Daily Archives: October 9, 2011

Intrinsic vs. Instrumental Value



Between college, high school, soccer, and other adventures, I’ve been busy. I regret nothing! Actually, I do regret not blogging, but as it is impossible to change the past (w/o help from the Doctor), I’ve decided that whining about the neglection of my blogging duties is useless as well as annoying.

As part of an assignment for my incredible English class, we had to think of something we valued intrinsically that had little instrumental value. For those of you who don’t know what that means, “Something is said to have intrinsic value if it is good “in and of itself,” i.e., not merely as a means for acquiring something else…Something is said to have instrumental value if it is good because it provides the means for acquiring something else of value.”(http://darwin.eeb.uconn.edu/eeb310/lecture-notes/value-ethics/node2.html)

I chose dreams.

I value dreams intrinsically. Of course, some dreams can be instrumental in helping me realize my own wants and fears. However, I think that dreaming about pandas or saving Scotland is important, even if those dreams have no practical use.

An exciting thing about my dreams is that, although they are influenced by things I do, I have no real control over the type of dream I will have. In other words, I’m the creator but I have no idea what I’m creating. One night I may dream of zombies and the next about a garden party complete with tea and cakes.

If I were to stop dreaming, would it affect my life?  Well, in many ways, it would not. I would still go to school. I would still have chores. Heck, I’d still have my imagination. Yet I do think I would feel the loss. I’d miss falling asleep knowing I could dream of anything. I’d miss the craziness of my dreams, including the plot holes I wouldn’t tolerate from a book or movie. And I’d miss the freedom. I create dreams without consciously knowing what I’m doing. That means there’s no restraint on how scary or weird or impossible a dream can be. It’s creativity without a filter and I certainly think that’s valuable.