Hence the 'utterness' of the contrast, which might otherwise seem anomalous, that is felt between the end representing the good of the self as a whole, and opposing ends representing goods of only partial aspects of the self. The difference is not one of 'degree,' as a superficial glance might suggest. It is fundamentally one of kind. For the former end, inasmuch as it is that towards which we are conscious of unconditional obligation, becomes invested derivatively with intrinsic or objective value. As such, it presents itself with unique authority - or, perhaps more accurately, alone presents itself with any 'authority'.
There is one further matter to which it seems desirable to refer before bringing this chapter to a close. My view denies categorically that Truth and Beauty are intrinsic values. And I hold by this position without reserve. But I am naturally aware that in so doing I am controverting an axiological doctrine that has a wide currency in modern thought. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness, we hear on all sides, represent a 'trinity' of intrinsic values. I want to make a few comments upon this undoubtedly attractive, but I think untenable, doctrine.
I have already explained how, in my view, the fiction of 'non-moral' values arises. The explanation applies directly (as was, indeed, suggested) to the 'values' of Truth and Beauty. To the man (or the community) of more than embryonic culture, the achievement of Truth and the creation or appreciation of Beauty naturally tend to become objects of quite outstanding interests, and to assume accordingly a prominent position in the ideal of the good of the self as a whole. But, unlike the other constituents of the ideal, these ends cannot with any plausibility sustain the appearance of being 'moral' values in their own right. Hence - since they have just as much (or as little) claim to be regarded as values in their own right as have the other constituents - they come to be accepted as values of a 'non-moral' kind. Thus emerges the conception of Truth and Beauty as two independent values, alongside, as it were, the value of Goodness. And once this step is taken, they tend to be regarded as of equal status with Goodness. Truth, Beauty, and Goodness now come to be treated as the three Supreme Values, the triunal goal of all rightly directed human aspiration.
But, quite apart from questions of origin, it seems to me that there are very grave, and most inadequately noticed, difficulties in the 'trinitarian' conception of value. I cannot see how there possibly can be two, let alone three, different ends each of which is recognised as an 'intrinsic' value, or an 'intrinsic' good. For what, we must ask, will be the mental situation when any two of these so-called intrinsic goods conflict in our experience, the Truth-value (let us say) dictating one course, and the Goodness-value, or Moral-value, a different course? It cannot be maintained that each makes an absolute claim upon the agent. For that would amount to the same thing as saying that neither makes an absolute claim. And if, on the other hand, respecting the facts, we admit that it is the Moral-value which by its very nature must make absolute claim, it is not easy to see what remains of the supposed 'intrinsic' character of the Truth-value. The agent's recognition that he ought not to follow here the end dictated by the latter seems to imply the recognition that the achievement of Truth is just not a good-in-itself, a self-justifying, 'intrinsic' value.
In spite of the protestations of theory that Truth, Beauty, and Goodness are co-ordinate values, in actual practice the pre-eminence of Goodness is acknowledged, and no impasse occurs. The self, just because it is one self and not three selves, recognises but one supreme objective claim, the claim of the conceived good of its self as a whole. Truth and Beauty make objective claim only in the measure that they express, in the particular situation, the conceived good of the self as a whole. It may sometimes be that the interests of the agent engaged are so overwhelmingly artistic (or scientific) that Beauty (or Truth) almost completely comprehends the conceived good of the self as a whole, and thus becomes, for all practical purposes, itself an 'absolute value.' But that is the limiting case. And even here Beauty or Truth is an 'absolute value' only, as it were, derivatively; i.e. by reason of its de facto identity, for the agent in question, with the moral end. In the normal case, however, there are manifold interests besides the interests in Beauty or Truth which must contribute significantly to the conceived good of the self as a whole. And hence a reciprocal limitation which is quite incompatible with the object of any one interest being accepted as an absolute value.
I cannot agree, then, with the doctrine of the Trinity of Values in any form of it (and this seems to be its natural implication) which would assign to Truth and Beauty a value-status co-equal with Moral Goodness. As far as I can see, it would be just as justifiable in principle to exalt such an end as 'Humanity' or 'The Brotherhood of Man' to the rank of intrinsic value. As human nature develops, 'Humanity' too tends to become an object of surpassing interest. In fact, there would be far more propriety in speaking of the Trinity of 'Truth, Beauty, and Humanity,' than of the Trinity of 'Truth, Beauty, and Goodness.' The former are, in a real sense, 'co-ordinate' ends. They represent what are perhaps the three most fundamental interests of developed human nature. But none of these ends is co-ordinate with the end of Moral Goodness itself. They are at most typical forms of the expression of Moral Goodness. The latter end is supreme; not as primus inter pares (as some compromise theories would have it), but with a supremacy that can brook no competition.
A very few words must suffice to remind the reader of the significance of the doctrine of this chapter in our general philosophical scheme. I have been arguing that if we are in real earnest with the implications of moral praise and blame, we are forced to the conclusion that the one thing to which moral value can ultimately be ascribed is will-energy. And I have tried to show that the appearances which suggest that the moral consciousness takes account of the nature of the 'content' of will are only 'appearances.' But this criterion of moral valuation presupposes the validity of the conception of will-energy. And the validity of the conception of willenergy presupposes the validity of the conception of Reality as not intelligibly continuous. It follows that the one criterion which, as I hold, can give meaning to moral valuation, is itself meaningless save for a metaphysic which at least goes so far with our Supra-rationalist doctrine as to deny that Reality is 'rational.' It may fairly be claimed, therefore, that the moral doctrine of this chapter, in so far as it is true, affords an appreciable confirmation of the Supra-rationalist metaphysics - save, of course, for those who, for one reason or another, decline to admit that the so-called 'moral' side of our experience has ineluctable claims to be respected in philosophic construction.