The present article is an attempt to set forth and examine the conclusions of what is perhaps Husserl’s finest piece of philosophical investigation, and one of the finest pieces in the whole history of philosophy: the investigation of the consciousness of time, with its extraordinary combination of an unchanging form with an absolute flux of which it is none other than the very form itself. This investigation puts Husserl on a level with the wisest heads on the matter, with Aristotle (...) in Books IV and VI of the Physics, with Augustine in Book X of the Confessions, and with Kant, whose whole Critique of Pure Reason may be said to be an examination of what is necessary to temporal experience. In Husserl’s work we have, we may say, the greatest of recent philosophers tackling the greatest of philosophical problems, one in which contradiction is always appearing in novel forms, to be evaded only by the naïve superficiality of a Minkowski or a Grünbaum, or by such infinitely useful subtlety as Husserl himself practises. As Husserl himself put it near the beginning of his 1905 Lectures. (shrink)
This is a remarkably interesting and valuable book on the value-theory of Nicolai Hartmann. As its content is very complex, we shall sum up the main points made in its various chapters before proceeding to comment on them.
This book is an attempt to conduct a comprehensive examination of Kant's metaphysic of Transcendental Idealism, which is everywhere presupposed by his critical theory of knowledge, his theory of the moral and the aesthetic judgement, and his rational approach to religion. It will attempt to show that this metaphysic is profoundly coherent, despite frequent inconsistencies of expression, and that it throws an indispensable light on his critical enquiries. Kant conceives of knowledge in especially narrow terms, and there is nothing absurd (...) in the view that thinkables must, in his sense, extend far more widely than knowables. Kant also goes further than most who have thought in his fashion in holding that, not only the qualities of the senses, but also the space and time in which we place them, have non-sensuous, non-spatial, and non-temporal foundations in relations among thinkables that transcend empirical knowledge. This contention also reposes on important arguments, and can be given a sense that will render it interesting and consistent. The book explores this sense, and connects it with the thought of Kant's immediate predecessors in the great German scholastic movement that began with Leibniz: this scholasticism, it will be held, is throughout preserved as the unspoken background of Kant's critical developments, whose great innovation really consisted in pushing it out of the region of the knowable, into the region of what is permissively or, in some cases, obligatorily, thinkable. (shrink)
I raise these points because in 1941 I attempted to carry out a project of Wittgenstein’s and to show how all the so-called problems of Time arose out of a strange misunderstanding of the flexible ways of our language, so that we asked questions which could not be answered simply because they violated logical grammar. The concept of the Now of the Present is in ordinary usage infinitely flexible: it can be stretched to cover a decade or a century, or (...) narrowed down to cover what is over in a flash. We are, therefore, inclined to extend it till it covers the whole history of the universe, or to narrow it down till it becomes a mere limit, no sooner arrived at than departed from, and in which it is not significant to posit either a state or a change. In the latter case, we have, then, the problem of constituting Time out of such momentary nothings, which are, even qua nothings, not there all together or, alternatively, of wondering how anything can happen if, before it happens, something else must first happen, and before that again something else, and so on ad infinitum. We have, in short, all the difficulties with which Augustine and Zeno plagued the ancients, to which we may now add the difficulties with which McTaggart has worried the moderns, asking how the same event can be future, present, and past, when it must be these incompatible things at different successive times, and these times, in their turn, must be future, present, and past at different times, and so on ad infinitum. To all these celebrated difficulties the line that I took was plain: that they arose out of imposing a wrong exactness and a wrong generality on the flexible ways of our speech. Augustine and Zeno perplexed us since we failed to see that the present, though never of zero or infinite length, could be just as long or as short as we liked to make it, and McTaggart confused us since we failed to see that there were two distinct ways of talking about events and states, one which remained invariant wherever one was stationed in history, and one which changed according as one changed one’s historical position, and that there was nothing self-contradictory in either form of speech but only in the attempt to combine them. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to give a characterisation of religion and the Religious Spirit, basing itself on the Platonic assumption that there are Forms, salient jewels of simplicity and affinity, to be dug out from the soil of vague experience and cut clear from the confusedly shifting patterns of usage, which will give us conceptual mastery over the changeable detail in a given sector. It will further be Platonic in that it will not seek to discount the deep (...) gulfs between the species into which religion qua genus divides itself, i.e. its theistic, polytheistic and atheistic subvarieties, taking it to be of the essence of a true genus to extend itself over mutually exclusive species, only being what it is by including in its sense the alternatives which are thus mutually exclusive. And my treatment will be Platonic, thirdly, in that it will endeavour to delimit the Religious Spirit by, on the one hand, setting it over against what it excludes, all purely this-world talk and life which is quite irreligious, and by, on the other hand, opposing it to forms of talk and life which fall short of it in various ways or which deviate from it variously, thereby likewise contributing to our understanding of what it is. The practice of Plato, which could study the deviations from his ideal city in order to confirm his notion of its structure and excellence, and which also paired every ideal pattern with its opposite— piety with impiety, justice with self-interested tyranny, etc.—is plainly one to be followed: Plato, as we know from a citation from his contemporary Hermodorus in one of the Aristotelian commentators, always set beside the ‘in itself’ of the pure Form the deviant and the wholly negative which were nonetheless part of its sense. Religion will therefore stand before us as a target that it is possible to fall short of or miss altogether as well as to hit squarely, and we shall try by a series of glancing darts to end by hitting it squarely. (shrink)
