Uncovering the Power of Semantic SEO for Higher Rankings and Enhanced Visibility

Uncovering the Power of Semantic SEO for Higher Rankings and Enhanced Visibility

Optimize for Semantic Search: Elevate Your Site’s Ranking and Visibility

A.I. and its role in advancing semantic SEO is the process that helps understand the meaning and context of search queries. is revolutionising pretty much every aspect of life. Of course, this is particularly noticable in technical fields directly utilising A.I. As these new technologies and what we call the “digital landscape” evolves, so too does the sophistication of search algorithms. In this article, the focus in on search, which of course equates to search volume for the most part, and in particular – the basics of semantic seo. Also, at the risk of narrowing the audience, the focus is particularly on Google search – after all, they pretty much run the search game, making it crucial to help you optimize for semantic SEO on this platform.

Semantic SEO represents a paradigm shift from traditional keyword-focused optimization to a more nuanced approach that seeks to understand the intent behind search queries. By optimizing for semantic search, websites can improve their alignment with search engine algorithms, thereby enhancing their visibility and rankings. This article delves into the crucial role of semantic SEO in modern digital marketing strategies, comparing it with traditional practices, and offering insights into best practices for integrating semantic elements into your SEO efforts for superior results. Hopefully by the end, you’ll know everything about semantic seo – or at least enough to put it into action 🙂

Why is Semantic SEO Important for Modern Websites?

Understanding the Role of Semantic SEO in Search Engine Rankings

Semantic SEO is revolutionizing how websites interact with search engines and users alike, by prioritizing content that SEO experts craft to understand the meaning and context of user queries. It transcends the limitations of specific keywords, enabling search engines to grasp the context and meaning behind users’ search queries. By leveraging natural language processing (NLP) and related technologies, semantic SEO helps search engines understand the content of a website beyond mere words and phrases, guiding SEO experts in their strategy. This understanding is crucial, as it allows search engines like Google to match websites with relevant search results more accurately, exemplifying the effectiveness of optimizing a website for semantic purposes. Consequently, websites that use semantic SEO techniques are more likely to rank higher in search results, as they are deemed more relevant and valuable to users, highlighting the critical role of search engine optimization in digital marketing strategies.

Moreover, semantic search significantly enhances the accuracy of search engine rankings by encouraging content creators to focus on both the technical SEO aspects and the semantic web principles, a key strategy for SEO experts. By comprehending the nuanced meaning of content, search engines can assign rankings that truly reflect the relevance of a website to a user’s search intent, epitomizing the essence of search engine optimization. This advancement from merely matching keywords to interpreting semantic signals ensures that the highest quality and most pertinent content for search is readily accessible to users. Hence, websites optimized for semantic search not only help search engines understand their content better but also achieve substantially improved visibility and rankings within search results.

How Semantic SEO Enhances User Search Experience

Semantic SEO plays a pivotal role in refining the user search experience by providing users with more relevant search results. It does so by making search engines more adept at deciphering the user’s underlying search intent rather than merely relying on the exact search terms, a clear use case for the help of semantic analysis. This leads to search results that are more aligned with the user’s actual needs and intentions, demonstrating how SEO is the process aimed at making content easily interpretable by both users and search engines. For instance, semantic search can differentiate between the search queries looking for information, such as “What is semantic SEO?” and those with transactional intent, such as “Best tools for semantic SEO.” As a result, users are presented with content that more accurately meets their search objectives, significantly enhancing their overall experience when searching.

This refinement in the search experience is attributable to semantic SEO’s ability to use natural language processing to understand the subtleties of human language, a cornerstone in semantic search engine optimization. Semantic search engines can interpret the intent of search queries by analyzing search history, related search terms, and the context in which the terms are used, showcasing how semantic SEO works to understand search queries. Therefore, websites that optimize their content for semantic search provide a more satisfying and efficient experience for users, yielding higher engagement and improving the chances of conversion. This user-focused approach is a win-win, as it benefits both the search engine in delivering relevant search results and the website in attracting qualified traffic.

Comparing Traditional SEO and Semantic SEO Practices

Traditional SEO and semantic SEO differ fundamentally in their approach to optimizing websites for search engines. Traditional SEO focuses on targeting specific keywords, aiming to rank as highly as possible for those terms, whereas semantic search engine optimization encompasses a more nuanced approach. It involves optimizing title tags, meta descriptions, and content to include the keywords that users might enter into a search engine, integrating practices to enhance websites for semantic analysis. While effective to a degree, this approach can be limiting, as it often overlooks the broader context and user intent behind search queries, a gap that semantic SEO, by prioritizing the semantic web and search engine optimization, seeks to bridge.

Contrastingly, semantic SEO seeks to comprehend and respond to the intent and contextual meaning behind search queries, enabling search engines to understand the content at a deeper level. It uses semantic keywords, related keywords, and natural language to help search engines understand the content of a website. This not only helps websites to rank higher in search results for relevant queries but also addresses the user’s specific needs and questions, in alignment with semantic SEO best practices. Semantic SEO is a more dynamic and holistic approach that aligns with the evolving capabilities of search engines and the increasing sophistication of user searches. By focusing on the meaning behind words and phrases, it ensures that content is both discoverable and relevant, leading to better user engagement and search performance.

Unlocking the Benefits of Semantic SEO

How Semantic SEO Contributes to Higher Rankings in Search Results

The primary benefit of semantic SEO is its ability to significantly boost a website’s rankings in search results. This is achieved through a profound understanding of search intent and the delivery of content that matches this intent precisely, reinforcing the idea that SEO is the process of aligning content with both users’ needs and search engines’ capabilities. Search engines, using algorithms equipped with natural language processing capabilities, favor websites that demonstrate a clear alignment with the searcher’s intent, a core principle of semantic SEO work. As a result, websites that incorporate semantic SEO principles into their content strategy are likely to appear higher in search results, thanks to the advanced capabilities of semantic search work in interpreting user intent. This elevated ranking not merely improves visibility but also drives more organic traffic to the website, thus increasing the potential for conversion and revenue.

Furthermore, semantic SEO facilitates higher rankings by enriching content with semantic keywords and related phrases. These elements help search engines to grasp the broader topics and themes of the content, beyond individual SEO keywords, enhancing the precision of search results. By providing search engines with a more comprehensive understanding of the content’s context and relevance, websites can achieve better alignment with relevant search results, a core goal of SEO to make content resonate with both users and search engines. Optimizing content for semantic search allows websites to outperform competitors in search rankings by appearing more pertinent and valuable to users’ queries, showcasing the intricate dance of technical SEO. The sophisticated matching of content with user intent ensures that websites optimized for semantic search enjoy superior visibility and engagement levels, demonstrating the benefit of learning more about semantic SEO to improve your semantic strategy.

Improving Content Visibility Through Semantic Search Techniques

Content visibility is paramount in the crowded digital marketplace, and semantic SEO, as a core component of search engine optimization, is a key driver in enhancing this visibility through targeted content for search. By employing semantic search techniques, websites can ensure that their content is not only indexed but also ranked favorably by search engines. This is particularly important in an era where users expect highly relevant and immediate results for their search queries, underscoring the importance of understanding the intent behind a search from an SEO perspective. Semantic SEO allows for a deeper understanding by search engines, which can lead to content being displayed in featured snippets, knowledge graphs, and other prominent positions within search engine results pages (SERPs). Such positions attract a higher click-through rate (CTR), thereby significantly increasing the visibility and accessibility of the content to users, a fundamental aspect of the context of semantic SEO.

Beyond merely improving rankings, semantic search techniques contribute to the creation of a more engaging and relevant user experience. By optimizing content for semantic search, websites can cater to specific user needs and contexts, making the content more appealing and useful. This optimization includes the strategic use of semantic keywords and the addressing of related search queries within the content to help both users and search engines understand the meaning more clearly. As search engines become increasingly adept at identifying and rewarding high-quality, contextually relevant content, semantic SEO provides a framework for content creators to elevate their content’s visibility and, ultimately, its impact on the target audience.

Enhancing Website Authority with Semantic SEO Strategies

Establishing website authority is crucial for any online entity, and semantic SEO strategies play a critical role in achieving this objective. By aligning content with semantic principles, websites can signal their relevance and expertise to search engines, thereby earning a position as a trusted source of information. This credibility is not only beneficial for search rankings but also fosters trust among users. A website viewed as authoritative is more likely to attract repeat visits, backlinks, and social shares, all of which are positive signals to search engines and can further improve a site’s standing in search results.

Semantic SEO enhances website authority by ensuring that content is comprehensive, covers a wide range of related topics, and addresses the user’s search intent accurately, a fundamental goal for SEO experts. When content consistently meets these criteria, it builds a reputation for quality and reliability. Moreover, semantic SEO strategies often involve the creation of detailed, informative content that answers specific questions or provides insights on topics relevant to the website’s niche—essentially a practical application of semantic analysis. This approach not only satisfies user queries more effectively but also establishes the website as a go-to resource in its field. As search engine algorithms increasingly prioritize content quality and topical authority, the importance of semantic SEO in building and maintaining website authority cannot be overstated.

My Top Recommendation For An A.I. Based Semantic SEO Tool

I’m sure you’re aware, but there’s literally a ton of websites that provide semantic seo tools, as well as specialists and consutlants who provide those same services. I’m a big ‘tool’ guy – I love using technology as a powerful and effective tool, to solve problems, and automate tasks.

NeuronWriter is what I use. This is after many years in the game. Oh – at the moment, there’s a special LIFETIME DEAL offer!

Semantic SEO Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is semantic SEO and how does it work?

A: Semantic SEO is a strategy that focuses on creating content for search engines that goes beyond keywords by understanding the context and intent behind user queries. It involves optimizing your website to be more human-like and semantic, enabling search engines to provide accurate and relevant search results.

Q: Why is it important to optimize your website for semantic search?

A: Optimizing your website for semantic search is critical for better rankings and visibility on search engines like Google. By using a semantic approach, you can help Google better interpret search intent, leading to improved organic traffic and user engagement.

Q: What are some best practices for semantic SEO?

A: Some best practices for semantic SEO include creating high-quality content for search engines to understand, using structured data markup, optimizing for user intent, and focusing on providing valuable information that aligns with semantic search principles.

Q: How does semantic SEO differ from traditional SEO?

A: Semantic SEO goes beyond traditional keyword optimization by focusing on the meaning and context of content rather than just individual keywords. It aims to deliver more relevant search results by understanding the nuances of language and user intent.

Q: When did semantic SEO come into existence?

A: Semantic SEO emerged as a concept in response to the changing landscape of search engines and the need for more sophisticated algorithms to deliver accurate and relevant search results. It has evolved alongside advancements in technology and the rise of artificial intelligence in search engines.

Q: How can semantic SEO help improve your website’s visibility?

A: By optimizing your website for semantic search, you can enhance its visibility by aligning your content with user intent and search engine algorithms. This can lead to higher rankings, increased organic traffic, and better user engagement on your website.

Q: What is the power behind semantic SEO?

A: The power of semantic SEO lies in its ability to help search engines understand the context and meaning of content, enabling them to deliver more accurate and relevant search results to users. By optimizing your website for semantic search, you can harness this power to enhance your online presence and visibility.

Giftedness Acceptance

Q. Imagine that an adult person is struggling in life (because they are gifted, but don’t know that) – what kinds of struggles would this person be experiencing, that are caused by “invisible” giftedness – i.e caused by being gifted, but at the same time not knowing that giftedness is even a thing?

