how a person organizes and exercises “three dimensions of value” strikes me as more useful than trying to figure out what’s going on with the unmeasurable “Id, Ego, and Super Ego.” This is especially true since value science gives us measures of the sensitivity, balance, priority, and plasticity of all three dimensions of value and probable behavioral consequences of their combinations and permutations.  

Admittedly, behavioral tests and measures are “rubber rulers;” but a “rubber ruler” is better than “no ruler,” or clinical guesses and mythologies. We perceive self and world through the prisms or lenses of three value dimensions which also establishes our General Capacity to Value (GCV). The Hartman Value Profile (HVP) measures value dimensions, the GCV, and interprets the emotional and behavioral consequences of valuational styles and derivative thought-styles...Yes! Values, and their proxies of thought-styles, beliefs, and attitudes, "drive" emotions, motivations, and behavior as discussed under the headings of "self-talk" vs. "thought-short-hand" (See "Conclusions" below).  

In my interdisciplinary study of Hartman’s work, the HVP gave me a “handle” to Hartman's theory of value, and helped to “bridged” the "interdisciplinary divide" between my profession of psychology and Hartman’s profession of philosophy. The "divide" was especially challenging during my early years of conferencing and collaborating with Hartman’s students and former colleagues. In the beginning I discovered I had something in common with two students of Hartman who became psychologists: one was Mexican and the other American. I also got on well with a close friend and colleague of Hartman who was then Chairman of the Philosophy Department at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, and with a retired West Point Colonel with a Ph.D. in the humanities.

The first psychologist was a student of Hartman at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and it was he who helped Hartman construct the HVP. I learned Hartman was an acquaintance of Raul Hernandez-Peon, M.D., Director of a Brain Research Institute in Mexico City, under whom I studied neuroscience during my doctoral studies at UT Austin. The other psychologist would go on to make great contributions editing Hartman's papers and books. The chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville become the co-author of my first presentation of data supporting Hartman's work before the 1979 Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Psychological Association. These data were then published! The Colonel became a good friend and helped me understand Hartman's mathematical modeling of values employing "set theory."

Several years later I would meet another Hartman colleague and philosopher who became involved with editing journal articles, overseeing annual meetings, and authoring books of his own based on his interests and understanding of Hartman's contributions (See the "Historical Time Line" at www.hartmaninstitute.org ). My scientific interest in values had me practicing "integrative" or "interdisciplinary" psychology long before "integrative science" became fashionable. Doing so was in the tradition of my neuroscience and psychology dissertation at UT Austin. Over the years I made many friends sharing our long march advancing the science of values (i.e., axiological science). Sadly, with the passage of time, we have lost pioneers like John Davis, John Austin and David Mefford.      

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Very early in the development of value theory, a group of entrepreneurs, in their role as business consultants, began marketing the Hartman Value Profile (HVP) to business clients, and they continue to do so these days. We were then, as now, members of the Hartman Circle of Axiologists which now includes centers in the U.S., Germany, and Mexico (See: www.hartmaninstitute.org). These consultants generated proprietary data supporting Hartman's theory of value not generally shared with others. I was getting only partial reports of these informal results from David Mefford.

However, my experience using the HVP with patients, and what I was hearing at annual meetings, inspired me to plan and execute more transparent, programmatic, and systematic tests of the validity of Hartman’s therory of value and its foremost application...the HVP. I would finally summarized these data in the pages of The New Science of Axiological Psychology (2005). It was written and published following some twenty-five years of research submitted for peer review by professors, editors, and corporate consultants present at our annual meetings on the campus of the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. My very expensive research and international travels were funded by income from my private practice. This freed me to pace myself with respect to time and resources.  

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The Two Stages of HVP Test Construction: An Important Distnction

.... a priori (independent of experience) vs. a posteriori (dependent on experience)  

The HVP is a test like no other. It is a product of the science of values...a second system, a new system of science! Traditional psychological testing of all sorts is a product of historical natual science. The a priori construction of the HVP deviates from the test construction guidelines of the American Psychological Association (APA) because it is derived  a priori from hypothetical-logical-mathematical considerations without empirical tests and measures. It was a theoretical tool in search of empirical validation when I discovered it.

