Not everything that is worth it pays off , not everything that pays off is worth it.

I couldn't find anything specific per se. I only have a vague idea, something along the lines of it adhering to "finding the most optimal decision out of a personal frame of reference."

Despite the ambiguity of the question for both myself and the partakers, the following reply in regards to decision theory, made most sense to me.

"Are you thinking of the branch of philosophy called "decision theory"? (Are you looking for a branch that would study this question, or a "school of thought" that would endorse it?) – guest1806"

closed as unclear what you're asking by Geoffrey Thomas Oct 22 '18 at 16:01

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • I made an edit which you may roll back or continue editing. Welcome to this SE! – Frank Hubeny Oct 22 '18 at 11:36
  • 1
    Sounds like folk wisdom of the rocking chair variety rather than philosophy of any sort. – Geoffrey Thomas Oct 22 '18 at 14:31
  • Are you thinking of the branch of philosophy called "decision theory"? (Are you looking for a branch that would study this question, or a "school of thought" that would endorse it?) – guest1806 Oct 22 '18 at 15:16
  • @guest1806 yes, something like this. Thanks. – Vladimir Oct 23 '18 at 8:01

Any English expression could be viewed from the perspective of natural language. Here is Wikipedia's description of natural language:

In neuropsychology, linguistics, and the philosophy of language, a natural language or ordinary language is any language that has evolved naturally in humans through use and repetition without conscious planning or premeditation. Natural languages can take different forms, such as speech or signing. They are distinguished from constructed and formal languages such as those used to program computers or to study logic.

The content of the quote, "Not everything that is worth it pays off, not everything that pays off is worth it.", refers to "worth". This may have relevance to "value". Here are two surveys of the idea of value from philosophical perspectives.

Here is Mark Schroeder discussing values:

...“value theory” designates the area of moral philosophy that is concerned with theoretical questions about value and goodness of all varieties — the theory of value.

Here is how Patrick Bondy describes instrumental and final value:

An object (or state, property, etc.) is instrumentally valuable if and only if it brings about something else that is valuable. An object is finally valuable if and only if it’s valuable for its own sake.

Both of these sources, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, provide detailed surveys of philosophy which may provide what you are looking for with respect to this question what philosophy or branch of philosophy might be most interested in the perspective on value expressed in the provided quote.


Bondy, Patrick, "Value, Epistemic", Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy https://www.iep.utm.edu/ep-value/

Schroeder, Mark, "Value Theory", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/fall2016/entries/value-theory/.

Wikipedia, "Natural language" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_language


This is probably best understood as a direct refutation of naive Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is a theory of morality approaches morals from a functional standpoint. The typical gloss on Utilitarianism is "the greatest good for the greatest number." Therefore, in the simplest form of Utilitarianism, something is good if and only if it progresses towards a worthy goal.

Your statement, on the other hand, says that some things are "worth it" (good) even if they don't "pay off" (progresses towards a worthy goal), and that not everything that "pays off" is "worth it."

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