An Epistemological Excursion
By William Thomas Sherman
1604 NW 70th St.
Seattle, WA 98117
“For pleasure causes us to do base actions and pain causes us to abstain from doing noble actions. Hence the importance, as Plato points out, of having been definitely trained from childhood to like and dislike the proper things; this is what good education means.” -- Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics 1104b3-13.
There are (or there can at least be reasonably posited) three primary and elemental modes of Being or Existence, and without one or more of these modes being present there is no Being, (at least none such that human minds are capable of knowing.) These three primary modes are:
a. Reacting to an action (of someone or something external)
b. Initiating an action that will cause an external change of some kind
c. Resting, i.e. avoiding action.
These in turn can be naturally formed into secondary or sub modes by means of combinations (with perhaps one or more of the others.) Put slightly different when these any or all of the three primary modes are combined sub-modes are formed so that, for example, someone or something might be both (somehow) resting and reacting. Now it will be observed that these primary definitions already assume existence is possessed on the part of something or someone else, so that one would infer from this there is no sole or single primal existent, but rather, if our characterization holds, primal existents. By taking this approach we need not assume there is no God (i.e. he does not exist) or that he is multiple. What we might do instead is say that he somehow precedes and is above existence as such.
In addition to the above thee modes, Contemplation might perhaps be considered a fourth primary and elemental mode of Being yet (and as well) a unique kind of synthesis or combination of ‘Reacting,’ ‘Initiating’ and ‘Resting.’
Being and Action (or an event) can, for practical purposes and under certain circumstances, be considered synonymous, and that for someone (or something) existence can be legitimately thought of as an action of a kind -- whether an action initiated by themselves, and or someone else. Yet events presuppose persons and or objects, so how far can we take the similarity?
To account for the seeming contradiction, a theological minded person might say only God or the Absolute is a true person or object (all others of that description being contingent and dependent on him.) What we speak of as persons or objects, viewed literally are really quasi-persons and quasi-objects. In our blindness and ignorance of our fallen state we think of persons and objects as being definite and real, when perhaps it could be maintained instead that these are all rather events whose meaning is realized at their greatest, most real or most divine height in the one true person, one true object, and one true being, namely God.
Yet this hypothesis or perspective aside, we can -- at least -- say that persons and objects have the quality of an event about them, and that being and action imply each other, so that motionless Being, or a Being which is not in some way an event, while plausible in theory, is far from anything we know in fact. Anything can in some way be said to affect or have the power to affect something, and to this extent anyone or anything that exists also must be assumed to be able to act (i.e. insofar as they, or it, can affect anything, including our senses) and implies an event or potential event. In all, I make note of the association of persons and objects with events as something some might overlook, but which is otherwise not crucial to emphasize.
Judgment, that is decisions as to fact and or value, are initially brought about as a result of our reacting to someone or something. We are placed in a situation where external circumstances coming in contact with our own interests call upon us to come to a conclusion, or else call upon us to accept someone else’s conclusion. To the extent we do initiate judgments (for example intelligent people deliberately analyzing and cogitating) it is still in reaction to something else apart from us taking place beyond our control. Hence (again, initially) it would seem it is as a reaction that we find ourselves judging and forming conclusions. This combination of external circumstances and our own (perceived) interests forcing or prompting a conclusion (of some kind of other) then is a judgment: the conclusion being the crystallized or identifiable form that the judgment takes.
Can necessity create fact and or value? Must this or that assertion or thing be decided as being true false, this good or bad? Possibly, and in a manner of speaking yes, but only insofar as we allow such. We can, (depending on our power as individuals of thought and will) chose to not accept what others or circumstances say is a necessary factual or value judgment. But more on factual and value judgments later.
This said, after the initial reaction our judgment or opportunity for judgment can switch either to our mere further reaction or else our choosing to initiate reflective judgment.
By a judgment which merely reacts I mean a circumstance where the physical or sensual “decisively” overwhelm or override our rational and moral faculties (including our conscience), such as in the case of unreflective instinct. This then would be a reacting judgment.
A judgment which initiates judgment is one in which reason, objective reflection, and moral consideration (to some degree or other depending on the person) are more or less consciously invoked or utilized to bring about the conclusion. This is an initiating judgment.
A judgment is a decision as to the fact and or value of something, including decisions in which true or false (in some form or other) are explicitly or implicitly part of the conclusion.
Judgments can be said to be arrived at when we conclude something. We can conclude something consciously or we can also conclude something semi-consciously, as we do, for example, and typically when we reason and or act based on assumptions. Judgments (whether factual or value judgments) previously arrived and which might serve to assist in our forming a present judgment are what we call assumptions.
Any task we might do involves a number of other accompanying tasks, and this is true as well of judging.
Though as common as forming or assuming conclusions are, most people most of the time do not or rarely think of themselves as making judgments, or consciously denote conclusions they reach as judgments. One can and does make judgments without use of the word (judgment) or the need to describe to oneself that judging is what we ourselves or someone else is doing. Rather, more usually, we apply or relate (say for purposes of further judgment) the conclusion we make to some event, including a thought or an action, treat and utilize it as an assumption, and leave it at that. While true and false conclusions might be implied, say logically, by any judgment, it is not necessary when we conclude something to assert that such and such is strictly “true” or “false.” Instead we merely take something as being a fact; it “works for us,” and that is the end of the matter without reference to the concept of truthfulness. This would seem to be the case with the majority of people certainly. This said, one of course can do both, that is we can conclude “the boat is seaworthy” while at the same time asserting “the conclusion ‘the boat is seaworthy’ is true, or is a true conclusion.” But again, most as a practical matter would ordinarily not think this second step or exposition necessary.
A judgment requires a consciousness and a conclusion as to fact and or value, which in turn then is to some degree based on prior judgments or assumptions.
We can a) hold assumptions consciously and be thus clearly aware of them, b) hold them semiconsciously, or c) maintain them such that they seem unconsciously built into our way of thinking and feeling -- which is perhaps the same thing as b) except that with c) the assumption is more deeply rooted in memory and instinct.
There is a process in a our thinking by which it is possible to willfully call up an otherwise ignored or forgotten recollection. This ability to recollect or seek recollections will naturally vary with a given individual and depends in large part on their familiarity with the given subject to which the object of recollection is most related. In other instances memories may come to the fore of our conscious which we just as soon prefer they not do so, such that we then find ourselves trying to forget them (at least for the present moment.)
Prior assumptions can include past value judgments, and these in turn based on past factual judgments. Such value assumptions can be so deeply ingrained in us over time that even though reason speaks against or to dispel them, we have a hard time controlling or ridding ourselves of them. Say for example a person does not win a contest. Reason tells them that losing a particular sewing contest is not, in the grand scheme of things, really all that important. Yet the emotional memory of frustration of not winning still prevails -- especially if we think it is losing the immediate contest that is the cause of our frustration, when in true fact it is the memory of past such frustrations that really bothers us (not this losing the specific contest.) In this way a mistake in characterization of something, in this case the importance of winning a present diving contest, is further mistakenly given greater value or concern than it really warrants, based on an unconscious assumption we have yet to consider the value and merit of -- namely the overall frustration arising from past losses in competitions (and is this value judgment or assumption warranted?)
Additional ways of characterizing judgment (or a judgment) are:
*Something intellectually and or emotionally which takes place (in us) and results in a decision to mentally conclude, and or to act or not act.
* A conscious decision that an assertion (or something that might be expressed as an assertion) is formally true or false (or perhaps some combination, or qualified “true,” qualified “false.”)
* A semi or else unconscious decision to act or to conclude that such and such is or is not a fact. As a rule, we oftentimes judge or assume an opinion (perhaps of others) without realizing that is what we are doing. This is especially true of emotive value judgments (such as in our losing the sewing contest example.)
* Circumstances in which impressions – where (we allow) circumstances, immediate and or otherwise – to “take hold” of our decision making processes and assumptions, and allow ourselves (intentionally or no) to be manipulated by them. It may be described as a kind of laziness, usually excusable in us for being so common, in which we let circumstances impose their impressions on both our perceptions and other thoughtless assumptions (yet assumptions which we could freely and consciously weigh and re-consider, but which we instead accept “thoughtlessly” as assumptions.)
