Now the notion of another objective value which is not moral value - to take up again the problem which we found it necessary to shelve temporarily - arises, I think, as an indirect consequence of this common but false assumption that the concrete ends in which our ideal is embodied possess moral value 'in their own right.' It arises in this way. Among the ends which constitute the ideal of educated persons in a civilised community, knowledge, aesthetic feeling, and culture generally can hardly fail to find a prominent place. The interest in these ends is widespread and powerful, and will naturally secure expression in the 'conceived good of the self as a whole.' On the other hand, it is bound to be realised that ends of this sort, although ingredient in our ideal and thus claiming our allegiance, are distinguished in a rather important way from such ends as paying one's debts, honouring parents, etc. For they are, as it were, not 'ours to command.' It is in most persons' power to strive towards them, but to achieve them is possible only in proportion to certain capacities which are gifts, not matters of volition. While, therefore, there is nothing transparently absurd in regarding such constituents of the ideal as 'paying one's debts' as possessed of moral value in their own right, to ascribe moral value to such constituents as 'culture' is a paradox too great even for common sense. Hence a compromise. Value of some sort can hardly be denied to 'culture' and ascribed to the other constituents of the ideal. But that value seems clearly not to be moral value. So we come to postulate a new kind of 'non-moral' value, standing alongside moral value. And thus arises the fiction that the 'cultured' moral man is somehow 'better,' though not 'morally better,' than the 'uncultured' moral man.
But there is no need whatever to make this discrimination in 'objective values' if one will only avoid the original error of assuming that moral value attaches to concrete ends in their own right. On my view nothing has moral value - neither paying one's debts nor anything else, - save as manifesting the agent's devotion to his ideal, and, ultimately, in proportion to the will-energy involved. Such an end as the acquirement of culture may thus be treated on precisely the same basis as any other possible constituent of one's ideal. In proportion as the acquirement of culture manifests the agent's devotion to his ideal - and of course very different degrees of culture may manifest an equal devotion in differently constituted agents - the acquirement of culture possesses moral value. There is no ground for supposing that it possesses some further kind of objective value, any more than in the case of the other objects of the dominant interests which are the material out of which one's moral ideal is constructed.
I must, however, seek to remove a possible misunderstanding which may be made the ground of an objection to this view. It is of the essence of the theory that has been advocated in these pages that there is no value save that which resides in the will to the ideal. Any value ascribed to content is entirely derivative from this. 'But,' it may be asked, 'does this position not involve you in an obvious ϋåçɛρoʋ ãρύçîρoʋ? Is it not evident that certain concrete ends must be recognised as good, as "values," as a prior condition of the construction of the ideal - which, indeed, your own account of that construction in the previous chapter seemed to imply. The "conceived good of the self as a whole," the "end of the self as such," was constructed out of the material supplied by the different particular goods which the self's particular interests led it to recognise. Does this not mean that there is a recognition of "value" prior to, and therefore independent of, the willing of the ideal?'
The objection is to be welcomed, for it furnishes an opportunity of calling attention to a distinction which I ought, perhaps, to have adverted to at an earlier stage; the distinction between 'value-for-self,' or 'subjective value,' and 'intrinsic' or 'objective' value. Undoubtedly the ends out of which we construct the conceived good of the self as a whole - the objects of our desires - are 'values' in the former sense. As I tried to show in a previous discussion, they are in the nature of the case conceived as 'personal goods.' To desire an object is to think of it as a 'value-for-self.' But merely to say this is enough to indicate that this kind of value is not 'value' in the significant,' controversial' sense of that term. When one makes the claim that such and such a thing is a 'value,' one commonly means a great deal more than just that it is a thing which some people, or even all people, happen to want. One means that the thing is valuable in itself, irrespective of anyone actually happening to want it - 'intrinsically' or 'objectively' valuable.
Now, so far as I can judge, this conception of something as 'intrinsically' valuable originates in moral experience, in which the willing of the ideal (the good will) is recognised as something which 'unconditionally ought' to be. And ultimately it has no other legitimate application. No mere end of desire, however exalted, presents itself as the bearer of an inherent worth. In moral experience an entirely new element enters which transforms the value-situation. In recognising an 'unconditional obligation' to will the conceived good of the self as a whole (in whatever concrete embodiment it may find expression), we are ipso facto recognising that the willing of it is something that is good whether we happen to want it or not. In short, the consciousness of the unconditionally binding, the 'categorical imperative,' is precisely the consciousness of something as good 'intrinsically' or 'objectively,' good 'in the nature of things'.