• Shawn
    12.7k
    Upon further thought, what I mean by axiology not being exclusive to the philosopher, is meant in not all philosophers being the disciples of Plato that would be well versed in the study of value and goodness of the objects endowed with value.
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    ... anyone concerned about "the good."Shawn
    And what is "the good" to "anyone" – philosopher and non-philosopher alike?
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    And what is "the good" to "anyone" – philosopher and non-philosopher alike?180 Proof

    What they value.
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    What they value.Shawn
    :roll:
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    What is of the highest good can only be defined by how you or a group of people value it, no?Shawn
    I suppose the study of value, or axiology, would lead one to appreciate what to value as good. That's why, I am led to believe that axiology must be one of the highest goods, to a philosopher or even a layman.Shawn
    Upon further thought, what I mean by axiology not being exclusive to the philosopher, is meant in not all philosophers being the disciples of Plato that would be well versed in the study of value and goodness of the objects endowed with value.Shawn

    This morning I went chasing a quote and dug up this:
    On His Own Ignorance And That of Many Others II, Petrarch

    The quote I had in mind was "It is better to want the good than to know the truth", which you can see this English translation doesn't translate it as that, probably going for something less catchy but more accurate :D. But it's relevant, and I thought it'd be cool to bring something textual to think through these questions -- and it's fairly short because it's a letter so it's not a big ask, perfect for TPF. (EDIT: After all, if axiology is the highest good, then we ought to be doing some studying)

    This is a letter Petrarch wrote which deals with these themes of knowledge and value -- which seems to relate in that your thesis is that the study of ethics is the highest good, and also because he's clearly more on the medical-type philosophy side.

    I'm going to paste the part of the letter which skips the parts that were necessary at the time: the whipping of the self before getting to the point, and the praise of God for loving this insignificant worm after the point just so we can talk about the point and not get lost in the genre. It was the beginning of the Rennaissance so writing conventions differed from ours, plus it is just a letter which has a nice story for thought in it.

    Tell me what you think of it whenever you have the time, if you'd like.
    *****

    As had come to be their custom, there called on me these four friends whose names you need not be told, since you know them all. Moreover, an inviolable law of friendship forbids mentioning the names of friends when you are speaking against them, even if they do not behave like friends in a particular case. They came in pairs, as equality of character or some chance bound them together. Occasionally all four of them came, and came with astonishingly winning manners, with a gay expression on their faces, and started an agreeable conversation. I have no doubt they came with good and pious intentions. However, through some cracks an unfortunate grudge had crept into hearts that deserve a better guest. It is incredible, though it is true--if only it were not too true! The man whom they wish not only good health and happiness, whom they not only love but respect, honor by their visit and venerate, to whom they try with greatest effort to be not only kind but obedient and generous--this very same person is the object of their envy. So full of patent and hidden frailties is human nature.

    What is it that they envy me? I do not know, I must admit, and I am amazed when I try to find out. Certainly it is not wealth, for every single one of them surpasses me as much in wealth as "the British whale is bigger than the dolphin," as that man has said. Moreover, they wish me even greater wealth. They know that what I have is moderate, not my own property but to be shared with others. It is not magnificent but very modest without haughtiness and pomp. They know that it really does not deserve any envy. They will not envy me my friends.

    The greater part of them death has taken from me, and I have the habit of sharing them willingly, just like everything else with other friends. They cannot envy me the shapeliness of my body. If there was ever such a thing, it has vanished entirely in the course of the years that vanquish all. By God's overflowing and preserving grace it is still quite satisfactory for my present age, but it has certainly long since ceased to be enviable. And if it were still as it was once, could I forget or could I then have forgotten the poetic sentence I drank in as a small boy; "Shapeliness is a frail possession," or the words of Solomon in the book in which he teaches the young: "Gracefulness is deceitful and beauty is vain." How should they then envy me what I do not have, what I held in contempt while I had it, and what I would despise now to the utmost were it given back to me, having learned and experienced how unstable it is? They cannot even envy me learning and eloquence! Learning, they declare, I have absolutely none. Eloquence, if I has is any, they despise according to the modern philosophic fashion. They reject it as unworthy of a man of letters. Thus only "infantile inability to speak" and perplexed stammering, "wisdom" trying hard to keep one eye open and "yawning drowsily," as Cicero calls it, is held in good repute nowadays. They do not call to mind "Plato, the most eloquent of all men," and--let me omit the others--"Aristotle sweet and mild," but whom they made trite. From Aristotle's ways they swerve, taking eloquence to be an obstacle and a disgrace to philosophy, while he considered it a mighty adornment and tried to combine it with philosophy, "prevailed upon," it is asserted, "by the fame of the Orator Isocrates."

