The idea of ‘Value’ as coming from social assessments vs. a mix of pre-social/natural increases in activity, life-survival, growth, etc.
Perhaps values are not mere social conventions coming from this or that particular culture due to its… what? historical circumstance, geographical location, internal structure… but of a vital surge of affirmation in activity. Increasing the capacities of the body (for we cannot know the potential of the body until we try, that is, we actualize those latent potentials) is a very simplistic notion that does not sweep away the mind but sets both mind and body in tandem via the flux of potential (more or less power). Nor does the status of such an embodied proposition as one that resides in the mind-place of linguistic land of signifiers – just as it is not removed from the social-cultural situatedness – prevent it from relating better or worse to other propositions.
“It’s a theory in the mind, just handsome words” or “value goes beyond bodies and flesh you reductionist” – a mis-problematization? Rather, we can do something or not, but this capacity only comes in actualization, in action. Both symbolic expression and the empowered body are implicated in this kind of Value: the power to alter and affect.
Who needs such social constructivist reminders besides those who have conquered other cultures and drawn them into its own, so that one’s own is dead or dying; fed totally on the influx of alterity? That a culture must repeatedly affirm its own situatedness is telling that there is nothing left to it to affirm except its own arrogance – which is either zealously shouted or disdainfully remarked in passing. Does this not display the social in it’s most bare desperation? Its powerlessness?
Yes, we are privileged by centuries of victorious, brutal conquest and awful atrocities. Events that would make the body cringe at the loss of life if it witnessed in the present, with one’s own body exposed and an immediate decision forced upon it. Mutilated bodies, back-breaking work, malnutrition and starvation; these images conjure intense anger, sadness, and genuine sympathy.
The main point here is far different than an invoked passion – a repitition of feeling on/in a body (impression) – it is of activity. The affection that constant assertion of privilege produces – is this a generator of activity or not? Does this not stall one, tie one up with a lineage that one might reject? Squashing potential allies for the sake of a faithful commitment to the affections of history told in its hidden, ugly side. It is easy and reactive to take this combative stance against another of a different race/class/gender to maintain allegiance and bear the memory of past wrongs, (but at very least that allegiance increases its ability to act in its better moments). To harp on and assert the negativity of the piled up dead and enslaved bodies that came before another, contained in their lineage, in a relentless manner will usually elicit a defensive stance though. It is only self-imposing unnecessary impediments to strengthening its body for emancipation with more and ecstatic bodies.
Can a theory of Value withstand embodiment? Could we even measure it at this point?