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

By J. N. Findlay | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IV
THE MODES OF ACTION AND ENDEAVOUR

(I) THE GENERAL NATURE OF MENTAL ACTIVITY

We have so far been dealing with orientations of mind that are concerned rather to dig down to things as they are, or as they may be, or to take the impress of their peculiar character, rather than to remould, press or push them on towards any purposed limit, or to see what they are in the light of such a limit. The orientations in question may have characteristic aims or goals of their own, revealed in the way in which they tend to develop, and in relation to which they may be judged approvable or the reverse, but such aims are in a sense not part of their purview, and are in fact normally excluded from it. It is irrelevant and in fact often ruinous to bring in considerations of the methods and aims of science into the actual application and use of such methods. The orientations of mind we have dealt with may have offered us the presuppositions, analogues and objects of the states of mind more narrowly concerned with the 'ends of life', but have remained relatively far from these last. Now, however, we shall be concerned with orientations more nearly related to such ends: the orientations of actively bringing objects and states of affairs into being, or of seeking or endeavouring to do so, and, in particular, those circuitous, perceptive seekings which aim at one object or state of affairs by realizing another. From blind wanting we shall have to ascend to cases of intended and chosen action, and, to what is most important for our purposes, the carefully framed rational wish and the assessment of what is desirable. Beside positive orientations we shall have to set down their opposing negatives: aversions, abstentions, inhibitions, submissions of varying type and level. And together with acts of bringing about and their appropriate contraries, and the various kinds of serious and semi-serious wantings and tryings which move in their direction, we shall have to study the various states of satisfied endorsement or dissatisfied rejection of objects or states of affairs, or of acquiescent abiding or pained squirming in certain doings or undergoings, which, while obviously not the same as our various doings, tryings

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