Six Domains of the
Polynomic System of Value

I have not told lies.

The "Negative Confession" or Protestation of Ani, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Book of Going Forth by Day, The Complete Papyrus of Ani, Featuring Integrated Text and Full-Color Images, translated by Dr. Raymond O. Faulkner [1994, 1998, Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2008, Chapter 125, Plate 31], hieroglyphic transcription, E.A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Papyrus of Ani [1895, Dover Publications, 1967, p.199] -- the eighth Confession as translated in both references, but the 35th in the order of the manuscript.

The table below summarizes the theory of the polynomic or polynomological system of value, where most domains of value are subsumed under larger domains. Each encompassing domain is ontologically stronger and deeper, but each nested domain is logically stronger and has a more definable content. Note that every form of value is a good, even though "good and bad" are specifically listed for non-moral ethical goods. There are also non-moral uses for "right and wrong," as one says of a mathematical mistake, "That's not right," or asks the mechanic, "What's wrong with my car?" The diagram below the table gives the elements of the system in terms of the underlying metaphysical theory explained elsewhere.

THE ABSOLUTE GOOD
THE PHENOMENAL GOODReligion, the sacred and the polluted: the view of transcendent reality or of the ultimate meaning of all existence, free of space and time, and the meaning of death; no rational content; not subject to non- contradiction; forms of obligation completely historical and contingent apart from subsumption of forms of value listed below.
ETHICSAesthetics, the beautiful and the ugly: theory of art & beauty, the worth of things independent of human purposes, "disinterested" value, the worth of nature, the relation of value and being, things good-in- themselves. Pluralistic and relativistic aesthetic variety, limited by forms of obligation below and by indefinable principles of taste.
MORALITYIdeal Ethics, the good and the bad: non-moral worth in human life, the good of teleological ethics, the worth and meaning of life--happiness, fulfillment, material well being, pleasure etc.--things good-for-us. Pluralistic and relativistic aesthetic variety, limited by forms of obligation below and specified by personal preference.
PERSONSMorality of things, right and wrong: ethics of property, contract, government, and public order; moral force of legislation, restricted by requirements of morality of persons & subject to falsification of utility; liberties and duties of the marketplace and of public life.
WILLMorality of actions, right and wrong: ethics of justice and injustice; evaluation of actions in their own right; causes of judicial penalty and retribution.
Morality of intentions, good and ill will: ethics of intention and virtue; moral evaluation of intentions; "mere" morality.
obligation: imperatives (commands)obligation: jussives (commands)obligation: hortatives (exhortations)obligation: optatives (wishes)obligation: pietatives (religious obligations, of piety)

kind

right

good

beauty

sacred

benevolence

right

right

good

beauty

sacred

veracious, honest, upright

righteous, good

good, beautiful, pretty

beautiful, graceful

sacred

true, right, just

good, beautiful, happy

sacred

Graphic Version of Table

While , orthos, "right, correct, straight" is perfectly reasonable in this context, my feeling is that it would be more natural in Greek to say , dikaios, "just." The Latin counterpart of is rectus, also meaning "right" and "straight," a word that is in fact the cognate of "right" in English and Recht in German. The neuter form of rectus, however, now has a very different meaning, deriving from rectum intestinum, i.e. the "straight intestine" or rectum. But the same word also turns up in mathematics, as the latus rectum, one of the dimensions of a conic section (namely, the chord through the focus at right angles to the major axis). On the other hand, would correspond to justus in Latin and is derived from , dike, "custom, right, judgment, trial, justice," etc., as justus derives from jus, "right, law" -- hence justitia, "justice." In English, "justice" tends to be reserved for legal and judicial contexts, while in Greek retains a more general moral overtone, as Plato uses it in the problem of the Republic.

Similarly, the Greek term , gennaios, "noble, kind," also seems less than paradigmatic. Latin benevolentia, "good will, kindness" is the right word, but its Greek counterpart, , euboulos, although corresponding in etymological sense, nevertheless tends to mean "well-advised" or "prudent" rather than benevolent or kind. This goes back to , boulê, which does indeed mean "will," but also "counsel," or even "Council," i.e. part of the government of Athens. Its cognate in Latin, the verb volo, "to will," does not have the extra meanings as in Greek. Thus, I have gone for the Greek word that is actually the cognate of "kin," the root of "kind":  , genos, "race, stock, family" (Latin genus).

