Chapter 10: Value as Generic -- The Psychology of Value
Benjamin McAlester Anderson Jr.
WE return, then, to the problem of the -nature of value. Value is more than the total utility of a good, or the marginal utility of a good, to an individual, and it is more than a ratio of exchange. Economic value is a species of the genus value, which runs through other social sciences, as ethics, aesthetics, jurisprudence, etc. Sometimes these various values are so intermingled that it is impossible to tell them apart: thus, what kind of value did a human life have in early Germanic jurisprudence, when a wergeld was accepted as compensation for killing a man?
Ethical and legal values we recognize as something very different from the feelings of single individuals, and also as something very different from abstract ratios. In fact, the idea of quantitative ratios in connection with moral values is somewhat startling - though we do apply the "times judgment" pretty far, and say, "he's twice the man the other fellow is," or "this is n't half as bad as that." But we do not go into refinements, ordinarily, and try to make the ratios more exact, as by saying that the value of this noble deed is three and three eighths times as great as that. The quantitative measure of legal value is a more familiar idea. Thus, a man gets
(94) five dollars fine for a plain drunk, and twenty-five dollars for getting drunk and "cussin' around" (a scale of "prices" recently established in the court of a Missouri Justice of the Peace), or three years in the penitentiary for one crime, and ten years for another. Here we have quantitative measurements of values, but still it is rather strange to our thought to speak of a ratio of exchange between them. We have no occasion to exchange them ordinarily, even though it may happen that a criminal, in contemplating the chances of success in two alternative depredations, will weigh the penalties to which he would be liable in the two cases against each other; and, indeed, the law of supply and demand holds here also (though inversely applied, for we are dealing with negative values). If a particular crime (as "Black-Handing") increases rapidly, we increase the penalty on it to bring it to a stop. But this generalization of the idea of value ought to make clear one thing: exchange, at least in its ordinary meaning, is not the essence of value. Exchange is a factor in estimating value only in economic life. And even there, values are often estimated without actual exchange, and the art of accountancy has arisen for that purpose.
An exhaustive study of this generic aspect of value lies, of course, outside the scope of this book. Ehrenfels, Meinong, and others, have
(95) made fruitful investigations in the psychology of value, with primary reference to the problems of ethical value, while Gabriel Tarde, approaching the subject with a sociological, rather than psychological or ethical interest, has also made some illuminating suggestions. The most comprehensive work in English, from the psychological point of view, is by Professor W. M. Urban, whose Valuation appeared in 1909. His interest is also chiefly in ethical, rather than economic, value. Reference has been made in an earlier footnote to Simmel's views. There is, in fact, a rich literature on the subject. The theory of economic value to be developed in this volume, however, is relatively independent of many of the theories treated in this literature, since, as will appear later, the question I wish to raise is, not so much as to the fundamental nature of value, in its psychological aspects, but rather, as to what individual values (and in what relations) are significant for the explanation of the particular sort of value
(96) with which the economist is concerned. The exposition which follows will be clearer, however, if a psychological theory of value be premised, and the discussion of social economic value will gain from a consideration of ethical and other forms of value, in their sociological aspects, as treated by some of the writers named. The rest of this chapter will be concerned with the problem of value as it presents itself in individual psychology, and later chapters will treat, the problem of social value.
For the experience, and at the time of the experience, a value is a quality of the object valued. Values are " tertiary qualities " (to borrow an expression from Professor Santayana's Life of Reason ), just as real and objective as the "primary" and "secondary" qualities. We speak of a gloomy day, or a fearful sight, and the gloom is a quality of the day, and the fearfulness is really in the object - for the experience. When we have sufficiently reflected upon the situation to be able to separate subject and object, and to divest the object of the quality, and put the fear in ourselves, or the gloom in our own emotional life, then the experience is already past, and the value, as the value of that object, has ceased to be. We are already over our fear when we can separate it from
(97) the object. These qualities are intensive qualities, may be greater or less in degree, i.e., are quantities. And they must first exist, as such quantities, before any reflective process of evaluation and comparison can put them in a scale, and make clear their relative values.