Judgments or assumptions (we can equate the two) may be:
a. Held or maintained with great intellectual (say rational) and or emotional conviction (“necessity”)
b. Held or maintained as a practical and probable truths
c. Held or maintained as uncertain and hesitant truths, gambles.
d. Held or maintained as wished for truths; the hope of something being true.
e. Not held and or ignored
These degrees of true and false in effect are the (rough) measures or the Truth Value of a judgment. A given statement or possible conclusion then is capable of having a Truthfulness assigned to it by someone, and possibly more than one truth value also. Whether a, b, c, d, or e, applies, and or whether or not a person’s assesses an assumption properly or adequately depends on the capacity of the thinker and the given criteria they use for determining the truth or falsehood of an assertion or belief. Of course, people oftentimes will vary greatly in their believing what makes something true or false, or fact of fiction.
The truth value one places on say a factual conclusion might differ for them if immediate and contextual circumstances were different. For example the business venture which yesterday we believed with rational certainty as being unpromising, we might presently have an entirely different idea of due to unforeseen developments. What seemed almost absolutely true before, we come to find is now not even true even in a small way. Our assumptions and conclusions therefore can change, perhaps drastically.
In practical experience, judgments are arrived at in different ways and kinds of temperament, and in every day life we are not always disposed to reflect on them objectively and impartially. Instead we “know” or are so caught up with emotion that more close rational consideration seems unnecessarily perhaps even repugnant to us (so sure of we of ourselves and our conclusion.) Is this a bad thing, that is to reject close reasoning? Well, whether or not it is, it is something we all do, and many times we just “know” without examining closely and without feeling the need to examine more closely and thoroughly what we conclude or assume. After all, as a very practical matter, unreflective judgments are unavoidable and necessary to some degree. Yet the natural question then is to what extent should this properly be so? For clearly careful thought and close reasoning are indispensable to us also.
People will routinely differ with respect to the amount of rational support or qualification they will allow or provide for their true/false or good/bad conclusions. At the same time, it is often the case that any conclusion could, at any given time, be said to need qualification or amending in the interest of greater accuracy and correctness. Moreover, more precise and correct judgment often suggests that the answer to a given question is not absolutely true or false (at least if one is such who assumes we are not capable of either absolute factual or value judgments.) This understood, we nonetheless essentially see the world in true/false, and good/bad terms, as part of the basic form judgments and conclusions take. As seen in ordinary communications, qualifying a truth statement may under certain circumstances lessen the force of its persuasiveness. This I think pointedly illustrates how pronounced is our tendency to prefer that our conclusions be either a decisive true or a decisive false.
It would seem that the more given factual or value judgment are made clear and validated by (to us) "right-est criteria," actions can be more easily chosen or taken up, and questions more easily decided, because our conclusions and potential assumptions are made more sure and confident by rational and conscientious use of such criteria. Yet while it might be argued that wisdom necessarily implies conviction with respect to an action following upon a wise judgment, it is clearly true that lack of wisdom does not at all necessarily imply lack of conviction. Though. this recognized, it may well be that the conviction which an ignorant or irrational person displays or manifests may be something conferred on or instilled in them by a higher intelligence.
To speak of superior versus inferior judgment is normally to speak of measuring the difference, in degree and quality, of the reasonableness, coherence, and comprehensiveness, and knowledgeableness of a given “judge” and their assertion. Of course, people will have different ideas on how such superior or more valid versus inferior factual judgment criteria might be established. Here, by this distinction (superior versus inferior), we are merely asserting that, practically and generally speaking, there is such a thing as a more intelligent versus a less intelligent judgment. If we allow that truth quality of factual judgment can be somehow estimated or ascertained, obviously the degrees between superior and inferior judgment could (at least approximately) be compared and, relative to each other, be measured and distinguished. An example of this would be comparing the truth value of the assertion “Dorothy has a biological mother and father” versus say “Lisbon is the capital of Portugal” versus say “there are Aleutians who are Eskimos” versus say “this vase can be dated as being 4,000 years old” versus say “so-and-so was the most esteemed and accomplished painter this country ever produced,” etc. The measure and truthfulness of such assumptions or potential assumptions are presumably to be determined by some arbiter who applies their own and or some other’s criteria, including their standard (or standards) for what is or makes a conclusion true (or false.)
These general preliminary distinctions having been noted and outlined, there are two fundamental and (for us) necessary kinds of judgments:
1. Factual Judgments
2. Value Judgments
A factual judgment determines the truth and falsity, the reality and unreality, of a given possible belief. Factual judgments can take on various forms including forming conclusions as to fact, and deciding whether an assertion is true or false (or qualified true or false.)
We can form value judgments as to factual judgments, and factual judgments can be used to temper, modify, or amplify value judgments. Otherwise judgments, assertions and statements of fact have a degree or measure of Truthfulness, while persons, objects, events have a possible Worth.
Both truthfulness and worth will, once more, to some degree and in some way necessarily entail the other. In ordinary experience, most people apparently see facts as preceding any valuation of them, that is they “know” fact before ascribing worth. But this is only how it seems on the surface, and we need not insist on this order or sequence.
Truthfulness (as I use the term here) is much like truth value and refers to the estimation of whether a statement, assertion or other belief is true or not, and this based on the designated arbiter and the truth and fact criteria they use. Truthfulness, however, refers only to assertions of fact, while consideration of truth value may more broadly be applied to both factual or value claims and assertions generally. A very simple example of truthfulness is when we say the statement “Trapezoids have only two sides” is false. In terms of “truthfulness” (or also, if you prefer, “truth value”) then the statement is “false,” as opposed to say “true,” or “absolutely true,” “possibly true,” etc. or other measures of value as to fact. Such measures then are the truth value.
One form of truthfulness criteria is seen in standards of proof. Of standards of whether something is true or false, there are different versions, and anyone of these in turn can be applied with a greater or lesser strictness by the given arbiter of fact. One person’s standard of proof, for instance, might be what is simply said in the newspapers or on television. Another requires a specific expert’s testimony. Yet another requires that they be able to test for themselves the fact in question, and perhaps use a precise scientific method. And, of course, there are many and other approaches as to what constitutes someone’s standard of proof.
Statements, beliefs, equations, sensations, perceptions, intuitions may have truthfulness or are capable of having truthfulness. Whether the notions of “true” and “false” possess truthfulness perhaps depends on how one defines them. Yet even allowing this to be a feasible question, what criteria could we possibly use to determine the truthfulness or truth value of the notions “true” and “false?” The former assumes the latter and vice versa. As things stand therefore, it seems we must (here at any rate) simply accept their reality and validity as necessary and ultimate measures or characterizations of fact and belief.
A value judgment determines Worth and refers to the degree or measure of desire-value (or desire related value, including utility for example) of someone or something, and is typically expressed or arrived at in terms of good and bad, or what we like and dislike.
As there are levels and or shades of true and false there are understood to be levels and shades of good and bad, again and also depending on the criteria we use.
With respect to factual judgments, the kind of facts we can be said to know based on judgments which form or invoke their usage (in no special order) are:
a. Immediate facts (or data) of sensation and perception
b. Facts of sensation and perception known by memory
c. Facts formed from intellectual intuitions, the notion of “one” and “number” for example.
d. Facts formed from concepts (which are formed in conjunction with sensation, perception, and intuition)
e. Facts born out of or arrived by reasoning
f. Facts formed from Ideas (which are formed from concepts, and possibly but not necessarily involving close reasoning)
g. Facts formed from memories of concepts and ideas
h. Second hand facts (of any of the above description) yet which someone relates or communicates to us
Depending on the circumstances and our powers of judgment, there is some extent to which we can ignore or reject what (perhaps) are, or what others claim to be, facts.
