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Friday, January 01, 2021


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Thanks for reading and interacting with the review!

Hildebrand distinguishes between value and mere subjective satisfaction. For him, a value possesses importance-in-itself, independently of its relation to any person. "Tasting good" is sooner a mere subjective satisfaction.

The point in my argument was that, given the mediated and hermeneutical nature of intentional world-experience, one cannot simply take for granted that intentional consciousness grants us contact with a world that subsists independently of us. What we have access to is an interpretation of that world, i.e. to that world in relation to us, and not simply the world itself. Whether the-world-to-us is also the world-itself is another matter that has to be argued. Hildebrand must do more than simply point to affective value responses to prove their objectivity, because mere subjective satisfaction is also an affective value response and does not put us into contact with something important-in-itself.

In other words, my point was that more phenomenological work must be done to show that affective value responses put us in contact with something important-in-itself. And remember that Hildebrand thinks that he can establish a realist moral system in lived experience! I don't think he can simply help himself to a realist metaphysic when the "Erlebnisbrunnen" runs dry.

I will consult the chapter you mention!

Thanks for this. Take a look at sources in endnote 9 of my paper https://www.academia.edu/34399673/The_Nature_and_Uniqueness_of_Material_Value_Ethics_Clarified

I think esp. Fritz Wenisch develops von Hildebrand in a solid way. E.g. in "To Do or Not to Do", http://ophen.org/pub-124699

You didn't engage my argument.


I think that I did! For Hildebrand, a value is supposed to be something important-in-itself, something whose importance makes no reference to a person’s interests but rather itself should be motivating. But that something tastes good implies a relation to a person with a sense of taste. That something tastes good means nothing if you do not have a sense of taste, neither could you see its value in that case.

Hildebrand thinks that certain affective responses imply the existence of objective values, i.e. things that are important-in-themselves. He thinks that our sense of things as being noble or admirable is precisely the experience in which the importance-in-themselves of certain things is seen. But my point is that, because world-experience is mediated hermeneutically through the lived body and thought-life of the living ego, one does not simply see something morally impressive and thus come into contact with an objective value. Rather, one sees something morally impressive as seen from one’s perspective. Whether one’s perspective is revelatory of the in-itself is another matter.

Consider also the equivalent of what you are saying in the moral sphere. Suppose I grant that tasting good is an objective value, even if tastes differ among people. Importing that line of reasoning into the discussion about moral affective responses, what would the conclusion be? That “moral feelings” are valuable, even if people feel them about different things? That is precisely not what Hildebrand wishes to say. He wishes to say that there is a right way to respond to certain things, e.g. to respond with admiration to an act of charity and to respond with contempt or disapproval to an act of selfishness. But until he can experientially justify the objective admirability of charity or the objective contemptibility of selfishness, that is like saying that there are foods you are “supposed” to like.

As for your point that “the value's objective existence in itself” is possible “apart both from anyone's appreciating it and anything's instantiating it,” I agree that this is true as a matter of definition. Obviously if something exists in itself, then it can do so apart from its existing for anyone in particular. But my point is: What justifies the assertion of the existence of an in-itself? Why think any such thing?

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