I have this question haunting me for a while now.

I always appreciate Feynman's saying about Nobel prize most: "I appreciate the work that I did, and all the people who appreciated it, and I noticed other physicists use my work, I don't need anything else, I don't think there's any sense to anything else, I don't see the point that someone in the Swedish academy decides this work is noble enough to receive a prize, I already got the prize, the prize is the pleasure finding things out, the kick in the discovery, the observation of other people use it. Those are the real things, honors are unreal to me."

Then this leaves the question: Why are human happy of being honored by his/her work done?

I googled the calculus of happiness but didn't find anything modern work that discussed "honor" in a strict philosophical way, the only thing I found was Arthur Schopenhauer's wisdom of life where he discussed the honor in some chapter, but I don't quite like the non-metaphysical way he unwrapped this whole subject.

I would like to get my eyes on some works of those great thinkers in the history, how they viewed "honors" and articulate the reason of human valuing the "honors" in a more fundamental level of the philosophy of human mind.

Also "human see honors valuable and are happy about it" is a synthetic a priori statement right? because happiness is a built-in of our mind. But if it is an a posterori statement, then I don't see the point of being happy about it since other society may view disgrace more valuable than honor, and it relies on experience to be happy about it.

  • Perhaps it's not in the "act" but what possibilities it holds. That's why for some, a 100 dollar note isn't just a paper, but much more .
    – user2411
    Oct 5, 2012 at 6:22
  • I don't see how "people see honour as valuable and are happy about it" is an a priori statement. I'd say it most definitely isn't, because it is based on our experience. The fact that happiness is something that happens inside of us has nothing to do with it.
    – iphigenie
    Nov 7, 2012 at 23:32

2 Answers 2


Maslow's hierarchy of human needs might be a good starting point. Peer recognition is a part of it.


As you specifically asked for the opinion of "great thinkers in history", I suggest you have a look at Plato's Republic. The love of honour is an important principle in his political work.

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