Value in Nature and the Nature of Value  pp. 13-30

Value in Nature and the Nature of Value

By Holmes III Rolston

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I offer myself as a nature guide, exploring for values. Many before us have got lost and we must look the world over. The unexamined life is not worth living; life in an unexamined world is not worth living either. We miss too much of value.

Valuable Humans

Let us start from well-mapped ground: humans are able to value. Descartes's cogito is as well an indubitable valeo. I cannot doubt that I value. Humans are able to value nature instrumentally, to value their own experiential states both intrinsically and instrumentally. Objective natural things and events may contribute to these subjective interest satisfactions, a tree supplies firewood, a sunny day makes a picnic possible.

Taking the first step on our journey into non-human nature, some travellers notice that we must take along this indubitable valuing self; afterwards, along the way, finding these selves always present, they deny any value outside our own minds. Wilhelm Windelband insists: ‘Value … is never found in the object itself as a property. It consists in a relation to an appreciating mind …. Take away will and feeling and there is no such thing as value’ (Windelband, 1921, p. 215).