Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology | The Primary Axiom of Life Value and the Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision by Prof John McMurtry

John McMurtry 5
Professor John McMurtry

“I endorse, outline and apply John McMurtry’s life-value onto-axiology, which is in all probability the most articulate theory of value developed by any philosopher in the 21st century.”

— Martin Gren, ‎Edward H. Huijbens – 2015 – ‎Business & Economics

Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology

The Primary Axiom of Life Value

and the

Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision

The Primary Axiom of Value is the logical core of the volumes What is Good? What is Bad? The Value of All Values across Time, Place and Theories’ by John McMurtry, Philosophy and World Problems, Volume I, UNESCO in partnership with Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems: Oxford, 2004-11. The Primary Axiom is the first principle of Life-Value Onto-Axiologythe inner logic of ‘the Real’, ‘the True’, and ‘the Good’ across time and place. Their realisation is always dependent, in turn, on accessible Universal Human Life Necessities which are defined below as constituting the sole and complete objective of any Life-Coherent Economy. Underlying all are the ultimate steps of the universal logic of all true value on Earth spelled out rigorously and subject to personal, social and planetary test as:

The Primary Axiom of All Value:

X is value if and only if, and to the extent that, x consists in or enables a more coherently inclusive range of thought/feeling/action than without it.

Converselyx is disvalue if and only if, and to the extent that, x reduces/disables/destroys any range of thought/experience/action.

Definitions of the three ultimate fields of value:

  • thought = internal image and concept (T)
  • felt side of being = senses, desires, emotions, moods (F);
  • action = animate movement across species and organizations (A)

governed by

  • the good will T/F/A as one to realise the Primary Axiom
  • the true = progressive consistency with the P-Axiom, or the life coherence principle

Symbolically expressed:

+V= > LR + and −V = < LR where L = Range of TFA and / = and/or.

The unlimited validity of the P-Axiom across time, place and domains is shown by its:

(1) self-evidence insofar as its denial is nonsensical;

(2) universality across all domains and issues of value judgment insofar as there is no domain of value to which it does not apply;

(3) presupposition in value judgments and conflicts across domains;

(4) objectivity insofar as its value is independent of anyone’s recognition;

(5) impartiality insofar as it cuts against or privileges no common life interest;

(6) completeness insofar as it includes every life form, domain, or change to ill or better in distinct or holistic comprehension;

(7) sovereignty in that it overrides any other value in cases of conflict;

(8) measurable in degrees of value insofar as greater/lesser ranges of thought, felt being and action can be decided in any case from any given reference body of value;

(9) contingent pattern of long-term evolutionary and historical development.

The Primary Axiom is realised in the real world by the following complete set of universal human life necessities and their defined criteria/measures of all life goods, capital and efficiency which govern any life economy, as distinguished from the dominant private money-sequencing economy called ‘capitalism’ whose financialization since John Locke is increasingly life-blind in principle. No means of life as middle term are necessary to its profit driver in the M→C→M1 sequence, only what private money demand seeks (e.g, junk commodities and non-productive stock gains in ever more dominant control of ‘the economy’). The ‘life economy’ or, more exactly, life-sequence economy is in contrast, governed by the formula of Life→Means of Life→More Life or L→MoL→L1. This is the long-repressed alternative paradigm of economics which is already deeply embedded in the intelligent household economy and the ‘civil commons’ infrastructures of society which predate capitalism and underpins all its operations (for example, every public way, water, health, security, education, and energy formation from tribal society today). But ‘the economy’ is not the only regulating order of individual and social life. Including and beyond its organisation, Life-Ground Ethics governs at a deeper level of moral theory and aesthetics which includes the life economy of providing universal life necessities as their base on collective as well as individual levels. So too, the legal and policy frameworks of life-value onto-axiology assess the validity and legitimacy of any law in its terms (as in defining ‘the common interest’, the nature of ‘harm’, and their respective promotion and prevention). So as well, the most advanced empirical sciences of well-being, traditional and modern medicine practises and models find their ultimately regulating value principles and measures in the Primary Axiom and its life-value criteria, including the universal human life necessities defined ahead. In social contract terms, all of these principles of life-coherent reason and measure across domains of thought, felt being and practise together constitute the consistent, compossible and exact bases of an L-V O-A Covenant of Life on Earth whose dots are not yet connected against the forces of totalizing privatization of the living world for self-profit blind to all claims of life flourishing for all in organic, social and ecological terms as one in complex meaning. While first nations have variously comprehended the common life-ground, the priority of human and species life requirements through generational time, and the bonding of all life communities on these bases – their precepts lack criterial definition and measure of life value beyond particular tribal and bio-regional locations and times, as do the original village commons of post-tribal society and indeed modern states and peoples (thus the inter-community wars becoming ever worse with ‘civilisation’ and industrial weapons of eco-genocidal life destruction). What is most required for species survival and sustainability of planetary life support systems is the exactly principled requirements of all who live as human in life and language community to prevail over, “to take the fight to” in Gandhi resolution, all conditions of ruling system and habit disabling life coherent realisation of this Good Life Will in social, individual, and ecological action which occur every moment of the day beneath normalized attention.

The sole and complete map of value meaning, measure, direction and system driver has not been exactly comprehended. None of these rigid reference bodies of universal concepts, principles and criteria has been otherwise available. But they have been long formed and tested across life domains, disciplines and problems in everyday, policy and reflective life across borders and cultures. Our bed-rock set-point of true normative meaning in all matters with no known exception is the Primary Axiom of All Value, and its material realisation to enable the life flourishing of all is the Universal Life Economy (Universal Human Necessities and Principles of their Provision) now defined step by step.

