We are responsible to determine our values, yes? A value is discovered, not an arbitrary creation of free will, correct? A value is an incentive to action. You have free will to act but not to create your incentive. You can pursue a false value but that is an error in judgement, an error in misidentifying an existant to be a value that really isn't. Correct?
For example, we don't chose food as a value. It is required for life. The incentive is innate. So, where do you draw the line between innate needs and arbitrary values subject to free will? Is there a line? Are we faced with the task of choosing our values or are we faced with the task of identifying our values? Are subjective value judgments themselves objective cognitive existents?
This is important to understand. People say "he found himself" and "he found his calling." If happiness is to achieve your values and if values are innate, then the pursuit of happiness is a two-fold exercise in reason: 1. using reason to correctly identify those existents as your values and the respective standards (a willful cognitive action) and 2. using reason to correctly take the necessary physical action to achieve that material end (a willful motor action). Followed by emotional consequence - your correct values result in long term happiness. Emotions serving as a barometer on how well you are handling the task of living.
The child's toy of putting various block shapes ( star, square, circle, etc.) into their respective slots can be viewed as a rudimentary exercise in the meaning of life. You are free to focus your mind and take action but you are not free to make the rules or change the specifics of your standards (i.e. you cannot lower your standards). The baby can put the block in the slot but the baby cannot change all the shapes to circles, put a square peg in a round hole, etc. Can this be an analogy for values and the pursuit of them? You like what you like; you don't like what you don't like; it is what it is; you are only free to think and act.
If you change your mind and decide something is not a value to you isn't it always because you discovered an existent that better met your standards? It wasn't a change in mind, it was the acquisition of new information - becoming aware of already existing existents.
This would explain the appeal of mysticism. A pivotal moment occurs when man is faced with the struggle of having to solve a problem - to achieve his value by his standard - he doesn't know how, he may take the position of defeatism - but he cannot be unhappy - a choice can be made to deny the validity of material values and focus his mind on so called spiritual values. It is an attempt to cheat or circumvent the block-in-the-slot. The moral/practical dichotomy arises by the existence of innate values and standards conflicting with false values, spiritual or otherwise. Does this make sense?
Values are not innate. They are chosen.
The term "value" has two distinct senses which should not be confused.
One sense is simply "that which one acts to gain and/or keep." This kind of value is just something someone has chosen to pursue, regardless of whether that thing is objectively valuable. In this sense, crack cocaine is a value to an addict. And, in this sense, we all choose what we value.
The other sense regards the evaluation of things by a rational standard of value. In this second sense, crack cocaine is not a value, even to someone who seeks to gain and or keep it.
In this sense, values are facts independent of personal preference. But that doesn't mean they are innate.
The first kind of values are chosen. The second kind must be discovered. Note, though that the act of discovering values is a choice.
So, all values are, in effect, chosen. Some are chosen arbitrarily, and some are chosen objectively. But all are chosen.
What we cannot choose is the metaphysical result of pursuing any particular value. The world is full of things we might value. And if we want to live well, we must choose our values carefully (rationally).
There are no innate incentives (unless we consider sleep to be an "incentive" to a tired person, but I think that would be misusing the word). Even food is not an automatic value. We, as humans, feel hunger. We must learn how to make the hunger go away. Perhaps there's an innate desire to put things in our mouth when we are hungry, but we still must learn what to put into our mouths. Food is not an automatic value. We discover what is food -- what stops hunger.
We have no choice about the need for food. But we do choose whether to simply sit and cry when we are hungry, or to explore our environment for things which might stop hunger. Objective values must be discovered, and such discovery is a choice.
Everyone chooses how much they go about learning in life. Generally, the more they learn, the more objective their choice of values will be. Less complete knowledge will cause a person to choose values which don't serve his existence as well as more objective ones would. Extensive knowledge (especially of how values should be chosen) generally results in the better choice of one's values.
Some people, however, choose values in direct opposition to the acquisition of knowledge. Such people get a kick from choosing against reality, because they hate the limits reality places on them. For these people, the more they learn about what they should do, the more they want to do something else.
Values are chosen. They aren't a direct and necessary result of knowledge.
The "headline" form of the question, "Are Values Innate," and much of the main text pertain to the relation between valuing and free will. Here are some additional thoughts on this relation.
All living things, even non-conscious ones such as plants, are "valuers" in the sense that they perform goal-directed action. They perform internally generated, self-sustaining actions directed toward the de facto goal of sustaining their lives (and strengthening them if possible). Living entities other than animals do this automatically. They can be said to pursue "automatic values."
