DiText
Dagobert D. Runes, Dictionary of Philosophy, 1942.
A| B| C| D| E| F| G| H| I| J| K| L| M| N| O| P| Q| R| S| T| U| V| W| X| Y| Z

V


Vac: (Skr.) Speech, voice, word. In Vedic (q.v.) philosophy vac and sabda (q.v.) have a similar role as the Logos in Greek philosophy (see e.g. Rigveda 10.125). It appears personified (feminine) and close to primeval reality in the hierarchy of emanations. -- K.F.L.
Vada: (Skr.) Theory.
Vague: A word (or the idea or notion associated with it) is vague if the meaning is so far not fixed that there are cases in which its application is in principle indeterminate -- although there may be other cases in which the application is quite definite. Thus longevity is vague because, although a man who dies at sixty certainly does not possess the characteristic of longevity and one who lives to be ninety certainly does, there is doubt about a man who dies at seventy-five. On the other hand, octogenarian is not vague, because the precise moment at which a man becomes an octogenarian may (at least in principle) be determined. Of course, the vagueness of longevity might be removed by specifying exactly at what age longevity begins, but the meaning of the word would then have been changed. (See further the article Relative.).

Similarly a criterion or test, a convention, a rule, a command is vague if there are cases in which it is in principle indeterminate what the result of the test is, or whether the convention has been followed, or whether the rule or command has been obeyed. -- A.C.


Vagueness: A term may be said (loosely) to be vngue if there are ''borderline cases" for its applicability, i.e. cases for which the rules of the language containing the term do not specify either that the term shall or that it shall not apply. Thus certain shades of reddish-orange in the spectrum are borderline cases for the application of the term "red". And "red" is vague in the English language.

More precisely: Let "S" be a symbol (simple or complex) in the language L. And let "f(S)" be any sentence containing "S" and constructed in conformity with the syntactical rules of L. Let "e1" be any experiential sentence of L. Then "S" may be said to be vague in the context "f(. .)" if, for at last one "e1" the rules of L do not provide that f(S) be either consistent or inconsistent with e1. And "S" may be said to be vague in L if it is vague in at least one context of L.

Vagueness needs to be distinguished from Generality and Ambiguity (q.v.). See also Vague.

References B. Russell, "Vagueness", Australasian J. of Phil. I, 88. M. Black, "Vagueness: An exercise in logical analysis" Phil. of Sci. 4, 427. -- M.B.


Vaibhasika: (Skr.) A Buddist school of realism so named after a commentary (vibhasa) on one of their standard texts, same as Bahyapratyaksavada (q.v.) -- K.F.L.
Vairagya: (Skr. ) Disgust, aversion, renunciation of worldly things, recommended for the attainment of moksa (q.v.). -- K.F.L.
Vaisesika: One of the major systems of Indian philosophy (q.v.) founded by Ulaka, better known by his surname Kanada. It is a pluralistic realism, its main insistence being on visesa or particularity of the ultimate reality, incidental to an atomism. There are theistic implications. Reality falls into seven categories: nine substances (dravya, q.v.), 24 qualities (guna, q.v.), action (karma, q.v.), universality (samanya, q.v.), particularity (visesa), inherence (samavdya), and non-existence (abhava). -- K.F.L.
Valid: In the terminology of Carnap, a sentence (or class of sentences) is valid if it is a consequence of the null class of sentences, contra-valid if every sentence is a consequence of it. The notion of consequence here refers to a full set of primitive formulas and rules of inference for the language or logistic system (q.v.) in question, known as c-rules, and including (in general) non-effective rules. If the notion of consequence is restricted to depend only on the d-rules -- i.e., the subclass of the c-rules which are effective -- it is then called d-consequence or derivability, and the terms corresponding to valid and contravalid are demonstrable and refutable respectively.