So much for the experience as an immediate fact. If we break up the experience analytically, however, we of course first distinguish subject and object, and we throw the "tertiary quality," of value, over to the side of the subject. It is a phase of the subject's emotional life. In this analytical process we necessarily make abstractions, - the elements with which we finally come out, put together in a synthesis, will not give us our concrete experienced value again. But, recognizing this, we may still distinguish what seem to be the more important aspects of the value experience, on its psychological side, and set forth the criteria by which a value is to be recognized. First of all, then, value has its roots in the emotional-volitional side of mind. A pure intellect, if we may imagine it, would understand logical necessity, would contemplate the "world of description," but could know nothing of the "world of appreciation," or of values. (It is precisely because intellect is never "pure," because it always has its emotional accompaniment and presuppositions, that we can objectively communicate our values, as urged in chapter VIII.) But
(98) what phases of the emotional-volitional side of mind are most significant? For hedonism, an abstract element, a feeling, a pleasure or a pain, is the essence of the value, -in fact, is the value. Critics of hedonism, as Ehrenfels and Professor Davenport have made desire, rather than feeling, the worth-fundamental. The psychology lying back of this conception represents a great advance over the passive, associationalistic, element psychology of the hedonists, and is especially significant as emphasizing the impulsive, dynamic nature of value, but it is still too abstract, - indeed, it abstracts from a very fundamental aspect of the value as experienced, namely, the feeling itself. Moreover, in many cases, value may be great with desire at a minimum, else we must say that value ceases when an object is possessed, and desire is satisfied. I may value my friend greatly, may be vividly conscious of that value, and yet, because he is my friend, because I already possess him, may find the element of desire a minor phase in his value, even if it be present at all. Hedonism abstracts a prominent and important phase of the value experience, and while it errs in making that phase the whole of the experience, and while it has sadly misinterpreted that phase (for feelings of value cannot be reduced to pleasure and pain feelings), still we cannot afford to disregard it. Just because the hedonistic analysis is crude, it has to seize on something obvious. If we must choose between
(99) feeling and desire as the value-fundamental, we must, I think, with Meinong and Urban, settle on feeling rather than desire. Our point will be, however, to protest against the identification of value with either of these, and to distinguish both of them as moments, or phases, in value, and value itself as a moment or phase in the total psychosis. Value is not to be understood apart from what Urban calls its "presuppositions." Every value presupposes a going on of activity, and is intimately linked with the total psychosis, - a moving focal point of clear consciousness, with a surrounding area of vaguer processes, gradually shading off into the subconscious and unconscious at the borders. Every value is linked with the whole body of ideas, emotions, habits, instincts, impulses, which, in their organic totality, we call the personality. Back of the value stands a long history, which persists into the present in the form of dispositions and activities, of which we are unconscious so long as they are unimpeded. but which spring into consciousness at once if arrested. If the object be one that appeals to simple biological impulses, we may, as a rule, safely abstract from most of these "presuppositions," and centre attention upon the biological impulse and its accompanying feelings and ideas. But as we rise to objects that appeal to wider and higher interests, the essential presuppositions include more and more till, in vital ethical values, virtually the whole personality is essentially in-
(100) -volved. Of these presuppositions, or "funded meaning," we need not be conscious in any detail. The value, which is the emotional-volitional aspect of this funded meaning, is, of course, sufficient, so long as it is unchallenged by an opposing value, for the motivation of our activity - which is the essential function of values. The presuppositions tend to become explicit when the value is challenged by another value, though they never come entirely into light, in the case of the higher values, and to make them even approximately clear is the work of long conflict in an introspective mind. A frequent result of conflicts among values is a sort of mechanical "haul and strain," producing "more heat than light." The question of the relations among values is a separate topic, which will be discussed for its own sake later. We are here interested in it as making clearer the nature of the "presuppositions" of value.
Now in the value, as has been said, we may distinguish both desire and feeling. The feelings, in Professor Dewey's phrase, are "absolutely pluralistic " and cannot be reduced to any one type, or two types, as pleasure and pain. The desires may be either intense or slight, without reference to the amount of the value, depending on circumstances. As stated, if we have the object we value, the element of desire must be reduced to an attitude, to a disposition to desire, in the event the object should be lost. It remains a vague background of concern, of "anxiety lest the object escape," capable, of course, of springing into full
(101) intensity if need be. In esthetic values, and in the values of mystical repose, we have cases where desire is, thus, at a minimum. Strictly speaking, desire, as a conscious fact, has in it always a negative aspect, a privative aspect, -we desire when we are incomplete, when we lack. It is this negative aspect of desire which the Greek philosophers, as Aristotle, stressed, and which has led absolute idealism to eliminate desire from its conception of the Absolute Spirit. But desire has also a positive or active aspect, and in this aspect it remains in all values. Where the activity is perfectly unified, - a situation which we sometimes approximate, -we may not be conscious of desire, even though intense activity is going on. Since, however, the human mind is rarely in this state, and never completely in it, we may hold that desire, in its privative aspect, is always to some degree present, if only as a vague uneasiness. And as a disposition to activity, if the value should be threatened, desire is always present.