Intellectually speaking at least, facts are typically based on and realized by means of concepts which the mind forms for the purpose of their mental embodiment and representation. Without some means of conceptualization, intuition, sense and perceptual data lend themselves that much less to our forming a clear understanding and consequently (also) control of them. Feelings are somewhat different as mere feeling can sometimes be said to lead us to a conclusion with little need for conceptualization, as in when one stubs their toe. In that case the pain speaks itself regardless of our intellectual conception of it. Yet if we are to make our factual understanding that much more clear about something (and thus empower ourselves to better deal with it or them at present or in future) we need to form conceptions based on memories formed from intuition, perception and sensation. For this reason concepts are necessary and make possible clearer intellectual ideas about something on top of and say in addition to conclusions brought about by brute force or other strong feeling(s.)
Depending on the rules of logic and association one uses or applies a given concept (or conception) may be an index, reference, or suggestion to innumerable other related and unrelated concepts or conceptions.
As part of our thought and language processes, symbols or signs (including words) may be formally assigned to a concept or conception inasmuch as we feel the concept needs expression and realization. To speak of a concept which is not symbolized or assigned a sign of some kind is simply to speak of a concept which isn’t being considered or thought of.
This averred, and it is extremely important to emphasize, there may easily be more than one conception or version of a given concept (indeed perhaps infinitely so.) We are all the more reminded of the truth of this when we see to what extent a given person’s conception (of a given concept) can be unlike another’s, or even unlike a conception they held at an earlier time. Further similar or otherwise identical conceptions we hold may be said to go through stages of development in our thinking (with other conceptions and feelings being added to or taken away from it for example.) Another peculiarity of conceiving something is that something can be something by not being something else, or can be more than it is by being more of something else – even though it otherwise is the same thing (or person.)
There may be said to be such a thing as a Notion, which, as I peculiarly use the word here may refer to kinds of intuitions which are vague or latent concepts, such as we might experience in the case of certain intuitions or emotions, as when we say “here is something but I don’t quite know what it is (or quite all that it is.)”Another way of defining notion is as a concept lying within us which has yet to achieve full or significant awareness and or relevance by us. We hear a strange cry is the darkness, experience it, but don’t really have a clear conception of who or what caused it. At the same time there may be said to be notions and intuitions which, at times, have a certain greater reality to us than cognitive conceptions, as in the case of familial or biological instincts, for example. Every concept might be said to have a certain amount of notion to it, but a notion (again as I specifically use the word here) need not be cognitively conceptualized in order to affect our judgment or beliefs. Yet though it is possible to cognitively conceptualize a notion, again as in say an instinct or deep emotion, in our doing so something may be lost in the translation, or perhaps there are aspects of the instinct or the emotion which are simply (for us at least) inexpressible and or somehow cognitively incomprehensible.
As a general definition, Ideas are the form in which conceptions are gathered or formed into a unity and or group. They might also be described as concepts arranged or ordered in such a way as to heighten certain specific concepts, whose emphasis is otherwise lost. For this reason they can be seen as concepts of a heightened or illuminated character.
As with “notion,” probably every conception can be said to have some amount of ‘idea’ to it. But obviously some unities or groupings of conceptions have more ‘idea’ to them than others – at least based on the context (we might say ‘world’) in which they are conceived or received. Ideas, in this sense, are conceptions which are more meaningful to us than others. An odd facet of this definition, if we accept it, is that what might not be an idea to us might be an idea to another and vice versa, even though the conception each holds is mostly or essentially the same or similar yet different by its being viewed differently (or seen differently say by its being placed in a different context than another person’s places it.) A natural illustration of this would be where one person’s unwanted item requiring storage is another person’s antique worth paying dearly for. Their idea (including conception) of the thing are obviously different.
There is a sense in which one concept can be seen through the filter of another concept, and this is very common such as when a patriotic person is inclined to see the achievements of his own people in a specially worthy light versus, similar or identical achievements on the part of members of other countries. As our “filter” conception changes, so our conception of a second something (now seen through the new filter) might conceivably change also.
Like concepts, ideas can, of course, be expressed in words and other symbols. Beyond this both the basic conception or idea of something or somethings (or someone or someones) can be expressed in terms of qualities, characteristics, aspects, properties, or attributes, which in turn can be known intuitively and or through symbols. Qualities are what make up a thing and the fact that there are qualities seems to assume there is a thingness, or monadity which is real beyond quality, since qualities (or properties) are merely appendages of and assume them. Yet it is very common for us to mistake a mere quality for a real thing, so that what exactly is a quality and what truly qualifies as a real thing or monad is, in a given instance, understandably (at least for some) open to question.
Among the most elemental of qualities which can be ascribed or attributed to someone or something are:
1. Specified (or nominal) identity
2. Logical placement (or classification)
These are the (cognitively) necessary foundation of all conceptions, and all factual judgments require our invoking or making reference to these (i.e. one, some, or all of them) in one form or other. Any given something may be thought or spoken of in any one or all of these senses. For example, a person may be “Mary Smith,” and she may be “all” and or “some” of the people present in the room, and she might be spoken of as among those not in the room (“none.”)
When one says “some of the apples are green, some are red,” “some” in a sense describes an aspect of the group of apples, and in this sense “some” can be considered a quality attributable to the larger group “all.” Yet if “all,” some, none, are treated as qualities they are the most general sort of qualities attributable to any single person or thing, and in this sense they are logically universal or universally applicable aspects and therefore qualities (or potential qualities) of anyone or anything. For this reason the above can be called logical qualities, or else potential logical qualities. Each of the given logical qualities, of course, will bear relation to some other something and its qualities, and therefore each is obviously a relative and contingent notion. Note we will only make reference to a specified identity, all, some, none, insofar as there is value in doing so. Hence, the reality of the logical quality is to some extent a question of its value or usefulness.
Qualities may be accidental, incidental or they may be necessary to a given person or object, depending on the criteria one applies. In both a practical and a real sense they might be thought of as the measures and degrees of Being – at least Being and forms of existence as we are capable of knowing them.
Truthfulness and Worth, of say an assertion, may themselves, in certain circumstances and according to certain conventions, be considered qualities of a sort.
Factual judgments necessarily make reference to objects, persons, or events as their main subject or concern.
To reiterate, the impression any fact or conception makes on us depends in no small part of the value we give or assign it. This assigning of worth to a believed fact (which is yet another way of saying “judgment”), is what we mean by a value judgment, and is something we can do both consciously and semi-consciously, and oftentimes some combination of both. We will acknowledge or be cognizant of something because it has some indirect or direct value or meaning to it. And we may do this instinctively and unthinkingly. In the example “look out that tree is about to fall” our self-preservation is something that was decided by ourselves long ago so that we do not need to decide that question. Instead what concerns us (avoiding the falling tree) is an instinctive reaction/conclusion based on that previously determined underlying assumption (“I must save my life.”) In other words, if our safety or comfort did not matter (a value judgment) the fact of the dangerous falling tree would not matter and therefore perhaps not require our notice and hence a conclusion concerning it. Without some connection or association to some value or worth it would not (for us) exist.
Technically speaking one can probably describe anything so as to recreate the idea and perhaps experience of it. But not everything is worth saying, or can, under the circumstances, be said properly so as to be worth saying. In the same vein, we can represent, recognize, or ignore things (persons and experiences) to ourselves in a way that is or might be considered:
Depending on the criteria we are using one can see many things, but not all things are worth seeing, just as one can say many things, but many (given) things are not necessarily worth saying. And as by not saying something one can still being saying something, it is possible to avoid or ignore persons or things in a way that gives them our attention.
When we ignore something are we not still somehow forming a conclusion of or about it? The psychological details we can (for convenience) refrain from exploring and describing here. Otherwise more or less unconscious value judgments are judgments based on previously determined assumptions, so that in the chain of consciousness overtime there may be said to be (based on there having been) a conscious value judgment (say way back when) which accounts for our present thoughtless disregard (and hence judgment) of something being a fact worthy or not of our notice.