A. When a gifted adult is unaware of their giftedness, they may experience a variety of struggles that can be perplexing and challenging. These struggles often stem from their unique cognitive and emotional traits not being recognized or understood, even by themselves. Here are some common struggles that can be attributed to “invisible” giftedness:

  1. Feeling Out of Sync: Gifted adults may feel that they are out of step with their peers. They might have interests, concerns, and a level of intensity that differs significantly from those around them, leading to a sense of isolation or alienation.
  2. Perfectionism and High Self-Expectations: Without understanding their giftedness, these individuals may set exceedingly high standards for themselves, leading to perfectionism. This can result in significant anxiety, fear of failure, and a persistent sense that they are not meeting their own expectations.
  3. Multipotentiality: Gifted adults often have multiple talents and interests, making it challenging to choose a career path or focus on a single area. This can lead to feelings of frustration and a sense of being scattered or unfocused.
  4. Underachievement: Without recognizing their giftedness, some adults may not leverage their full potential. They might find themselves in environments that do not challenge them, leading to underachievement and a lack of fulfillment.
  5. Social and Emotional Issues: Gifted adults can experience intense emotions and deep empathy, which can be overwhelming without proper understanding and support. They may struggle with forming relationships where they feel truly understood and accepted.
  6. Existential Angst: Gifted individuals often engage in deep existential thinking from a young age, which can continue into adulthood. They may grapple with questions about the meaning of life, justice, and morality, which can contribute to feelings of existential depression.
  7. Imposter Syndrome: Even when they achieve, some gifted adults may feel like they are faking it or do not truly deserve their successes. This can stem from a lack of understanding of their own abilities and the effortlessness with which they sometimes achieve goals.

Recognizing these struggles is the first step toward understanding the role that unrecognized giftedness may play in an individual’s life. Once these challenges are linked to giftedness, it can be a relief for the individual, as they finally have a context for their experiences. This understanding is crucial for developing coping strategies and creating a more fulfilling life that aligns with their unique capabilities and needs.

Q. Those are great examples. What areas of life would struggles typically show up in, and how might they present themselves in those areas?

A. The struggles stemming from unrecognized giftedness in adults can manifest in various areas of their lives, often affecting their emotional well-being, professional life, relationships, and personal growth. Here’s how these struggles might present themselves in different areas:

  1. Professional Life and Career:
    • Underachievement: Gifted adults may feel unchallenged in their careers, leading to a lack of engagement or motivation. This underachievement can result in job hopping, dissatisfaction, or not reaching their full potential.
    • Misalignment with Values: They might find themselves in careers that don’t align with their deep values or don’t fully utilize their abilities, causing frustration and a sense of wasted potential.
    • Difficulty with Authority: Gifted adults may question inefficient systems or ineffective leadership, leading to conflicts in the workplace.
  2. Educational Experiences:
    • Boredom and Lack of Engagement: In educational settings, they may have experienced boredom or frustration due to a lack of challenge or pace that matches their learning speed.
    • Mismatched Learning Styles: Gifted individuals often have unique learning styles that may not align with traditional educational methods, leading to frustration or disengagement.
  3. Relationships and Social Life:
    • Feeling Misunderstood: Difficulty finding peers who share their intensity, interests, or level of intellectual curiosity can lead to feelings of isolation or alienation.
    • Intense Emotions: Gifted adults may experience emotions more intensely, which can be challenging in relationships if not understood or shared by others.
    • High Expectations: They might have high expectations for themselves and others, potentially leading to disappointments or strained relationships.
  4. Emotional and Psychological Well-being:
    • Existential Depression: Deep, existential thinking can lead to feelings of depression or anxiety, particularly if they feel unable to share these thoughts or find answers.
    • Overexcitabilities: Heightened levels of mental, emotional, and even physical sensitivity can result in overstimulation and stress.
    • Imposter Syndrome: Achieving success but feeling unworthy of it or fearing being exposed as a fraud can affect their self-esteem and confidence.
  5. Personal Development and Self-Identity:
    • Struggling with Self-Identity: Gifted adults might struggle with understanding who they are, especially if they have spent their lives trying to conform to societal norms or expectations.
    • Perfectionism: The drive for perfection in various aspects of life can lead to procrastination, anxiety, and a persistent sense of failure.

Understanding how these struggles manifest can help gifted adults seek appropriate support and interventions. By addressing these challenges, they can begin to harness their giftedness positively, leading to more fulfilling and balanced lives.

Q. How important is it, that the gifted adult first understand what the root problem is – for example, if the adult doesn’t realise they are gifted, they may consult a ‘normal’ therapist – and if that therapist isn’t gifted-aware – the therapist may diagnose incorrectly, and then prescribe the kind of help that would be useful if the assumptions were correct, but in this case, the help could cause more trouble.

A. It’s crucial for a gifted adult to understand the root problem, including the recognition of their giftedness, to receive appropriate support and guidance. If a gifted adult consults a therapist who is not aware of the nuances of giftedness, there’s a risk of misdiagnosis or misunderstanding the individual’s unique challenges and needs. Here’s why understanding the root problem is vital:

  1. Accurate Diagnosis: Without recognizing the role of giftedness, therapists might attribute a gifted adult’s struggles to other psychological issues. For instance, the intensity and overexcitabilities of gifted individuals could be mistaken for mood disorders, anxiety, or ADHD. An accurate understanding ensures that any interventions or therapies are appropriate and effective.
  2. Tailored Intervention Strategies: Gifted adults have unique cognitive and emotional characteristics that standard therapeutic approaches may not address. Therapy that is informed by an understanding of giftedness can be tailored to address their specific issues, such as existential concerns, perfectionism, and multipotentiality.
  3. Preventing Worsening of Issues: Inappropriate or irrelevant therapy can exacerbate the gifted adult’s sense of being misunderstood or mislabeled, potentially leading to increased frustration, anxiety, or depression. It can also lead to a mistrust of therapeutic interventions in general.
  4. Self-Understanding and Acceptance: Recognizing and understanding one’s giftedness can be a profound experience for a gifted adult, leading to greater self-acceptance and an ability to make life choices that align with their intrinsic needs and values.
  5. Effective Coping Strategies: When therapy acknowledges a person’s giftedness, coping strategies can be more effectively tailored. For example, a gifted individual might benefit from strategies that address overstimulation or intensity, rather than more general approaches.

For these reasons, it’s essential for gifted adults to seek out professionals who are knowledgeable about giftedness or to educate their existing therapists about the unique challenges they face. This ensures that the support they receive is genuinely beneficial and aligned with their true needs. If a gifted adult is unaware of their own giftedness, discovering this aspect of their identity can be a critical turning point in their therapeutic journey and overall well-being.

Q. Going back to the various areas of life in which the unacknowledged-gifted person will struggle – can you provide the same categories, but this time suggest what the root problem would be mistakenly seen as, when giftedness is not included because it is not known about.

A. Certainly, when the giftedness of an individual is not acknowledged or understood, the root problems in various life areas may be mistakenly attributed to other issues. Here’s how these misunderstandings might manifest across different aspects of their lives:

  1. Professional Life and Career:
    • Root Problem Misinterpreted: The person’s lack of engagement or job satisfaction might be seen as a lack of commitment, laziness, or indecisiveness, rather than a need for more stimulating, challenging, or meaningful work.
  2. Educational Experiences:
    • Root Problem Misinterpreted: Boredom and lack of engagement in education might be mistaken for a learning disability, lack of effort, or disinterest in academic success, ignoring the need for accelerated or deeper learning opportunities.
  3. Relationships and Social Life:
    • Root Problem Misinterpreted: The feeling of being misunderstood or the struggle to form deep connections might be interpreted as social ineptitude, introversion, or arrogance, rather than a mismatch in intellectual or emotional intensity.
  4. Emotional and Psychological Well-being:
    • Root Problem Misinterpreted: Intense emotions or existential angst might be misdiagnosed as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or depression, without recognizing the connection to the intellectual and emotional depth characteristic of giftedness.
  5. Personal Development and Self-Identity:
    • Root Problem Misinterpreted: Issues with self-identity or self-acceptance might be seen as general self-esteem issues or identity crises without acknowledging the impact of unrecognized gifted traits and the lack of fit with societal norms.

By not considering giftedness as a contributing factor, the interventions or support provided may not address the underlying causes of these issues, leading to continued struggles and potentially exacerbating the situation. It’s essential for professionals working with such individuals to consider the possibility of giftedness as part of their assessment and intervention planning to ensure that the support they provide is truly effective and addresses the core issues at hand.

Q. I think this last response is perhaps the most valuable – as it presents an acceptance that there is a problem, and that their are struggles – which are unkowingly due to un-diagnosed giftedness – but presents the mistaken ways that people ‘make sense of’ what the struggle is caused by. Can we take each category individually, and flesh out in more specific detail – the typical struggles that present themselves (caused by undiagnosed giftedness), and what those struggles are typically put down to, when the true cause (undiagnosed giftedness) is hidden. Let’s start with professional Life and Career.

A. Absolutely, let’s delve into the specifics of how unrecognized giftedness can manifest in professional life and career, and how these manifestations are often misinterpreted.

Struggles in Professional Life and Career due to Undiagnosed Giftedness

  1. Boredom and Lack of Engagement: Gifted adults may quickly master their job responsibilities, leading to boredom and a lack of engagement. They crave stimulating, challenging work that engages their intellect and creativity.
  2. Job Hopping: They may change jobs frequently, seeking environments that better match their need for complexity and growth, which can be misinterpreted as a lack of commitment or stability.
  3. Unrealized Potential: Gifted adults might not fully apply themselves or showcase their abilities, either because they’re unaware of their potential or they’re in environments that don’t recognize or nurture it.
  4. Conflict with Authority: They may question inefficient or illogical systems and authority, leading to conflicts in the workplace, especially if their approach or ideas are perceived as too radical or unorthodox.
  5. Perfectionism and Procrastination: High standards and a drive for perfection can lead to procrastination or a fear of failure, impacting their productivity and satisfaction.

Common Misinterpretations

  1. Lack of Commitment or Laziness: When gifted adults lose interest in their jobs or change positions frequently, it might be misinterpreted as a lack of commitment, when in fact, they are seeking more challenging and fulfilling opportunities.
  2. Lack of People Skills or Team Spirit: Their questioning of systems or authority might be seen as a lack of teamwork or people skills, rather than an expression of their deep-seated need for efficiency and effectiveness.
  3. Inconsistency or Unreliability: The fluctuation in their engagement and performance, often tied to their level of interest and stimulation, may be mistaken for inconsistency or unreliability.
  4. Arrogance or Overconfidence: Their strong convictions and the intensity with which they may present ideas or solutions can be misinterpreted as arrogance, rather than a reflection of their passion and depth of thought.
  5. Underperformance: If a gifted adult is not working to their full potential due to a lack of challenge, it might be viewed as underperformance or failure to live up to their capabilities, without recognizing the need for a more suitable, stimulating environment.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for both the gifted individual and their employers. For the gifted adult, recognizing the root cause of their career dissatisfaction can be a catalyst for seeking roles that align better with their abilities and aspirations. For employers, understanding the unique traits of gifted employees can help in creating environments that leverage their strengths, leading to increased satisfaction and productivity.

Q. Next, let’s look at edicational experiences

A. Exploring how undiagnosed giftedness affects educational experiences sheds light on why gifted individuals often face unique challenges in academic settings. These challenges, when not correctly attributed to giftedness, can lead to misunderstandings and missed opportunities for appropriate support.

Struggles in Educational Experiences due to Undiagnosed Giftedness

  1. Underachievement: Gifted students may underachieve, not engaging with the material because it’s not challenging or stimulating enough, leading to a lack of motivation.
  2. Boredom and Disengagement: They often find standard curriculum slow-paced and unchallenging, resulting in boredom and disengagement in the classroom.
  3. Social Isolation: Gifted individuals might struggle to connect with peers who don’t share their intensity or interests, leading to feelings of isolation.
  4. Mismatch with Teaching Styles: Traditional teaching methods may not align with the learning style of a gifted student, who could prefer more depth, complexity, and autonomy in learning.
  5. Emotional Sensitivity and Stress: The heightened emotional sensitivity of gifted individuals can result in increased stress and anxiety in educational settings, especially if their emotional needs are not addressed.