The formulas and the c-rules of the language in question may include some which are extralogical in character -- corresponding, e.g., to physical laws or to matters of empirical fact. Carnap makes an attempt (which, however, has been questioned) to define in purely syntactical terms when a relation of consequence is one of logical consequence. If the notion of consequence is restricted to that of logical consequence, the terms corresponding to valid and contra-valid are analytic and contradictory respectively. If the c-rules are purely logical in character, the class of analytic sentences coincides with that of valid sentences, and the class of contradictory sentences with that of contravalid sentences.

The explicit definition of analyticity (etc.) for a particular language of course requires statement of the c-rules. Actually, in the case of his "Language II," Carnap prefers to define analytic and contradictory first, and consequence in terms of these.

Part of the purpose of the definition of analyticity is to secure that every logical sentence is either analytic or contradictory. (The corresponding situation with demonstrability and refutability is impossible in many significant cases in consequence of Gödel's theorem -- see logic, formal, § 6.)

Refer further to the article syntax, logical, where references to the literature are given. A.C.


Valid inference: In common usage an inference is said to be valid if it is permitted by the laws of logic. It is possible to specify this more exactly only in formal terms, with reference to a particular logistic system (q.v.).

The question of the validity of an inference from a set of premisses is, of course, independent of the question of the truth of the premisses. -- A.C.


Vallabha: An Indian thinker and theologian of the 15th century A.D., a follower of the Vedanta (q.v.) and of Vishnuism (q.v.), who interpreted all to be the divine reality with its threefold aspect of sat-cit-ananda, the human soul ananda. -- K.F.L.
Valuation: The process, act or attitude of assigning value to something, or of estimating its value. See Value; Evaluation. -- R.B.W.
Value: The contemporary use of the term "value" and the discipline now known as the theory of value or axiology are relatively recent developments in philosophy, being largely results of certain 19th and 20th century movements. See Ethics. "Value" is used both as a noun and as a verb. As a noun it is sometimes abstract, sometimes concrete. As an abstract noun it designates the property of value or of being valuable. In this sense "value" is often used as equivalent to "worth" or "goodness," in which case evil is usually referred to as "disvalue." But it is also used more broadly to cover evil or badness as well as goodness, just as "temperature" is used to cover both heat and cold. Then evil is referred to as negative value and goodness as positive value.

As a concrete noun, singular ("a value") or plural ("values"), our term refers either to things which have this property of value or to things which are valued (see below).

There is also a use of the terms "a value" and "values" which is intermediate between the two uses so far indicated, and which appears mainly in German writings. Here they refer to specific value-qualities (Werte) analogous to colors.

When used as a verb ("to value") our term denotes a certain mental act or attitude of valuing or valuation.

Now value-theory is concerned both with the property of value and with the process of valuing. About the former it asks various questions. What is its nature? Is it a quality or a relation? Is it objective or subjective? Is it a single property, or is it several properties, value being an ambiguous term? Is its presence in a thing dependent on or reducible to the fact that the thing is valued by someone? About the latter it also has various questions. Is it a mere feeling or desire? Or does it involve judgment and cognition? And if so, is this a cognition of a value already there independently of the act of valuing or of knowing?

A distinction is often drawn between two kinds of value, namely intrinsic value and extrinsic or instrumental value. By extrinsic value is meant the character of being good or of having value as a means to something. By intrinsic value is meant the character of being good or valuable in itself or as an end or for its own sake. See Intrinsic goodness. Value-theorists have been mainly concerned with intrinsic value. The term "worth" has sometimes been used as equivalent to intrinsic value (Kant). But the distinction has often been criticized, e.g., by Dewey and Laird.

Two contrasts in which the term "value" occurs remain to be mentioned. (1) "Value" is sometimes contrasted with "fact" or "existence". Here the contrast intended is that of the "ought" versus the "is", and the term "value" is used to cover not only the various kinds of goodness, but also beauty and rightness. And the main problem is that of the relation of value and existence. (2) "Value" is also used more narrowly, being contrasted with rightness. Here the distinction intended is within the "ought" as opposed to the "is" and is between the "good" and the "right", with "value" taken as equivalent to "goodness". Then the main problem concerns the relation of value and obligation. In the sense of value involved in the former contrast value-theory will include ethics. In the latter it will not. See Axiology, Ethics, Obligation. -- W.K.F.


