THE HIERARCHY OF GOODS IN THE ETHICS OF WŁADYSŁAW TATARKIEWICZ
This article is an attempt to reconstruct and analyse the outline of hierarchy of goods in the ethics of Professor Władysław Tatarkiewicz, a distinguished Polish historian of philosophy and aesthetics, a well known philosopher and aesthetician, but somewhat underestimated, in the opinion of the author of this article, as a moral philosopher. In his opinion Władysław Tatarkiewicz emphasized the specific features of his philosophical position most clearly in his monographs “On the Absoluteness of Goodness”, “On Happiness”, and minor axiological papers. In his philosophy ethics is equated with axiology and provides a clue for reconstruction of the whole system of his views.
The list of simple values treated by Tatarkiewicz as the absolute and objective goods comprises four or five types of values: moral, cognitive, aesthetic, hedonistic and vital. Within these class of values there are a few unidentified simple values known a priori as ethical axioms. In abstract consideration it is possible to speak about objective differences between the rank of values of different types – but these differences are not absolute. Tatarkiewicz points out that in the real life situations it is possible to formulate principles of relativisation of these ranks for particular types of values. Generally, however, Tatarkiewicz tends to put moral values on the top of the hierarchy, the cognitive and aesthetic values one level below two levels below. The place of the vital values cannot be easily determined, but it is probable that they should be placed at the foot of the hierarchy as the most fundamental values. These abstract assumptions determining moral choices supply premisses of moral goodness.
Evaluation of the objects of human experience (things, phenomena, activities or their results) is performed by a recourse to basic values which symbolize the meanings of experience serving as the foundation for evaluation. Valuable objects are therefore those who are so assessed and whose evaluation is supported by pragmatic, cognitive, aesthetic or moral arguments. The objects which are subjectively valued may be considered objectively valuable only after it has been shown with the use of intersubjective criteria to have practical, cognitive, aesthetic or moral values.