Say, how much do you think you’re worth? Maybe $8 an hour? Or $50/h? Or $150/h? How about $45,000 a year? Or $100,000? I think you can tell where I am going. There are several value systems we’re dealing with frequently, the most influential being our income. How much we are worth to our employer is measured by our salary. And if we’re unemployed it is measured by our previous pay rate and the currently applicable unemployment payout. And if we’re self employed? Then we have to measure ourselves against those with similar products/services/offers and judge that against what we feel our time and effort may be worth. There is literally a price on our life, but is this really what we are “worth”? Let’s see what the word “worth” means. Merriam-Webster defines it as following:
1 a: monetary value — ‘farmhouse and lands of little worth’ b: the equivalent of a specified amount or figure — ‘a dollar’s worth of gas’
2: the value of something measured by its qualities or by the esteem in which it is held — ‘a literary heritage of great worth’
3 a: moral or personal value — ‘trying to teach human worth’ b: merit , excellence — ‘a field in which we have proved our worth’
4: wealth , riches
As you notice each definition is directly connected to the word “value”. The more valuable something is the more it is worth. A diamond is worth more than a ruby. Gold is worth more than silver, a Ferrari more than a Toyota, a Renoir more than a local painter’s work. But what defines the value of each of these items? A diamond is more valuable than a ruby because it takes a lot more effort to extract (usually one carat of diamond per tonne of rock), it is harder and more durable than a ruby and once cut skilfully shines with an intense inner fire. Gold is scarcer than silver hence takes more effort to find. It does not tarnish and also has a sort of inner fire. Going over to the Ferrari, here we have a precision sports car that requires a great deal of skill to manufacture. This makes it also scarce, incurs high production cost and is therefore highly coveted as compared to a run-off-the-mill Toyota.
Now how about that Renoir painting, what makes it worth more than our local painter’s work? Is it his skill with the brush, his eye for detail, the paint he used? Wikipedia says about Renoir’s work:
Renoir’s paintings are notable for their vibrant light and saturated colour, most often focusing on people in intimate and candid compositions. The female nude was one of his primary subjects. In characteristic Impressionist style, Renoir suggested the details of a scene through freely brushed touches of colour, so that his figures softly fuse with one another and their surroundings.
His initial paintings show the influence of the colourism of Eugène Delacroix and the luminosity of Camille Corot. He also admired the realism of Gustave Courbet and Édouard Manet, and his early work resembles theirs in his use of black as a color. As well, Renoir admired Edgar Degas’ sense of movement. Another painter Renoir greatly admired was the 18th-century master François Boucher.
I greatly admire his paintings for the qualities mentioned above. But I equally admire the painting of a Mountain on a gray and rainy day that a distant relative (I believe my great granduncle) produced and that hung for decades in my grandparents’ apartment and is now in my poss