    Not even virtue can they envy me, though it is beyond doubt the best and most enviable of all things. To them it seems worthless--I believe because it is not inflated and puffed up with arrogance. I should wish to possess it, and, indeed, they grant it to me unanimously and willingly. Small things they have denied me, and this very greatest possession they lavish upon me as a small gift. They call me a good man, even the best of men. If only I were not bad, not the worst in God's judgment! However, at the same time they claim that I am altogether illiterate,that I am a plain uneducated fellow. This is just the opposite of what men of letters have stated when judging me, I do not care with how much truth. I do not make much of what these,friends deprive me of, if only what they concede me were true.

    Most gladly should I divide between me and these brothers of mine the inheritance of Mother Nature and heavenly Grace, so that they would all be men of letters and I a good man. I should wish to know nothing of letters or just so much as would be expedient for the daily praise of God. But, alas, I fear I shall be disappointed in this my humble desire just as they will be in their arrogant opinion. At any rate, they assert that I have a good character and am very faithful in my friendship, and in this last assertion they are not mistaken, unless I am.

    This, incidentally, is the reason why they count me among their friends. They are not prevailed upon to do so by my efforts in studying the honorable arts or the hope ever to hear and learn truth from me. Thus it comes plainly to what Augustine tells of his Ambrose, saying, "I began to love him, not as a teacher of truth, but as a man who was kind to me"; or what Cicero feels about Epicurus: Cicero approves of his character in many passages, while he everywhere condemns his intellect and rejects his doctrine.

    Since all this is the case, it may be doubtful what they envy me, though there is no doubt that they do envy me something. They do not well conceal it and do not curb their tongues, which are urged by an inward impulse. In men otherwise neither unbalanced nor foolish this is nothing but a clear sign of undisciplined passion. Provided that they are envious of me as they obviously are, and that there is no other object of their envy--the latent virus is expanding by itself at any rate. For there is one thing, one empty thing, that they envy me, however trifling it may be: my name and what fame I have already won within my lifetime--greater fame perhaps than would be due to my merits or in conformity with the common habit which but very rarely celebrates living men. It is upon this fame that they have fixed their envious eyes. If only I could have done without it both now and often before! I remember that it has done me harm more often than good, winning me quite a few friends but also countless enemies. It has happened to me as to those who go into battle in a conspicuous helmet though with but little strength: they gain nothing from the dazzling brightness of this chimera except to be struck by more adversaries. Such pesti- lence was once but too familiar to me during my more flourishing years; never was there one so troublesome as that which has now blazed up. I am now an anvil too soft for young men's wars and for assuming such burdens, and this pestilence revives unexpectedly from a quarter from which I do not deserve it and did not suspect it either, at a moment when it should have been long since overcome by my moral conduct or consumed by the course of time. But I will go on: They think they are great men, and they are certainly rich, all of them, which is the only mortal greatness nowadays. They feel, although many people deceive themselves in this respect, that they have not won a name and cannot hope ever to win one if their foreboding is right. Among such sorrows they languish anxiously; and so great is the power of evil that they stick out their tongues and sharpen their teeth like mad dogs even against friends and wound those whom they love. Is this not a strange kind of blindness, a strange kind of fury? In just this manner the frantic mother of Pentheus tears her son to pieces and the raving Hercules his infant children. They love me and all that is mine, with the single exception of my name--which I do not refuse to change. Let them call me Thersites or Choerilus, or whatever name they prefer, provided I thus obtain that this honest love suffers not the slightest restriction.They are all the more ablaze and aglow with a blind fire, since they are all such fervent scholars, working indefatigably all night long.

    However, the first of them has no learning at all--I tell you only what you know--the second knows a little; the third not much; the fourth--I must admit--not a little but in such confused and undisciplined order and, as Cicero says, "with so much frivolity and vain boasting that it would perhaps be better to know nothing." For letters are instruments of insanity for many, of arrogance for almost everyone, if they do not meet with a good and well-trained mind. Therefore, he has much to tell about wild animals, about bird and fishes: how many hairs there are in the lion's mane; how many feathers in the hawk's tail; with how many arms the cuttlefish clasps a shipwrecked man; that elephants couple from behind and are pregnant for two years; that this docile and vigorous animal, the nearest to man by its intelligence, lives until the end of the second or third century of its life; that the phoenix is consumed by aromatic fire and revives after it has been burned; that the sea urchin stops a ship,however fast she is driving along, while it is unable to do anything once it is dragged out of the waves; how the hunter fools the tiger with a mirror; how the Arimasp attacks the griffin with his sword; how whales turn over on their backs and thus deceive the sailors; that the newborn of the bear has as yet no shape; that the mule rarely gives birth, the viper only once and then to its own disaster; that moles are blind and bees deaf; that alone among all living beings the crocodile moves its upper jaw.