Common Misinterpretations

  1. Learning Disabilities or Attention Issues: The signs of boredom and disengagement can be misinterpreted as ADHD or learning disabilities, especially when gifted students exhibit behaviors like daydreaming or inattentiveness due to lack of challenge.
  2. Lack of Effort or Motivation: When gifted students underachieve, it might be misconstrued as laziness or a lack of effort, rather than a response to unmet intellectual needs.
  3. Behavioral or Social Problems: The social struggles of gifted individuals might be viewed as behavioral issues or poor social skills, rather than as a consequence of their asynchrony with peers or the environment.
  4. Emotional or Psychological Issues: The intense emotional experiences of gifted individuals can be misdiagnosed as emotional or psychological disorders, overlooking the link between their emotional intensity and giftedness.
  5. Incompatibility with School Environment: Conflicts arising from a mismatch between a gifted student’s learning needs and the school’s offerings might be seen as the student’s inability to adapt, rather than a signal that the educational environment doesn’t align with their needs.

Recognizing and addressing these issues is crucial for educators, parents, and the gifted individuals themselves. Proper identification and support can transform the educational experience for gifted students, fostering engagement, achievement, and well-being. Schools and educators equipped with an understanding of giftedness can create differentiated learning experiences that cater to the diverse needs of gifted students, helping them to thrive academically and personally.

Q. Next, let’s look at relationships and social life – especially the relationship with parents and partners, and peer groups.

A. The impact of undiagnosed giftedness on relationships and social life can be profound, affecting connections with parents, partners, and peer groups. Understanding these dynamics is crucial for fostering healthier relationships and social interactions.

Struggles in Relationships and Social Life due to Undiagnosed Giftedness

  1. Intense Emotions and Sensitivities: Gifted adults often experience emotions more intensely, which can lead to misunderstandings or conflicts with partners, family, and friends who may not share or understand this intensity.
  2. Feeling Misunderstood or Isolated: The intellectual and emotional depth of gifted individuals can make them feel misunderstood or isolated, as they may struggle to find others who share their interests or understand their perspectives.
  3. Divergent Interests and Values: Gifted adults may have eclectic or intense interests that are not shared by their peers or partners, leading to a sense of disconnection.
  4. Communication Challenges: Their advanced vocabulary or complex way of expressing thoughts can sometimes create barriers in communication with others who might not resonate with or understand their level of expression.
  5. Asynchronous Development: Especially in younger gifted individuals, the mismatch between their intellectual maturity and their emotional or social development can complicate interactions with peers and adults.

Common Misinterpretations

  1. Perceived Arrogance or Aloofness: The deep, analytical nature of gifted individuals can be mistaken for arrogance or aloofness, especially if they engage in debates or discuss topics with a level of depth that others find overwhelming.
  2. Lack of Empathy: Their intense focus on interests or ideas can be misinterpreted as a lack of empathy or concern for others, even though they may experience deep empathy and sensitivity.
  3. Social Ineptitude: Challenges in finding common ground with peers can be misconstrued as social ineptitude or awkwardness, rather than a reflection of their unique perspective and depth of thought.
  4. Over-Emotionality or Drama: The intense emotional life of gifted individuals can be misunderstood as over-emotionality or drama, rather than a natural aspect of their giftedness.
  5. Unrealistic Expectations: Gifted individuals may have high expectations for relationships and may be seen as demanding or hard to please, when they are simply seeking depth and authenticity in their connections.

For gifted adults, understanding the impact of their giftedness on their relationships can be enlightening and relieving. It can help them navigate their social world more effectively and foster more meaningful connections. For their partners, family members, and friends, this understanding can lead to more empathy and support, facilitating stronger and more fulfilling relationships. It’s crucial for gifted individuals to find supportive communities and relationships where their traits are appreciated and where they can connect on a deep and authentic level.

Q. Next, let’s look at emotional and psychological well being

A. Undiagnosed giftedness significantly influences the emotional and psychological well-being of individuals, presenting unique challenges that can often be misunderstood or overlooked.

Struggles in Emotional and Psychological Well-Being due to Undiagnosed Giftedness

  1. Overexcitabilities: Gifted adults often experience intense forms of physical and emotional overexcitabilities, leading to heightened emotional responses that can be overwhelming or difficult to manage.
  2. Existential Depression: They may grapple with existential questions and concerns from a young age, leading to feelings of existential depression or a persistent sense of searching for meaning and purpose.
  3. Perfectionism: A common trait among gifted individuals is a tendency toward perfectionism, which can contribute to anxiety, stress, and feelings of inadequacy when they fail to meet their own high standards.
  4. Isolation: Feeling different from others can lead to social isolation, either because gifted individuals withdraw or because they are excluded by peers who do not share or understand their intensity and interests.
  5. Impostor Syndrome: Despite their abilities, gifted adults may struggle with impostor syndrome, feeling that they are not as competent as others perceive them to be, which can undermine their self-esteem and confidence.

Common Misinterpretations

  1. Mood Disorders: The intense emotions and sensitivities of gifted individuals can be mistaken for mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder or depression, leading to misdiagnosis or inappropriate treatment.
  2. Anxiety Disorders: The perfectionism and high self-expectations common among gifted individuals can be misinterpreted as anxiety disorders, without recognizing the root cause in their gifted traits.
  3. Antisocial Behavior: The tendency for gifted adults to seek solitude or engage in deep, introspective thought can be misinterpreted as antisocial behavior or a lack of interest in socializing.
  4. Eccentricity or Oddness: The unique perspectives and behaviors of gifted individuals can be viewed as eccentricity or oddness, rather than expressions of their complex inner lives and intellectual curiosity.
  5. Emotional Instability: The deep emotional experiences and overexcitabilities can be misperceived as emotional instability, rather than as a component of their giftedness.

For emotional and psychological well-being, it’s crucial for gifted adults to understand how their giftedness impacts their inner experiences. Recognition and acceptance of their unique traits can lead to healthier coping strategies and a more compassionate self-view. Therapy or counseling with professionals who understand giftedness can be particularly beneficial, as it offers a space to explore these complexities and develop strategies for managing the associated challenges. Additionally, connecting with communities or groups that understand and share these experiences can provide valuable support and a sense of belonging.

Q. And finally, let’s look at personal development and self-identity – please expand on this one in more detail than the previous ones 🙂

A. Personal development and self-identity are profoundly influenced by undiagnosed giftedness. The journey of understanding one’s giftedness is intertwined with the broader exploration of self, impacting various facets of personal growth and identity formation.

Struggles in Personal Development and Self-Identity due to Undiagnosed Giftedness

  1. Self-Acceptance: Gifted adults often struggle with accepting themselves fully, especially if their attributes or sensitivities have been criticized or undervalued. This struggle can impede their ability to embrace their unique talents and qualities.
  2. Asynchronous Development: Gifted individuals can experience uneven development in intellectual, emotional, and social domains, leading to feelings of being out of sync with peers. This asynchrony can challenge the formation of a coherent self-identity.
  3. Value Conflicts: Gifted adults may have deep-seated values and beliefs that differ from the mainstream, causing internal conflict and difficulty in aligning their external lives with their inner values.
  4. Identity Exploration: The multipotentiality common among gifted individuals can lead to ongoing exploration and sometimes confusion about their true passions and paths, complicating the development of a stable sense of identity.
  5. Alienation: Feeling fundamentally different from others can lead to a sense of alienation, impacting the individual’s self-concept and feelings of belonging.

Expanded Insight into Personal Development and Self-Identity

Identity Formation Challenges: Gifted adults often navigate a complex process of identity formation, balancing their intellectual capabilities with emotional depth and societal expectations. They may question who they are at their core and how their giftedness shapes their identity, leading to a nuanced and sometimes turbulent journey of self-discovery.

Multiplicity of Interests: The vast range of interests that many gifted adults possess can be both a gift and a curse. While it allows them to explore various domains of knowledge and skill, it can also lead to feelings of fragmentation or lack of cohesion in their self-identity. They may wonder if they are destined to be a jack-of-all-trades but master of none, or struggle to integrate their diverse passions into a singular sense of self.

Internal vs. External Perceptions: Gifted individuals often grapple with a disconnect between how they see themselves and how they are perceived by others. They may feel misunderstood or pigeonholed based on their abilities or achievements, leading to a conflict between their internal identity and external labels or expectations.

Existential and Philosophical Engagements: The propensity for deep existential thought can significantly impact the self-identity of gifted adults. They might engage in ongoing philosophical inquiries about their place in the world, the nature of existence, and the meaning of life, which can be both enriching and isolating.

Navigating Norms and Expectations: Gifted adults may feel pressure to conform to societal norms or to downplay their abilities to fit in, which can be at odds with their authentic selves. The tension between wanting to belong and the desire to remain true to oneself can be a central theme in their personal development. To support their personal development and self-identity, gifted adults benefit from environments and relationships that acknowledge and celebrate their unique traits. Engaging in communities where they can share experiences and explore their identities with others who understand can be incredibly affirming. Counseling or coaching that specializes in giftedness can also provide valuable guidance, helping individuals to integrate their various aspects into a cohesive and empowered sense of self. Ultimately, recognizing and embracing their giftedness can lead to a more fulfilling and authentic life, where personal development is aligned with their true nature.

Q. Please include common misinterpretations – in detail with specific examples

A. In the context of personal development and self-identity, gifted adults often face misinterpretations that can skew their understanding of themselves and how they are perceived by others. These misunderstandings can have significant implications for their self-esteem, relationships, and life choices.

Common Misinterpretations in Personal Development and Self-Identity

  1. Being Labeled as Arrogant or Aloof: Gifted adults who are confident in their abilities or who simply share their knowledge and insights can be misinterpreted as arrogant or aloof. For example, a gifted adult who offers a detailed explanation in a group setting might be seen as showing off, rather than genuinely trying to contribute to the discussion.
  2. Perceived as Underachievers: When gifted adults have a multitude of interests but do not conform to traditional measures of success (e.g., climbing the corporate ladder), they might be viewed as underachievers or lacking direction. An individual excelling in diverse fields yet not committing to one may be wrongly seen as lacking focus or commitment.
  3. Misunderstood Social Needs: Their need for deep, meaningful relationships can be misconstrued as being overly intense or demanding. For instance, a gifted adult seeking profound conversations might be misunderstood as being unsatisfied with normal social interactions, leading others to view them as pretentious or unsociable.
  4. Confused with Mental Health Issues: The intense introspection and existential questioning common among gifted individuals can be mistaken for signs of mental health issues. For example, a person deeply contemplating existential themes might be mislabeled as depressed rather than recognized as engaging in a form of intellectual exploration.
  5. Mistaken for Being Unempathetic: Gifted adults, particularly those with a highly analytical mind, might be seen as unempathetic or detached, especially when they approach emotional situations with logic. However, their way of processing emotions can be deeply empathetic, albeit expressed differently.

Specific Examples

  • Career: A gifted individual who switches careers frequently to explore different interests might be judged as lacking perseverance or being indecisive, rather than being recognized for their multipotentiality and desire for growth.
  • Education: A gifted adult who delves into self-education and rejects formal educational paths might be seen as non-conformist or resistant to authority, rather than being appreciated for their autodidactic approach and love of learning.
  • Relationships: If a gifted person prefers fewer but more intense friendships, they may be labeled as picky or elitist, overlooking their need for connections that stimulate their intellect and resonate with their values.
  • Emotional Expression: Their intense emotional experiences might be misconstrued as overreacting or being dramatic, rather than as a natural aspect of their sensitivity and depth of feeling.

