On the Nature of Value: The Philosophy of Samuel Alexander

On the Nature of Value: The Philosophy of Samuel Alexander

On the Nature of Value: The Philosophy of Samuel Alexander

On the Nature of Value: The Philosophy of Samuel Alexander

Excerpt

It will be seen that the first three chapters stand somewhat apart from the rest of the essay. In them the attempt is made to convey the spirit and logic of Professor S. Alexander's enquiry, mainly by direct reference to his works and partly by contrast with the views of others.

While the problems therein treated are, we think, interesting on their own account, their solution, we fear, does not shed much, if any, light on a consideration of the difficulties involved in the treatment of any one of the particular values. The whole discussion in these several chapters serves, perhaps, as a metaphysic of value, and so supplies no content to the form of any one value. We fail to see, e.g., how the notion of adaptation, imported by Alexander from the science of biology, and asserted by him to be a character of value in general, really helps him, or can be of any help to anyone, in a treatment of beauty or truth; and, indeed, when he comes to consider these special values, he seems to forget the notion entirely. The discussion, then, in the first three chapters tends to set the mind rather than fill it.

We wish to be clear on this point: that we do not speak for ourselves in these chapters, howsoever warmly we may seem to be defending Alexander's position. We only attempt to place his doctrine in as favorable a light as possible. Also: the fact that these chapters do not seem to have great pertinence to what follows them, is a failure which we beg the reader not to charge to us. We like to think that there is a close bond between metaphysics and a theory of value; but in the case of Alexander we have difficulty in seeing what that bond is. E.g., when we come to a consideration of the problem of truth, it will be seen that our sharp criticism of . . .

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