Conversely, desire may be at a maximum, and feeling at a minimum. If we do not possess the object, if we are striving for it, while there may be and doubtless is feeling in connection with the desire, it cannot, obviously, be the same feeling that we would experience if the object were present and quenching the desire. Indeed, it may be held that much of the feeling-accompaniment of intense desire is extraneous to the value-moment: that it is, in fact, kinaesthetic feel-
(102) -ing, due to the stress of opposing muscular reactions, etc.. The disposition to feel is there, and, if the object of desire be one that is familiar, the mere anticipation of it may call up traces of the feeling that its presence has in the past produced and will produce again. But the feeling element in such a situation is a minor phase.
Finally, unless we mean to insist that all the objects which one values, and whose values motivate one's conduct, are present in consciousness all the time, we must recognize that neither desire nor feeling need be actual, present, conscious facts, for the value to be effective. It may happen that the object of value is one reserved for later use, and that it is not threatened. In such a case we may accord its value intellectual recognition, with desire and feeling both at a minimum, and that recognition may serve as a term in a logical process which may lead to a practical conclusion of significance for action. Or, a value may form part of the unconscious "presupposition " of another value, which is consciously felt at the moment. Mind is economical. Consciousness is not wasted, when there is no function to be served by it. The essential thing about value is that it motivate our conduct. If a satisfactory set of habits be built up about a value, it may serve this purpose perfectly, without coming into consciousness very often. But both desire and feeling must be potentially there.
A further element is necessary. Meinong insists upon an existential judgment, a judgment that the object valued is real, as essential to
(103) value. Gabriel Tarde  makes a similar contention, holding that belief, as well as desire, is involved in value, and that a diminution of either means a lessening of the value. Urban's opinion, which seems to me the correct one, is that we need not and cannot go so far as this. In many cases such judgments are explicit and the value could not exist if the object were explicitly judged unreal. But the mere unconscious assumption or presumption of the reality of the object, the mere " reality-feeling," is sufficient, -as is obvious enough from the fact that we value the objects of our imagination. We shall often find, especially in the field of the social values to which we shall shortly turn, that Tarde's contention is highly significant, particularly with reference to economic values, and there, particularly in the matter of credit phenomena.  But explicit affirmation, even there, is not necessary, provided the question of reality is not raised at all. A " reality-feeling," however, is essential. It should be noticed, too, that this " reality-feeling " is an essentially emotional, rather than intellectual, fact. It is the emotional " tang " which distinguishes belief from mere ideation, and, if it be present, the ideation and explicit judgment may be dispensed with.
In the value experience, as a conscious experience, and from the structural side, we may distin-
(104)-guish these phases: feeling, desire, and the realityfeeling, each present at least to a minimal degree. And yet it seems to me that we have in none of these, considered as phases in consciousness, the most essential aspect of value. For our purposes the structural aspect is not the most significant. The functional aspect is of more importance. And the function of values is the function of motivation. That value is greatest which counts for most in motivating activity. A well-established and unquestioned value, which in a concrete situation has the pas over all the others concerned, has little need to awaken the emotional intensity that other, less certain, values, whose position in the scale is as yet undetermined, may require. A girl is arranging a dinner -party. Whom shall she invite? Well, her chum of course must be there. No question arises. There is no need for conscious emotion. One or two others are settled upon almost as readily, and with as little emotional intensity. But now comes the problem at the margin! For eight or ten others are almost equally desirable, and there are only six places. The lower values, compared with each other, must show themselves for what they are, must come vividly into consciousness, must be felt and desired in order that they may be compared, - not in order that they may be! From the functional side, then, the test of a value is its influence upon activity. The" common denominator," or, better, the abstract essence, of values, is, not feeling, nor desire, but power in motivation, and the expression of this is of course the
(105) activity itself. The functional significance of the consciously realized desire and feeling aspects of values comes in when values are to be compared and weighed against one another, and - a phase that was stressed in a preceding section, and will again be adverted to shortly -when values are to be shared consciously by different individuals, when they are to be communicated and discussed, - that is to say, are to become objects of a group consciousness.
