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Philosophical exercise: Socratic definition
Written Assignment #2


The following philosophical exercise is designed to exhibit the overall structure, and to inculcate the exercise, of Socratic universal definition by induction (without irony or interlocutor!).

A. Assignment: Socratic definition starts with the question “What is X?” Your question: What is value?

B. Steps

1. List ten (10) “objects” (things, relationships, conditions, ideals, goals, etc.) of value. Select objects which are very different in kind or type. Samples: a yacht is a material object of value, health is a physical state of value, friendship is an interpersonal relationship of value, justice is a social condition of value, etc.

2. Extract, abstract, or generalize five (5) types or kinds of value from the list of ten particular objects given in #1. These should be classes or categories which are more general, and therefore inclusive of, the specific items given in #1.

3. Try to discern or define the common characteristic shared by the types of value listed in #2. This is the highest level of generality, the universal concept or category. It should be comprehensive, all-inclusive, generic, and purely formal.