Being as Value: The Phenomenology of Value and the Ontology of Self-Realization in Charles Taylor’s Sources of the Self

  • Andrada-Elena Holmgren University of Victoria
Keywords: metaphysics of self, metaphysics of value, naturalism, phenomenology, experience


This paper explores one way of putting selves and values back into the world. I analyze Charles Taylor’s, Iris Murdoch’s, and Donald Walhout’s arguments showing that to be a self is to relate to being as a value. I show that the intentional relation of world-directedness that is central to self discloses being first as a value. I argue that our best account of what it is to be a self commits us to the objectivity of values. 

I then explore Taylor’s arguments that, by denying a place for objective values in nature, the standard naturalist ontology leaves a gap between nature and self. I argue that this gap arises because current naturalism cannot account for the place of the intentional relation, which is our first guide to value, in the world. It thereby leaves a gap between third- and first-personal perspectives that obscures the nature of values as properties of relational situations. I explore Michiel Meijer’s objection that Taylor leaves an unresolved gap between ontology and phenomenology in his defense of value realism. I draw on the little-known work of Donald Walhout to show how this gap can be filled by analyzing value in terms of function.


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