    All this is for the greater part wrong, as has become manifest in many similar cases when animals were brought into our part of the world. The facts have certainly not been investigated by those who are quoted as authorities for them; they have been all the more promptly believed or boldly invented, since the animals live so far from us. And even if they were true, they would not contribute anything whatsoever to the blessed life. What is the use--I beseech you--of knowing the nature of quadrupeds,fowls, fishes, and serpents and not knowing or even neglecting man's nature, the purpose for which we are born, and whence and whereto we travel?

    These and like matters I have often discussed with these "scribes" who are most learned, not in the Law of Moses and the Christian Law, but, as they flatter themselves, in the Aristotelian law. I did so more frankly than they were accustomed to hear and perhaps with less caution: talking with friends, I did not think of any harm that might derive from it. At first they were astonished, then they became angry, and, as they felt that my words were directed against their sect and the laws of their father, they set up a council among themselves to condemn for the crime of ignorance--not me whom they undoubtedly love-- out my fame which they hate. If only they had called others to this court! Then there would perhaps have been opposition to the sentence they intended to pronounce. However, to keep the verdict harmonious and unanimous, only these four convened. They discussed many different matters concerning the absent and undefended defendant--not because they disagreed in their opinions, for they all felt the same way and intended to say the same thing, but they were arguing with each other and against their own sentence after the manner of expert judges. Thus they wanted to render a decision with more color by sifting and squeezing the truth through the narrow sieve of contradictions.

    As the first point, they said that public renown supported me, but replied that it deserved little faith. So far they did not lie since the vulgar mass very rarely sees the truth. Then they said that friendship with the greatest and most learned men, which has adorned my life--as I shall boast before the Lord--stood against their verdict. For I have enjoyed close friendship with many kings, especially with King Robert of Sicily, who honored me in my younger years with frequent and clear testimonials of my knowledge and genius. They replied--and here I will not say their iniquity but their vanity evidently made them lie--that the king himself enjoyed great fame in literary matters but had no knowledge of them; and the others, however learned they were, did not show a sufficiently perspicacious judgment concerning me, whether love of me or carelessness was the cause.

    They then made another objection against themselves, saying that the last three Roman popes had vied with each other in inviting me--in vain, it is true--to a high rank in their intimate household; and that Urban himself, who is now at the head was wont to speak well of me and had already bestowed on me a most affable letter. Besides, it is known far and wide and doubted by no one that the present Roman emperor--for there has been no other legitimate emperor at this time--counts me among his dear familiars and has been wont to call me to him with the weight of daily requests and repeated messages and letters. In all this they feel that some people find some proof that I must have a certain value. However, they resolve this objection too, maintaining that the popes went astray together with the others, following the general opinion about me, or were induced to do so by my good moral behavior and not by my knowledge; and that the emperor was prevailed upon by my studies of the past and my historical works, for in this field they do not deny me some knowledge.

    Furthermore, they said, another objection against them was my eloquence. This I do not acknowledge altogether, by God not. They pretend that it is a rather effective means of persuasion. It might be the task of a rhetor or an orator to speak oppositely in order to persuade for a purpose, but many people without knowledge had succeeded in persuading by mere phrases. Thus they attribute to luck what is a matter of art and bring forth the widespread proverb: "Much eloquence, little wisdom." They do not take into account Cato's definition of the oratory which contradicts their false charge. Finally, it was said that the style of my writing is in opposition to their statement. They did not dare to blame my style, not even to praise it too reservedly, and confessed that it is rather elegant and well chosen but without any learning. I do not understand how this can be, and I trust they did not understand it either. If they regain control of themselves and think over again what they have said, they will be ashamed of their silly ineptitude. For if the first statement were true--which I for my part would neither assert nor make myself believe--I have no doubt that the second is wrong. How could the style of a person who knows nothing at all be excellent, since theirs amounts to nothing, though there is nothing they do not know? Do we so far suspect everything to be fortuitous that we leave no room for reason? What else do you want? Or what do you believe? I think you expect to hear the verdict of the judges. Well, they examined each point. Then, fixing their eyes on I know not what god-- for there is no god who wants iniquity, no god of envy or ignorance, which I might call the twofold cloud-shrouding truth--they pronounced this short final sentence: I am a good man without learning. Even if they have never spoken the truth and never shall speak it, may they have spoken it at least this once!
  • Pantagruel
    3.3k


    In what sense does the study of value instantiate value? You can study anatomy but never practice medicine. Arguably, the practice of medicine instantiates more benefits than the study of anatomy.