Each factual judgment then has some amount of value judgment implied in it and each value judgment has some amount of factual judgment to it. The two are inseparable, yet the degree to which one requires the other can vary enormously. For example if I say “3 –1 = 2,” some value judgments implied or applicable might be my love of (or need for) order, mathematical intuition, practical utility, school tradition. These are some things I value and are part of what gives the mathematical statement use, and hence value. Without this value (regardless of what it is based on or justifies it) the statement has no meaning or purpose. In a statement like “Hilda is the best horse shoe thrower” here value judgment might be said to take greater precedence than in the previously example because (at least one could argue) the criteria used here is of a less objective sort. In between these two are various other statements, conclusions, or assertions with shades of being more objectivity based and demonstrable or more value oriented we might list, such as “Pakistan was once part of India,” “honey pours more slowly than water,” “you need to eat properly and get regular exercise in order to be healthy,” “ostriches are larger and more well known birds than whooping cranes” “crime does not pay,” “a trumpet is louder than a harmonica,” “this budget plan will work to get more people employed,” etc. Exactly which is more factual and which more value like an assertion some will dispute. Obviously much depends on how we define something, and a large part of any definition is the context (or again ‘world’) created or established for it, and naturally the person or persons making the judgment.
These finer points aside (for now), it seems otherwise safe and fair to conclude that the two primary divisions by which judgments may be sorted are those as to fact and those as to value, with the understanding that both will to some extent assume and require the other. For this reason at least, no judgments can be an absolutely pure unity.
Value is the measure of the worth, esteem, satisfaction, and there may be one or many values (and kinds of value), just as there may be one and many facts (and kinds of fact.) Yet in comparing Value to Fact, note how, in normal practice, we think of value (singular) and facts (plural.) Value, in our seeking of it, is ordinarily conceived of and felt as a unity (or so it would appear.) Desire, by its nature, not only seeks but insists upon some unity of one kind or another. Facts, on the other hand, though we might fixate on one, are ordinarily conceptualized in multiple terms. For this reason there seems less contingency to value and more contingency to fact both as our conceptions and experiences of them. Yet when we desire something (or someone) ordinarily it is because it is connected with something else, and presumably some perceived and or latently conceived greater unity which is sought after.
We can well ask what good is this something if this something (or someone) needs something else? Hence God (or the Absolute) alone who is un-contingent, becomes (for many) the philosophical justification for all values, the standard and definition of supreme and all value (and values.) Yet even if we don’t mention God, value inevitably involves the invoking of some higher standard, index, or ideal, and it is that which gives who or what ever it is value, as when the value of the gold is said to be based on the temple or public confidence.
Value judgments are (or a result of) the seeking of a kind of form which suits or satisfies some or desires we have. Of these there are basically three possible kinds:
* Emotional Value judgments
* Intellectual Value Judgments
* Spiritual Value Judgment
A spiritual value judgment I would say (to be brief) would need to be manifested in or could be otherwise expressed by in emotional and or intellectual terms, so it might not be strictly necessary to include here, but do so for purposes of being open minded to the possibility. This remarked, someone else might argue that what is emotional and intellectual are manifestations of the spiritual, and so we make note.
Which of these three is stronger in a person, emotions, intellect, the spirit, and how well they are harmonized with each other naturally depends on the individual’s emotional, intellectual, and spiritual constitutions, as well as their physical and mental environment, both of which “environments” they have some amount (real and potential) of choice and control over.
You could be (in a manner f speaking) unconsciously thinking about something other than what you are thinking about. You can be concerned with (that is place a value on) something other than what you are concerned about.
Emotional Judgments with most people and most of the time seem to hold the greater sway with us than Intellectual judgments, and intellectual value judgments may after all may said to be only derivative of emotional judgments, inasmuch (at any rate) as we assume value originates in feeling, and prior to thought, since thought relies on feeling and presupposes it. As well and furthermore, we know of or have experienced feeling or emotions outside of conceptual thought.
When we desire we desire more than one thing. Even when we desire say health we desire it for some other reason. True, we may think of ourselves as desiring one thing. But if we look more closely whatever the one thing (or person) we find that it is attached to something else.
Every thing we desire then is attached or connected to some one thing or other, except again, as per the religious and some mystics, God. Further value by its nature,(as in greater versus lesser, better versus worse)
is relative and hence implies two or more. From this it would seem there is (for us and our power of knowing, judging at least) no isolated one thing which can have value. Value requires two or more at the very least, and some would insist more than two. For this reason, we can never really desire only one person and or thing, and when we do desire or love someone something we should find time to ask who or what are we connecting them to or associating them with.
One value can complement or negate another (e.g. quality of some merchandise versus its price), and where values conflict or are contrary they can sometimes be harmonized by means of a mean (as in the “golden mean.”) If there is a standard or index of value, it is presumably laid down, created or imposed by a person, whether ourselves or someone else. For how could a thing impart value by itself? Or put a quite different way, of what use would the whole world be to us if we were left all alone in it.
As a practical matter and most of the time, sometimes we arrive at a value judgment without consciously thinking that this is what we are doing. The exception to this might be say where a teacher grades a student or panel judge rates an athlete’s performance. Else, making value judgments regularly and without realizing this is what we are doing is as common a psychological tendency or instinct as we possess. We rarely think of ourselves as valuing. But we value (and not value) and make value judgments all the time, both based on what we think and on what we feel, but, again, ultimately and mostly on the latter. People and objects carry emotional associations which we typically have apprehensions (or apperceptions) of without our being conscious, or especially conscious, of these apprehensions.
Also (as earlier mentioned) we commonly conclude without being aware that the belief we are adopting is being arrived at with the aid of assumptions, which is to say previous value (as well as factual) judgments. Both experience and inward reflection show that there are layers of both semi and unconscious desires and assumptions which might affect a given conscious value judgment we make. These, by definition, are conclusions we have pre-accepted, and have it in our power to change, modify or reverse, depending upon our power of self reflection and control we posses over our judgment and beliefs. Assumptions may be feelings and past feelings which still lie in us – say for instance as a matter of conscience about something someone did wrong and which, in some way or other, presently affects the conception they have of themselves. They might be consciously, semi-consciously, or (somehow) unconsciously aware of the past event in question.
Since desire is often expressed as being love, we can as a practical matter here assume them to be much the same thing, with the difference that love usually reflects something far greater in importance than mere desire, and includes or might include appreciation, affection, well wishing and gratitude whereas desire does not necessarily include these. We only use desire as the name here for what we are describing because desire is more commonly found among people than genuine love as such – regrettable as we see this.
In desiring we seek various kinds of form, at least this seems to be a common characteristic, and we seek form apparently because in some way we lack it, seeking from as something we had before and or as something new which we have never yet known or experienced, or again perhaps a combination.
At the same time desiring can also be characterized as reacting. We are separated from what we somehow lack (which say we once possessed or which imagination offer us) and which now we seek. Yet we can choose to encourage, ignore, or reject a desire. We can do this presumably if we have another desire greater than it.
Yet there is apparently no real valuing apparently without decision. Desire someone must spring ultimately from someone’s choice, and it makes no sense to say we desire something which we do not in some way choose to desire. Now it is true we can desire something and in our mind clearly say we do not want that (though it tempts us.) Yet somewhere previously we did want it or someone or something connected with it, and it was the choice at that time that is operating now in us and which we (unconsciously or semi-consciously) persist in – even though now (using our example) the mind and reason speaks contrary to it.
The decision to value something seems to take place deep within in us, in our souls and from our souls to our hearts, bodies, then minds. Heart, body, mind all seek value and form in some way or other, and have their peculiar likes and dislikes which form the foundation of our judgments and beliefs.
Now the soul could be said to be the true ruler of our desires, and if the source of desire lies deeper in us than in our hearts, it could be said to be there. As with atoms, change within us comes about with greater difficulty than on the surface. In this way our soul might be said to be able to change: like the nucleus of an atom, which is to say with great rarity and greater power and forces required. Surface changes whether in the soul or an atom, on the other hand and by comparison, are much more easily had or obtained.
In common experience what we value or what we desire is what or something that pleases us. This being so we can be pleased in a variety of ways of which the following is a very general and informal list, with the understanding that and some of these terms might be defined or characterized differently, and to some extent do or might overlap.
