4. Axiology: A Theory of Value

Our contemporary age is an age of great confusion and turmoil. Wars and conflicts continue unabatedly, and innumerable alarming and tragic phenomena, including terrorism, destruction, arson, kidnapping, murder, drug abuse, alcoholism, sexual immorality, family breakdown, injustice, corruption, oppression, conspiracy, and slander, are occurring worldwide. At the vortex of this turmoil, humankind’s most valuable assets are now almost obliterated. I am referring to the loss of personal human dignity, the loss of time-honored traditions, the loss of the dignity of life, the loss of mutual trust among people, the loss of the authority of parents and teachers, and the list goes on.

The fundamental cause of such confusion and turmoil is the decline of traditional values. That is to say, the traditional values of truth, goodness, and beauty are being lost sight of. Among these, the value of goodness in particular, is disappearing, and existing ethics and morals are rapidly collapsing. What is causing this ominous collapse of traditional values?

First, in virtually every field, including economics, politics, society, education, and art, a sense of God is being excluded as religion is neglected. Since many traditional values are based on religion, those values which are losing their religious basis can not but decline.

Second, materialism, atheism, secularism, and especially the viewpoints of Communism, are infiltrating everywhere, undermining traditional values. Communism has been working to divide people into opposing classes and then to foment conflicts between those classes by increasing mistrust and instigating hostilities everywhere. In so doing, it has been very critical of traditional values, attempting to destroy them by claiming that such values are feudalistic, intended solely to maintain existing social systems.

Third, conflicts among religions and philosophies themselves are hastening the collapse of values. Values are established on the basis of religions and philosophies; therefore, if disagreements among religions and philosophies exist, many people will come to regard these values as merely relative in nature. As a result, an increasing number of people are coming to believe that it is no longer necessary for them to respect such values.

Finally, the virtues extolled by traditional religions (such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and Islam) are losing their power to persuade modern people, who are inclined to think more scientifically. The teachings of traditional religions often have contents which contradict scientific facts. Accordingly, they become unacceptable to modern people, who have come to place great confidence in science.

When we analyze the causes of the collapse of traditional values in this way, we come to realize that there is an urgent need for a new and fresh value perspective. Without such a fresh, new perspective, we may not be able to adequately prepare ourselves for the ideal world to come in the future. Then, what should such a new value perspective be like? First of all, it must be able to embrace the fundamental teachings of all religions and thought systems. Also, it must be able to overcome materialism and atheism. Furthermore, it must be able to embrace and even guide science. Ultimately, it must be a value perspective centered on the true love of God. It is precisely such a value perspective as this that is so urgently needed today so that we may prepare for the future society.

Then, let us examine as concretely as we can what the future society we should be preparing for might be like. This future society will be created by original human beings, people of integrity who experience God’s Heart and who have perfected their characters. A person of character is one in whom intellect, emotion, and will have developed fully and harmoniously, centering on heart. Accordingly, the future society will be established by people whose intellect, emotion, and will are developed harmoniously centering on God’s Heart. Here, implicitly, the idea of new values refers to those values sought after by the original faculties of intellect, emotion, and will.

The faculties of intellect, emotion, and will seek the values of truth, beauty and goodness, respectively, and through these, a true, artistic, and ethical society will inevitably be actualized. A true society is a society realized through one’s pursuit of truth; an artistic society is a society realized through one’s pursuit of beauty; and an ethical society is a society realized through one’s pursuit of goodness.

To empower one’s pursuit of such values as these, a theory of education is necessary for the realization of a true society; a theory of art is required for the realization of an artistic society; and a theory of ethics is required for the realization of an ethical society. Since axiology is a theory which addresses the values of truth, goodness, and beauty in general, it is a comprehensive theory serving as a basis for these three more particular theoretical viewpoints.

The future society will thus be a society wherein the values of truth, goodness, and beauty will be fully realized; in this society, the economy will achieve the highest level of development through the progress of science, completely solving, once and for all, all of society’s economic problems. People’s lives will come to be focused primarily on the enjoyment of values, even as they are realizing them. The society wherein the values of truth, goodness, and beauty, centered on heart, are realized is a society of heart, creating a culture of heart; this is a society with a unified culture.

I have so far explained that a new value perspective is necessary in order to prepare for the future society. Yet, this new value perspective is necessary not only for preparing for the future society, but perhaps even more importantly, it is necessary in order to clear the confusion of our present world. As mentioned, in today’s world values are generally collapsing due to various factors. In order to solve this problem, there exists an urgent need to re-establish a proper value perspective.

A new value perspective is also essential in the effort to unify cultures. That is, in order to fundamentally solve the world’s present-day confusion, it will be necessary to bring various traditional cultures into harmony. Cultures are based on certain religions or thoughts, and those religions and thoughts all advocate certain values. Therefore, in order to unite cultures, it is necessary to unite the various value perspectives such as the Christian view of value, the Buddhist view of value, the Confucian view of value, and so on. Also, it is necessary to unite the views of value of the East and the West. Therefore, once again, it is necessary to present a new view of value which can genuinely embrace all value perspectives.