Principle 1The ultimate organising principle of any life-coherent society or economy through generational time is secure access to means of life/life goods otherwise in short supply (ie., the production and distribution of goods and the protection of ecosystem services in accord with Principles 2 through 7).

ConverseAny social or economic system succeeds/falls short/fails to the extent that it does/does not so secure, produce, distribute means of life/life goods. 

Principle 2A means of life is a means of life if and only if it enables life capacities/abilities not possible without it (eg., food, water, shelter and literacy education).

ConverseClaimed ‘goods’ which disable or do not enable life capacities/abilities are not means of life (eg., junk commodities).

Principle 3: The complete and universal set of means of life which all humans require to flourish as human are:

  • breathable air, sense-open space, and daily light
    (atmospheric means of life)
  • clean water, nourishing foods and self-waste disposal
    (bodily means of life)
  • shelter space from the elements with ample provision to retire, sleep and function
    (home means of life)
  • environmental surroundings whose elements and contours contribute to the whole
    (environmental means of life)
  • intimate love, social inclusion, safety and healthcare when ill or infirm
    (caring means of life)
  • activities of language-logos/art-play to choose and learn from
    (educational/recreational means of life)
  • meaningful work or service to perform
    (vocational means of life)
  • self-governing choice in each’s enjoyment consistent with each’s provision
    (social justice)

Converse: Any priced commodity which does not directly or indirectly provide means of life/life goods for these needs is uneconomic, and anti-economic to the extent of life resources wasted on the commodity’s production and consumption (eg., non-growth addictive commodities).

Principle 4: The provision, or the deprivation, of each and all of these means of life/life goods is measurable by greater/lesser sufficiency (e.g., of clean water, living space and life-coherent environment, work hours contributing to others’ wellbeing).

ConverseWillingness or ability to pay prices for commodities does not measure their life requirement, but increasingly the opposite (e.g., fast-foods, leisure motor vehicles)

Principle 5: The true measure of the overall performance of any society or economy is its civil commons development or the full access of its members to these life goods (including the work share required to provide them) in comparison to a previous state of the society or economy, or to another socioeconomic order (eg., greater/lesser nutritional-intake, clean water accessibility/inaccessibility, bio-diverse environment, literacy gain/loss, life expectancy rise/fall, livelihood participation/exclusion, creative activities of art and play).

Converse: Growth of aggregate commodities sold in a society (GDP) is never an accurate or reliable measure of a society or economy’s development unless it is made to correspond to the access of its members to life goods as defined (eg., as already achieved in universal health-care, higher education, library and play-areas not dependent on private money demand).

Principle 6The primary capital of any society or economy is Life Capital (LC→LC1→LC n) = the wealth of means of life/life goods that produce more without loss in cumulative yield through time (eg., species/ecological, social, and knowledge capital which reproduce and grow if not deprived by life-blind mechanisms of private money growth-predating them in carcinogenic self-multiplication).

Converse: Claimed “capital” which does not directly or indirectly produce means of life through time is false capital, and is inefficient in proportion to its misallocation of scarce economic resources to its growth (eg., money capital growth by non-defensive weapons manufacture, currency speculation, production of life-disabling consumer commodities).

Principle 7: The efficiency of any product, tool or process increases, and only increases, to the extent that:

i: inputs and throughputs function to enable the provision of life goods with diminishing waste and externalities (eg., organic farming methods, industries directed towards 100% recycling) = Ecological Efficiency

ii: reduced inputs of materials/energy/space/mandatory work time produce same or greater means of life outputs (eg., wheel and pulley structures, cooperative organisation of work/leisure requirements, lower labour/fuel-per-unit machines) = Physical Input-Output Efficiency

iii: capability development of productive agents enables more life goods, life-time, and/or life-range choices than before (eg., by education, healthcare, and vocational work) = Human Development Efficiency

ConverseInsofar as higher money profit margins do not produce greater Ecological, Input or Human Development Efficiency, they are inefficient and diseconomic by the life capital resources wasted and destroyed by life-incoherent allocation of them  (e.g., CEO fortunes gained by slashing work forces, environmental controls, taxes on the rich while demanding rising public wealth privatizations and subsidies for profit gains throughout societies’ evolved life capital bases and civil commons).

JM REVISED with new definitions and transitions March 2018 JUNE 2018 NEW PREAMBLE

John McMurtry Ph.D (University College London)
Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada
Professor of Philosophy
University Professor Emeritus
University of Guelph Ontario, Canada NIG2W1
Philosophy and World Problems
Encyclopedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS)
UNESCO, Paris-Oxford

19 thoughts on “Explaining Life-Value Onto-Axiology | The Primary Axiom of Life Value and the Universal Human Life Necessities and Principles of their Provision by Prof John McMurtry

  1. Professor McMurtry has done a masterful job of describing specific values for life. However, these principles are based on what is, not what might be, if we were only to understand our origins and the causal mechanisms of our evolution, as we have done in Torday JS and Rehan VK. Evolutionary Biology, Cell-Cell Communication and Complex Disease. Wiley, 2012; Torday JS and Rehan VK. Evolution, the Logic of Biology, 2017. It is only when we drill down to our origins and how and why we have evolved in response to an ever-changing environment that we can truly understand who, what and why we are. It’s like the difference between Newton’s description of gravity and Einstein’s determination of the mechanism by which gravity affects matter. The former is anecdotal, whereas the latter links to the Theory of Relativity and Quantum Mechanics.

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