better. In short, even on Brentano’s definition, if anything is to be better than another, that can only be because the quality which he means by “rightness” has degrees—a point which he has entirely failed to observe, and which proves that “true” cannot mean “rightly believed.” The supposition that, if “good” means “worthy of love,” “better” means “worthy of more love,” does in fact derive most of its plausibility from an ambiguity in the latter expression, in virtue of which it denotes not merely that a greater and a less love are each of them “right,” but that each of them is “more right” than some other love. If we say that one thing is worthy of more love than another, these words naturally convey the meanings that to love these things with the different amounts of love in question is “more right” than to love them both with the same amount: we do not merely convey the assurance that to love each with the amount of love in question is “right,” in a sense in which this assurance does not exclude the supposition that to love either of them with any other amount would also be equally “right.” And that Brentano is actually using the expression “worthy of more love,” in the sense in which to say that one thing is worthy of more love than another is to say that one love is more right than another, is shown by the reason he gives for denying that the better is worthy of more love (for, after all, he does deny it). His reason is (p. 22) that nothing which is really good can be loved too much. And this proposition obviously only implies that no one thing is worthy of less love than another, because it asserts that a greater love of a thing is in no case less right than a less love of the same thing. Accordingly, whether this proposition is true or false (and it seems to be false), it makes an assertion not only about degrees of love, but also about degrees of rightness.
But Brentano, we have said, rejects the view that “better” means “worthy of more love,” except, he says, “in quite another sense” (p. 22). This “other sense” is that “better” means “object of a right preference.” But what is meant by a “right preference”? If, as is usual, we mean by “preference” a feeling, it is obviously a feeling only towards the thing preferred, not towards the thing which is not preferred. When we say that we prefer one thing to another we usually mean either (1) that we like the one more than we like the other, or (2) that we choose the one and do not choose the other: there is no such thing as a single feeling, called “preference,” directed to both the things. But in case