A correspondent has suggested that would be a better term for "good" than , especially since it occurs in an expression like , "good and evil." However, that may be just the point. The semantic range of seems to be narrower and specifically to have more the sense of moral good than . The latter has a broader and more general application, including things like a "good complexion," a "beautiful face," or, as a verb (in the 4th tone), "fond of women." That is just the point of hortative value, with its non-moral range, and is therefore more appropriate. is itself an interesting expression, where "good and evil" in English tends to have a moral reference. Just as "evil" in English is a moral adjective (although standing in for "bad" as a noun), itself, with a basic meaning of "evil, wicked, wrong, foul," is mostly applicable to what is wicked and vicious, not just bad. As a verb, , means to "dislike," "hate," or "loathe," or to be "hateful, abominable." In turn, , "good heart," "good mind," or "benevolent," is then the equivalent of , "benevolent." [cf. Mathews' Chinese-English Dictionary, Harvard University Press, 1972, characters #2062, #4809, & #5657.]

The correspondent also suggested that , "upright," was a better term than , especially since the latter, as jingi in Japanese, is used for the code of the gangster Yakuza. However, and are the Confucian terminology for benevolence and righteousness, which also figure in the Taoist critique of Confucianism; and the binome is used by Mencius, who certainly never heard of the Yakuza (or, for that matter, of Japan). is, however, a noteworthy character, especially since it duplicates the non-moral and geometrical, as well as the moral, meanings of and rectus as "straight" and "rectangular" (i.e. "right angles").

The semantic range of many of the value terms in Arabic makes it difficult to assign some of them unambiguously to just one of the categories used here. Thus, the assignment in some treatments does not seem consistent. Under Judicial Moralism, is used for "good," while in The Polynomic Theory, it is used for "beauty." It can mean both, just as can mean both "righteous" and "good." More restricted is for "good" and for "beautiful." Another case is the term , which originally would mean "salty" but also "beautiful" and "handsome." In Levantine Arabic, meaning the Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian dialects, the meaning of this drifted into meaning "good" or "tasty," pronounced mlîh. or mnîh.. The following table illustrates these different constructions. Other words for "good" occur in other dialects of Arabic -- , is "good, pleasant, delicious, kindly," etc. in Classical Arabic, "good" in Libyan Arabic, and is used as the equivalent of "OK" in Lebanon.

WILLRIGHTGOODBEAUTY
veracious, honest, upright good good, beautiful, pretty

veracious,
honest,
upright

righteous, good

righteous,
good

good, beautiful, pretty
good, beautiful, pretty beautiful,
graceful
(salty) beautiful, good

benevolence

right

good

beauty

Since each domain of value can vary independently of the others, the table here shows this happening. Each category is set to cycle with a different period. There are 64 possible combinations of the categories. A browser whose "stop" button will stop the animation can freeze the categories in a specific combination.
WILLACTIONOBJECTS
PERSONSTHINGSGOODSBEAUTYRELIGION
INTERNALEXTERNAL

The effect of this, of course, is that good intentions do not necessarily lead to right action or to good consequences -- "the path to Hell is paved with good intentions". The protection of personal rights may, nevertheless, violate property rights, or the other way around. Beautiful things, or good art, may be, in some sense, bad things (e.g. The Triumph of the Will). And, as a saying goes in Japanese, "even a fish head can be an object of veneration," i.e. some ugly, nasty object may be sacred. This independent variation is what produces ethical dilemmas.

WILLACTIONOBJECTS
PERSONSTHINGSGOODSBEAUTYRELIGION
Where the previous table produced the effect of a somewhat random sequence of combinations, this table runs systematically through the 64 possible combinations, in about a minute, then repeats. As each negative value (wrong, bad, etc.) turns over to a positive, the value to its right turns over.

The force of moral obligation is characterized with terms (mostly) borrowed from grammar. "Imperative" goes back to Kant (the "categorical imperative") and is a term used for the mood of verbs in many languages that expresses a command (Latin impero, to order). That an imperative is different from the indicative verbal mood mirrors Hume's observation that propositions with "ought" do not logically follow from propositions with "is."

"Optative" was introduced by Leonard Nelson as part of the Friesian critique (which began with Schiller) of Kant's moralism (cf. Nelson, System of Ethics, Yale, 1956, p.165). The term "optative" was borrowed from Greek grammar, where it "takes its name from its chief independent use, that of expressing a wish"
imperativesjussiveshortativesoptativespietatives
various, KantArabic,
Latin
GreekGreek,
Nelson
neologism

kind

right

good

beauty

sacred
(Chase & Phillips, A New Introduction to Greek, 3rd edition, Harvard, 1965, p.82). The word itself, of course, is Latin, from opto, "choose, select" and its participle optatus, "wished for, desired, welcome."

