Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Value-of versus value-for

Some people distinguish the (non-instrumental) value of an individual's feature from the (non-instrumental) value for the individual of that feature. Ockham's razor, on the other hand, suggests we identify them. There is an interesting kind of argument from the nature of love for such an identification. Love has at least three aspects: benevolence, appreciation and pursuit of union. (For more on this, see One Body.) Love isn’t merely a conjunction of these aspects. The aspects are tightly intertwined, with each furthering the others. And the identification of (non-instrumental) value-of with value-for gives us a particularly elegant account of part of this intertwining. Appreciation is appreciation of what is valuable. When I appreciate the value of an individual, I seek to preserve and promote that value. Now when I act benevolently for an individual, I seek to preserve and promote what is of value for the individual. If the value-of and value-for are the same, then this appreciation motivates the benevolence and the benevolence is an expression of the appreciation. And a benevolence that is an expression of appreciation is a benevolence that escapes the danger of being patronizing and condescending.

On the other hand, if value-of and value-for were different, then not only would we lack this elegant intertwining, but there could be a real conflict between appreciation and benevolence. For appreciation would naturally lead me to promote the value of the beloved, which would take time away from the benevolent promotion of the value for the beloved, and conversely. The identity of value-of and value-for makes it possible for love to have an intrinsic unity between the appreciative and benevolent aspects. And union can then flows from these, since through benevolence one unites oneself to the beloved in will and through appreciation one unites in intellect.

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