The Axiological Memory

by Nicolae Râmbu (Author)
©2018 Monographs 128 Pages


This book represents an attempt to explain the manner in which values are attached to memory. The author examines that when the fundamental values of a civilisation are attached to the individual’s memory, they can never be forgotten or erased, irrespective of how violent or subtle the means used for this purpose might be. The essay investigates why some people who have been educated in a foreign culture and who are, well-integrated, suddenly return to the fundamental values of their culture of origin and, in some cases, they violently turn against their foster civilization.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title Page
  • Copyright Page
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • Citability of the eBook
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgements
  • Contents
  • 1 Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of axiological memory
  • 1 What are values?
  • 2 Axiological memory: terminological and conceptual definitions
  • 3 The memory of the will
  • 4 Conclusion
  • 2 The axiological memory in Immanuel Kant’s, Friedrich Schiller’s and Arthur Schopenhauer’s view
  • 1 The aesthetic ideas as values
  • 2 Play and memory
  • 3 Conclusion
  • 3 The memory and the value of the self
  • 1 Adler’s concept of inferiority
  • 2 The feeling of cultural inferiority
  • 3 Culture’s spoilt child
  • 4 Conclusion
  • 4 Axiological memory and Weltanschauung
  • 1 The fascination and the danger of a Weltanschauung
  • 2 Terror and memory
  • 3 The works of art as a means of supporting the Nazi axiological memory
  • 4 Conclusion
  • 5 The collective unconscious and axiological memory
  • 1 The metaphysical deduction of abyssal categories
  • 2 The stylistic matrix as axiological memory
  • 3 Some thoughts on the axiological memory of Christianity
  • 4 Conclusion
  • 6 The constitution of a state as a method of building the axiological memory
  • 1 The “constitutional” table of values
  • 2 The abusive interpretation of constitutional texts
  • 3 The liberating interpretation
  • 4 Conclusion
  • 7 The tyranny of values as a source of fanaticism
  • Bibliography

1 Friedrich Nietzsche’s concept of axiological memory

The concept of axiological memory appears rarely in the literature and with an imprecise meaning. Through our contribution, we hope to more specifically define this concept and make it functional so as to be used effectively for research in the cultural sciences. When it comes to memory, the question is how long its contents are kept and what are the factors favouring or determining its erasure. Both in common speech and scientific discourse, memory is correlated with remembering and forgetting. When are the contents of axiological memory forgotten? Never! This is our answer. More specifically, our thesis on the relationship between axiological memory and forgetfulness is that, in any type of cultural memory, both forgetfulness and the intentional deletion of some elements are not only possible, but also necessary, as we argue in this essay on Nietzsche. Actually, axiological memory has nothing to do with forgetfulness. On the contrary, once one’s values are set into the memory, they remain there forever, no matter how hard it may be for us to admit.

1 What are values?

To outline our theory of axiological memory, we must first answer the question, ‘what is a value?’ Our research has as its object the faculty of keeping in mind certain values, together with all the related events of this process; however, it is impossible to accurately define a value. Axiological memory differs from other forms of individual and collective memory, particularly because of its object; otherwise, it presents the same characteristics and raises the same problems as any other comparable faculty. What, in fact, do we keep in mind when we memorise values?

One could say that the definition of the concept of axiological memory is very simple. From a strictly theoretical viewpoint, it is indeed as determinable as any other concept, although the formal approach must be accompanied by a content-based approach, and this brings us into complications that are difficult to overcome. Although the problem of value has been present in philosophy since antiquity, the concept of a value as it is used today is ←11 | 12→ relatively recent.1 An exception in this regard is the field of economy, where value has been a central concept for centuries; but economic values have almost nothing in common with the spiritual values that constitute the object of axiology. How did it happen, then, that a purely economic term came to designate primarily spiritual values? Among the many theories trying to explain this surprising semantic shift, the most plausible seems to be Friedrich Nietzsche’s theory in his work On the Genealogy of Morals. The first time that one person was measured with another was in the relation between seller and buyer, said Nietzsche: ‘No level of civilisation, however rudimentary, has been found where something of this relationship cannot be discerned. Setting prices, estimating values, devising equivalents, making exchanges this all arrives at the great generalisation: “Everything has its price, everything can be paid off”.’2