    I find the premise that what people actually do reflects their values much, much more than what they say (or write). So while axiology may have some value, it can hardly lay claim to being the highest value, therefore, neither can it lay claim to being the highest good.
  • Barkon
    112
    Hell is either a grace, in that the right people are suffering, or a problem, in that the wrong people are suffering. When the forces of good are twisted or used neatly to put you in hell, you will suffer.
  • Barkon
    112
    Justly by a matter of coincidence, in my opinion, no-one suffers this way, the status quo will always give righteous births
  • Leontiskos
    1.5k
    I believe you are correct about this way of stating the interrelationship between incontinence and axiology.Shawn

    Okay. :up:

    Yet, the hierarchy of values is, what I suppose, a function of the nous performing this decision, as Plato would have defined it. So, what would you say about such an idea?Shawn

    I think you are thinking about axiology as the means to the highest good. For Plato philosophy is the means to The Good. Yet I think Plato would say that The Good is the highest good, not philosophy. As you say:

    That's why, I am led to believe that axiology must be one of the highest goods, to a philosopher or even a layman.Shawn

    I agree that it is one of the highest goods, just as Plato would agree that philosophy is one of the highest goods. But I do not agree that it is the highest good.
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    In what sense does the study of value instantiate value?Pantagruel

    No, let me rephrase what you said. The study of value, appreciates the valuable from the rest of things.
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    Tell me what you think of it whenever you have the time, if you'd like.Moliere

    Yes, I agree that it's a nice letter. Yet, it seemed so apologetic as to apologize for even writing the letter. :snicker:
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    The study of axiology enhances the appreciation of value.
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    Yet I think Plato would say that The Good is the highest good, not philosophy.Leontiskos

    I find this hard to believe.
  • Moliere
    4.1k


    I wanted it all in context, but I should highlight the portion that's most relevant to the topic and why I started looking it up in the first place:

    However, at the same time they claim that I am altogether illiterate,that I am a plain uneducated fellow. This is just the opposite of what men of letters have stated when judging me, I do not care with how much truth. I do not make much of what these,friends deprive me of, if only what they concede me were true.

    Most gladly should I divide between me and these brothers of mine the inheritance of Mother Nature and heavenly Grace, so that they would all be men of letters and I a good man. I should wish to know nothing of letters or just so much as would be expedient for the daily praise of God.

    His friends criticize him for merely being a good man who does not care for truth. The bits on envy, so I read the letter at least, are very much Petrarch's interpretation of his friends. When I think about what his friends are saying it sounds like his friends are bragging.

    But the point with respect to studying axiology I was thinking of is in Petrarch's insistence that being lettered and educated isn't as important as being a good man. Something to note here is how literacy wasn't widespread at the time since this predates the Gutenberg press, and also that Petrarch is clearly a man of letters in this time as demonstrated by his writing. So he's not insulting education or its value, but insisting that it's not the same as being a good man, and that this is more important than being lettered.
  • Shawn
    12.7k


    So, I take this as a analogy that was provided of the nutritionist.

    Yet, I find it hard to believe that without knowledge of valence of value, how would anyone know how to appreciate or cherish the good? If you take a glance at how transient happiness is, then the very notion of what one values would serve as a compass in the fleeting moments of cherishing and loving the good.
  • Pantagruel
    3.3k
    The study of axiology enhances the appreciation of value.Shawn

    I like this formulation better. :up:
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    The study of axiology enhances the appreciation of value.Shawn
    "The study of axiology" is not itself axiology (i.e the study of value), so how does this "enhance the appreciation of value" when its object of study is not even (a) value?

    And "appreciation of value" does not even evaluate (or act consistently with) (a) value, so what does such "appreciation" mean, that is, what is one doing when one is "appreciating" value itself – a mere abstraction (like a number)?
  • Pantagruel
    3.3k
    "The study of axiology" is not itself axiology (i.e the study of value), so how does this "enhance the appreciation of value" when its object of study is not even (a) value?180 Proof

    It would seem that "the study of" connotes the act of reflection upon the topic or instance of something. So it can rightly be construed as an extension or expansion of the thing being studied. Just as the study of music enables one to directly experience nuances of performance inaudible to the untrained ear. In other words, that reflection upon something is able to enhance the value of that thing. Which is to say that reflection is inherently valuable, or confers value.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    Yet, I find it hard to believe that without knowledge of valence of value, how would anyone know how to appreciate or cherish the good?.Shawn

    Would this relationship hold generally: if and only if a person does not have knowledge of valence of X, then it's hard to explain how they have an appreciation of or cherishing of the Y.

