A book on ethics and philosophy of values

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3/ The relations between axiology and ontology


The essential content of ontology consists, I think, in the millennial debate between idealism and realism. What is truly real? Ideas or things, thought or matter, etc.? Or, reversing the question: is the material world that we see, smell and touch, the real world, or is there another one, hidden to us?

Axiology can dispense with this debate, as we have shown, for it is useless to raise the question of the existence of that whose value is examined. So when axiology tries to determine the value of an object (for example a tree), this discipline does not ask whether it is an idea, 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, given by ontology, all that axiology needs is some “contents of meaning=X”, whose ontological nature remains undetermined, in order to examine their value. Axiology has the peculiarity of being independent from ontology, and can afford the luxury of not taking sides in the debates of ontology, because the answers to these questions, whatever they are, would not affect it.

Consequently, the concept of ‘content of meaning’ is primordial, as it responds to a need of axiology: there is no presupposition in this signifier about the ontological status of the signified. Whether material thing or idea, the X in question has the same meaning. A horse in photography and a real horse have the same meaning: horse.

To conclude, axiology is absolutely independent of controversies between realism and idealism (in the Kantian sense). That is why this discipline moves away from metaphysics, for the question of the ontological nature of things seems to be insoluble, as all metaphysical problems.