Hierarchy of Values

A system in which values are understood as interrelated and seen as part of a logical hierarchal relationship in which some values are derivative or less important than others in a given context. Plato articulated a hierarchy of values clearly when he defined the four “cardinal virtues”, and Aristotle followed by dividing virtues into different classes (moral and intellectual) with minor virtues existing as sub-species. For Aristotle, the highest forms of the virtues all require one another—they cannot exist on their own. But there is a clear hierarchy of values, without which no value can be properly understood. Atomized and detached values are meaningless. In families, schools, corporations, and other organizations of social life, I advocate a clear hierarchy of values that can be contextualized and implemented in a clear system to avoid the kind of mimetic crises that happen in the absence of a clear model.

Visual of the four cardinal virtues
Ballet Comique de la Reine, 1582