On Value: A Journey from a Word to a World

University essay from Lunds universitet/Humanekologi

Author: Oscar Krüger; [2015]

Keywords: Social Sciences;

Abstract: While there is little overlap in its use and meanings, the concept “value” is often central within the texts of human ecology. But it is seldom clear what the word really means even at a particular instantiation of it, neither what ontological commitments would let that which the meaning refers to exist in the world. This thesis takes one use, found in Alf Hornborg’s discussion of unequal exchange, and asks: What does “value” mean at this instance? How is it possible for something like it to exist? The thesis proceeds by reading the concept towards its conditions of possibility, and then those conditions towards theirs. This creates a path which eludes determination within the works of a single author, and instead leads from Hornborg to the value theory of David Graeber to the works of Martin Heidegger. The thesis lets Hornborg’s work defines what values do, Graeber where they come from, and Heidegger how they can have that origin and what that itself implies. This particular path is not advanced as the only possible one, but the thesis demonstrates how it’s a possibility which would tell a compelling story of equity, freedom, and the possibilities such freedom contains.

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