The significant thing about value, then, from this functional point of view is its dynamic quality. Value is a force, a motivating force. But now we must revert to our original point of view, the total situation. We have, by an analytical process, sundered subject and object, and then, within the subject, have discriminated phases which psychological analysis reveals. But in the course of activity, these elements are not discriminated. The value is, not in the subject, but in the object. The object is an embodiment of the force. It has power over us, over our actions. If the object be a person, we are under his control -to the extent of the value. If the object be a thing controlled by another person, we are subject to his control - to the extent of the value. I do not wish to be understood as picking out this abstract phase of value as the whole of the story, or thinking that it is possible for value to exist in this abstract form. Qualities are never separate. But I do contend that this is the essential and universal element in values, and that for an individual engaged in the active conduct of life, this
(106) aspect is so significant that it may often be the sole feature to engage his attention - because it is the sole feature that need engage his attention for the activity to go on in harmony with his values. Here, then, is value "stripped for racing": a quantity of motivating force, power over the actions of a man, embodied in an object. All the other phases, in the course of the active experience itself, may be relegated to the sphere of the implicit.
A necessary limitation has been definitely indicated in what has gone before, but, to avoid misunderstanding, it may be well to indicate it more explicitly. Not every form of impulse is to be counted a value. Every state of consciousness is motor, and tends to pass into action, even vague, undefined feelings, and half-conscious fancies. A value must have its organic presuppositions, as indicated before, and must be embodied in an object. The objects of value may be infinitely various: they may be economic goods, they may be persons, they may be activities, they may be other values, they may be ideal objects, the creatures of our imaginations, they may be social utopias or the Kingdom of Heaven. But there must be an object, and the value is a quality of the object. But, functionally; the essential thing about this value is its dynamic character.
Values are positive and negative. A "fearful sight " repels us has a negative value, tends,
(107) to the extent of its strength, to make us withdraw. A bad act, an ugly woman, a cruel man, here we have negative values. Little need be said further with reference to this point. They alike are motivating forces, the positive values attracting us, the negative values repelling us.
The question of the relations among values we shall discuss rather briefly, not that it is unimportant, but that much of it is familiar. Values may be complementary -as when several objects are all essential to one another if any of them are to be of use. Values may depend on other values, as the value of the means depends on the value of the end, which is its essential "presupposition." Values may antagonize each other, and here two cases are to be distinguished, which differ so much in degree that the difference may be regarded as qualitative. Values may be in their nature quite compatible, so that nothing in their character prevents the realization of both, but there may not be room enough for both, owing to the limitation of our resources,-as when the young lady of our illustration had only six seats at her dinner, and so was obliged to exclude some of her friends. But the values may be qualitatively incompatible. We may be unable to realize them both because the one involves a different sort of self from the self that could realize the other. This is the typical case in ethical values, where the presuppositions, especially in ethical crises, involve the whole personality. In case of such conflicts, say between the value of Sabbath observance and the allurement of Sunday base-
(109) -ball in the case of an orthodox "fan," we may have, as before indicated, a mere mechanical haul and stress, in which one or the other wins by sheer force, to the very considerable discomfort of the uneasy victim. But the conflict may lead to a reexamination of the presuppositions of each value, to a process of bringing each into more organic relation to the whole system of values. In this process, other values may be called into play, may reenforce one or the other of the two alternative values. And, after such a process, both values may be different from what they were. There may emerge some higher value which comprehends them both, or one may be reduced to a minor place, and the other may prevail. Values are no more permanent than any other phase of the mental life. Constant transformations, even though not always fundamental transformations, take place.
There is another case which is so familiar to economists that it need merely be adverted to. Where objects of value are indivisible, we must take one or the other, if there be a conflict. But, in the case of qualitatively compatible objects, a different situation is the rule. We may have part of one, and part of the other, and the question arises as to how much of each. Here the Austrian analysis gives us an answer, which, when we generalize it, despite its antiquated psychology, may be accepted with little modification. The law of diminishing utility " as we increase the incre-
(109) -ments of each object, holds, and the problem is that of a marginal equilibrium. The young lady of our illustration would certainly have her chum if she have only one dinner, but if she have a number of dinners, the "marginal utility" of her chum's presence may sink so low that she may find the presence of some one hitherto excluded more valuable at the sixth or seventh dinner. And, indeed, our conception of qualitatively incompatible values must not be made too absolute. Human nature is accommodating and practical, and a little wickedness may be tolerated by a good man for the sake of a value which would not induce him to tolerate more. He may find the "final increment " of his Sabbath observance lower than the "initial increment" of his Sunday baseball.
Two antagonistic values may cohere in the same object. Our fearful sight may also be an interesting sight. And the initial increment of the interest may outweigh the initial increment of the fear. But, as the interest is partially satisfied, the fear may grow, until it finally overcomes the interest, and we flee. Indeed, it may be laid down as the law of negative values that as the 6 4 supply" increases (coeteris paribus) the negative value rises - the obverse of the law of " diminishing (positive) utility " - a doctrine recognized, in one of its aspects, in the economic doctrine of "increasing (psychic) costs."
