Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Alexius Meinong

What was Alexius Meinong’s theory of value?

Our emotions and desires have a cognitive ability to discern value. This does not mean that our emotions and desires can “think” but that they tell us something about the world, often faster than our minds. Objects—those things intended by us—present themselves with value features. For instance, the smell of the apple directs me to eat it—it has the value of being good to eat. Or a sunset presents itself as beautiful, a property that does not reduce to facts about the refraction of light or the amount of pollution in the air. There are also value universals, such as the good, the beautiful, the agreeable, the desirable, and different kinds of the obligatory (the general category of our duties). Meinong distinguished between “dignitatives” that are associated with ideas of the good, and “disideratives” associated with ideas of duty.


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