Human Values

Human Values

This article deals with the topic titled ‘ Human Values .’ This is part of our series on ‘Ethics’. For more articles, you can click here.


  • Although value systems depend upon society, religion, geography etc., certain values are common to all humans. These values are found in all value systems and cherished by all humans. These are known as Human Values.  
  • Freedom, Creativity, Love & Wisdom form the core of human values, and all other values revolve around them.  
  • These are universal; i.e., even if we go to the earliest recorded human societies, we will find their existence. Hence, human values have played an important role in the evolution of human societies. 
  • In simple words, ‘They remain static and never change with time or region.’
Human Values

1. Freedom

  • Freedom is something fundamental in every living being. Every living being who has come on Earth wants to remain free. They always dislike bondage and restrictions. 
  • Our history is full of the quest for freedom of individual & this has been a guiding principle of human civilization. Entire human civilization is based on this constant endeavour for freedom

There are different perspectives on freedom

1.1 Individual Freedom

  • By individual freedom, we mean 5 types of freedoms. 
    1. Personal Freedom of the Individual: Every person wants to live his life in his way.
    2. Societal Freedom: Freedom to do the type of work one wants to do, marriage partner one wants to have, a lifestyle one wants to have etc 
    3. Political Freedom: Every individual has the freedom to think about the political system one wants to live in. One can have his political ideology, political likes and dislikes, and nobody should be compelled to think on a particular line. 
    4. Economic Freedom: Freedom to do the type of business, choose the type of livelihood and job.
    5. Religious Freedom: Freedom to have religious beliefs of his own, including the freedom not to believe in god. 
  • The liberating concept behind individual freedom is the uniqueness of the individual, i.e. every individual is unique.  

1.2 Intellectual Freedom

  • It is the freedom of mind and knowledge, the freedom to question the old ideas and create new ones, the freedom to think unthinkable, the freedom to explore the unexplored, and the freedom to reach unreachable. 
  • Tagore has also written about Intellectual Freedom, i.e., “Where the mind is without fear, where streams of human reason are not lost in the sand of dead habits, in that light my country awakes.”
  • Intellectual Freedom helps the person to question the status quo, thus the road to development. Hence these intellectuals are always thought to be a threat to the rulers. Because of this reason, when the Pakistani army stormed East Pakistan, they targeted first Dhaka University. 
  • Good rulers like Akbar, Chandragupta etc., patronized the scholars and intellectuals. Any society grows with the ideas and philosophies of these intellectuals. 

1.3 Freedom of Will

  • Freedom of will denotes the freedom to choose between alternatives, achieve self-defined goals & bring changes for the betterment of the world. 

1.4 Freedom from & Freedom to

  • Freedom from includes
    • Freedom from Gender discrimination 
    • Freedom from Economic exploitation
    • Freedom from Mechanization of life  
    • Freedom from Environmental pollution etc 
  • Gains of ‘Freedom from’ are immense. Entire human civilization and progress rest upon ‘Freedom from’. It gives a real sense of comfort to human life in various ways, but it is very important to have a second type of freedom as well, i.e.’ Freedom to’. 
  • ‘Freedom to’ gives positive content. It includes the freedom to think, freedom to decide, freedom to be creative, freedom to actualize own potential, and freedom to live a good life. 

Hence, the process which started with ‘Freedom from’ and is accepted now in all countries must be taken to the level of Freedom if we want to achieve real human progress. 

Side Topic: Freedom vs Discipline

  • We always want freedom. In the name of freedom, we want that we should be free to do anything without any condition. 
  • But freedom comes with certain restrictions. Even our constitution agrees with this concept. 
  • Freedom is not absolute and always comes with the cost of discipline. Hindi word for Freedom is Swadheenta which is the combination of two words, i.e. Swa, meaning Self and Adeenta, meaning control. Hence, Freedom is a thing in which a person is under self-control (not in control of others but not absolutely free).
  • Hence, freedom and discipline can be said to be two sides of the same coin. Freedom and discipline are correlated; one can’t exist without the other.

2. Creativity

  • It is important because, through creativity, civilization can grow, and it is the unique endowment of human beings. 
  • Freedom & creativity are interlinked because no creativity can take place without freedom. 

Creativity is of three categories

2.1 Intellectual Creativity

  • It involves the creativity of mind.
  • It is at play when scientists give new theories and axioms.

2.2 Artistic Creativity

  • Artistic creativity is more of creativity of the heart.
  • It is expressed through poetry, drama & other forms of literature and different art forms like painting, sculpture, music and decorative art. 

2.3 Practical Creativity

  • Man has always been in search of creating something useful for humanity that should bring prosperity and comfort to the life of people. 
  • It is expressed when engineers and scientists invent new creations with practical use (like cars, tractors, computers etc.)

The civil servant needs to be creative because the civil servant is expected not only to solve the problem but to anticipate the problem as well. 

3. Love

Human Love is the binding force that unites one individual with another individual or with a group of people.

Categories of Human Love

3.1 Parental Love

  • Usually comes in the form of the mother’s love and the father’s love for the child.
  • A mother’s love for the child is totally unselfish; hence, it is the noblest kind of human love.  

3.2 Love between man & woman

  • In Indian society, love between man and woman can only be legitimized through the union of marriage. 

3.3 Love of God

  • Bhakti saints such as Mira, Surdas, Chaitanya etc., were so filled with the love for God that they left everything to attain their beloved. 
  • This love is based on total devotion & complete surrender 

3.4 Love among Equals

  • It is the basis of friendship and helps establish perfect harmony in society.

3.5 Spiritual Love

  • A spiritual person sees everybody in himself and himself in everybody. 

4. Wisdom

  • It is related to the mind (as love is related to the heart).
  • The full flowering of both wisdom & love is necessary for becoming great. The good life is that which is inspired by love and guided by wisdom. 
  • Wisdom doesn’t come automatically with the accumulation of knowledge. What is required is that there has to be an element of the experience.  
  • The government doesn’t post newly recruited to IAS as head of the department, although he is more energetic. The reason is that a senior person is more experienced and hence wiser than newly recruit. 
  • Wisdom helps us make the right choice when we are faced with two options that can’t be termed wrong, i.e., wisdom helps us make decisions when facing ethical dilemmas.
  • Wise persons have emotional maturity, aren’t overwhelmed by success and are depressed at failure. This is important in civil services because if a civil servant succeeds, he mustn’t be overjoyed. If he fails, he analyses the causes of failure and tries not to repeat the same mistake. 

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