A book on ethics and philosophy of values

suivre sur twitter

3/ The relations between axiology and ontology

The essential content of ontology seems to consist of a debate, the age-old debate between idealism and realism. What is real? Is it ideas or things, thought or matter? Or, to turn the question around: is the material world we see, feel and touch the real world, or is there another hidden from us?

As we have shown, axiology can dispense with this debate, because it does not question the existence of what it is seeking to value. When axiology looks for the value of an object (a tree, for example), it does not ask whether the object is an idea or a material thing, a thing in itself or a phenomenon in the Kantian sense, an event or a set of atoms.

Whatever the answer to this question provided by ontology, all axiology needs is to be offered a certain "content of meaning=X", whose ontological nature is undetermined, and whose value it must seek. Axiology thus has the particularity of being absolutely independent of any ontology, and can afford the luxury of not taking sides in ontological questions, since the answer to these questions, whatever it may be, would not affect it.

The concept of "content of meaning" is therefore essential, in that it achieves what axiology needs: it does not judge whether the referent of meaning is a material thing or a simple representation, but abstracts from their ontological status to retain only the meaning. Thing or idea, the X considered always has the same meaning. A photographed horse and a real horse have the same meaning: horse.

To sum up, axiology is absolutely independent of the controversies between realism and idealism (in the Kantian sense). That is why this discipline distances itself from metaphysics, because the question of the ontological nature of things seems profoundly irresolvable, like any good metaphysical problem.