Page:Review of Franz Brentano's The Origin of the Knowledge of Right and Wrong.djvu/6

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(1) to know that a thing is “rightly” preferred, is only to know that it is worthy of the greater love which it receives, not that the other thing is only worthy of less; and in case (2) to know that it is “rightly” chosen is again only to know that this choice is positively “right,” not that the other choice is not also and equally “right:” in neither case does the “rightness” of the preference allow any inference as to the relative value of what is not preferred. Such an inference is only possible, if by saying that the preference is “right,” we mean that the liking or choice of the thing preferred is “more right” than the alternative?

The above seem to be the most important points in Brentano’s theory concerning the nature of intrinsic value and intrinsic superiority. As regards intrinsic value, his theory has the almost unique merit that it defines “good in itself,” not only as an objective concept, but as containing that very concept which is in fact properly denoted by the words: but it is defective in that the complex property which he takes to be the required definition is not merely different from the simple property which is the true definition, but has not even the same extension; “worthiness to be loved” is not even a correct criterion of intrinsic value. As regards intrinsic superiority his theory has an additional defect: he does not clearly recognize that to know one thing to be better than another must be to know that it has in a higher degree the very property which we mean by “good in itself.”

If now we pass to his views on the question, “What things are good in themselves, and in what degrees?” we find that they have corresponding merits and defects. He cannot be too highly praised for insisting that, not one thing only, but very many different things have intrinsic value; and, in particular, for emphasizing the value of the immense variety of different states which belong to the class “enjoyment of things worthy to be enjoyed” or “right loves.” These constitute, in fact, by far the greater part of considerable goods: and Brentano does recognize that they are all good, and that, if they are so, mere pleasure or mere knowledge cannot be the sole goods. But his views have the serious defect that he ascribes value to two classes of things which have little or no value—to things which are, in both cases, necessary constituents of valuable wholes, but which seem nevertheless to have no value in themselves. The first class consists of things which his definition of “good” binds him to consider good—things which are really worthy of love: it is certainly good to love all such things, but