(Sample Material) UPSC IAS Mains GS Online Coaching : Paper 4 - "Human Values"

Sample Material of Our IAS Mains GS Online Coaching Programme

Subject: General Studies (Paper 4 - Ethics, Integrity, and Aptitude)

Topic: Human Values

Human Values


“ The value concept is able to unify the apparently diverse interests of all the sciences concerned with human behavior.”

  •  Values are beliefs. But they are beliefs tied inextricably to emotion, not objective, cold ideas.

  •  Values are a motivational construct. They refer to the desirable goals people strive to attain.

  •  Values transcend specific actions and situations. They are abstract goals. The abstract nature of values distinguishes them from concepts like norms and attitudes, which usually refer to specific actions, objects, or situations.

  •  Values guide the selection or evaluation of actions, policies, people, and events. That is, values serve as standards or criteria.

  •  Values are ordered by importance relative to one another. People’s values form an ordered system of value priorities that characterize them as individuals. This hierarchical feature of values also distinguishes them from norms and attitudes.

How situation Influences Value Priorities:

People adapt their values to their life circumstances. They upgrade the importance they attribute to values they can readily attain and downgrade the importance of values whose pursuit is blocked... Schwartz & Bochnke.

People’s age, education, gender, and other characteristics largely determine the life circumstances to which they are exposed. These include their socialization and learning experiences, the social roles they play, the expectations and sanctions they encounter, and the abilities they develop. Thus, differences in background characteristics represent differences in the life circumstances that affect value priorities.

The humanities explore what it means to be human. As such, they are a progressive study which looks at our past historical, artistic and intellectual pursuits. In a concrete sense, they represent the most significant stretching of the boundaries of the human condition. Within the recognized canon of our civilization, study of the humanities help us to consciously, whether symbolic or literal, observe the trials and triumph of humanity. This semester, I have learned that the humanities as a form of knowledge endorses an unrestricted approach to how we view ourselves and what we have done and have the potential to do. It is a revolutionary form of knowledge that is unafraid to grapple with the established guard. Whether through magnifying our society’s flaws and projecting a possible future like 1984, examining “The shock of the new” of modern industrial, and subsequently artistic revolution. or holding a microscope up to the behemoth of religious faith as does Sam Harris, the humanities are conscious, constructively critical, and daring amidst mainstream complacency. As such, to say thal these texts singularly and wholly represent the span of knowledge of the humanities would be false. The humanities, even amidst an established canon of fodder, continually evolve.

They represent our great self-awareness despite the dance of me daily routine. I have learned that for every established historical string of concrete events or established theory, there is school of diought which counters with the current states of things. This is not done for its own sake, but to challenge purpose as we define it, and to break down what may be holding us back from exploring fresh and more epic things. Looking at “The Saturated Self or “Habits of The Heart,” shows us dial “seir and the nature of being in itself is worthy of much reflection. I have learned that, evidently, the humanities as a form of knowledge, is men me most important and consistently relevant form of knowledge, in mat it explores the individual, and the scope of me world in which, as many individuals, have constructed.

Modern art and literature reflects an ever growing consciousness of the human condition. Physically, it illustrates creation as a reaction to the state of society. Because of this. reviewing a culture’s art and literature is often most indicative of the broad spectrum of its ideas. In the midst of modernity, our literature constant state of flux, though initially weighted in the past, and that, however advanced we are as a civilization, it is easier for us to observe our flaws and overall presence in hindsight. While we are able to reflect upon and dissect the nature of our society, it is a gradual process to abolish the overgrown missteps made prior. Our art and literature is no longer simply about representing our existence at face value. It becomes a free forum.

The Human condition comes with it certain questions and issues inherent to existence, I feel. We will always be in search of something greater titan ourselves, either through religious study, existential reflection, or general pursuit of knowledge dirough achievement. We are always looking for a broad connection of concepts in order to define our world, and more so, how we fit into the scope of it. Modernity, or post modernity does offer new challenges, however, in that we are confronted with not only organic issues of the “Why are we here?” variety, but now faced with coping with the state of our own expansion, in both order and thinking. Thanks to our own technological and scientific advancements, we are left widi an entirely new set of questions.

While we as humans are driven to create and problem solve, what happens when it appears we have diffused our surface issues? We are still faced with strong opposition from our fellow man when new ideas are introduced. In medical science, stem cell research, artificial insemination, and cloning are possibilities which gamer friction, and while immediately helpful to some, raise many philosophical and moral issues. In modern technology, from the industrial revolution, to the proliferation of computers with artificial intelligence, there is good and bad. While technology helps us in speed and efficiency, it has led to the building of motorized weapons which we have used to kill one another. More recently, the use of robotics has assisted in surgical precision, but, in the case of artificial intelligence, what does it say about us if we are able to build an android with comparable intelligence to that of a human? While it is impressive and may assist us in tasks, does it truly add to our experience, or rather devalue us?

These are just a few examples of why I feel in the post modern age increasingly faced with more complex issues. We are left not only consciously thinking about what it means to be human and how we can get the most out of experience, but contending with ages of advancement, as well as the documentation of past catastrophe previously unknown. We must remain aware that, in base desires we are not vastly different than those in the past.

Human values are the need of hour in this world. Truth, Right conduct love, peace, non-violence are basics for a golden age of the planet earth. All religions come under this basic foundation.

Each of the ten basic values can be characterized by describing its central motivational goal:

  1. Self-Direction. Independent thought and action; choosing, creating, exploring.

  2. Stimulation. Excitement, novelty, and challenge in life.

  3. Hedonism. Pleasure and sensuous gratification for oneself.

  4. Achievement. Personal success through demonstrating competence according to social standards.

  5. Power. Social status and prestige, control or dominance over people and resources.

  6. Security. Safety, harmony, and stability of society, of relationships, and of self.

  7. Conformity. Restraint of actions, inclinations, and impulses likely to upset or harm others and violate social expectations or norms.

  8. Tradition. Respect, commitment, and acceptance of the customs and ideas that traditional culture or religion provide the self.

  9. Benevolence. Preserving and enhancing the welfare of those with whom one is in frequent personal contact.

  10. Universalism. Understanding, appreciation, tolerance, and protection for the welfare of all people and for nature.

We have enough scriptures, codes of conduct, etc. as to how to lead life, but it seems we loose ourselves in mere intellectual lexicalization and fail to understand the sublimate stuff. As Sri Sathya Sai Baba says, these human values can never be got from outside i.e. from books, shops, etc. but are something inherent in us. Some techniques, as given by Him are really helpful in adhering to these human values. The first thing is: Follow your Conscience. This Conscience is something wonderful which all of us possess and the most precious gift that one can have from God and it is the one often being discarded. The difference between a thief and one who is not is that while the thief knows theft is bad, yet unable to obey his Conscience, the non-stealer implicitly obeys his Conscience. A very simple example to show where the root of our value system is. And this our Conscience is often clouded by limitless desires. It is often our experience that when we long stop listening to Conscience, it will stop speaking to us.

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