My a posteriori empirical testing was aimed at validating the HVP and theory behind it long after its -hypothetical-logical-mathematical a priori construction. Most psychologists will tell you this after-the-fact testing of the HVP is an unconventional approach to test construction; but it makes history and is what it is. It sits on "top of the iceberg" of value science....not natural science. 

This construction sequence reflects the power and elegance of Hartman's theory of value and his HVP-Valuemetrics developed in collaboration with a Mexican psychologist. The psychologist was also a student of Eric Fromm who had little interest in Hartman's approach to values. This test got my attention after I left Austin and compelted my Manhattan Internship. My involvement and published research are consistent with the belief that "formal" and open validation studies constitute good science as opposed to the isolated, proprietary data of competing business consusltants. Even so, those consultants played an important role in the development of HVP-Valuemetrics. Some like Dr. David Mefford were former students of Professor Hartman. Mefford went on to make impressive contributions to the advancement of HVP-valuemetrics and value theory until his untimely death from cancer took him from us.

Mefford's doctoral dissertation and subsequent contributions to the processing and interpretation of the HVP influenced my contributions which include the validation of his work and the validity of the HVP as an alternative to psychological testing while complimenting psychological testing; not to mention the "big picture" of lauching a science of values behind it all. This science and metric fit the needs of clinicians, coaches, consultants, and those interested in developing a preventive psychology acknowledging the value and moral dimensions of all behavior. The HVP functions beyond the range of the traditional psychology and science. Indeed, it is a new paradigm in its own right at the cutting edge of a new science that has yet to catch up with natural science. All this has far ranging consequences and implications because of the universality of values. It will not remain one of the world's best kept secrets for long!        

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The Origins Question:

The origin of values lies in the protoplasmic irritability of cells. This is thrown up to be acted upon by classical and instrumental conditioning. We would surely choke on the proliferation of static values and dynamic valuations were they not organized in some fashion. Nature and nurture organize them around three dimensions or axes of value and valuation consistent with the law of conservation of energy.

The goal of the “Life Force" or Bergson's "Élan Vital" behind the thrust of values is adaptation, survival, and ultimately the "concentration of consciousness" in the construction of the self, identity, and personhood. Values give rise to thought-styles, belief-systems and ideologies and ultimately existential values define us as human. Values enable us to discriminate between right and wrong, between the proverbial “trees” and the “forest,” and between compositions and transpositions as represented by the metaphors of “chocolate on ice cream” and “sawdust on ice cream;" only in real life it isn't this simple.  

Such value continuums admit to degree, or levels of nuances or tones between obvious dichotomies or extremes. The mind loves to live with dichotomies and needs training when it comes to discriminating subtle differences which are becoming more challenging in today’s world. So much so, we would all benefit from an early moral education with a background in the science of values emphasizing the dimension of values and variables monitored by the HVP. You may wish to generalize on such implications while keeping in mind that nature and nurture have determined we are not born equal when it comes to our General Capacity to Value and value in each of the three dimensions of value where functining ranges between poor, needs improvement, good, and excellent.. 

It follows from what we’re saying that we all differ in our ability to organize good and spot evil in the world. This is seen in the case of Adolf Hitler’s romantic, dilettantish, amateurish and murderous applications of Social Darwinism in the context of the times in which he lived. His catastrophic value-astigmatism and selective value-blindness were enabled and made worse by the spirit of the times in which he lived, and by his borderline personality known for its resistance to change when confronted with reality (Note: The Hitlers of the world flip normative axiological priorities given as Feeler > Doer > Thinker over to the pathological priorities given as Thinker > Doer > Feeler, which favors rigidity, narcissism, ideology, two-valued-logic, formulaic behavior, lack of spontaneity, and the disvaluation of persons as "things to be manilpulated."          

Value-Astigmatism and Value-Blindness:

My reference to Hitler and the zeitgeist of the time is consistent with observations recorded in the pages of Ernst Hanfstengl’s memoir ("Hitler: The Memoir of a Nazi Insider Who turned Against the Fuhrer"). Hitler regarded this six foot four man of two countries as a friend and called him Putzi. Herr Putzi was a German expatriate, educated at Harvard University and living in America conducting family business in Manhattan until he returned to Germany in the 1920s. Like Albert Speer, Putzi attended Hitler’s “propaganda lectures” and was initially seduced by his charisma, ideology, and the times in which they all lived; times that included the Great Depression and humiliating defeat of World War I.