We can then be pleased, or worth can be measured:
g. practically, that is to (loosely) say some ordinary and practical combination of any and all of the above as when we repair something or make something more efficient, we could, in a given instance, be said to be pleased morally, aesthetically, sensually, emotionally, and intellectually.
Desires can both be chosen, they can, in a sense, chose and pull us (say physically, emotionally, spiritually, intellectually), with of course many combinations depending on what in us is strongest and most developed.
Each of these as general headings can be broken down into and or combined into a variety of other subsidiary forms, so that emotional pleasure might consist of both laughter and merriment, or ecstasy and joy, sorrow and envy, etc. with perhaps an infinite (or seemingly infinite) variety of possible kinds of desire, both within one of these categories themselves and with the others listed. Whether there is or can said to be a summit of happiness and whether it would consist of all of these main pleasures and all their possible scope, and then all of these (main and subsidiary pleasures) in one whole is an interesting topic worth considering.
I desire (and or love) chocolate
I desire (and or love) my country
I desire (and or love) the Beatles
I desire (and or love) bunnies
I desire (and or love) my wife
I desire (and or love) my car
I desire (and or love) my church
I desire (and or love) the gang I hang out with…etc.
In each of the above given instances, the person’s love might be said to be greater or less, that is compared to a) someone else’s love, or perhaps b) their own same love, but that love experienced on a different occasion and circumstances. In this way all values are (for us) relative. There is no superior without there being some idea of inferior, and no good without bad, etc. Note however that bad or inferior do not necessarily imply evil (unnatural harm or destruction), so we are not insisting on the necessity of evil here, but merely the notions of inferior or bad. But more later.
Note, it is possible to express or state the same value judgment yet in either an affirmative or negative manner, as in “that is the best horse in the show,” “that is the least worst horse in the show,” “that horse is not second to any other horse in the show,” etc.
When we love or desire something we care for it. If we do not care for something we do not desire or love it. It is commonly accepted for many that the moment of truth in a value or factual judgment is whether we will spend labor, money or time or perhaps even our lives on the someone or something it considers and concludes about. What undoubtedly makes one age or era most distinct from another, (or one spirit of an era from another) is what the people of that age or era cared most about. This, or so it seems to me, is one reason why people from time period often look different in photographs from people of another.
Great events are public, but life itself (is mostly) private. It is a unique facet of artistic expression that it tries to combine both public and private, and is only really effective inasmuch as the public has heart. This is apparently true of religion and politics to some extent also.
Some artistic expressions we know better in private, others are enjoyed better in public, or enjoyed better in public but only with a certain kind of audience.
What is heart or loving desire like in larger societies versus smaller? Can we assume smaller societies have greater hearts than larger societies? What difference dos size of community or society make? Well, for one thing intimacy, longevity of contact are distinguishing characteristics of a smaller community like a family or very small town. We are most comfortable in family like setting, our heart is more easily there. How is our heart at home in larger communities? It is it more like a temporary dress and superficial allegiance (by comparison to family).
All the while of this, it is clear that the more a person or something is loved the more they are worth, all the more so as the person loving is of greater worth (say according to certain moral or character standards for example.) Rejection can serve to decrease the worth of someone or something. Whether however the power of love or rejection works most effectively or forcibly on us depends in large part on the community we live in, and our own attitudes about love and rejection.
Different desires we have may be harmonious or conflicting. Observe also how desire of one thing (or person) can be compatible and enhancing of our desire of another thing. Someone, for instance, might think loving (including desiring) their church is one way of loving their country. In other instances two desires we have may conflict, or only harmonize awkwardly. Further, loves which may be compatible in one circumstance, may be opposed in another. While it may be well for someone to desire wine normally, it might be a bad idea for them to like wine if they needed to stay on a diet.
Value (or the estimation we place on a desired someone or something) itself is known by comparing the value of one thing with that of another. Hence if we value something we will (consciously or unconsciously) invoke a standard by which the desire is understood and validated. This something is good because we are assuming that this other something is good. One person desires money because other people do and because it can buy things. Without this standard of other people and purchasing power, money might not mean anything to that person. As before then, every desire can be said to have another one or more underlying it. Because of this some will then proceed to argue that the God (or someone or something else) is the beginning and end of desire, or that the beginning and end of desire, who or whatever that is, must be God. Moreover if there is a supreme value (keeping in mind that values are relative) there must be a supreme example which serves as the standard, in order that value may be possible in the first place.
In any instance necessary for judgment good and bad (or better and worse) will be defined and measured according to some person or other's standards, and in experience good and bad can invariably be shown to be relative, unless we are trying to establish absolute statements as might be the case in certain metaphysics and theology.
Inasmuch as what is good or bad to us takes on a greater and lesser measure of quantity in a given judgment there may be as a practical matter be reasonably posited the following four (very basic) dichotomies of good versus bad – these in turn based on some sort of ultimate standard (or form) of Good. It might be said we need an ultimate standard of bad, but here I will reject this on the grounds that bad (as I see it) is simply the absence of good and therefore we need no ultimate standard of bad to know what is bad, or most bad. Others, however, are, and of course, free to contest or take exception to this assumption, which I otherwise adopt for convenience (in case you don’t like it.)
The (at least) four possible value dichotomies with respect to worth (judgments) are:
Capital letters means that what is “Good” (or “Goodness”) and or what is “Bad” (or “Badness”) is most real (to person) in a given judgment, and that for a given person “Good” means highest goodness, and “Bad” means rank evil; “good” means more immediate goodness or practical value, and “bad” refers simply to the absence of “good.”
Such dichotomies may be invoked singly by a person or possibly in combinations with one or more of the others within a given statement or experience. In a statement like “Peregrine’s is among the best dissertations,” both Peregrine’s work and dissertations, and presumably higher education are valued – and this is just for starters. One or more of the dichotomies given below then might be applied to each value judgment stated or implied.
In a "Good-Bad" judgment the person has a strong sense of what is good and a strong sense of what is bad.
With this sort of dichotomy things are seen as evenly divided between great Good and great Bad, in a sort of divine indifference, with possibly a slight leaning toward the Good. A person with this disposition might think that in addition to promoting higher Good there can be no such higher Good (properly speaking) unless what is really bad (if it is present) is in some way removed or kept separate from it.
Another way of interpreting "Good-Bad" is to say if something is very good it is also assumed there is something very bad. For example, such and such is my favorite baseball team because they outdistance in victories this other team. To assert my baseball team is the best without such comparison, according to this disposition or orientation ("Good-Bad"), what is "Good" loses meaning. “My team isn’t good unless others whom they might compare to are real bad.” Similarly someone or something possesses extreme Badness, because this someone or something or other is so Good, and is only so Bad because this other is so Good. Such an approach or attitude as “Good-Bad” might admittedly be thought unusual, but certainly is not one that is impossible.
Yet a possible other characterization of “Good-Bad” might be where someone, say God, for certain Gnostics or Manicheans is equally Good and Bad.
“Bad-Good" is the same as "Good-Bad" but in reverse. The person, in effect, sees Bad as that which is to be preferred, and (what we ordinarily think of as) good as bad, such as some dyed-in-the-wool demonist, a similar kind of approach is implied in “Bad-good,” “Bad-Good,” and “good-bad,” i.e. Evil is as good or better than Goodness.
By contrast a person who makes a "good-Bad" value judgment sees what is Bad as most important, and should be of primary consideration. "good" exists, but by comparison, and perhaps at the moment doesn't matter. For example, someone is thought so Bad because evil is seen as more real than any good, that “good” exists to serve “Bad.”
“Good-bad” means what is Good is most emphasized, without regard to bad which is otherwise a merely practical and experiential assumption.
“good-bad” means what is being value can be measured as god or bad, but in either case is of relatively small importance. 'bad-good" is the same but with perhaps more of tendency to be negative.
Our disposition toward a given decision may then take on one of the four dichotomies (or their variant.) Whether a dichotomy is itself, or is applied, in a “just,” “correct,” or appropriate manner itself involves a value judgment and hence must be decided by an arbiter and the criteria they use for making factual and value judgments (which may include yet another dichotomy.)