The original Friesian division of ethics into moral and non-moral value has here been extended. A wish is often for something outside of one's control, which sounds more like independent objects that can occur in aesthetic value. Nelson's category has thus been subdivided into "optative" and "hortative." The latter is borrowed from Greek grammar again, where it signifies the subjunctive mood that is used "to express a request or a proposal" (Chase & Phillips, p.103). It is therefore an exhortation, with the sense and root of both words from Latin hortor, "to exhort, incite, encourage." Exhortations as "horatives" will be for some good end that is nevertheless not a duty. It shares features with aesthetic value, including aesthetic variety.

Moral obligation has also been subdivided, between "imperative" and "jussive." This term I have now borrowed from Arabic grammar (it also occurs in Hebrew), where it is a mood of the imperfect verb, usually formed by dropping the final vowel (which in Hebrew is already lost). It is often used to express an imperative (Latin iubeo, iubere, iussi, iussum, "to order, command") and indeed the proper Arabic imperative is constructed from it (Ziadeh & Winder, An Introduction to Modern Arabic, Princeton, 1957, pp.123-124, 129). Indeed, in Latin itself, the "jussive" is the use of the subjunctive as an imperative, as the hortative is a use of the Greek subjunctive (Frederic M. Wheelock, Latin, Barnes & Noble, 1956, 1966, p.133).
imperativesjussiveshortativesoptativespietatives
various, KantArabic,
Latin
GreekGreek,
Nelson
neologism

kind

right

good

beauty

sacred
For the polynomic system, a "jussive" is used for duties involving property, contract, and other legal issues in which there is an element of convention, custom, and perhaps jurisdictional variation. Laws concerning mala prohibita or "strict liability" may have no moral force at all.

Finally, "pietative" is a neologism, on analogy with the other terms. This is from Latin pio, "to seek to appease by an offering, to propitiate," pius, "dutiful, pious," and pietas, "dutifulness, piety." Religious duties, of course, concern ritual, that certain activities must be done in a certain way, or that there are specifically religious events, marriage, ordination, burial, etc., for which the proper ritual procedures are prescribed, or that certain precautions or remedies be observed in relation to specifically religious subjects, such as pollution. What is distinctive about these religious obligations is that they are entirely vacated by a change or loss of religion. The atheist may have rituals, but they will tend to fall into the category of an obsessive-compulsive disorder -- which may be how the atheist views religion.

The idea of the different moods of obligation is that they are part of the larger picture of the system of metaphysical modes of necessity (including analytic, a priore, etc. necessity). Also, all the modes of necessity are identical in force in an absolute sense, even as their force seems attenuated as we move from imperatives to pietatives.

This is reflected in the diagram at left, which is constructed on analogy with the magnetic substates in quantum mechanics. The "angular momentum vector," which is a constant length, represents the full and absolute force of necessity, or obligation. Angular momentum on the z axis, however, varies from the full value to zero. Thus, the z axis represents what we see in the phenomenal world, while the full vector is necessity among Kantian things-in-themselves. The pietative Holy, whose rational content is indeterminate and apparently arbitrary in the phenomenal world, not only is as necessary among things-in-themselves as imperative obligation or analytic necessity, but the vector is at a perfect right angle to the z axis, i.e. its force is wholly outside the phenomenal world. This is therefore conformable to the religious sense that all obligation is ultimately a function of religious obligation. Rationally, the prohibition of pork in Judaism and Islam is a very different matter from the prohibition of murder, but in terms of the valence of religious obligation they may be identical. Thus, the Ten Commandments contain no internal distinctions to distinguish the prohibition of "graven images" from those of theft, adultery, or murder. Here, the former is a pietative, while the latter are jussives and imperatives. This goes back to the dispute in Mediaeval philosophy been Ibn Sîna (Avicenna) and Al-Ghazâlî. The former held that the prohibition of wine in Islamic law was prudential (a hortative) and therefore could be overruled by a physician for medical purposes. Al-Ghazâlî, however, held that the prohibition was absolute, an imperative, and could not be abrogated for any reason. Prudential or not, obeying the prohibition was a sign of obedience to God. The idea that God would command things that were not dictated by reason was contrary to the spirit of Greek philosophy and the Hellenizing Islamic falâsifah, ; but Al-Ghazâlî was not in that tradition.

The Six Modes of Value:

A New Kant-Friesian System of Metaphysics

Chinese Virtues

The Chinese Seven Passions

The Emotions

Value Theory

Ethics

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