Understanding these misinterpretations is crucial for gifted adults as they navigate their path to self-awareness and acceptance. By recognizing these potential misunderstandings, they can better advocate for themselves and seek environments and communities that support their authentic way of being, fostering a healthier and more integrated sense of identity.

Q. Thank you! If we were going to turn this whole thread into a book – write an chapter and chapter section outline for the book, remembering it is written for the gifted adult who is struggling, because they have not yet acknowledged, understood and accepted their giftedness

A. Certainly! Here’s a chapter and section outline for a book aimed at helping gifted adults who are struggling due to unrecognized giftedness. The book would guide them through understanding, acknowledging, and embracing their giftedness to improve their overall well-being and life satisfaction.

Book Title: Embracing Your Hidden Gift: A Journey to Understanding and Acceptance for Gifted Adults

Chapter 1: Discovering Giftedness in Adulthood

  • Section 1.1: Signs of Giftedness in Adults
  • Section 1.2: The Spectrum of Giftedness
  • Section 1.3: Myths and Misconceptions about Gifted Adults
  • Section 1.4: The Importance of Recognizing Giftedness

Chapter 2: The Emotional Landscape of Gifted Adults

  • Section 2.1: Intensity and Sensitivity
  • Section 2.2: Navigating Complex Emotions
  • Section 2.3: The Double-Edged Sword of Empathy
  • Section 2.4: Overcoming Emotional Challenges

Chapter 3: Professional Life and Career

  • Section 3.1: Career Fulfillment and Challenges
  • Section 3.2: Multipotentiality and Career Choices
  • Section 3.3: Workplace Relationships and Dynamics
  • Section 3.4: Strategies for Professional Success

Chapter 4: Educational Experiences

  • Section 4.1: Lifelong Learning and Curiosity
  • Section 4.2: Formal Education vs. Self-Directed Learning
  • Section 4.3: Overcoming Academic Frustrations
  • Section 4.4: Leveraging Educational Experiences

Chapter 5: Relationships and Social Life

  • Section 5.1: Building Meaningful Connections
  • Section 5.2: Challenges in Romantic Relationships
  • Section 5.3: Friendship Dynamics
  • Section 5.4: Family Interactions and Understanding

Chapter 6: Emotional and Psychological Well-Being

  • Section 6.1: Understanding Your Emotional Depth
  • Section 6.2: Mental Health Considerations
  • Section 6.3: Coping with Stress and Anxiety
  • Section 6.4: Seeking Support and Therapy

Chapter 7: Personal Development and Self-Identity

  • Section 7.1: The Quest for Self-Understanding
  • Section 7.2: Nurturing Your Interests and Talents
  • Section 7.3: Values, Beliefs, and Giftedness
  • Section 7.4: Crafting a Cohesive Self-Identity

Chapter 8: Overcoming Misinterpretations and Misdiagnoses

  • Section 8.1: Common Misinterpretations in Various Life Aspects
  • Section 8.2: Navigating Misdiagnoses
  • Section 8.3: Advocating for Yourself
  • Section 8.4: Finding Gifted-Aware Support

Chapter 9: Embracing and Expressing Your Giftedness

  • Section 9.1: Accepting Your Gifted Nature
  • Section 9.2: Integrating Giftedness into Your Life
  • Section 9.3: The Role of Creativity and Innovation
  • Section 9.4: Contributing Your Unique Gifts to the World

Chapter 10: Building a Supportive Community

  • Section 10.1: Connecting with Other Gifted Adults
  • Section 10.2: Online and Offline Gifted Communities
  • Section 10.3: Creating Your Support Network
  • Section 10.4: The Power of Mentorship and Role Models

Chapter 11: Planning for the Future

  • Section 11.1: Setting Personal and Professional Goals
  • Section 11.2: Lifelong Learning and Growth
  • Section 11.3: Envisioning Your Future Self
  • Section 11.4: Legacy and Impact

Chapter 12: Resources and Further Reading

  • Section 12.1: Books and Articles
  • Section 12.2: Online Resources and Communities
  • Section 12.3: Workshops and Conferences
  • Section 12.4: Professional Services and Support for Gifted Adults

This outline aims to provide a comprehensive guide to help gifted adults navigate the complexities of their experiences, offering insights, strategies, and resources to foster a deeper understanding and acceptance of their giftedness, leading to a more fulfilling and authentic life.

Network Marketing

I was asked about success in network marketing recently..

As always, it’s important to make distinctions. Let’s look at the separate aspects of this:

  1. Network marketing itself
  2. Personal development/self-growth
  3. Self-image/self-awareness
  4. A mentor/coach

Network Marketing

To succeed in network marketing – you need to build a large network of people, which product flows through.

The larger your network – the more product flows through, and the larger your earnings.

So success in network marketing is directly related to how many people join your network – either through you personally, or through your downline.

So the metric for success – is “how many people did you ask to look at the business?” – and track that number every single day.

That number is your success metric. We have no control of other people – so we’re not really too concerned with how many people say yes – we do have control over ourselves, our behaviours – what we’re really tracking is our ability to drive our own behaviours – especially new behaviours that feel uncomfortable – i.e. asking people to look at the business.

Again – importantly – it’s doesn’t really matter what people say.. what matters, is how many people you are asking every day – to simply take a look at network marketing.

Of course – there are many different ways – better ways and not so good ways to “ask” – but the bottom line – is how many people do you ask that question of. Bottom line. A number – every day – how many people did you ask to look at network marketing.

I’ve clarified the ways to ask at the bottom..

Personal Development

If you are one of the lucky ones – if you have already achieved financial success in your previous endeavours – then network marketing will be no different – you will already have the skills and experience and confidence to approach and “sign-up” people relatively easily. You will succeed without much real need for growth or change.

However – if your previous success is not at the level you need to earn you the money you want – then there is some personal growth required, some self-development. And the more you “grow” and build skills and confidence, the more you easily will earn and the more easily you will succeed.

A good measure of where you are on your development journey – is either:

  1. What is the most money you have earned previously – as an annual income? This is a good measure of your level of awareness.
  2. Complete a very unique and unusual profile instrument, that directly measures your self-confidence, your self-belief (and your natural talents).

Bottom line – if you are not already comfortable operating at a high level of success, there is self-development work to do.

But super importantly – this is not learning new skills, nor is it learning about network marketing.

It’s about upgrading your hidden self-image. (Which the unique profile measures too incidentally).

How do we track our true level of awareness? – Look at our bank balance. 🙂


This is really where the work needs to be done.

Mostly unconsciously – you will always create/manifest/justify/find yourself in – a world that is in complete alignment with your hidden self-image. Your results will always be congurent with your hidden self-image. In fact, it is such a powerful relationship – that if you change your hidden self-image – your external results simply have to change to align. Your results cannot be out of alignment with your hidden self-image.

Your self-image is built out of beliefs, and values – meanings – that were formed in early life usually – what we call conditioning. And all of these beliefs, values, meaning, “realities” – form both your “working model” of who you believe you truly are – and also – importantly – a working model of the world in which you live. Your reality.

When you change these working models – you change both who you are, and the world you live in.

In order to understand how to change them, you need to know how they were formed. And it’s a simple cause and effect relationship at it’s most basic level.

When you can identify a belief that is limiting your level of success – you simply need to “prove” to your subconscious mind – that it is not true – and you do this by proving it experientially. You need to physically experience a new reality – that directly disproves your existing/previous reality. Which, usually requires that you do the thing which scares you – to prove that it is not scary/dangerous/true.

For most people – the fear that stops them asking 5 people a day to look at network marketing – is simply the fear of rejection, the fear of shame, humiliation, the fear of feeling “not good enough” or not “loved”. With millions of years of evolution as a mammalian species, we are hard wired to “belong”. Rejection, abadonment, failure, shame – all trigger that primal fear of separation and exclusion from the group – which would typically lead to death (as a small powerless mammalian creature that requires parental feeding, care and protection).

So in simple terms – we have to find a way – the courage – to ask 5 people a day to look at the business. But in a way that is in harmony with who we believe we are – that feels right. We cannot.. and will not – ask people to look at the business, of we don’t believe deep down it is a good thing. So it’s important to also understand what network marketing really is.

Linda Proctor’s life (income) was transformed radically when she met Bob – by Linda doing just one thing that Bob asked. He asked her to make sure she was stood in front of a prospect at 9am every morning – and that she asked that prospect to buy $100k of life insurance. When Bob asked her to do that, she thought it would be easy. It sounds easy. But it wasn’t. But she did it anyway. And that change in her behaviour, changed her beliefs about herself, changed her self image, and ultimately her level of self-awareness – all leading to her life reflecting the new self-image – which was transformed into the self-image of a millionaire.

If you want to succeed in network marketing – ask 5 people a day – every day – to look at the business. Understand that this is what will drive your personal growth, this is what will prove to you that you can do this, and this is what will change your self-image. This is what will ensure you succeed.

And understand that it will almost certainly feel ‘wrong’ or uncomfortable. Until it doesn’t anymore 🙂

(How do we accurately track our level of self-awareness? Measure it using the only instrument that accurately measures it. The Coaching Profile)

The Mentor/Coach

Of course – implicit in this story of Linda and Bob Proctor – was the fact that Linda found someone who both understood the process of creating successful change – and believed in Linda – and was there to support her as she came up against conditioned fears, old self-limiting beliefs, and plain old fear. What Bob calls the terro barrier. Notice it’s not called the “fear” barrier, or the “I don’t fancy doing that” barrier.. it’s called the “terror” barrier for a reason.

Finding a mentor is really about finding someone who can see in you and believe in – the person you have the potential to become – before you can see and believe in that version of you yourself. You have to find someone you can trust – to tell you what you need to do – because it won’t make sense to you at your current level of awareness – or – more problematically – it will make sense but in a wrong and incorrect way. You need to trust that person – trust they know what they are doing, and that they can see your “successful” self before you can. And just do that simple thing:

Talk to 5 people every day – and find a way that works for you – to simply ask them to look at the business.

It doesn’t matter whether they say yes or nor, whether they are open or not, whether they get offended or not. What matters – is only that you ask them to look at the business.

And – for the new starter – it is easier than ever – because you don’t need to know anything. In fact, it’s better to not know – because then you naturally rely on your upline to do the presenting, instead of thinking you need to do it yourself.

It’s literally as easy as asking someone if they are happy with their life/work etc. What would they change if they could? Would they like more time with their kids, more money, a new car, a bigger house, a better lifestyle. Most people will be curious at least. And then – you simply ask them to jump on a call with someone who has done it already – and can show them how to do it if they’re interested. That person you asked will then either be interested or not.

That’s it. Your upline does the work. All you do is find out what people want – and then ask them to jump on a call with someone who knows how to do it, how to get it. They’ll make their own mind up – and it doesn’t matter what they decide. You asking 5 people a day, is all you need to change your own life.

Ways to Ask

What I’ve learned personally over the years, is that people on some levels are the same – and on some levels we’re very different. Yes, we’re all people with the same basic needs – but we’re also all unique with different beliefs, talents, interests, styles of working and motivations.

It helps to have an idea of the kind of person you’re talking to – so that you ask in the right way for them.

The easiest way to ‘connect’ with another person, is to first get to know them, and what they really want, or don’t want. When you dig down deep enough, people don’t actually want money itself – they want what they think money will give them – such as freedom to travel, time with family, the thrill of driving an expensive new car.

Once you know what a person really wants – you can then offer them the opportunity to jump on a call with a person who has already done it – to hear how they did it. You don’t even have to mention network marketing. Your upline can do all that work – because they’re speaking from a place of truth – about how network marketing changed their lives. You can’t do that yourself – not yet..

Network marketing provides the three things that cover all ‘wants’ – health, time freedom and money freedom. With those – a person can have whatever they want! But let your upline do the work – you just find people who are curious enough to jump on a call with someone who has done it, and will share how they did it, and answer questions from your prospect.


p.s. Even if you asked just one person a day – you would still be wildly successful and outperform 99% of people in network marketing. It would just take longer.