Unlike Speer, Putzi, the more informed internationalist, attempted to change Hitler’s beliefs and plans for Germany from the beginning. In the end he had to flee Germany to save his life. During their “happy times,” Hitler often asked Putzi to play piano classics in order to relax. Putzi played them with such gusto he was known to break piano keys. When it came time for Nazi rallies, Hitler insisted Putzi adapt Harvard’s football marches for them. Hitler especially liked Harvard’s songs and marches as rendered by Putzi, including others composed by Putzi.

Questions: Are we to assume that Putzi’s suggestibility and vulnerability were the result of, or in spite of, his Harvard education? Is education, civilization or both to blame? Was Putzi’s General Capacity to Value so fragile and undeveloped as to render him vulnerable to ideological seduction and the pevailing spirit of the times (i.e., weltanschauung, zeitgeist, climate of opinion)? To what degree is Putzi everyman and everywoman…you and me? To what degree are we all “moral pygmies” living in the atomic age? Is the remedy for what ails civilization and its discontents to be found in balancing the systems of natural and value science? Is it to be found by providing moral education to the young along with reading, writing, and arithmetic...and now  computer coding? If so, we had better get on friendly terms with our Dimensions of Value, and our General Capacity to Value as ways of "knowing self and world."  

Conclusions:

Why is organizing evil easier than organizing good? The historic failure to define good and develop a science of values and morals and then provide a science-based moral education along with reading, writing, and arithemetic are contributing factors. We are now facing the unintended consequences of natural science without moral science and it isn't pleasant. There are many other reasons for the paradoxical ease of organizing evil over good and they also include personality organization, personality defenses, ego, hedonism, anger, anxiety, intolerance of ambiguity, obsessive fanaticism, preemptory ideologies, delayed gratification issues, irrational thought-styles, psycholinguistic issues, and inherited dispositions under the heading of temperament (i.e., biological personality); all of which involve dysfunctional valuational styles at the level of the dimensions of value and valuation.

.We are living in "The Age of Ideology" empowered by mass education, media, travel, social networking, and now computer coding. It is weakened by an educational tragedy caused by the asymmetric evolution of natural science without moral science and moral education based on a culture-free, religion-neutral General Science of Values. This distortion of culture and minds results in the existential struggle to escape the alienation and dehumanization of monopolar natural science and technology in a world without the "glue" (i.e., a "world view") that once existed as mythology in the Ancient World and then as organized religion in the Middle Ages.

The fragility of minds (i.e., ideological suceptibility in the absence of a cohesive world-view), and problems with critical thinking is analogous to the fragility of species such as honeybees, butterflies, and frogs now dying in a sea of "creeping pollution" headed our way. The "glue" needed to unite humankind is a universal science of values and morals along with a greater awareness of how Feeler, Doer, and Thinker ways of seeing ourselves and world influence our lives and shape our futures. The Hartman Value Profile (HVP) and Axiological Psychology are "tools" of emerging value science capable of helping us understand and work more consciously with the core dimensions of value we all share.  

HVP-valuemetrics is an a priori product of the mathematics of Hartman’s theory of value making it uniquely different from traditional psychological testing. Its origin in the mathematical modeling of static and dynamic values is unparalleled. It projects the power of value science and provides values clarification, values appreciation, and measurement of the General Capacity to Value lurking behind and resulting in emotions and behavior. This is especially important at a time when the complexity, pace of life, alienation, and now dehumanization and search for meaning, beg questions concernings values appreciation, values clarification, and values measurement in the name of improving value-vision and moral-vision; where "morals" are "normative values."  

Valuemetrics goes deep because it taps emotions and behavior at the level of values and valuational styles. Yes! Thiinking with values causes feeling with emotions and thinking with conscious "self- talk" and unconscious "thought-short-hand." Repeated "talk" and "thought" come alive within us with use and acquire enhanced emotional and motivational consequences. The language of values is a "Pavlovian Language" in the sense of a "signal system" enriched by "spoken and written language." This is especially true of internalized "self-talk" that morphs into "thought-short-hand" around existential values that come "alive" within us.  HVP-valuemetrics taps into value structures and dynamics in the manner of "psychological testing" without psychological tests.

