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Value polarities


The words used to indicate values tend to be those most subject to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. Indeed, part of their strength in evoking an integrative response from people lies in the way that people can project their different aspirations onto the same word, as can be seen in the case of "peace". Such words therefore lend themselves to the production of lengthy treatises clarifying the ways each may be interpreted, or ought to be.

This approach has not resulted in any well-defined map of the value ecology that is presumably a governing factor in social dynamics. It is therefore appropriate to explore alternative approaches which reflect the multiple interpretations, sharpen the meanings, but avoid the trap of lengthy explication of nuances on which there is little consensus. The objective is to relate the resulting network of values to the extensive networks of problems, strategies and organizations at a much greater level of detail than has hitherto been possible.


This section lists 225 value polarities identified from Roget's Thesaurus. They are in a numerical sequence adapted from the order in which they appear in Roget. The entries cross-reference synonymous "constructive" or "destructive" value words in Section VC and VD respectively.

Rather than attempt the possibly sterile exercise of producing descriptive texts on each value polarity, the entries include selected proverbs, aphorisms and quotations. This has the merit of highlighting the significance of each value dimension in a succinct and pithy manner linking it both to cultural lore and to the insights of those to whom wisdom is attributed in contemporary society. This material has been deliberately selected to highlight the dynamic relationship between values guiding constructive and destructive action.


The method is described in detail in Section VZ.


A keyword index to entries is provided in Section VX. The keywords are also incorporated into the index for Volume 2 (Section X)


Bibliographical references, by author, are given in Section VY.


Detailed comments on the approach used in identifying value words, grouping them into polar categories and further organizing the result are presented in Section VZ at the end of this volume. It is interesting that insightful proverbs and quotations tend to indicate the limitation of the obvious, first-order meanings of value words.

Constructive values become destructive if pursued obsessively; destructive values become essential in clearing the way for developmental breakthroughs. The inclusion of proverbs and quotations has the practical merit to of grounding understanding of value dimensions. It also has the merit of linking the volume to the world of literature with all that it represents for the clarification and reinforcement of values.

Since people identify more readily with fictional representations than with global problems (or perhaps via fictional representations with global issues), such a link merits further exploration by the social sciences and those concerned with mobilizing resources in response to the global problematique.


As an exploratory exercise the results must necessarily be considered as preliminary and limited by dependence on the Roget framework and the English language. Selecting a word as having primarily "constructive" or "destructive" value connotations raises many questions. Some words selected as "destructive" may under certain circumstances appear "constructive", and vice versa. Sections VC and VD may therefore be seen as attempts to identify first-order responses to value words. The limitations of this approach are partially resolved by grouping such words within the value polarity categories of this section.

Possible future improvements

In addition to refining the existing entries and introducing other polarities, explicit cross-references could be included to the world problems and strategies sections, and possibly also to international organizations promoting particular values.