Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The purpose of this project is to provide a clear and compelling account of the existence and nature of values within a phenomenological context. Values such as beauty or virtue are certainly a major part of our experiential lives. After all, what would life be worth if we could never describe a painting as beautiful, for example, or a beverage as delicious? Nevertheless, understanding what these values are on their own terms has historically been a rather difficult task. Certainly, they are not ordinary objects that could be seen or heard, touched or tasted, like the physical objects to which they seem to be connected in some mysterious way. In this book, I argue that a phenomenological approach enables us to give a solid account of the role that values play in experience. Working in dialogue with Husserl and other phenomenologists and related thinkers (especially Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann), as well as with recent commentary, I develop my own account of values as lying on the phenomenological “horizons” of experience. This interpretation, I argue, enables us to explain how notions like beauty or deliciousness play such a dramatic role in our everyday lives without committing us to any unwarranted ontological assertions. Throughout this project, I analyze the various structures that govern our valuative experiences in order to develop a rigorous theoretical account of what all these experiences have in common. As part of this task, I investigate the various different types of values (e.g., aesthetic values, moral values, sensual values, etc.), the connection between values and subjectivity, and the link between acts of valuation and acts of the will. My aim in the project is to make clear the basic role that values as such play in the conscious life of the experiencing subject throughout our daily lives. Ultimately, I hope to clarify some of the difficult theoretical issues surrounding our experiences of values in order to clear the way for more specific investigations into particular regions of values (e.g., a phenomenology of aesthetic experience) to be carried out on the basis of this overarching model.