Buckminster Fuller

Buckminster Fuller: My Mental Autobiography

Loved the book.. here are the popular highlights..

Chapter 1: Unconditioned Thinking

  • What I thought we really ought to be doing was saying what does my experience teach me needs to be done that nobody’s attending to?
  • So I thought I would have to do everything I could to uncondition myself from anything I learned to believe, and go totally on what I had learned by experience. My thinking must always be experience.

Chapter 2: Process to Find Purpose

  • You’ll find out in due course whether if what you’re doing is what you should be doing, because you’ll find yourself surviving by what seems to be pure accident, absolute pure accident. No direct connection whatsoever.

Chapter 3: Future Thinking

  • I saw one thing that individuals can do right away and do it fast is think. A bureaucrat just isn’t allowed to think. You’re not going to be able to make a difference involved with that. Most of the thinking immediately involves you in seeing things that need to be donethat are going to take 45 years, 50 years, maybe 100 years. No corporation or political system will have the time horizon in view. They can’t afford it, the payoff isn’t there. I found society really tied up with very shortsighted way, with this year’s profit, this year’s crop, this year’s politics, next election.

Chapter 4: Evolutionary Tranformations

  • The mechanism was the ability to commit yourself to think about what needs to be thought about, whatever the size of the thing. Not worrying about time, not worrying about how you’re going to pay for things. But to really commit yourself, you must work very hard at it. You must do everything possible that is intelligent.
  • Another thing I decided was to never ask anybody to listen to me. I woudl only talk to human beings when they ask me to talk to them. I’m still very, very strict about this. I’m confident that people are not listening when you ask them to listen to you. They ony listen to you when they ask you to talk to them.
  • I must go into physical actions, and not just give my idea to somebody else to execute, or try to persuade other people.
  • I’m talking about an environmental alteration, rather than trying to reform human beings.
  • Environment to each must be, all there is that isn’t me. Universe in turn must be, all there is that isn’t me, and me.
  • I saw we were all processes. Whether we like it or not, we are chemical processes. A great deal of our time is preoccupied in attending to those processes. Anything I might do to accommodate your processes in less time would give you more time to really live. If I could cut down the numbers of hours and minutes that anybody else has to put into taking care of a chore, then that woudl allow them to have more time to pursue their own direction.

Chapter 5: Ordering Experience


Chapter 6: Results

  • One of the most important things to bear in mind is that there’s nothing one can budget. You can’t say I’m going to be able to afford to do that at all. You just have to say, what needs to be done and what do you need to know in order to be able to do it completely?

The Measurement of Value

by Robert S. Hartman

Research Professor in Philosophy. National University of Mexico & Chair of Excellence, Department of Philosophy, University of Tennessee

Originally prepared for the Director of Personnel at General Electric, Crotonville, New York April 29, 1959

A Short Introduction to Axiology


The subject of this short presentation will be “The Measurement of Intangibles.”

What are intangibles and how can they be measured?

The important choices we have to make in life and, I believe, in business, are based on intangibles.

Think, for example, of the choice of your wife. How in the world do you choose her? What do you have to go by? You know very well that if you would have a list of specifications of wives and you would carry that along when you were looking for girls and you would find one with all the specifications, then you wouldn’t marry her because you wouldn’t like her. There have been cases like this.

What is it then, that you base your choice upon? It is an intangible.

In business, suppose you have to choose a labourer. There isn’t much difficulty in doing that because you can put down in writing the specifications of that job and if he can raise a hammer and carry a heavy load than he will be a good labourer.

But how do you choose the president of a company? What specifications can you write down for the president of a company like General Electric who has to make decisions of hundreds of millions of dollars in terms of hundreds of thousands of employees?

How about the choice of the President of the United States? Why did you vote for Eisenhower instead of Stevenson or for Stevenson instead of Eisenhower? What did you go by? Why did they vote for Truman as against Dewey? I bet many did because Dewey had a moustache.


So, what are these tremendously important choices based upon? Can the intangibles be measured? You will say, “of course not, it is impossible, it can’t be done.”

Well, I agree up to a point – because the science of measuring those intangibles is in its infancy. But I want to remind you that also in the natural sciences, where you have the precision measurements on which General Electric is based, there was a time when all these ‘tangibles’, as you might call them, of measurement today, were absolutely intangible.

That was before Galileo had invented the marvellous application of mathematics to nature. For us today, it seems absolutely natural, a tangible thing, that if you go a hundred miles in two hours you have a speed of fifty miles per hour.

But for Galileo to produce the equation v = s/t was a tremendous achievement, and of such importance that it actually destroyed the medieval world. And, as you know, it almost killed him.

Why? Because he did something tremendous. He made the intangible tangible – and he did it in such a way that those who liked the intangibles more that the tangibles didn’t like it. What was the intangible that he made tangible?

Before Galileo, motion or movement was defined by Aristotle, in his Physics, as ‘the transition of potentiality into actuality.’

This was the Aristotelian definition of movement of things, of animals, of the soul, of God, of the limbs of the human body, and so on. This was called Natural Philosophy and on this you could not have built General Electric.

So Galileo did something absolutely unique and at that time unheard of.

First of all, he said, “I am only interested in the motion of objects,” – mechanical motion as we call it today. Therewith he toppled the whole Aristotelian world picture; he “secularized” movement.

Secondly he said, “I will measure such motion with measuring instruments,” and therewith he toppled the metaphysical view of the world. Since ‘falling’ was too fast to measure, he put balls on inclined planes, designed a water clock and measured, and the result was the little formula, that “v” equals the mathematical division between space and time, v = s/t.

Then he said the following.

“If this formula is correct according to my measurements, then I don’t have to look at observations of mechanical motion any more at all. All I have to do is look at what this equation means.

And what does it mean? For example, it means that vt = s.

If this is true, then it is also true that s is a rectangle with the sides v and t.

If this is true, I will try to see what are the properties of this rectangle and that, then, will give me the space of motion.”

And when you opened Galileo’s great book, Two New Sciences (1638), all you find is drawings of rectangles, triangles, and so on and, as you know, he said, “The book of nature is written in rectangles and triangles, in geometrical symbols,” and this is the beginning of modern science.

Now, this was the development from natural philosophy to natural science, and on this little formula is based the whole of modern science. It formulates uniform motion, then came the formula for accelerated motion, a = ½ gt2 , then the system of Newton, combining Galileo’s and Kepler’s formulae, the system of Einstein, and the atomic bomb. All this was based on the break by Galileo with Aristotelian physics. The book called Physics by Aristotle contained intangibles which Galileo
made tangible.


Aristotle also wrote a book called Ethics – the Nicomachean Ethics (his son was Nicomachos). Today when we teach ethics we teach the ethics of Aristotle and similar moral philosophies. Thus today we combine Einsteinian physics with Aristotelian ethics.

We have a disequilibrium of tremendous proportions: technological development in natural science and absolute stand-still in moral philosophy. We are morally at the stage of Aristotle.

Some of us philosophers, when we were students, thought that this situation was rather lopsided and that we must do to Aristotle’s Ethics what Galileo had done to Aristotle’s Physics.

We had to take the philosophical definition of goodness of Aristotle (and, by the way, “transition from potentiality to actuality” may also be regarded as an Aristotelian definition of value – it means just as little or as much for value as it does for motion) and we had to change it into something that meant as much for value as the Galilean definition for motion.

So our task, we figured, was to find an exact definition of value, of goodness in terms of either a mathematical or logical relation which would be as applicable and as developable as the Galilean definition of motion. This definition was finally found and I will in the time I have, give you the principles of it. We are today in the rudimentary beginnings of a science of value, you might say the first ten years of Galileo. If you remember how long it took to go from Galileo to General Electric,
then you will understand the tremendous development that is ahead in the science of value.


Now, what is a science? A science is nothing but the application of a formal frame of reference to a chaos of phenomena. In other words, you have the chaos of moving things. Aristotle tried to order this by words like “potentiality,” “actuality,” and the like, but these words themselves are disorder. For what is potentiality?

If you want to define it you have to define it by words, these words have to be defined, and the definitions defined, and the definitions of the definitions defined, and so on ad infinitum. Such a nest of definitions within definitions itself represents no order, or only a very rudimentary one.

However, if you take a system like mathematics – and the great achievement of Galileo was the line between the s and the t in the formula for velocity, v = s/t which represents the arithmetical division – then you are within a framework that is systematized and you can then apply this system to the chaos. You take points in the system and apply them to points in the chaos, and the order between points in the system is the order between the points in the chaos.

On this relationship between a formal system and phenomenal chaos is based all scientific definition. The minute a ray of light was defined as a straight line, the science of optics was born: the system of geometry could be used to account for rays of light, for “straight line” is a notion in the system in geometry.

Thus, a science is a combination of a formal system, whether it be mathematics in physics or theory of harmony in music or axiology in value, to a chaotic set of phenomena, be they natural phenomena or musical sounds or value situations.

So today we have the following view of science. You have the various natural sciences which are ordered by mathematics, namely physics, chemistry, astronomy, and so on, each applied to a set of natural situations. For example, a situation such as a cyclist cycling, is ordered by the science of physics which is ordered by mathematics and mathematics is itself ordered by logic; so that in the last instance the mechanical situation is ordered by logic. All natural science is, in the last instance, applied logic.


Now, we figured about twenty years ago, there are also value situations – such as I said before – choosing my wife, choosing the president of a company, or to give you another example, the flight of the airplane Enola Gay to Hiroshima. The pilot wrote in the log book the wind velocity, the weather and everything, at this exact minute we released the atomic bomb, angle so-and-so, weight so-andso, weather so-and-so, etc., all the details mechanically, aerodynamically, meteorologically, of the flight.

But at the end of these entries in the log book are these words, “My God, what have we done?” As you know, the pilot had to go under psychiatric care; he had such a tremendous guilt complex that he couldn’t hold a job, committed petty crimes, and so on.

Now everything in this log book entry up to these last words is natural science, mathematics, physics, astronomy, chemistry – but these last words, “My God, what have we done ?” – that is a moral question, something in the field of value. If we had value sciences, say, ethics, religion, aesthetics, and so on, all these value situations would be ordered by the corresponding sciences.

But if they are to be sciences then there must be a formal frame of reference which must order these sciences as mathematics orders the natural sciences; and this formal frame of reference is what we call formal axiology, from the Greek word “axios” meaning “valuable.”

This notion “formal axiology,” was already coined in the year 1903 by the German philosopher Husserl. Formal axiology must be a kind of logic just as mathematics is a kind of logic but it must be a different kind of logic; and what kind of logic, that was, was precisely the question.

So, what I want to develop for you very shortly, and only in principle, are the foundations of the science of formal axiology, as that science which does for value situations and value sciences what mathematics does for natural situations and natural sciences.


I shall now give you the definition of good or value, not in words which don’t mean anything and which the books are full of, like potentiality, actuality, or self-realization, purpose, pleasure, satisfaction, and the like. With these words you can’t do anything for they are themselves undefined. Rather, I will do it in terms of exact logical relations. Before I do that, we must be absolutely clear that what will be defined is good in the general sense and not in the moral sense. In other words, when I say -“He is a good murderer,” – I do not mean that morally. I mean he murders well. A murderer is good if he murders well but that does not mean that he is morally good; on the contrary he is morally bad.