Yet if as a practical and simple matter we say there is such a thing as a “correct” factual judgment, a person may possess or lack the capacity for correct factual judgment, while still maintaining one or more of the dichotomies as their framework for making in value judgments. In other words, we could be reasonable and scientific people for example, and use the same dichotomy as an irrational and ignorant person, and vice versa. Objectively speaking, one’s level of intelligence does not seem to necessarily imply one dichotomy or another is used by the person in question – bearing in mind the question of level of intelligence (or say accuracy in one’s thinking) is itself going to involve some amount of value judgment.
The main point here is that in making judgments ourselves, or in assessing the judgments of others, we can approach any given judgment assessment from one of the above dichotomies (or dispositions): both with respect to the specific judgment (overall), and with respect to specific factual and value assumptions latent or otherwise it contains.
Of course, a particular individual might employ or use various dichotomies or orientations in one single judgment or assertion, in one combination or other, which distinct approaches toward value can be extracted by analysis. In some assertions of fact, value assertions might not on the surface be present. But the simple fact is that in any comprehensible or communicable statement there are some values or other implicit or inferable on the part of the person making it.
This four point outline of “good” versus “bad” is granted simplistic. We could, of course, go on to perhaps speak of “medium” (or intermediate) Good and medium Bad, or medium good and medium bad. This aside, the essential framework and forms for distinguishing values in our judgments, while observing their relative character, is otherwise clear and worthy of interest.
Worth Comparison, Values Shuffling and Mapping
In common day to day life, when we form conclusions as to good and bad we not unusually find ourselves shuffling values, that is we might esteem say a number of things and we find ourselves in a situation where we must decide which value must or should override the others when there is conflict between them, for instance when choosing between painting, paneling, or wallpapering a wall. The worth of one thing or one interested is weighed versus that of another, and we conclude in favor of that which seems most pleasing to us. Whether what pleases us is actually wise or not is a separate question, the main point here being that when we choose between the worth of two or more things, and assuming such choice is somehow necessary, we choose the thing which (as we see it) most pleases us, and in this way arrive at worth. At the same time, of course, worth can be arrived at by balancing two goods, finding a means between them, and determining worth this way.
Below is an example of value shuffling or value assessment a person might undergo in the course of making a values choice, in this case deciding whether a eating a certain food is (in a given instance) good or beneficial and, to that extent, something to be valued (leaving aside the question of whether the food itself has value outside our decision to consume it or not. I have limited the example to three basic criteria: a.) Hunger, b.) Appetite (or craving beyond hunger), and c.) Nourishment (the food is seen as being good for me nutritionally.) Of course we could add another criteria or concern, and it goes without saying that in given certain circumstances and a given person a concern might come to bear not taken into account by these three. Values in turn could be broken down and analyzed into subsidiary values, etc. But for now, and to keep this manageable, we’ll stick with this more simple outline.
* I’m hungry and the food looks appetizing and it would be good for my health to eat it. As well it would please my appetite. So I eat it.
* I’m hungry and the food looks appetizing and it would be good for my health to eat it. I don’t eat it for some other reason, say because of reasons fasting or frugality.
* I’m hungry and the food looks appetizing and it would be bad for my health to eat it. I eat it because I am hungry and looks appetizing, though it really isn’t (much) good for me.
* I’m hungry and the food looks appetizing yet it would be bad for my health to eat it. I don’t eat it because its bad for me.
* I’m hungry, the food doesn’t look appetizing, yet would be good for me. I eat it because I am hungry and or it would be good for me.
* I’m hungry, the food doesn’t look appetizing, yet would be good for me. I won’t eat it because it is unappetizing to me.
* I’m hungry, the food doesn’t look appetizing, yet it would be good for me. I eat it because I am hungry and it would be good for me.
* I’m hungry , the food doesn’t look appetizing, yet it would be good for me. I don’t eat it because it isn’t appetizing and or would be good for me.
* I’m hungry, the food doesn’t look appetizing, yet it wouldn’t be good for me. I eat it because I am hungry, though it isn’t appetizing and or wouldn’t be nourishing.
* I’m hungry, the food doesn’t look appetizing, yet it wouldn’t be good for me. I don’t eat it because it is neither appetizing and or nourishing.
* I’m hungry and the food doesn’t look appetizing yet it is good for me. I eat it because of hunger and or need for nourishment.
* I’m hungry and the food doesn’t look appetizing yet it is good for me. I don’t eat it because it is not appetizing.
* I’m not really hungry but the food looks appetizing and is good for me. I eat it to appease my craving and or my perceived need for nourishment.
* I’m not really hungry but the food looks appetizing and is good for me. I don’t eat it because I am not really hungry and or I don’t have a craving for it.
* I’m not really hungry and the food is not good for me but looks appetizing. I eat it to appease my appetite.
* I’m not really hungry and the food is not good for me but looks appetizing. I do not eat it because I am not really hungry and or is not good for me.
* I’m not really hungry and the food is neither appetizing or good. I eat it for some other reason, say I think I need to dispose of it to make space in my food bin, and for some strange reason see this as worthwhile way of doing this.
* I’m not really hungry and the food is neither appetizing or good. I do not eat it because I don’t crave it and or it isn’t good for me.
* I’m not hungry and the food is not appetizing but it would be good nourishment for me. I eat it as nourishment.
* I’m not hungry and the food is not appetizing but it would be good nourishment for me. I do not eat it because I am not hungry and or it is not appetizing.
Note that the strength of a given reason’s acting upon me, e.g. hunger or craving acting upon me, can be arrived at relative to the strength of the other criterion’s or criteria’s effect on me, or arrived at by its strength on me taken by itself. So for instance I could arrive at my conclusion (that health is more important to me) either because hunger and craving have a small impact on me, or else my concern with my health I have otherwise and emphatically decided as being one of my highest goods. Concern for health then, using this example, could be arrived at because hunger and craving are weak in me, or else because my devotion to bettering my health is purposely and intellectually decided upon as my higher interest. Of course, we can think of any number of other possible combinations where our concern for one criteria, using craving for instance rather than health) is affected by our concern or lack of concern for the other criteria, or when one criterion by itself stands out above the others. Such we might, if we were conscientious people, find ourselves asking is that what we want? Is that what we really want?
If we were to form the standard for a single isolated criterion, the measure of say how hungry we were, this would be based (to some degree) according to and by contrast with past experiences of hunger we had, known on isolated occasions, and known cumulatively, from which then, (in effect), we had could arrive at our present valuation of how hungry we would say we were.
Should we say that being hungry, having the appetite for the particular food, and also that the food is genuinely nourishing, all these combined, is the best state or situation of desire (of all of these listed) which one could be in? With respect to food, the answer would seem yes. But this assumes there is no greater value than the best circumstances for eating. Needless to say, while we might desire the optimal food eating circumstances (i.e. we are hungry, the food is appetizing, and it is good for us), we might not care less about food at all if we valued someone or something else more highly (at least in a given circumstance), so that these values or desires which otherwise might otherwise move or prompt us, are negated and seen (at least for the moment) to be irrelevant. In such a case, we would say the lesser values have been supplanted or subsumed by something of greater value – given the circumstances. Again, keep in mind as I say this, that the worth criteria a person might use, or the measure of what pleases them might be based on morals, aesthetics, religious belief, tradition, reason, the views of others, bodily desires, etc.
Now truth-value shuffling (as in decision and application of truth criteria) as to factual conclusions, and further the question of worth assessment as applied to factual conclusions (those of experience and verbal assertions) I will (once more for convenience) leave aside for now. But clearly a similar example along the outline as the above, yet with its own peculiarities and extensions, can be constructed as well, comparing say logic versus evidence versus capacity of language (to express truth.), while (in some measure) endeavoring to distinguish more or less real data based persons and things from the concepts, representations, or inferences of them. Also of course worth noting is that there certainly is such a thing as avoiding or attempting to avoid value comparisons, as in peculiar circumstances for example where we purposely would rather not decide which of our friends presents a more agreeable appearance, because we hate the thought of offending either.
