Alexander, Samuel (1859–1938)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DC001-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved April 18, 2024, from

2. Knowledge and values

The time dimension of Space-Time gives things an internal aspect as going through a process, while the space dimension sets them in an external relation called ‘compresence’. A subject’s inner experience of knowing is called ‘enjoyment’ and its relation of compresence to an object is called ‘contemplation’. This is a direct realism, which raises difficulties over questions of error and counterfactual conditions. This realism extends to secondary qualities, such as colours. Besides secondary qualities there are ‘tertiary’ qualities called values, which arise in situations where one compresent factor is a mind. Chief of these are Truth, Beauty and Goodness. Here Alexander’s main interest, expressed in a number of discussions of pieces of prose, poetry, art and architecture, was aesthetics. He held that there is a constructive impulse to manipulate materials which can be disengaged from practical ends and become contemplative, so leading to aesthetic appreciation. In stressing the need for a material medium as the carrier of the value of Beauty, Alexander’s aesthetics are of a piece with his view of neurophysiological processes as bearers of non-reducible mental qualities shown in the capacity for conscious enjoyment and contemplation.

Citing this article:
Emmet, Dorothy. Knowledge and values. Alexander, Samuel (1859–1938), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DC001-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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