Professor Findlay in this book, originally published in 1961, set out to justify, and to some extent carry out, a ‘material value-ethic’, ie. A systematic setting forth of the ends of rational action. The book is in the tradition of Moore, Rashfall, Ross, Scheler and Hartmann though it avoids altogether dogmatic intuitive methods. It argues that an organised framework of ends of action follows from the attitude underlying our moral pronouncements, and that this framework, while allowing personal elaboration, is not (...) a matter for individual decision. The relations connecting our fundamental value-judgements with one another, and the frames of mind behind them, are not rigorously deductive but are sufficiently compelling to be called logical. Something of a ‘transcendental deduction’ of a well-ordered family for our basic heads of valuation is both possible and necessary. The work is further critical of the notion of obligation which has been extended far beyond legal contracts and understandings. The book also contains a chapter on religion. (shrink)
I am addressing you this evening in a somewhat unfamiliar theme: that of “logical values” or “values in speaking.” I do so since the points I want to raise come up very constantly in contemporary discussion, and yet are seldom made the object of explicit reflection. There are, it is plain, a large number of qualities which appeal to us in our utterances, whether in the setting forth of our notions in words, or in the weaving of such words into (...) sentences. And they may be said to appeal to us in a peculiar manner, and to satisfy a special set of interests in us, which we may group together as the “logical side” of our nature. Thus most people would say that clarity, relevance, coherence, solid significance and simplicity were merits in speaking, and that so also was truthful conformity to the facts of experience, whether in their general outline or their concrete detail. And everyone would admit readily that such excellences “belonged together,” that they were somehow akin, and that they differed profoundly from such virtues in speaking as poetic felicity, practical helpfulness, or moral and religious inspiration. And most people would also be willing to say, with a great deal of obscurity and most puzzling conviction, that the appeal of such qualities wasn't “merely momentary and personal,” but had something “solid” and “universal” about it, that a man would be foolish not to value such qualities, and that he couldn't help valuing them if he only thought of them sufficiently. And we should recommend such qualities to the approval of others with an air of earnestness and authority, setting them on a level, in this respect, with those other excellences that are called “ethical” and “aesthetic.” But while we could back our recommendation in the last two types of case with a great deal of systematic doctrine, built up in centuries of reflection, we should have little to bring forward in the former case, since the excellences that I want to call “logical,” though often acknowledged, have seldom been made the objects of systematic reflection. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the “true” has generally been ranged alongside of the “good” and the “beautiful” as a species of “ultimate value.”. (shrink)
The present paper is an attempt to study the acts and intentions which set up for the subject, and for the community of subjects, a set of values and disvalues which impose themselves as valid upon everyone, and which everyone must tend to prescribe, or to warn against, for everyone. The acts which set up a formal apophantic and ontology have been studied by Husserl in his Formal and Transcendental Logic , but he has not set out a comparable theory (...) of the acts which set up a universally valid system of values and disvalues. He has not done so because he does not believe in such a system, because his thought goes no further than the values set up for and felt to hold in a given group or society. It is my view that there is an ineluctable progress from these relativistic group-values to a set of values and disvalues holding for everyone, and that moreover in their relation to everyone, and that these values and disvalues have definite and undeniable shapes and locations, even if these shapes also have somewhat nebulous contours. The views I am expounding on this occasion are not new: they are fully set out in my Values and Intentions and my Axiological Ethics and in other writings. Ideas, however, require restatement at intervals, with a suitable change of idiom and emphasis. And I feel my views on this topic to have a claim to truth simply because, quite differently from my views on other topics, and despite constant reflection, they have hardly changed over the last two decades. The inspiration for these views was only in part Husserlian, as I do not think that the emotional and the axiological are really Husserl's strong suit. Strangely enough, that dry thinker Meinong would seem to have had a much richer emotional life and the ability to frame a theory to fit it, than the much easier and at times effusive thinker Husserl. Meinong's 1917 Austrian Imperial Academy treatise, On Emotional Presentation , recently translated for the Northwestern Phenomenology series, is a much more systematic investigation of the presuppositions of value-theory than any writing of a professed phenomenologist. What I have to say will build considerably on Meinong, always a major influence in my thought. But I have also been much influenced in my approaches to value-theory by the transcendental methods of Kant. Kant, I think, could very well have worked out a transcendental deduction of the heads of value and disvalue, a deduction much more illuminating than the dogmatic intuitionism of Scheler and Hartmann, instead of producing the arid triad of categorical imperatives that were all that he actually deduced. Imperatives, I consider, are secondary structures in value-constitution: the primary structures are the ultimate objects of necessary, rational pursuit and avoidance which Kant wrongly thought of as involving heteronomy and a corruption of pure form by matter. There is, I shall argue, nothing more free from extraneous, pathological material than the objects of the pursuits and avoidances in question. (shrink)