A further point is to be noted in the case (especially though not exclusively) of these qualitatively incompatible values, where a quantita-
(110) -tive compromise of the sort described is worked out between them. The personality itself may change, through a growing familiarity with the negative value. It may cease to be a negative value, and may become positive. And if, as may happen, this change takes place quickly, in the course of a moral crisis, our process would be, first, a gradually increasing negative value, as the "supply" of the objects of negative value is increased; next, a sudden shift from a high negative to a high positive value, as the personality changes, and we come to love what we have hated; then a gradual sinking of the new positive value as the supply is still further increased.
The case of the conflict between qualitatively incompatible values is the typical case of the conflict between "duty and pleasure," between "obligation and inclination," etc. Certain values present themselves as "categorical imperatives," as " absolute universals," and refuse, or tend to refuse, any compromise. Our analysis would tend to cast doubt on the "absolute absoluteness" of these values (taking absolute in the sense in which it has been used in the history of ethics, as distinguished from the sense in which I have earlier used it in this book ). The most
(111) significant thing about these "absolute" values from the standpoint of our present inquiry, seems to be the resistance which they offer to the "marginal process." They seem to insist that their objects be taken in toto or not at all. They tend to universalize themselves, attaching to the remotest possible increment of the " supply" quite as strongly as to the initial increments. They refuse to place their objects in a scale of "diminishing utility." Such values are those which have been so fortified by habit and education that they are vital parts of the personality, and that any compromise where they are involved seems treason to the inmost self. If we wish to make precise analogies between our social and our individual values, we shall find here the nearest approach in the individual field to those fundamental legal values which determine the inmost character of the state, and which present themselves as "practical absolutes" in the legal value system, e.g., democracy, or personal liberty - or fundamental sociological values, like the "color line."
It will be noted, further, that our analysis draws no hard and fast lines between the different sorts of value, ethical, economic, esthetic, religious, personal, etc., in the sphere of the -individual's psychology. Such lines do not exist. There are shadings, gradations, quantitative differences which comes disthict, enough to justify a
(112) classification of values. But values never become, on the functional side, so fundamentally different in character that there can be no reduction of them to the "common denominator" of power in motivation. And especially is that a false abstraction which would separate the different sorts of value, ethical, economic, etc., into separate, water-tight systems, and let each system have its own equilibrium and its own interactions, uninfluenced by the other systems. The fact is, simply, that ethical and esthetic values may constantly reinforce economic values, economic values reinforce ethical values, or economic and ethical or other values may oppose each other, and marginal equilibria are constantly worked out between them. Or, better, among them, for, while in the consciousness of the moment we may have only two opposing values in mind, and may have our equilibrium apparently between just two, yet in fact the whole system of values is constantly tending toward equilibrium, ethical, religious, economic, esthetic, all asserting themselves, and finding their place in the scale, and getting their "margins" fixed, -extensive margins and intensive margins. But this is so obviously merely a generalization of well-known economic laws, that further detail is needless. One point may be mentioned, however. Price is to be generalized in the same way as value. Since this equilibrium among values holds, then any object of value may be used to measure the value of any other. If the presence of her chum at the fifth dinner is in equilibrium with
(113) the presence of some hitherto excluded friend, for our young lady, then the one is the price of the other, and measures her value. A material good which one takes in return for an immoral act is the price of that act. And if, in a moment of fundamental ethical crisis, a man surrenders a cherished purpose about which his whole life has been built, to the allurement of some dazzling temptation, it is much more than a metaphor to speak of "the price of a soul." 
The Austrian analysis was essentially faulty, then, not so much in its hedonistic psychology for it can be freed from that  -- as in its abstraction of the economic from other aspects of the individual's value system. Equilibria among economic values will not explain even the individual's economic behavior - do not by any means constitute a self-complete system. This abstraction has been noted before. The other abstraction of the Austrians, the abstraction of the individual from his vital, organic connection with the social whole, we shall treat more fully later.
So far, we have kept pretty strictly within the field of "individual psychology" and "individual values." But we shall find, when we come to the field of the social values, that essentially the same laws hold. On the functional side, the
(114) analogy between the individual mind and the social mind is a very close one, and the correspondences on the structural side are numerous also. While we shall not try to find analogies in the social field for all these laws of individual value, it is not because of any difficulty that the problem presents, but rather, because it is unnecessary for the vindication of our thesis to do so.