On the Usefulness of Arts and Sciences

Croatian Journal of Philosophy 3 (1):63-74 (2003)
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Abstract

The paper addresses the problem whether arts, sciences and humanities can be regarded as useful. First it examines the means-ends relation and argues that some means are not causally but rather constitutively connected to ends. Second, it specifies two dimensions along which the problem of values will be addressed. One is the issue about the relation between values and desirability, the other is the active and affective conceptions of valuation. Third the paper offers a concise reconstruction of the answers to the question of usefulness formulated during the enlightenment. It will be argued that traditionally usefulness was understood causally and not on the individual, but rather on the social level. In the final section the paper contends that values should be understood in terms of activities rather than in terms ofdesire satisfaction and that this interpretation can bring us closer to answering the question whether and why arts and sciences are useful

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Ferenc Huoranszki
Central European University

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