If I say, “She’s a good girl,” I don’t mean it the way you hear it, because that is the moral use of goodness. I mean it in the way that she’s got everything that a girl has got to have, and that (allows for the fact that) she might, morally, be a bad girl. I mean axiological goodness. Or if I say, “The better your conscience the worse it is,” then you have both uses in one sentence. The axiologically good conscience is a sensitive conscience. If you have a sensitive conscience then, of course, it will be a bad conscience morally more often than when you have an axiologically bad conscience which is an insensitive conscience. So, an axiologically good conscience will be often a morally bad conscience because it’s sensitive, and an axiologically bad conscience will be more often a morally good conscience because it’s insensitive. We have two levels of language here which must not be mixed up. Their mixing up has been the curse of ethics for two thousand years, although Plato already made the distinction crystal-clear; but Aristotle messed it all up.


Now then, let us define goodness axiologically. In that same year 1903 there was an English philosopher by the name of G. E. Moore, from whom stems the whole development that I’m explaining to you. After much reflection Moore wrote a book called Principia Ethica, the title patterned after Newton’s Principia Mathematica Philosophae Naturalis, The Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.

Moore wrote Principia Ethica as the preface to any future ethics that pretends to be scientific. However he didn’t get very far in founding the science of Ethics. The gist of the book is that there is good and that it is indefinable. The book, therefore, is very short. Yet, what it says is fundamental, namely;

  1. There is good and good is not anything else but good, nothing like satisfaction, pleasure, and so on; and
  2. But nobody can possibly know what it is.

Then Moore goes back into the history of ethics and shows how everybody had messed things up, mixing up goodness itself with things that are good, starting from Aristotle up to Moore – and he’s right.

When we were students we thought that that was an awful situation. What is goodness is not definable, and what is definable is not goodness. What we had to find then, was Goodness which is definable. G. E. Moore himself gave us some help. In 1922 he came up with a kind of definition and in 1943 with a little more of it, the gist of it all being as follows:

“Two things are true of goodness;

    1. It is not a natural property and
    2. Although it is not a natural property it depends entirely upon the natural properties of the thing that is said to be good.”

Let me explain this, “Good is not a natural property.” A natural property is a property of the senses which describes a thing. This desk here is brown, high, with a microphone, and so on. These are the sense properties of this desk and they describe it. Now, says Moore, “Good is not a natural property.”

Let’s take a chair. A chair is a knee-high structure with a seat and a back. These are the natural properties of the chair which describe it and which you learn as a kid. Good, according to Moore, is also a property of the chair, but isn’t any of these (natural properties). It’s a value property. “And if only I knew”, he said, “how this value property depends upon all those natural properties then I would know what is goodness.”

Well, we produced this definition, in a very simple way. But first let me illustrate what Moore said with another example. Let’s say that I have my automobile standing out there on the parking lot and I forgot my key, and I say to one of you, “Pray be kind enough and go outside and get me the key out of the car.” And you say, “Which car is it ?” and I say “Oh, it’s a good car.” Will you ever find it ? You won’t. Good is not a natural property.

When I say, “It is a good car,” I have not described the car. You don’t know whether it’s a Ford, Oldsmobile, Chevy, how many doors, what {kind of} tires, you know nothing of the car. You don’t know the natural properties. Yet, you do know a great deal about the car, you know it’s a good car.

What does that mean ? It does have tires; it does have a motor; it does have a door; and when you push the accelerator it will accelerate; when you push the brake it will brake, and not the other way around, all that you know just by my saying, “It’s a good car” – and yet you know nothing of the car itself.

Now, there’s the clue. What we did was a very simple thing. For Moore, there was no relation between descriptive properties and value properties. We put in a relation.

What we did was this: “A thing is good if it has all its descriptive properties.” [all of the attributes of the fully defined concept]

This is the fundamental definition of value of formal axiology.

It is both simple and obvious. Take anything that you call good, and you will see that you call it good because it has all its properties. This is a good chalk because it writes and it has all the other properties of chalk. Anything that you know has all its properties you may call good. From this definition, follows the system of axiology, for it is a logical definition of value, and logic is a system.

It means that the measurement of value is the concept of the thing in question. This concept you have in your mind.

We are now getting close to the measurement of intangibles.


Goodness is an intangible. It’s none of the descriptive properties that you can see or hear or smell or taste, yet you can measure it with absolute precision. The measure is no more tangible than is mathematics. It’s the concept of the thing that you learn by learning language. In other words, language itself has within it the measurement of value, it is value measurement. Let us see what this means.

Let’s take that chair again. The concept “chair” is in quotes, the actual chair is standing there. The concept chair is not a chair. The concept is in the dictionary, you look it up if you don’t know it. So the concept chair has one, two, three, four properties – “knee-high,” “structure,” “a seat,” and “a back.”

The set of these properties is called the intension or meaning of the concept and the set of chairs that are, have been, or will be, is called the extension or class of the concept. The concept chair, then, looks logically as follows:

You learn the intension or meaning of the concept as a kid. How? By asking mother. What’s this? A Chair. What’s this? A girl. What’s this? A mirror. My little boy, when he came to the ocean first, looked in and said, “Daddy, mirror!” I said, “No. This mirror is liquid.” I added another property. I said, “Such a liquid mirror is called water.” So you learn the words of the language, learning their meaning as a set of properties, and this set of properties is the measurement of value for the things named.

Those of you who have read the autobiography of Helen Keller will remember the tremendous excitement of a child on learning names, when her tutor Miss Robinson spelled into her hand the word W-A-T-E-R. The excitement is not only because the name names, but also because it values.

A good chair, then, has all the properties you learn chairs have. It is a knee-high structure with a seat and a back. Now if a chair is nothing but a back it’s a pretty poor chair. It’s a good back but a bad chair. There you have another little beautiful thing of our simple definition. Anything which is good if it has the totality of its properties is not good when it has less than the totality of its properties.

But it is also true that any set of properties can be looked at in terms of some concept. Take any set of properties and you can always find a concept for them.

So that a bad chair with legs and a seat but no back is a good stool – because it fulfils the properties of the stool, and a bad house is a good ruin, and a bad car is a good jalopy.

Here you have the difference between the pessimist and the optimist. The pessimist always finds the concept which is not fulfilled by the properties at hand, and the optimist always finds the concept which is fulfilled by the properties at hand. So the pessimist says, “I have a lousy car” and the optimist says, “I have a lovely jalopy.”

In other words, the famous saying that for the optimist the glass of water is half full and for the pessimist it is half empty, means in logical terms, that for the optimist the concept is half full and for the pessimist it is half empty.


Now, let us look at the definition of value in greater detail. The measure of value of a thing, we said, is the set of properties which defines the thing. So let’s take our chair again, one, two, three, four properties, “knee high,” “structure,” “a seat,” and “a back.”

If it is not knee-high it is not a very good chair. If it is not a structure but wobbles it is not a good chair but it’s a good contraption for circus acrobats. If it has no seat it’s not a good chair and if it has no back it is not a good chair either. Thus, if a particular thing is what it is named to be, for example something called a “chair,” then we call it a good such thing. If this thing here having all the chair properties would be an elephant then it would be a monstrosity.

This is the definition of being not good or of disvalue – transposition of frames of reference.

Let us now use the concept as measure. If the thing has all the conceptual, or intensional, properties, we call it good.

Let us say that the number of properties contained in any conceptual intension is P, whatever that may be. A good chair, or a good anything, has P properties.

If it has half the properties it is a so-so or average thing and has P/2 properties. If it has more than half the properties it is a fair thing and has P/2 + m properties, where m is less than P/2, m < P/2.

In other words, in the case of the chair, m would be less than P/2, and since P = 4, P/2 is 2 and less than that is 1. The chair would be fair if it had P/2 + m = 2 + 1 = 3 properties. In other cases, of course, fair would be something else. Bad is less than half, P/2 – m, in the case of the chair only one property; it would be pretty bad. In sum, the four values of a thing, goodness, fairness, averageness, and badness, can be measured as follows, using the example where P = 4:

All this is extremely simple. But now look what’s happening. Let us put a girl on the chair so we get some differences of opinion, for if four people look at a chair it is difficult to get real differences of opinion. There she is sitting with four fellows sitting around her. One says, “Boy, that’s a girl!” What does he mean? She’s got all the girl properties; she is P. Another says, “Aw, I don’t think she’s so hot.” What does he mean? Well, she’s so-so, not so hot, not so bad either. He says she’s P/2. The other says, “I think she’s pretty good.” She’s P/2 + m. The fourth says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think she’s awful.” She’s still a girl, but she doesn’t have much of girl qualities. He doesn’t mean to say she’s a bad girl, that wouldn’t be so bad maybe. No, to him she’s P/2 – m.

Now, my question is, what is the value of the situation of the fellows saying this about the girl? Or, what is the value of the girl in the situation with these fellows? What does what they say add up to? Very simple. The one said P, the other P/2, the third P/2 + m, the fourth P/2 – m. So let us add up what they say (P) + (P/2) + (P/2 + m) + (P/2 – m). The result is 2 1/2 P.

This is a peculiar result. Remember, P is the totality of all her qualities. Does she then have more qualities than she has? Indeed she does. And this is the core definition of value: valuation is a play with pure properties.

You abstract from the thing itself and take the properties of the thing as a set with which you play around. Depending upon how you play, you call the thing good, bad, indifferent, and so on.

In other words, fact is only one of the sets of properties that a thing has, and it is that set upon which people most readily agree. This is a desk because it has all the desk properties. We all agree on that. However, when it comes to valuation, you abstract from that factual set and just take the properties of the thing by themselves, playing around with them, arranging and rearranging them in your imagination.

Evaluation is an imaginative play with properties and not looking at the thing itself. And fact itself is only one set of the thing’s properties. This means that valuation is a function of the imagination. You have the capacity of valuation in the degree that you have imagination.

If you lack imagination you will see only facts, like the dejected fellow in the Thurber cartoon about whom the ladies gossip, “He doesn’t know anything except facts.” But facts, being themselves sets of properties, they are not factual at all.

To give you an example, one day I was sitting in my study, my wife came in the door and she kind of coiled back and said, “What’s going on, are you here?” I said, “Sure I am, here I am.” She said, “But the car isn’t in the garage.” I said, “What? It must be stolen!” We rushed to the garage and there big as daylight stood the car. She had been looking in the garage but had not seen it because she thought (imagined) I was out. We see what we conceive to be. Even fact is a part of what we have in our mind.

So, valuation is a play with pure properties; and axiology is the score of that play, just as music is a play with sounds and musical science is the score of that play.

Now, let us continue our play. I can do much more with the sets of girl properties or of chair properties or any other set of properties than merely add. I can subtract, multiply, divide, arrange and rearrange these sets in sub-sets, and the result of all this is value. Let us ask ourselves how many different values a thing can have.

Since the set of properties and each of the sub-sets of this set is a different value, and since according to a well-known formula, a set of P items has 2P – 1 sub-sets, a thing with P properties can have 2P – 1 sub-sets of properties. This number, then, 2P – 1 is the totality of different values which a thing can have.

Now, look what that means. Our chair, for example, has four properties, 24 – 1 = 15. A chair with four properties can have 15 different values. Why? Because it can have one value of goodness; there’s only one set of all properties. In combinational analysis 4C4 = 1. There are 6 ways in which the thing can have two properties,  because 4C2 = 6; hence there are 6 different ways in which the chair can be so-so; it can be knee-high and have a seat but wobble and have no back; it can have a seat and a back but not be knee-high and wobble, and so on. There are 4 ways in which the chair can be fair; and there are 4 ways in which it can be bad, for 4C1 = 4.  Thus, our chair can have one goodness, four fairnesses, six averagenesses, and four badnesses. In toto, a thing can have 2P – 1 values because every sub-set of properties is, by definition, a value.

Let us apply this now, say, to job evaluation. Suppose you have evaluated a job as so many properties, let’s say ten. Then in how many ways can the employee fulfil or not fulfil this job… in 210 – 1 = 1,023 ways. There are 1,023 ways in which the employee can perform or not perform one particular job which is defined by ten  properties.

