The Difficult Destiny of Value Concepts - History...

The Difficult Destiny of Value Concepts

As noted in the previous paragraph, all axiological sciences deal with values. If science contains values, then they must be recognized as concepts. Corresponding analysis shows that this circumstance, as a rule, is not understood. Therefore, it is reasonable to refer to the etymology of words with the root of "prices", which include, for example, price, valuable, value . It turns out that in all cases it was the degree of utility of something for a person who was given a number (for example, the price of the product expresses the degree of its utility for the seller and the buyer). We can say that some experimental fact was fixed, but his understanding left much to be desired. With this in mind, we give a brief outline of the development of the value concept (German Wert, English value, French valeur).

Historical excursion

A pioneer in understanding the conceptual nature of values ​​in the middle of the 19th century. became the German philosopher German Lotze. For his time, he was well-oriented in the field of scientific knowledge. Trying to highlight the specifics of ethics, Lotze came to the conclusion that it is determined by values ​​that, unlike natural science concepts, do not have a value ( Bedeutung ) but a value ( Geltung ). Lotze's views contained a lot of unsaid, but his main idea was picked up by many philosophers. The famous neo-Kantians Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickert tried to give Lotze's ideas a more rigorous scientific character.

They were of the opinion that generalization is characteristic of natural science (from Latin generalis - general), and for historical (social) sciences - ideographic (from Latin idios - special and grapho - write), or an individualizing method. In the first case, concepts are used, and in the second, values. Unfortunately, the neo-Kantians allowed not a harmless rearrangement of principles, proceeding from their dominance in general science of natural science, but in individual sciences in the historical sciences. If Windelband and Rickert did not allow the mentioned rearrangement of principles, then we would arrive at the correct conclusion about the presence in all sciences of both general and singular, represented literally by all concepts, from concepts to principles. The known difference consists only in the fact that the individual and the general in natural science are represented by descriptions, and in axiological sciences by values. Values ​​are concepts, and in this capacity they represent people , committing those or other acts. The representative of axiological sciences must proceed from the values ​​of concepts, only in this case he is able to understand the meaning of people's actions.

Arguing about values, one should not reinvent the wheel. They are contained in the axiological sciences. All concepts of axiological sciences are values. Their values, often measured in scores, are estimates.

There are no more developed values ​​than those presented in axiological sciences. Scientific values ​​are the key to interpretation through criticism of the nature of unscientific values. Whoever does not understand this will always deal with surrogate values, which the true scientist will never be satisfied with.

Unfortunately, understanding the nature of values ​​leaves much to be desired: in the absence of developed axiological sciences, it was very difficult for philosophers to find a scientific path. As soon as it came to discussing the status of values, they immediately recalled the need for opposition in science to subjectivism on behalf of objectivism. The problem was that the values ​​were not recognized as scientific concepts possessing quantitative quantifications, i.e. estimates.

Under the circumstances, a fresh wind could be expected from the social sciences. But they were also embraced by the objectivist syndrome, according to which the concepts were to be not values, but descriptions. The economy, which many authors recognize as the leader of modern social science, up to now prefers the ideal, as economists say, of a positive, not normative science. At first glance it seems that the inadequacy of positive science can be proved relatively simply: it would seem to all economists that the commodity is a value, and its measure, the price is set by people. The mass of a commodity body is an objective characteristic, the price of a commodity is a value characteristic. Alas, even such a relatively simple argument is not accepted by all economists.

In psychology, the ideal of objectivistic science became the banner of behaviorism, whose leaders (J. Watson) specifically noted that they follow the ideals of the natural sciences. The widely known criticism of behaviorism by representatives of cognitivism, in particular N. Chomsky, led to the rehabilitation of higher forms of cognitive activity, for example thinking, but not values ​​as concepts of psychology. In our opinion, this is the result of insufficient attention of cognitivists to the conceptual structure of psychology as a science. The vast majority of American philosophers continue to treat values ​​with extreme caution.

As for domestic authors, a significant part of them does not avoid the topic of values, but does so in a peculiar manner. We give two illustrative examples. So, S. L. Rubinshtein under values ​​understood the importance for the person of something in the world, and V. Yu. Khotinets and Ya.S. Suntsova see the sources of values ​​in the sociocultural space; they define cultural values ​​as the deep principles that determine the person's attitude to nature and society. Despite certain advantages of the points of view of these authors, their interpretation of the nature of values, in our opinion, is unsatisfactory.

The fact is that they are given irrespective of the conceptual arrangement of the psychological theory. In other words, they do not correspond to the principle of scientific relativity: by affirming only what is contained in the most developed science. Yes, any person expresses his attitude to one or another thing or phenomenon. But how does he do it? By unfolding the potential of the psychological theory, inscribing the evaluated phenomenon in the theories that he owns. A person begins and ends with the concepts of psychological theory. They are the values ​​that have values ​​(values) for them.

It is not clear which deep principles are discussed by V. Yu. Khotinets and Ya. S. Suntsova. Are these the principles of sociology and culturology? But in this case they should have considered the conceptual content of these branches of science, which they did not do. There are other questions. Do the authors consider that the values ​​are only deep, but in no way other principles. Why does it reject the value nature of the laws and variables of the psychological theory? Without resorting to the immediate conceptual content of psychological theories, all the questions posed by us remain unanswered.

In a number of authoritative manuals on psychology, the topic of values ​​is completely absent. We had the assumption that an expression equivalent to the term value (e.g., preference ), but it was not confirmed. We have to conclude that in modern psychology its axiological character is simply underestimated.

Opponents of axiological sciences often see as their forerunner the German sociologist, economist and psychologist Max Weber, who proclaimed the thesis of the freedom of science from the values ​​of (Wertfreiheit). "The task of empirical science," he noted, "is not can be the creation of binding norms and ideals, from which the recipes for practical life will then be derived. " Not science, but man "weighs and makes a choice between the values ​​in question, just as his conscience and worldview dictate to him."

We believe that M. Weber clearly underestimated the relevance of axiological science. First, it is not right to lead conscience and outlook beyond science. In this case, they are both proclaimed the prerogative of unscientific knowledge, which is not true. Secondly, Weber's statement about mandatory norms and ideals is ambiguous. Axiological sciences do not offer unshakable values, but demonstrate the way of the steady improvement of value orientations. As for practical life, in its highest quality it is a theory in action. Science and life are continually being contrasted. Of course, life can be a form of existence of unscientific theories. But in its peak expression, it is just a science.


1. Opponents of the understanding of psychology as an axiological branch of science are confused by the origin of values ​​that are the result of creativity of scientists. But it in no way excludes either axiological laws or principles.

2. The status of psychology, as well as of any other axiological branch of science, including pedagogy, is determined not by the arbitrariness of people, but by their unwavering desire to improve their lives.

3. The status of values ​​is determined by the content of the sciences, and not by the far-away rhetoric about allegedly lofty ideals.

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