Creating value with the end in mind
According to Aristotle, the ideal end of everything we do is happiness. It is ultimately for the sake of happiness, that we desire all other objects or experiences. Thus, the quintessence of value should be aimed at achieving what the Greeks called eudaimonia, ‘human flourishing’ and prosperity. If this is the end we aspire to, then this should be the first step to understanding the true value of our possessions.
Here’s an example: an art dealer in San Francisco was approached by a young Italian client who had asked for an appraisal of a Rembrandt painting. After the appraisal, the dealer, assuming his client would be interested in selling it, assured him that he could get a very good price for it. To his surprise, however, the client responded that the painting had been in his family for generations and he had no intention of selling it. The question we could ask is, what value would that family gain by selling the painting and converting it to money, compared to the value they could lose if they kept it?
We have come to conflate the value of something with its market value. But, we all know that the law of supply and demand can be deceptive, often having nothing to do with real worth. An object of great personal value may be cheaply priced or vice versa. Making market value our beginning point, instead of our endpoint, is like mounting a bike backwards to move forward.