Axiology (from Greek ἀξία, axia, "value, worth"; and -λογία, -logia) is the philosophical study of value. It is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics,[1] philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics. The term was first used by Paul Lapie, in 1902,[2][3] and Eduard von Hartmann, in 1908.[4][5]

Axiology studies mainly two kinds of values: ethical values and aesthetical values. Ethics investigates the concepts of "right" and "good" in individual and social conduct. Aesthetics studies the concepts of "beauty" and "harmony." Formal axiology, the attempt to lay out principles regarding value with mathematical rigor, is exemplified by Robert S. Hartman's science of value.


Between the 5th and 6th centuries BC, it was important in Greece to be knowledgeable if you were to be successful. Philosophers began to recognize that differences existed between the laws and morality of society. Socrates believed that knowledge had a vital connection to virtue, making morality and democracy closely intertwined. Socrates' student, Plato furthered the belief by establishing virtues which should be followed by all.

E. J. Dijksterhuis found that axiological antithesis characterized the philosophy of ancient Greece:[6]

...typical Greek habit of thinking in axiological antitheses, of always wanting to decide which of two comparable activities, properties, or qualities is the higher, the better, the nobler or the more perfect. The Pythagoreans set the finite above the infinite, the odd above the even, the square above the rectangular, the male above the female. Plato never tires of arguing how much superior ideas are to appearance. Aristotle contrasts the imperfection of the sublunary sphere with the perfection of the celestial sphere. Thus uniform motion is also superior to non-uniform motion, a regular polyhedron is of greater value than any other polyhedron but is itself surpassed by the sphere.

With the fall of the government, values became individual, causing skeptic schools of thought to flourish, ultimately shaping a pagan philosophy that is thought to have influenced and shaped Christianity. During the medieval period, Thomas Aquinas made the distinction between natural and supernatural (theological) virtues. This concept led philosophers to distinguish between judgments based on fact and judgments based on values, creating division between science and philosophy.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Random House Unabridged Dictionary Entry on Axiology.
  2. ^ Lapie, Paul (1902). Logique de la volonté. Paris: F. Alcan.
  3. ^ "Axiology and aesthetics - article".
  4. ^ von Hartmann, Eduard (1908). Grundriss der Axiologie. Hermann Haacke.
  5. ^ Samuel L. Hart. Axiology—Theory of Values. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  6. ^ E. J. Dijksterhuis (1961) The Mechanization of the World Picture C. Dikshoorn translator, pages 75 & 75, via Internet Archive
  7. ^ Arneson, P. (2009). Axiology. In S. Littlejohn, & K. Foss (Eds.), Encyclopedia of communication theory. (pp. 70-74). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

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