Before summarising the main philosophical concepts surrounding the essence of value, we should note that any strictly national approach to the question of value is doomed to failure, because values are not about reason, but feelings. This is why the theories about spiritual values are superficial. What happens to the value is what Friedrich Schiller observed happening to the ideas that dominate the practical part of the Kantian system: ‘philosophers only disagree, whilst mankind, I am confident of proving, has never done so’.3 To paraphrase this statement by Schiller, we can say that, in terms of the essence of a value, philosophers have always been divided, building theories that oppose each other, while every man has an instinct about his values such that, to some extent, ‘he knows’ what a value is. Schiller was speaking about a technical shape used by philosophers, ‘But this very technical shape, which renders truth visible to the understanding, conceals it from the feelings’.4 This is perfectly valid for values. They cannot be made ‘visible to the intelligence’, as Schiller was saying, without destroying them. The theoretical discourse about values, ←12 | 13→ regardless of who might formulate it, is paradoxical in the sense that the way in which it is theorised is par excellence located outside the scope of reason. The values are atheoretical. For this reason, ‘playing’ with values is always dangerous. For instance, in the process of the Nürnberg trials, Alfred Rosenberg, accused of poisoning the souls of young people with his ideas in The Myth of the Twentieth Century, professes once again his own innocence towards the end of his life. He claims he had only spoken to the young people ‘about culture and art, and about the deepening of the highest values’.5 Indeed, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, the book that represented the philosophical foundations of the Nazi ideology, is a work about art, culture, and values, all of which, as they were perceived at that time, led to catastrophe. The word value (Wert) appears in The Myth of the Twentieth Century dozens of times, and, just as many times, it was invoked to justify myriad atrocities.

In the name of value, magnificent works have been edified, but, in the same name, the most abominable crimes have been committed. Unfortunately, there has never been and, even less in the contemporary era, does there seem to be a clear consensus among specialists on the definition of a value.

For a long time it was believed that the general theory of values, “is one of the most fruitful areas of philosophy. It is a creation of the nineteenth century and the German and Austrian cultural space, where figures as Marx, Lotze, Franz Brentano, Wilhelm Windelband, Alexius von Meinong and Christian von Ehrenfels have created systematically the fundamentals, while a genius like Friedrich Nietzsche was acting as fecund and challenging element”.6

However, until today, there has been no relatively consistent discipline regarding values; there is no axiology, but always axiologies, which means a variety of views on the substance of a value.

In the classical philosophy of values, as in the common language, when discussing spiritual values, the following distinct aspects are taken into account: the feeling specific to the subject that perceives axiologically an ←13 | 14→ object, the quality of the object, a concept, an ideal object (Hartmann and Max Scheler), an irrational phenomenon (Spranger), a simple validity without its own reality, the practical consequence of a social interaction, a standard of assessment, the originary element of existence, and still further meanings that we cannot cover here. Let us make a few remarks on the great number of concepts about the essence of values.

Firstly, since a value means a feeling, a value is thus placed in the sphere of psychic phenomena. Second, a value is seen as a quality of an object. Before any analysis, says Alexius von Meinong, ‘the value that an object has for me is presented as a quality thereof’.7 Third, the value is reduced to a concept or idea. Fourth, values are seen as ideal objects. The classical representatives of this orientation are Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann. Under Scheler’s conception, values are a priori and become realities only through the fact that they adhere to goods or objects bearing different values. Inherent in this axiological orientation is not only thinking about the value as an ideal object, but also intuiting it through a faculty called Wertgefühl.

Fifth, values are irrational phenomena that manifest in the life of every man without his being aware of their presence and without his being able to be in control of them when the researcher clarifies them for him. One of the representatives of this axiological orientation is Eduard Spranger, who, in his work Lebensformen, distinguishes the following types of personality, depending on the prevailing value: theoretical man, economic man, aesthetic man, social man, political man, and religious man.8 Despite his extensive and profound theory about values, Spranger, as noted in the literature, did not precisely define the concept of value anywhere.9


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2018 (December)
Memory of the will Table of values Weltanschauung Value of the self Interpretation Aesthetic ideas
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2018. 127 pp.

Biographical notes

Nicolae Râmbu (Author)

Nicolae Râmbu is Professor of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social-Political Sciences, "Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University, Iaşi, Romania. His research interests include German idealism, axiology, philosophy of culture, and intercultural communication.


Title: The Axiological Memory
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130 pages