To be exact, there is 1 way of good performance, 385 ways of fair performance, 252 ways of average performance, and 385 ways of bad performance. By dividing the possible number of performances through the possible total of all performances, we get the percentage of performance expectation: 0.098% for good, 37.64% for fair, 24.64% for average, and 37.64% for bad.

The difference between this theoretical expectation and the actual performance in your shop is an objective measure of your shop performance.

The calculus can, of course, also be applied to gauge the acceptance of your product. If the product, in the mind of the public, is determined by 10 properties, the theoretical expectation of evaluation of it are 210 = 1,024, adding one evaluation {equal to} zero; and there are 385 ways in which the product may appear fair or bad and 252 ways in which it may appear so-so. These ways may in turn be broken down; of the 385 ways in which the thing may appear fair, there are 10 ways in which 9
properties may be accepted, 45 ways in which 8 may be accepted, 120 in which 7 and 210 ways in which 6 properties may be accepted. The corresponding percentages of expectation are, respectively, 0.98, 4.4, 11.73, and 20.53. Again, the actual acceptance as against the possible acceptance is an objective measure of your product’s success.

Here already you have a calculus of value, measuring much that at present is intangible.


However, the calculus has much wider scope. The above application is valid only if properties can be enumerated. But how if they cannot, as in the case of the company president or my wife? Here, it seems, matters become really intangible. Yet, even these values can be made tangible, even they can be measured. Let us see how.

So far we have spoken only of one kind of concept, abstract concepts such as “chair” or “girl.” There are two other kinds of concepts which give rise to two other kinds of values. The three kinds of values are the dimensions of value.


Let us look first at the abstract concept again. Abstract concepts are concepts which are abstracted from the space-time empirical things. In other words, in the world we have all the chairs or girls or what-not and we abstract those properties which all these kinds of objects have in common. The result is the properties of the concept “chair,” “girl,” or “what-not” or “X”.

We had before my little boy who saw the ocean and thought it was a mirror. I had to tell him, “No, it’s liquid, and such a thing is called water or ocean.” I gave him a new concept.

Such concepts, abstracted from sense reality, have the following important characteristic: their properties are denumerable, or enumerable, one by one. For they have been abstracted one by one. You have to take common properties and you just have to learn one by one, one after another, all these properties. A set of items which can be identified one by one is mathematically called a denumerable set. The properties of an abstract concept, thus, are a denumerable set. If I couldn’t enumerate and thus identify them I would not know the thing. Denumerability is the essence of discursive knowledge. But, secondly, how many properties can I abstract that things have in common ? If I have a huge number of things they will have very many properties in common; if I have only two things I can abstract an almost infinite number of common properties. The range of the number of properties that can be abstracted, then, is between one and infinity. Or, the properties of an abstract concept are, at most, denumerably infinite. There is a mathematical sign for such an infinity which is the Hebrew A with a zero. This is mathematically as exact a symbol as any you know.

When an abstract concept is fulfilled or not fulfilled there appear degrees of valuation, goodness, badness, as we have seen. Such values are called extrinsic values because what is valued is not the thing itself but its belonging to a certain class. A good chair is good because it is a good member of the class of chairs.


The second kind of concept is constructions of the human mind – constructs. Have you ever wondered why there are no bad geometrical circles? Because the geometrical circle is defined with such precision in the system of geometry – as “plane closed curve equidistant from a centre” – that if a curve does not have all these properties and lacks just one of them it is not what it was defined to be. It’s not a bad circle; it’s not a circle.

Why aren’t there bad electrons? For the same reason. When a thing seems like an electron and lacks an electron property we cannot call it an electron; and the main endeavour of modern physics is to find out about these “bad” electrons and give them new names: positron, neutron, meson, and so on.

Why are there no bad square roots of minus one? For the same reason. Why is there equity in the law? Because even in the law there are such exact definitions that when a thing lacks a part of the definition it is not what it is defined to be, and in order to relieve the tension between the system and reality, jurists have invented equity and other institutions.

If the systemic rules remain unrelieved you have legal injustices, as in Menotti’s powerful opera The Counsel. Again, you have moral injustices if, for example, you define a human being by a system, say, the system of spectroscopy If you define a human as “white,” and all “non-white” as “non-human” you use a minimum of properties to define a very complex being. Such a definition is a transposition of frames of reference and hence, as we have seen, not good.

Constructs have the following characteristics:

The number of properties is finite. It is a minimum number of properties, say, n. A construct gives rise to only two values, either perfection or non-existence. There are no degrees such as good, bad, indifferent, and so on. This kind of value is called systemic value.

I can apply systemic value to anything, say, my wife, I look at her systemically when I see her as my housekeeper and get mad when the soup isn’t on the table or when she pushes the toothpaste from the top and I at the bottom. But that is not the right way of looking at my wife.

I also can look at my wife extrinsically as a member of the class of wives, compare her with other wives, and so on. But that’s not the right way either.


When I really think of my wife the way I should, she’s unique. The concept “my wife” is a singular concept. How many properties does she have? She has an infinity of properties and I cannot put my finger on any one of these properties. I see her, as the psychologists say, as a “gestalt” or as the mathematicians would say, as a “continuum.” I neither abstract from nor construct her. I live her life, identifying myself with her. She is an intrinsic value. Logically, this means that the properties she has are non-denumerably infinite, and the sign of this is Aleph1.

Let me explain this sign and then give you an example. When we come to transfinite numbers most peculiar things happen. If you take all the rational numbers to infinity you have the odd and even numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4… Now take only the odd numbers, 1, 3, 5, 7… How many odd numbers are there? Infinitely many. This means that there are as many odd numbers as there are odd and even numbers. How many even numbers are there? 2, 4, 6, 8… Again, infinitely many. There are as many even numbers as there are odd and even numbers. So the mathematical definition for a transfinite number is that the part equals the whole.

This is a most peculiar arithmetic, yet, it is as exact an arithmetic as any other arithmetic. Actually, it is much simpler than finite arithmetic. Suppose you deduct an infinity from an infinity, what is the result? Well, an infinity. Now add an infinity to an infinity – again an infinity. Whatever you do you always get an infinity: Aleph – Aleph = Aleph, Aleph + Aleph = Aleph, etc.

The most significant thing is that no subtraction is possible. The only thing that may significantly happen is rise to higher infinities, by exponentiation: Aleph0Alepho = Aleph1.

This is all we need as foundations of axiology. Let me summarize:

  1. Value is the degree in which a thing fulfils its concept.
  2. There are three kinds of concept: abstract, construct, and singular. Correspondingly, there are three kinds of value:
    1. Systemic value is the fulfilment of the construct
    2. Extrinsic value is the fulfilment of the abstract
    3. Intrinsic value is the fulfilment of the singular concept.

The difference between these concepts is that a construct is finite, the abstract is denumerably infinite, and the singular is non-denumerably infinite.

To wrap it all up in an example, let us take a student, say, of mathematics at MIT, John. He’s going on a vacation trip to Europe all alone and while he steps on board the Queen Mary he says to himself, “I’m going to have a good time.” While he thinks this, he has nothing on his mind but a mathematical curve, a kind of sinus curve, belonging to the concept “girl.” He does not think of any girl in particular but, so to speak, the principle of femininity. This is systemic valuation, construction in the mind. He sets up an ideal of some kind.

The next day out on board there’s a little party, quite formal as it is on these European ships. The boys line up on one side of the room, the girls on the other side. John is standing there and over there are samples of the class of girls, in space and time.

Now the concept has enriched itself and, by the way, you may also define valuation as enrichment of properties. The concept m = now is not just a mathematical curve but quite a bit more – the curve has been filled in. In looking over there he uses the concept in his mind, “girl,” with those new properties, to measure what is standing over there, the samples of the class – he weighs in his mind the members of the class in light of the concept – and the word axios is our word “axle,” namely the axle of a scale.

The process of weighing is reflected in his face. On one he says, “Uh uh” and on one “Mmmm” and on this one “Ah!” meaning P (all – so far) properties. So he walks over, asks her to dance, and the dancing itself, of course, is a continuation of the process of valuation, weighing what he has in his arms against what he has in his mind.

Well, let’s say he likes her; let’s call her Mary. They keep company and do have a wonderful time. Extrinsic valuation – she’s the best girl in the axiological sense.

One day before the ship arrives in Southampton there happens a most peculiar, and you might say irrational and intangible, thing were it not for axiology. He wakes up in the morning and suddenly thinks, “Mary – she’s not a girl at all; she’s the only girl in the world.” He knows very well there are one thousand million girls in the world and yet he knows with equal certainty that she’s the only girl in the world.

So, being a mathematician and very logical, he reasons, “If she’s the only girl in the world and I’m a man, and I have to live with a girl, then I have to live with her.” So he writes her a letter which starts as if he had read axiology. “My one and only.” Uniqueness! And the language of the letter is as foreign to mathematics as poetry. “My treasure,” “my world,” “the sun of my life,” and the like. And he adds a “P.S. If you don’t marry me, I’ll jump overboard.”

What has happened? Systemic, extrinsic, and now intrinsic valuation. In intrinsic valuation, since you do not abstract nor construct, how do you know it? By self-identification. He identifies himself with her. They marry and after three months or three years the process goes into reverse. He walks down Main Street and suddenly sees, “Ah, there are girls.” And then he compares Mary with them; extrinsic (comparative) valuation.

Then he goes home and there comes systemic valuation as his housekeeper, as I said before, the soup isn’t ready and she pushes the toothpaste at the wrong end and the linens are not washed (and there’s no milk in the fridge) and he gets mad. He shouts at her, “I’m working all day and the soup isn’t ready,” and she cries and she says, “Now you’re not nice to me,” and he looks at her and there she is again, the one and only girl in the world, and he goes over and says, “I’m so sorry, I  measured you systemically.” And she says, “Yes, you were very bad. I am unique. I am to be measured intrinsically. I am I.”

All right. This wraps up the thing. Now we come to a few applications.


The Axiological Nature of Man: Moral Goodness

The most important thing for all of us to determine: What is a human being? We define a human being as the only thing in the world that has its own definition of itself in itself. That chair over there doesn’t know it’s a chair, but I know that I am I. And no matter how people might look on Mars – they may look like chairs with four legs, who knows? But if they can say “I” and can reflect upon this, then they are human beings.

From this definition of a human being follows a far-reaching consequence. When I say, “I am I,” then I am thinking of myself, that is I think of Me. But I think Me, how about the I that thinks? Since it does the thinking it is not being thought. How can we think of the I that thinks Me? By making it a Me. So, let’s think of it. I think of Me thinking of Me. But now what about this new I? Well, let’s think of it. I think of Me thinking of Me thinking of Me. Again, there appears another I that cannot be
thought of and so on, ad infinitum. By the simple definition of a human being as self-reflective it appears as an infinity. I can never completely reach myself as  thinking.

The peculiar thing is that in one of the first mathematical treatises on infinity German mathematician Dedekind, 1887, used this example to prove the existence of infinite systems. The American philosopher Royce, twelve years later, turned around Dedekind’s proof in order to prove the infinity of the human being. The human being, axiologically, is an actual infinity. Moreover, he is a non-denumerable infinity: for what is true of I and Me is true of any thought I may have. If I think of this chair, I can think of my thinking this chair, and my thinking thinking this chair, and so on, ad infinitum. Each of my thoughts, thus, may be an infinity. If I can have a denumerable infinity of thoughts – as potentially I can – then the infinity of this infinity is non-denumerable, for Aleph0Alepho = Aleph1.

Since a non-denumerable infinity, by our definition, is intrinsic value, the human being is an intrinsic value. This is an objective definition of the worth of a human being. Depending on how I fulfil it in actuality, I am a good or not good human being.

If we now define moral good as the application of intrinsic value to humans, then the goodness in question is moral goodness.

