Philosophy and the American School: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education

By Van Cleve Morris | Go to book overview

CHAPTER NINE
Comparative Axiologies

AXIOLOGY AND PHILOSOPHICAL THEORY

Valuing and the theory of reality

At the outset of Part III on Epistemology, time was taken to explore the connections between ontological theory, discussed in Part II just preceding, and the theories of knowing about to be brought under discussion. The burden of this discourse was simply that to hold a theory of reality is, in itself, to say something about the knowing process, if no more than to set the limits of knowing or to prescribe the "ground" in which knowing is to be carried on. That is to say, an ontological position suggests, even if it does not insist upon, a particular approach to epistemological matters. And the kind or kinds of knowing that are considered worthy of examination are in a measure the "products" of -- i.e., the kinds of knowing made possible by -- a particular ontological theory. Later in this discussion in Chapter Five we brought the argument full circle by noting the fact that one's ontology, in turn, depends on one's epistemology; that is, what one says about reality is true only by virtue of a previously stipulated theory of how truth is found out and uttered. In these reciprocal ways there is an intimate logical and psychological relationship between ontological and epistemological theory.

The same relationship, generally speaking, prevails between ontology and value theory. The fundamental question in ethics, as we have said, is: What ought I to ought? Now, if our ontological position has already

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