Animals other than man pursue values consciously, i.e., with an element of conscious awareness and consciously goal-directed action. Again, however, animals other than man do this automatically. They have no free will about it. Non-human animals, too, can be said to pursue "automatic values." They often also have what Ayn Rand called "automatic knowledge" of what to seek, i.e., what to value.
Even in man, there is a very limited category of actions (resulting from de facto values) that man performs automatically. Galt's Speech states it as follows (excerpted in The Ayn Rand Lexicon under the topic of "Free Will"; see also FNI, Signet paperback edition, p. 134):
The function of your stomach, lungs or heart is automatic; the function of your mind is not. In any hour and issue of your life, you are free to think or to evade that effort. But you are not free to escape from your nature, from the fact that reason is your means of survival -- so that for you, who are a human being, the question "to be or not to be" is the question, "to think or not to think."
A little later in Galt's Speech (FNI p. 136), Galt explains:
A code of values accepted by choice is a code of morality.
Between these two excerpts, Galt's Speech discusses goal-directed action (de facto valuing) in plants and non-human animals as well as in man. From the complete discussion in Galt's Speech, I have always understood Ayn Rand's reference to man's "stomach, lungs or heart" to be a reference to automatic action in man, driven on a very rudimentary level by automatic values. Man's stomach does what it does automatically, to preserve man's life. Likewise for man's lungs and heart. But in man, the very basic level of automatic action is not nearly enough to sustain his life. Man also needs to think, which is a volitional process. He needs to identify what else he needs to do to survive, beyond what his automatic bodily functions do for him.
The text of the question states:
We are responsible to determine our values, yes? A value is discovered, not an arbitrary creation of free will, correct?
Almost correct. In the most general sense, 'value' is whatever one acts to gain and/or keep. In this sense, "values" which man seeks can be life-sustaining or life-diminishing. Man has a choice about what to value, but no choice about whether something he might seek is actually "for him" or "against him," life-sustaining or life-diminishing.
A value is an incentive to action. You have free will to act but not to create your incentive.
A value is whatever one acts to gain and/or keep. You have free will to choose your values. (This isn't the most fundamental form of free will, however. The most fundamental form is the choice to focus your mind and think, or not.) The "incentive," i.e., the ultimate goal or ultimate value, the deepest impetus to action, is to live. More specific values, if chosen objectively, are the means of achieving the ultimate end. But man is also free to choose his values non-objectively. Such "values" can be said, by Objectivist standards, to be irrational values or false values.
You can pursue a false value but that is an error in judgement, an error in misidentifying an existant to be a value that really isn't. Correct?
Yes, if understood as already described. Pursuit of anti-life values may also be more than just an error in judgment. It may be the result of an entire anti-life philosophy, all the way down to the level of basic metaphysics.
The moral/practical dichotomy arises by the existence of innate values and standards conflicting with false values, spiritual or otherwise. Does this make sense?
"Innate values" here may be intended to mean values that are objectively identifiable as life-serving, by the standard of man's life qua man. If so, "innate" is a poor choice of wording. A moral-practical dichotomy does, indeed, arise if one pursues anti-life values primarily, while also seeking to remain alive and therefore pursuing at least some life-sustaining values along with all the anti-life values. The more strongly one seeks to stay alive, the more "practical" one will become. The ultimate practicality is to integrate the moral and the practical instead of embracing a dichotomy.
Update: Valuing and Acting
A comment by the questioner states:
It is said that a value is whatever one acts to gain or keep but that implies motor action always precedes identification. It is possible to identify a value and NEVER try to obtain it.
The Objectivist view of "value" does not imply that "motor action always precedes identification." The connection between valuing and acting is that if one doesn't act to gain and/or keep something in some way or form, then one doesn't truly value it. The action to gain and/or keep does not need to precede the identification of the value. On the contrary, one needs to have an idea of acting before one initiates the action. As Ayn Rand noted in FNI (p. 24 in the Signet paperback edition):
...a man's actions are preceded and determined by some form of idea in his mind....
Also, a comment by John mentions, referring to value-seeking actions and when babies make the transition from automatic action to fully volitional action:
...effort means choice....
If "choice" here is intended to mean "volitional," I must point out that effort in pursuit of a value, i.e., goal-directed action, does not necessarily imply a volitional consciousness. In fact, it doesn't necessarily even imply consciousness at all, as Ayn Rand explains in her discussion of goal-directed action in all living things. A baby feeding on a breast is a case in point. During my own learning about childbirth at a local hospital, the class instructor explained that newborns have a natural, entirely automatic "sucking reflex" and will suck on virtually anything placed in contact with the infant's mouth. A human finger works well, too, to induce peaceful sucking and help a very young infant to fall asleep. Babies often resist sleeping as long as they can, even to the point of crying about it.