Let us see what this means. Our definition of value was that a thing was good if it fulfils its definition. The definition of a human being is in himself. Hence, a human being is good when he fulfils his own definition of himself. What does this mean? It means that he is morally good if he is as he is. All the words of ethics mean this very same thing, this identification of myself with myself, being sincere, being honest, being genuine, being true to myself, having self-respect – these words mean that I am as I am, that I am myself. This seems to be a very simple thing and yet it’s the most difficult to achieve. For I can define myself in three ways; systemically, extrinsically, and intrinsically.

When I define myself systemically, I put up a system, I construct something as myself which I’m not at all. And you probably know some people in your acquaintance whose images of themselves are very different from everybody else’s images of them. They live a construct. Karen Homey and others call this the “self system.” It leads to neurotic breakdowns and similar sicknesses of the self for in the long run you can’t live another’s life or an imaginary construct. In the worst case, it leads to the

Also, a person can define himself extrinsically, as a member of some class. In our lives we are continuously in external situations, all kinds of situations, like now I am a speaker, then I’ll be a listener, then an eater, and so on. I am a father, I am a commuter, I am a Rotarian, etc. I’m in the millions of situations in my lifetime. But do these situations add up to myself?

Suppose I define myself as the best professor in the world. So what? I haven’t touched the core of myself, which would be my intrinsic definition of myself, not as this or that, doing this or that, but as the gestalt of my essential being, as simply who I am. Who am I ? I am this human on this planet Earth. I was born a naked baby and I have to die. That’s all. That’s the gist of being myself and being a professor or anything else for that matter is a different thing from being this human, born on this
planet Earth and having to die.

Any extrinsic definition of myself is really not the definition of myself. In order to make the definition of myself I must neither construct myself nor even abstract from myself, but simply BE, namely, identify myself, as we said before, with myself. And this is the most difficult and the most important task of our mortal life. It is very difficult simply to be, to be natural and not to pretend, nor be proud nor ashamed of this or that. Sometimes we reach this stage when we “get away from it all” on
vacations, to be alone with ourselves and to get acquainted with ourselves. To be moral is, so to speak, to bring the vacation spirit into our daily lives.

The moral, in this sense, appears whenever you cannot impress anyone either positively with your achievements or negatively with your failures. It is what makes children and dogs love you – if they do – and what makes your wife look at you when you are asleep.

Just to Be, in daily life, is highest maturity. Also it is very powerful for it brings into play the infinity of your intrinsic self. To scramble around in the treadmill of extrinsic value is not only immature, it is inefficient. It shuts up your infinite powers and lets them lie idle. It prevents you from really Living. It is not, however, immoral; it is amoral – neither moral nor immoral.

To be immoral is not-to-identify oneself to be insincere, dishonest, not true to oneself, to lack selfrespect – nor to identify oneself with any other human being, to be indifferent to human beings. Often, those indifferent to concrete human beings profess great concern for humanity in the abstract.

All this is illustrated by a wonderful story by Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych. Ivan Ilych is a judge in a provincial town in Russia whose whole ambition is to be a judge of the Supreme Court in Moscow. He finally reaches that ambition, his whole family moves to Moscow, they get a great big mansion, furniture and everything, and while he puts up the curtain he falls down the stepladder, breaks a rib, it goes into his liver and from that moment he dies.

The story is about the dying of Ivan Ilych. How trivial, how insignificant is the fact, that now {that} he is a judge of the Supreme Court, that death is upon him. All his family falls away from him, it takes too long for him to die, all his friends fall away from him and at the end the only friend he has is his menial servant, Gerasim, the butler’s assistant, a peasant lad, who makes him comfortable.

Here we have the transition from extrinsic to intrinsic self-definition.

Examples from Business

Now let’s turn to some examples from business. Take, for example, the idea of a worker. Systemically, a worker is a system of mathematical elements, as you have it in time and motion studies.

Extrinsically, a worker is a member of the class of workers or a member of the shop or some other function. This, of course, is a different view from that of time and motion studies. It leads to different kinds of compensation, such as incentives.

Intrinsically, a worker is a human being with infinite value, and this again leads to entirely different consequences in business actuality, e.g. to the partnership of worker and employer in profit sharing.

What is a salesman? Again, systemically, he may be a person who has learned a certain approach by rote, he makes that approach and he sells.

Extrinsically, he has been trained in analysis of situations, in psychology: the science of psychology is defined as extrinsic value applied to a human being. He analyses the situation as such and such a situation, and he sells.

But intrinsically, he goes in there and he uses no approach at all, he breaks all the rules and he runs away with the sales. His secret is that he identifies himself with the customer.

In one of the companies where we discussed this matter in detail we came to the conclusion that every single job except the most simple should be specified and evaluated in all three of the value categories.

Every single job can be both systemic, extrinsic, or intrinsic.

Let’s take the president of a company. If you have a company which is nothing but automation and there are people just pushing buttons, then the president of course can be systemically selected, for things here run by themselves like an elevator. All he has to do is to push the main button and, perhaps, to know why the thing works.

But if the company is defined in a different way, let us say in its function in society or as making the best product at the lowest price or, as some do in Europe, as making the worst product at the highest price, or by whatever other social or economic function, then you need a different kind of president.

He has to have the extrinsic view of situations; he has to be a master politician and manipulator. And if the company is as big as a country and has a tremendous number of people, then every decision is wrought with “intangibles,” with values, and the president should be one who, in addition to the other value dimensions, also knows intrinsic value and is a human being.

Take other examples. Think of the Hawthorne experiments. A group of girls was taken out of the factory and experimented upon.

They got better working conditions and productivity increased. They got worse working conditions and productivity increased. They got better lighting, productivity increased, they got worse lighting – productivity increased. They got rest periods, midmorning lunches, a shortened work week – productivity increased. They got no rest period, no midmorning lunches, a lengthened work week – productivity increased.

No matter what was done – productivity increased. Roethlisberger and Dickson shook their heads, and wondered what kind of logic was at work. Any particular thing we do, they concluded, is unimportant, the only important thing is the attention we give them and the cooperation they give us. And that was exactly right. What was mobilized was intrinsic valuation: “stores of latent energy and productive cooperation” were uncovered.

In intrinsic valuation, as I said before, the only thing that can happen is addition. Once these girls were given intrinsic human attention everything that happened was addition. The finite arithmetic of subtraction simply did not apply.

Again, take the case of profit-sharing companies. Some give away 50% of their profit (I am thinking of a foundry in Ohio) and you might think that the formula would be 100% – 50% =50%. But in that particular case the formula was 100% – 50% = 170%. Why ? Because, again, the human element was mobilized, productivity increased 40%, profit increased 340%, split 50/50, it was 170% for each.

Or take the example of rest periods. You want to put in a rest period of 20 minutes a day for your workers. Your time and motion engineers use their slide rules, “Twenty minutes a day less for 1,000 people is 20,000 minutes less a day, 100,000 minutes less a week, half a million minutes less work a month, you lose production.”

Well, suppose you have a common sense, or you have read Roethlisberger and Mayo, and you have stamina, you introduce the rest period anyway, and production increases, as you knew it would.

Again, what has happened? You went from extrinsic to intrinsic valuation, and finite arithmetic, the arithmetic of subtraction, passed out of the picture. I could cite many more examples if I had time.

An Example from War

Let me give you an example from war. When I was at one of the war research laboratories in the East they had the following very serious problem.

Suppose there was an enemy attack, and from the direction of the planes we know it can either go against the computer upon which the whole defence system of the area is based or against the city of Boston of a million people. We only have enough planes to protect one of them. Which one should we protect?

We discussed this for several hours, and the consensus was the following, based on value theory: War is a systemic thing. People don’t count in war, they are numbers.  Within the war system you must protect the computer. Of course, this is a highly immoral result but the war system is immoral; and if you want to be moral then you should not work at a war research laboratory or be a part of the war system.

An Example from Religion

This profile is not based on any religious principle. This example is simply meant to illustrate a concrete context in which to understand the ways in which the dimensions of thought can be applied.

When Peter asked Jesus why He spoke in parables, Jesus answered, “If I would not speak in parable nobody would understand me.” For – and this is the moral of the Parables – “Whosoever has, to him shall be given and he shall have more abundance and whosoever has not, from him shall be taken even that which he has” (Matthew 13:12).

Now, what in the world does this mean? It does not mean, of course, that the bankers will go to Heaven, and the beggars will go to Hell. These are called the Parables of the Kingdom. It means very simply, if you live in the Kingdom of Heaven, which is the kingdom of intrinsic value or infinity, then since in infinity the only thing that can happen is addition, “to him who has will be given.”

Or as He said in another context, “It will be added unto you.” And he who has not or only lives in the material world from him shall be taken even that which he has because he can’t take it with him; when he dies it’s gone. A very simple solution of this difficult saying.

And so, the moral of all the parables is precisely this – infinity against finiteness. For example, the workers in the vineyard. They work all day in the hot sun, at ten minutes to six in come two loafers who work ten minutes in the shade. At six everybody lines up at the cashier’s window, everybody gets a dollar. Everybody gripes, saying, “The two loafers get a dollar!”

The master of the vineyard says, “What’s it to you, you got what you were promised. The first will be last, the last will be first. For many are called but few are chosen.” It is again very simple.

In the Kingdom of Infinity there is no space and time. If there is no space there can be no different pockets. If there are no different pockets what difference does it make where the dollar is? Because what one has all have and what one does not have nobody has. Again, the only thing that can happen is addition. In infinity every part equals the whole, hence is infinite.

Thus, those who are finite will become infinite when they enter the Kingdom of Heaven by faith in intrinsic value, the last will be first; but those who lose faith will become finite and lose their infinity, the first will be the last, the intrinsic becomes extrinsic: For many are called to live intrinsic value but few achieve it for good. If you re-read the Parables in this interpretation they will give you a great deal.

The Efficiency Of Value Theory

Let me close with an example that shows you the efficiency of this method. It is being taught at some colleges. What I am outlining for you here corresponds to over 100 college hours, so you can imagine how little I can actually give you. When I taught it at MIT the semester started in October and by Christmas we had gotten to intrinsic value. I asked the boys to write me a term paper over the vacation and analyse any situation or text they wanted in terms of axiology.

One of them, who was the editor of the school magazine, analysed his own articles – you can analyse with this method with great precision the value of words, a very nice thing, for example, for advertising – and found much more in them than he had ever thought he had put into them.

Another analysed a drama by T.S. Eliot. A third came to me just before we left for home and said, “Sir, I want you to know that the writing of this paper is the most important thing in my life.”

I said, “How do you mean?” He said, “You just wait until you get that paper.” So, after the vacation I got the paper. It was entitled “Homecoming of a Son,” and the story he told was this.

He was a very bright fellow, on a four-year scholarship at MIT, and his parents were Polish immigrants, working by the way in a GE lamp factory, and he was ashamed that they were just workers. Now, by learning value theory he knew very clearly what he had only known vaguely, that a person is what he is and it isn’t important what he does and that his parents were wonderful persons.

So he wanted to go home and tell them how he loved them. But how could he do that without showing them at the same time that he had never loved them before? The paper was the method he evolved to show them his love without showing them that he had never loved them before. He just produced one value situation after another and poured love into it. The whole household changed, laughter and happiness prevailed; it was an entirely new family.

I got this paper and it was a wonderful thing to read, a miracle consciously brought about. After about three weeks he comes into my office with a letter from his mother, and the mother writes, “John, this was a beautiful and strange vacation and Dad and I have been thinking about it and talking about it all this time and finally we have come to a conclusion. We want you to know our conclusion. It is that we have never loved you before.”

Now just imagine what happened here. Nobody talked to anybody and yet the logic of value worked itself out to such a degree that the parents were able to put into words, from their own side, what the boy had started out with in the first place.

This was a very small introduction to axiology. I do hope that in the sessions to follow we will be able to pull it all down into your everyday practice.