Context, (or also place, setting, environment, order, arrangement, relations among “parts”) is crucial to both truthfulness and worth. It is itself, or is otherwise an order adhering to certain rules, which might involve criteria or principles relating to (though some of these might be said to overlap):
d. Symmetry and Balance
e. Contrast and or complementariness (of factors or elements)
f. Sympathy or Antipathy (based on past valuations of ours
g. Worth and or Fact declarations of someone other than ourselves
h. The state of our own physical health
With (as always) there being various types and many combinations possible, all of which speak to the possible value placed on certain relations which make up the context someone or something is placed in.
Form is something common to both feelings, thought, and utility, all of which have and are contexts of their own, such that context is a form (rather than say a thing.)
With respect to worth it can make something good or bad, etc., and may be said to be the most crucial form or criteria in the determination of worth. It may be said to be where form and value join. It will invariably be something controlled by someone one or more than one, but who and to what extent will or might be open to question. Context makes something good bad or indifferent. For example, in one circumstance more may be better (or worse), in another circumstance less may be better, and it is context which makes this so.
Context is created when one thing or relation is given value over another, and the possible reasons for such. It can be circumscribed by any number of factors including immediate environment, past assumptions, laws of nature, etc. yet there is still a sense where if we possess free judgment we can always to some degree create context and therefore worth for any possible person or object of value.
Context is a choice, made out of standards, and to the extent we can choose the context in which to see someone or something for ourselves depends both on what we immediately value and or what we latently or more deeply value. When we do not quite form context for ourselves we defer, willingly or not, to someone else who certes the context for us (mostly if not entirely.)
Context or environment is created and arranged in such a way as to give each component its value and if we look at one part it will (more likely) have a certain value because of the context for it created or which it finds itself in. But observe even in a machine, context is ultimately a worth value, and worth value must come from a person.
In both the designs of say a work of art, say a carving, or a mechanical device, say a wood lathe, we see necessary importance of value placement and arrangement.
Place and arrangement with respect to art, music, etc, have been addressed by various and many aesthetics to which we could refer you. Perhaps paradoxically, by controlling context one can (to some extent) limit or enhance value, and by limiting or enhancing value context can be formed. We see this, for instance in that there is a degree to which things are represented to us, and a degree where we have power of representing something. Our power of representation brings with it (necessarily) the power to ascribe value, both as an individual and (to a lesser) extent as a member of the community (though this power might vary greatly between one individual and another.)
Context can make something we hate into something we love; something we love hate. People and things, including ourselves, will look in a bad way if seen out of proper place or context., and context can deprive and deny value as well as confer it.
Now in the case of mechanical devices the connection between context and the parts (which make it up), is perhaps less generally understood and appreciated by us. Watt for example improved the value of steam engine by more careful, economical, and efficient use of heat. The importance of increasing the effective use of heat itself increased. In other words Watt was saying “we need to make more economical and efficient use of the heat, for it is the heat which will make it possible for our engine to possess greater power.” At the same time of course other values were given a new opportunity for greater appreciation including: distance, placement, and configuration of engine parts with respect to achieving a certain specific effect in harmony with the effect intended for the whole (engine); the value of using one kind of metal versus another (which is say lighter), and, as another category by itself, the utilitarian level where we might expect social, personal, and business concerns come to the fore. All of these values played an essential part in what finally came out as the improved steam engine, such that one can see from this what a widespread network of different forms of valuing goes into the making of any mechanical device.
Ends and Means
Each desire, whether for truth or for worth, has an ideal, and if we think about it we can expand on and make more clear any given ideal, and any complaint a person makes bespeaks an ideal not being fulfilled. If we complain, we owe it to ourselves to ask what this ideal is, and what is really or realistically is required to bring it about (as opposed to our merely being upset that it is not being realized..
Now it is in an end or goal that we seek to realize an ideal, and for this reason ends might be characterized as that greatest ideal or ideals which we most seek. Despite the meaning perhaps implied, however, “end” for some does not necessarily imply finality as such, as perhaps when someone speaks of seeking highest knowledge or eternal peace, which might understandably be thought of as ends without end.
Means are a tool, avenue or aid which will bring us closer to the fulfillment of the given end or ends. While, as with Good and Bad, we don’t ordinarily think of ends and means with philosophical distinctness in day to day life yet at least intuitively we know them very well, and have no difficulty connecting means we desires with ends we desire, though certainly we might at times confuse the one with the other.
Both factual and value judgments can be said to have End and Means aspects, though in a given case the roles might overlap or be interchangeable depending on the context (as by now we accept as being typical of factual and value judgments.)
For example the equal sign in a mathematical conclusion is a truth/belief means to a greater truth/belief ends (or the overall statement and conclusion of the equation.) This is so at least if this is how the mathematicians chooses to see the sign versus the whole equation. Otherwise true and false would almost always seem to be means. When someone says “the True or the Truth is our end (or final goal)” they can’t really stop there but must explain who or what “True” is. In this way true (and false) are means, and cannot properly speaking be considered pure ends. One implication of this seems to be that when we value something we value it beyond its being true and or false, though these might be part of the necessary conditions of its being valued.
Of course, when we speak of ends and means with respect to worth we mean (or might mean) we desire x itself. In the case of means we might desire x because it reminds us or in some way will bring us to y which we desire even more.
Someone or something can be both a means and ends (depending on context), such as emotions. Someone gets angry. Why? So that everyone, or at least himself, will be happy or better know peace. In this sense anger might be said to be used as a means to a greater end. But of course the greater end itself is typically viewed as itself some great emotion, for example peace, joy, ecstasy.
Whether we decide someone or something is an ends of means we use criteria to make the determination. Kant formally expressed the view that people should always be seen as ends and not means. This sort of moral argument we won’t go into here, but make note of it and its possible significance. For instance it might seem possible, expanding on this, to view all being or beings as end, and that means is a false or at best practical notion, with many possible variations on this thought such as we might find in Hinduism or Buddhism.
Ends would seem to imply final or ultimate end, or final purpose. We do or want something for a reason, so that logic suggest that this reason has itself another reason. At the same time it is natural and instinctive for people to seek or desire ultimate ends, simply inasmuch as they manifest unusually great love or desire.
Some have seen ultimate form in various ways. It might be thought a very subjective notion. Yet assuming it is, it is not one without its objective possibilities and conceptualizations.
Naturally or else commonly found ultimate ends people have or might have:
c. Peace, stability
d. Joy or Happiness
e. Removal of a certain desire or desires
f. Removal of all desire
g. Fulfillment of a certain desire or desires
h. Removal of pain
i. Removal of Injustice or (more than personal) Evil
One of these might but perhaps does not necessarily imply one of the others. Philosophy is itself love of wisdom (not knowledge of wisdom.) But is wisdom or knowledge an end in itself or a means to one of the above?
Now one of the key ideas of proper religion is to supplant (but not necessarily remove completely) lesser desire with more worthy desire. The form or forms to be recommended for doing this are of course various and numerous as there are religions. One such form or ideal which (so to speak) attempts (as means) to realize ultimate form might be “the form” of living in and fostering a more reasonable world.
As we suggested or made reference to much earlier, ultimate ends would seem to come in combinations, for as a practical matter what one, single end could we speak of? “Peace,” for instance, might be a good candidate to pose for this purpose, but “peace” would seem to imply being, perhaps (or perhaps not) consciousness also, and more. In other words, as soon as we fix on our single end we run into something else.
Moreover lets assume we have decided on a single final good, in this case “Peace,” what kind of peace might we have in mind? Peace with others, peace with ourselves, peace with God, peace with all three? Peace with our enemies? The question can obviously be answered quite differently, and any given single end, (or ends), is going to entail some someone and or something other.
The next question is are these persons or things which accompany the “one” end, are these themselves ends or means? In answering this we can begin to frame a hierarchy of values which a person might hold to. Having done this we might then see how circumstances might affect or change that person’s hierarchy of values, and further whether we could or should speak of a person’s long term hierarchy of values (that is such values as a person had manifested over the course of time) versus their hierarchy of values of the season or the moment.