The precision language of logic, mathematics, and Hartman’s operational definition of good need to be taken seriously by all the social "sciences." This advance in the science of values is easily validated or falsified by empirical testing. Today's fashionable neuroscience must not be allowed to steal the show; for the "axiological structure" of mind is just as important as the "molecular structure" of brain. I speak as one who has studied neuroscience...with an advance degree in biology. It's not enough to speak of "twisted molecules for every twisted thought." At this level of admitted simplicity, we also face "twisted values for every twisted thought."

I was in my earfly thirties and professor of psychology completing a clinical post-doctoral internship under Albert Ellis when I became interested in philosopher Hartman's approach to values. Ellis thought Hartman was on to something imporrtant; "something big" as they say. Even so, when I discovered his theory of value existed without supporting data or evidence...I lost interest. Seven years later, I rediscovered Hartman by witnessing my first demonstration of the HVP given by Mexican psychiatrist Salvadore Roquet, M .D. at a seminar on Cape Cod. Our meeting wasn't planned. It was an accidental encounter ruled by the mysteries of serendipidity residing behind all fortuitous happenings. I now discovered in philosophy what I had been looking for in psychology, and escaped my "professional wilderness years" searching unsuccessfully for a scientific and clinically relevant approach to values. (Note: The academic approaches of Allport, Rokeach, and Kohlberg had little clinical relevance for me. However, Professor Rokeach's passion for values research was inspirationa),    

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In time, I gained a deeper appreciation and clincial relevance of Hartman's three dimensions of value. I found having them in mind was helpful in my personal life and work with patients, and I found their origin in the precision language of a mathematical model, and my empirical and clincial validation of them especially compelling. I discovered how the value dimensions are composed of fluid and crystalized structural values and dynamic valuations; some of which are pleomorphic and constantly changing and evolving in the manner of a dynamism around central tendencies (i.e., set-points of autoregulation) programmed by nature and nurture. This balancing of values amounts to "seeing with values," “seeing poorly with values,” or "not seeing with values," as the case may be. Value-vision became more than a clinical metaphor. I saw it as a faculty of mind, a product of cognitive processing, possessing the qualities of sensitivity, balance, order of importance (priority), and plasticity which can be measured as varying within and among individuals. These variables are shaped by genetics, parenting, peer influence, spirit-of-the-times, and so forth. They are also dimensions of information processing enabling us to sense and perceive the individuality and uniqueness of self and others, the social and work worlds, and the personal and public beliefs, rules, systems and order defining the human condition.  

The second system of science, the new science of values, and its foremost applications of HVP-valuemetrics and axiological psychology, are tools clarifying how and what it means to "organize good" in a world often dominated by the superior "organization of evil."

Examples of good include cross-national or cross-cultural cooperation; managing climate change; managing the spread of plant and animal diseases; managing environmental pollution, understanding the moral dimensions of medicine and psychology so as to develop preventive-medicine and preventive psychology; going beyond the treatment of infectious diseases to treat more succesfully age-related, chronic, degenerative diseases; exploring the moral dimensions of science and technology, humanizing law beyond the straight-jacket of "conservative sponsored contextualism;" explore the moral dimensions of capitalism so as to avoid Great Depressions like 1929 and Great Recessions like 2008 with its lingering levels of unemployment, and the advancement of the science of peace making and conflict resolution. 

In some respect, I feel obligated to apologize for the technical nature of this discussion. I do want my readers to know I'm forever on the lookout for ways to translate the complexities and implications of value science. I've used poetry, literary allusions, and introduced Scared Rabbit, Angry Bear and Clever Fox in previous Blogs as a measure of my determination to keep it simple and relevant in the tradition called "KISS."

Value science is the ultimate social science resource without which there can be no sustained "organization of good” to counter the relative ease of "organizing evil." Paying attention to how we seewith Feeler (Intrinsic), Doer (Extrinsic), and Thinker (Systemic) values will help us function as individuals and citizens, and contribute to a better, safer world. Paraphrasing Carl Sagan (1934 - 1996), astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, we face a race against time because the power of science and technology remains in the hands of moral pygmies in need of tomorrow’s moral Renaissance today

 © Dr. Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beyond-good-and-evil

 

 

Leon Pomeroy, Ph.D., teaches at George Mason University and is the author of The New Science of Axiological Psychology.

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