Good and Value, the Philosophical Relevance of the Concept of Value

  • Hans Reiner
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 93)


Heidegger, as is well-known, and as I have discussed at length in the Critical Excursus (§ 21) in Duty and Inclination, was a harsh critic of the concept of value. In Holzwege, in the essay, ‘The Word of Nietzsche: “God Is Dead’”, he declares: ‘It was in the nineteenth century that talk of values became current and thinking in terms of values became customary’ (p. 209. The English translation is from Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. by W. Lovitt, New York, 1977, p. 70.). This much of what Heidegger says is right, that the concept of value did not begin to dominate in ethics until the 19th century. But the moral aspect of value had long since appeared, in Greek and in Roman antiquity, in the form of the concepts of axia, axios, and valor, and acquired, potentially, the magnitude of modern ethics’ concept of value. In the latest impression (1980) of W. Pape’s comprehensive Greek-German dictionary, and also in the standard Greek-English dictionary compiled by Liddel and Scott, the word ‘axia’ is translated with ‘value’ and ‘price’ (in German, ‘Wert’ and ‘Preis’). According to Cicero’s De Finibus Bonorum et Malorum, III, 34, the word ‘value’ (valor) is to be understood not in a relative sense, not by a comparison of other, relative bona, from which it differs in kind (genere), but in an absolute sense.


Moral Philosophy Absolute Sense Moral Aspect Practical Philosophy Harsh Critic 
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© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1983

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  • Hans Reiner

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