We might speak of a process or spirit, say in Logos, or Love, as ends, such that process or spirit is the Form of all form and of all forms, and the highest form to be sought.
Spirit is best known and most familiar to us in heart and mind (rather than say sensation), so we seek and realize spirit most through these, such that in heart and mind it could be said our life has its beginning and end.
Guides to Higher Forms
The following are themselves or else familiar Guides to higher forms and purposes. Now I fully grant you, some of these definitions may obviously may, in a certain sense, be speaking of the same thing. But if the category is less than technically precise, this (hopefully) is offset by convenience and improved general clarity. Any of these guides might be applied aesthetically, morally, rationally, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and with a mind to any given factual and or value judgment we make.
Sin has been defined as missing the mark. While Excellence is often thought of as hitting it. In some if not all contexts balance and or harmony are the mark to be hit.
Sometimes something is exaggerated, over done or overstated or under done or understated, in order to achieve the mean, or hit the mark, as when someone is encouraged to strive much higher than realistically they could otherwise expect to achieve, yet the higher aim raises their performance or capacity closer the mark (perhaps or evidently in compensation for something else we lack to do the job.)
Balance and harmony can sometimes be seen as hitting the mark. These might also be spoken of by the terms or descriptions: equilibrium, justice, centrality, unity, oneness, equality, restoring a deficiency, lessening superfluity. Normally speaking, balance and harmony are achieved when parts are given value or contextual placement in conformity to a higher form or unity.
We all are aware from ordinary experience, and under certain circumstances, that knowing too much can (as when say we are distracted by something irrelevant to the task at hand) result in ignorance, oversight, and misjudgment, as much as when we know too little for the purposes of whatever it is we are doing. From this we could say that too much light blinds just as too much darkness. Truth itself, evidently then, must be a proper balance between the light and darkness, and wisdom a state of knowing and not-knowing in which the knowing and the not-knowing somehow meet and join harmoniously.
Naturalness, Moral Sentiment, Personality, Continuity, are universally desired qualities but these I think are only aspects or, manifestations of balance and harmony.
Occasionally balance and harmony are seen as being achieved by means of fixing on and arriving at the Mean (between two contraries or else extremes.) Observe in this regard how the earth must be in just the right spot else it would be too cold or too hot. This is evidence of the balance life and goodness demand. Not as well that a note must be tuned in just the right way else it will be too sharp or too flat.
Yet very often what we value most is what we see as highest, not that which is in the middle. In response to this perhaps we could say that balance and harmony are (in some way) the highest goods, while observing that there are degrees of balance and harmony which potentially allow for an infinite amount of color and variety.
The two contraries on which a mean is based is something which itself can be chosen. For instance we could choose.
* A concert versus a play
* A concert or play versus a hockey game
* Attending an evening event (such as concert, etc.) versus staying home.
From such as this or whatever contrary we have selected, it is usually possible to find a mean, or some sort of mean. Now what contraries we choose on a given occasion will be a result of some value judgment, thus creating the context in which the choice of contraries arises. When an elderly person chooses an exercise program for themselves, they would probably choose one different than that which a young military candidate would select. The difference might lie between the same contraries of rest and exertion, except that one would expect the military candidate to have a point of exertion which is much more demanding, and perhaps as well an idea of rest that is less relaxed and soporific in character (than the elderly person’s.)
Indulgence, extremism, or taking something to the limit is seen as a desirable alternative to finding the mean. We don’t seek a mean between bread and cake, we want cake! In this way, indulgence is a seen as one guide to the ultimate. At other times, of course, extremism is something to be frowned upon, not least of which by those who seek balance, temperance or the mean.
Perhaps life then may be said to be finding the mean between indulgence and mean determination, since we can’t help but seem to seek both to some extent.
Both the infinite and the finite (in one form or another certainly) have been seen as ultimate forms. As has been long observed by philosophers, the one implies or requires the other. So that neither the infinite (as we can intellectually conceive it) or the finite is a single simple entity, so that we are reminded that unless we posit God, Brahman, the Chinese li, or the Absolute, etc, each one or anything is a composite. So as much as we can tell, a thing is always at least two things, and others, such as in Charles S. Peirce will insist three, and for yet others a thing must be more than even three things.
Is there a mean between infinite and finite? Artists, poets, and musicians could be said to seek such an expression, and have (I think) tended to see the heart’s conception of the infinite as better than the mind’s, and through their works of art, poetry and music could be said to be striving for such a mean.
Of course, among philosophers the mind will have had its advocates, and the mean between the finite and infinite (if one can rightly speak of such) is to be had through the seeking and loving of wisdom.
Others of a perhaps more religious and theological disposition will see mind and heart as merely organs of the spirit which knows the true mean between the infinite and finite, and this through knowing and serving God (or Divine Goodness, etc.) through works of real charity and devotion.
Still yet others will or might strive to find some compromise between two or three of these.
 As say in something or someone else to react to.
 Also compare “object” and “event” to the different yet identical concepts “particle” and “wave.”
 Groups of people can be spoken of as forming judgments. But here, to keep things uncluttered, we will focus only on individual judgment.
 In Peithology I refer to this event as “apprehension,” while drawing on William James concept of “apperception.”
 And, naturally, we might also say every idea has some amount of notion to it to help give it its greater significance beyond a mere conception.
 That is the concept through which we see a second concept, as if the first acted as a filter to the second.
 We should note also that it is possible to characterize and determine qualities (as Duns Scotus was one of the first to realize) by means of quantification of parts, elements, and or components, as when for example a given color on a computer screen can be measured in pixels, versus say another color by means of the same measure. Further, every image has, and could be said to require, its geometrical equivalent, and every geometrical figure has a mathematical equivalent. Yet not every mathematical equivalent has or needs a literal image. This (I believe) proves the superiority of logic and mathematics over images, or understanding based on mere images, inasmuch as while images necessarily require logic and mathematics, the opposite does not seem much to be the case.
 For further exploration of the topic of First and Secondary Criteria see my Peithology.
 An ideal may be said to be the cause or source of something, i.e. we know the ideal by its effects, though never it.
 This is what I contend here though for brevity’s sake without going too deeply further into the matter (which you or I otherwise might.)
 Of course these conceptualizations are something I have devised for the purpose of analysis, and it would otherwise be unusual or unknown for most people to demarcate their value judgments in this specified way, so that what I am describing is something we more or less do unconsciously, and it may be possible to express the same or something very similar using a different sort of value gauge.
 For a more close examination of the subject of “Evil”(as opposed to mere philosophical “Bad” as such) see my Christ and Truth.
 For purposes of examining applied or practical value judgments, we could use another activity aside from eating – say to play or not play volley ball; or to look or not look at a clock; to walk or not walk across the street, etc. All we require is a situation where a choice is made between action and inaction: the decision to act being essentially the result of deciding that to act is “good,” while not acting would be the result of the value judgment that to act (in the particular circumstances) is “bad.” Here I speak of eating a certain food or not eating it, the decision to do one or the other being based on the value judgment(s) that eating the food is “good,” or else not eating it because to do so is (adjudged to be) “bad.”
 That is the food is taken by the person to be of a nourishing kind, and that it would be fitting for their health (on that particular occasion) to eat. This is based on their own assessment and knowledge of the food and its benefits, though (on that particular subject and occasion) they may actually be in error. This further sort of distinction, i.e. justified versus unjustified belief as it pertains our assessment of whether we are hungry, crave the food in question, or it is healthy for us, I skip as not strictly necessary to my main point and focus.
 “The parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light upon is meaning.” (Webster’s Seventh Collegiate.)
 Including when a relation is seen as one thing, as when we refer to a dancing couple, or acrobat team, and without necessarily mentioning the relations we are implying when we speak of them.
 Though of course some seem to prefer the stomach, but the stomach could be said to be a secondary motive to the primary motive of their heart or mind.
 As best we know, balancing light and dark can be done in time and space, but does this imply that there is no truth or wisdom beyond time and space? Or is there a superior truth and wisdom beyond time and space? Or no truth and wisdom at all?