Benefits to Humanity


‘Benefit to Humanity ' - as a Value vs ‘Religious Truth’ - as a value

The Neo-Kantian system suggests 3 basic values as what essentially influence and motivate people.  In his book “Truth, Beauty and Goodness”, Howard Gardner of Harvard University explains that although

“…our conceptions of these three virtues have shifted over time”, however,  “… these virtues remain the crucial bedrock of our existence - even in light of postmodern skepticism and the side effects of technological advances on our attention spans and ways of thinking” (1).  

The NeoKantian system of the three values remains dominant in Western philosophy, despite the problem of lack a comprehensive definition of Goodness, and so the incoherence between the subjective values of Beauty and Goodness and the objective nature of the Truth.  Some philosophers, such as Hermann Cohen and Bertrand Russell, preferred differentiating “Value” from “Truth:

 “When we assert that this or that has ‘value’”, says Russell, “we are giving expression to our own emotions, not to a fact which would still be true if our personal feelings were different.” (Russell 1949, 230). (2)

The widely accepted NeoKantian system of values was questioned by Tsunesaburo Makiguchi (3) - a Japanese educator who was deeply concerned about the values employed within the Educational System in Japan prior to the II W W.  

Makiguchi argued, that the word “Value” characterizes human activity, and that it has impact (benefit or loss) on people’s life.  Our action of “Goodness” and development of artistic products of “Beauty” - this can be created by people, and therefore can be considered as essential values. On the other hand, “Truth” cannot be ‘produced’ or ‘made’ by human activity.  “Truth” reveals objective facts, while “Value” - on the other hand - relates to a subjective human dimension.

For example, a statement of fact - such as: “this is a flower” describes an objective “truth” or “fact” while a statement of value, that: “this flower is beautiful” describes a subjective impression.

Makiguchi’s contribution to the system of values was in clarifying that: truth becomes valuable only when we employ it in applications to create benefit - or to create a shared gain - in our human reality. In Makiguchi’s system of values (Beauty, Goodness and Benefit), coherence is maintained by making a clear distinction between the words “truth” and “value”:

“In confusing truth with value and treating them as being alike and equal, Western pragmatism, [Makiguchi] contended, makes the false assumption that if a thing is true it is beneficial to man.  Experience does not support such an assumption.  On the contrary, experience tells us that some things that have no usefulness to human life are true”. (4)  

In Makiguchi’s system of values (Beauty, Goodness, and Benefit) - the concept of Goodness is based on subduing evil through preventing harm and imparting joy.  This is enhanced by the enshrinement of the value of Benefit (for self & others) - excluding thus any contradiction between the benefit gained for oneself and that of others because the others can mutually experience a benefit.

The concept of “Mutual Benefit” as a value - reveals the message, that ‘we can benefit together’, and it does so, by referring to the principle of interconnectedness.  The principle of Interconnectedness, however, is impartial, and this means that creating loss (instead of benefit) - is also mutual.  No one wins and both suffer. Whenever the mind arrives to this truth of interconnectedness, it can surmount inner powers of thinking in terms of mutual benefit rather than mutual destruction. This opens the potential for subduing evil through the determination of putting the value of Benefit (own benefit linked to others’) - as a power to pursue.  

“Right” or “Beneficial”?

Many recorded actions of evil were motivated by what is “right” or “wrong”.  However, a remarkable shift in one’s attitude can be achieved if the criterion of one’s actions is not on based on right or wrong - but is rather, based on cause and effect, or on the criterion of whether the event or observation is beneficial or destructive  (to self & others).

The self-satisfied (ego based justification) of being “right” - is better replaced by whether one is contributing to the wellbeing of self and others - or not.



(1) Truth, Beauty, Goodness; Harvard gazette, Howard Gardner probes the enduring values that matter, 2011, 

(2) Bertrand Russell, Ethics, Intenet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

(3)   Tsunesaburo Makiguchi, Value Creation Society :

(4) Makiguchi, Philosophy of Value, p. 20.  Quoted in “The Value Creator”- p.55 -56,  Dayle M. Bethel.  Published by Weatherhill Inc New York, Tokyo. 1994