    Where, in your example, the variables are set to
    X=value
    Y=the good

    ?


    If you take a glance at how transient happiness is, then the very notion of what one values would serve as a compass in the fleeting moments of cherishing and loving the good

    I agree with your sentiment here. I think what I'm hung up on is whether or not the compass in times of suffering -- what one values -- is a knowledge, and also I'm uncertain what "valence" might mean in relation to value which is why I tried to break out the sentence from the topic at hand to understand your assertion; is there another example for X and Y in the above which would fit within the sentence, or another way to put the sentence with another example?

    Or, really, I'm asking after what all these terms mean in relation to one another, or if there's a simpler way to state the belief you find hard to see as false.

    So, I take this as a analogy that was provided of the nutritionist.Shawn

    I think Petrarch's different here in that the nutritionist example differentiates goodness from knowledge of goodness, but the layperson ought visit the expert in order to better their chances of becoming good -- that is, there is a knowledge that may not be necessary, and is certainly different from the activity, but it enables that activity.

    Petrarch, as I'm understanding the letter -- I'm not expert on him by any means -- prioritizes this activity to the point that even though he clearly loves letters(knowledge), he would trade this knowledge without hesitation for being good. There's a different priority there which, if one could be good without knowledge then it seems one could cherish and appreciate that goodness even though they have no knowledge of the valence of the good.
  • Shawn
    12.7k


    In the same manner as the bodybuilder trains his or her body to become more muscular, so too the layman or moreso the philosopher can profess the study of value to become more content or cognizant of what to value.
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    Would this relationship hold generally: if and only if a person does not have knowledge of valence of X, then it's hard to explain how they have an appreciation of or cherishing of the Y.

    Where, in your example, the variables are set to
    X=value
    Y=the good
    Moliere

    Yes, well I don't have all the answers to your question; but, I can attempt to say that the study of value would lead a person to believe that what they value is in fact a good "thing."

    On the contrary I'm hesitant to say that there's a direct correspondence between X and Y. So, what do you think about the association between X and whether it is intrinsically related to Y, as I'm getting hung up on intrinsic goods which have a strict relationship, and instrumental or extrinsic goods with a weaker relationship...
  • Shawn
    12.7k
    and also I'm uncertain what "valence" might mean in relation to valueMoliere

    I think valence of value is confounded by many factors, such as, whether one 'likes' or 'dislikes' something to be valued. Otherwise, it may also depend on the inherentness of a quality or attribute to the ascription of value. Hope that doesn't sound too vague.
  • Moliere
    4.1k
    I think valence of value is confounded by many factors, such as, whether one 'likes' or 'dislikes' something to be valued. Otherwise, it may also depend on the inherentness of a quality or attribute to the ascription of value. Hope that doesn't sound too vagueShawn

    Nope! That helps. To summarize what I'm understanding:

    Valence of value is known by liking or disliking or perception of intrinsic value or willing some value

    Yes, well I don't have all the answers to your question; but, I can attempt to say that the study of value would lead a person to believe that what they value is in fact a good "thing."
    On the contrary I'm hesitant to say that there's a direct correspondence between X and Y. So, what do you think about the association between X and whether it is intrinsically related to Y, as I'm getting hung up on intrinsic goods which have a strict relationship, and instrumental or extrinsic goods with a weaker relationship...
    Shawn

    I want to reformulate with the above now. I was confused and so wrote some confusing things.

    Yet, I find it hard to believe that without knowledge of valence of value, how would anyone know how to appreciate or cherish the good?Shawn

    What if the good is different from knowing value?

    That seems to be Petrarch's point.

    The good layperson without that knowledge still cherishes good even without that understanding because they just are good -- it's a different sort of knowing from axiological knowing, even in the monastic sense.

    If you take a glance at how transient happiness is, then the very notion of what one values would serve as a compass in the fleeting moments of cherishing and loving the good.

    I think it does, but the question is -- do these values, or commitments, equate to a knowledge? Or are they just convictions?
  • 180 Proof
    14.3k
    ... profess the study of value to become more content or cognizant of what to value.Shawn
    I'm (very) old school: they (we) are what we do and not merely what they (we) say – practice alone cultivates habits. To "profess" is merely to preach which, more than anything, promotes hypocrisy. Besides, axiology is the study of how to reflectively form and apply value that necessarily begins with critique of "what to value" (i.e. givens re: customary, sociological, religious, ideological, etc) and therefore, IMO, does not (except, maybe, by process of elimination) posit/justify "what to value".
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