How can one approach answering the philosophy question, what do you value most in life and why?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The question you have been asked to answer for your philosophy class falls under a branch of philosophy that we refer to as value theory. Simply put, value theory analyzes morals, ethics, society, politics, and religion with the intention of determining what can be seen as "good," because it is what is "good" that we value. More specifically, value theory is a branch of moral philosophy because that which can be called moral can also be seen as good or valuable. Moral philosophy questions human behavior to judge what behaviors are morally or ethically correct, or, more specifically, which human behaviors can be called right or wrong ("Value Theory"). Hence, in order to answer your question, what you'll want to do is reflect on, not just what's important to you, but what you value as being good in terms of being right as opposed to wrong.

Many different people value many different things. Aristotle argued that the ultimate good is happiness, as all of our actions aim towards happiness. Every goal we strive for, such as obtaining "health, wealth, and other resources" are all obtained for the sake of living well, which can also be seen as happiness, making happiness the ultimate goal and the ultimate good ("Aristotle's Ethics: 2. The Human Good and the Function Argument"). However, Aristotle also does not separate living well from behaving virtuously; hence, as much as murder might make someone temporarily happy, since the act is not virtuous, it will not lead to ultimate happiness or be ultimately good. Hence, for Aristotle, happiness should be valued in as much as it is a virtuous activity, and common virtues should be valued, such as honesty and integrity. Plus, in as much as "health, wealth, and other resources" can lead to happiness, these things should be valued as well. Hence, one thing you can do to write your answer is think about what good things can be valued that lead to living well or happiness. Aristotle has already defined living well as obtaining "health, wealth, and other resources"; hence, we know that we can think of health and wealth as things to be valued, and many people do value these things. Other things that can be valued are things like friends, family, or religion.

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Wiggin42's profile pic

Wiggin42 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 2) Valedictorian

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This can be analyzed  as how we value material things to non material things. The value of goods and it’s purpose are interrelated.  It can influence their value and how it correlates to non materials things. Here the purpose,need satisfaction can be taken into consideration to value one’s desire to value certain things more than another. There is a possibility that poor and the wealthy can lead a meaningful life when both content in what they have and in what they do. In short,passion to lead a life with inner  peace is what I value most.

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