Values and Intentions: A Study in Value-Theory and Philosophy of Mind

By J. N. Findlay | Go to book overview

REREFACE

This book is the attempted elaboration of ideas and themes very briefly set forth in my Henriette Hertz Trust Philosophical Lecture, read to the British Academy on March 20, 1957, and entitled The Structure of the Kingdom of Ends. For convenience of reference, and by kind permission of the British Academy, in whose Proceedings (Vol. XLIII) the lecture first appeared, the lecture has been reprinted as an Appendix to the book.

Unsatisfactory as my exposition of the themes of my book undoubtedly is--chiefly on account of their extreme magnitude and diversity--I have felt in writing it that I was being true to the shapes and alignments of my cloudy material, and was making a groping use of the sort of method that really fits them. All philosophy has been bedevilled by the methods and ideals of formal logic--which may be summed up as the attempt to draw sharp lines round all concepts and to make all inferences rigorously deductive--and increasingly so with the improved formaliza- tion of recent times, but in no field of philosophy has this bedevilment worked more direly than in the field of moral thinking. It may be said almost to have conjured the whole subject out of existence. For the logical relations interesting to moral philosophy are all what may be called 'family relations': they are relations of kinship among concepts, all differing in kind and among concepts differing in kind, and yet drawing the mind and will on from one to the other in a manner not necessary nor obligatory, and yet somehow resting on the nature of what is considered. 'What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander' is an aphorism representing the very soul of moral philosophy, yet with absolutely no standing in formal logic. The concepts, too, which preside over this whole region of discourse must be flexible concepts, capable always of being shifted and pushed in new directions, and never achieving more than a provisional circumscription. And the 'family relations' among values and ends can be seen to reflect family relations among our various acts and attitudes of mind, and among their characteristic objects, so that we tread countless bridges between the natural order of fact and the 'non-natural' order of values, in a manner that recent moral philosophy has taught us utterly to forswear. What I have done

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