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Environmental Ethics

Volume 17, Issue 4, Winter 1995

Frederick Ferré
Pages 417-431

Value, Time, and Nature

Notoriously, beauty is subject to time’s “tooth”; but—somehow—we sense also the imperviousness of achieved value to mere duration. This paradox is illustrated using a recent art event, and three principles analyzed from the case in point: (1) the exclusive intrinsic importance of subjective immediacy, (2) the necessity of intersubjective connections, and (3) the crucial place of instrumental value. Moving from art to metaphysics to nature, I conclude with discussions of habitat and of evolution. Only if a habitat’s instrumental value (for many centers of subjective immediacy besides human ones) is adequately respected can anthropocentric values be prevented from always “trumping” all others. I reconsider evolution in terms of many interconnected value-realizing subjects, presenting the proffered “kalogenic” perspective as a manifestation of the most fundamental process of the universe—one in which the pursuit, actualization, and defense of concrete beauty actually generates what we abstractly call “time.”