Value, contributive: The value an entity has insofar as its being a constituent of some whole gives value to that whole. (G. E. Moore). -- C.A.B.
Value, instrumental: The value an entity possesses in virtue of the value of the consequences it produces, an entity's value as means. Sometimes the term is applied with reference only to the actual consequences, sometimes with reference to the potential consequences. -- C.A.B.
Value, intrinsic: Sometimes defined as (a) the value an entity would have even if it were to have no consequences. In this sense, an entity's intrinsic value is equivalent to its total value less its instrumental value; it would include its contributive value.

Sometimes defined as (b) the value an entitv would have were it to exist quite alone. In this sense, an entity's intrinsic value would be equivalent to its total value less the sum of its instrumental and contributive value. -- C.A.B.


Values, Hierarchy of: (in Max Scheler) A scale of values and of personal value-types, based on "essences" (saint, genius, hero, leading spirit, and virtuoso of the pleasures of life, in descending scale). -- P.A.S.
Value, Ultimate: The intrinsic value of an entity possessing intrinsic value throughout. For example, a hedonist might say that a pleasant evening at the opera has intrinsic value and yet maintain that only the hedonic tone of the evening has ultimate value, because it alone has no constituents which fail to have intrinsic value (G. E. Moore). -- C.A.B.
Variable: A letter occurring in a mathematical or logistic formula and serving, not as a name of a particular, but as an ambiguous name of Žany one of a class of things -- this class being known as the range of the variable, and the members of the class as values of the variable.

Where a formula contains a variable, say x, as a free variable, the meaning of the formula is thought of as depending on the meaning of x. If the formula contains no other free variables than x, then it acquires a particular meaning when x is given a value -- i.e., when a name of some one value of x is substituted for all free occurrences of x in the formula -- or, what comes to the same thing for this purpose, when the free occurrences of x are taken as denoting some one value.

Frequently an (interpreted) logistic system (q.v.) is so constructed that the theorems may contain free variables. The interpretation of such a theorem is that, for any set of values, of the variables which occur as free variables, the indicated proposition is true. I.e., in the interpretation the free variables are treated as if bound by universal quantifiers (q.v.) initially placed.

A bound variable, or apparent variable, in a given formula, is distinguished from a free variable by the fact that the meaning of the formula does not depend on giving the variable a particular value. (The same variable may be allowed, if desired, to have both bound occurrences and free occurrences in the same formula, and in this case the meaning of the formula depends on giving a value to the variable only at the places where it is free.) For examples, see Abstraction, and Logic, formal, § 3.

For the terminology used in connection with functions, see the article function. Cf. also the articles Constant, and Combinatory logic. -- A.C.


Variable error: The average departure or deviation from the average between several given values. In successive measurements of magnitudes considered in the natural sciences or in experimental psychology, the observed differences are the unavoidable result of a great number of small causes independent of each other and equally likely to make the measurement too small or too large. In experimental psychology in particular, the real magnitude is known in some cases, but its evaluation tends to be on the average too large or too small. The average error is the average departure from the true magnitude, while the variable error is the deviation as already defined. -- T.G.
Veda, plural Vedas: (Skr. knowledge) Collectively the ancient voluminous, sacred literature of India (in bulk prior to 1000 B.C.), composed of Rigveda (hymns to gods), Samaveda (priests' chants), Yajurveda (sacrificial formulae), and Atharvaveda (magical chants), which among theosophic speculations contain the first philosophic insights. Generally recognized as an authority even in philosophy, extended and supplemented later by sutras (q.v.) and various accessory textbooks on grammar, astronomy, medicine, etc., called Vedangas ("members of the Veda") and the philosophical treatises, such as the Upanishads (q.v.). -- K.F.L.
Vedanta: The "end of the Veda" (q.v.), used both in the literal sense and that of final goal, or meaning. Applied to the Upanishads (q.v.) and various systems of thought based upon them. Specifically the doctrine elaborated in the Brahmasutras of Badarayana, restated, reinterpreted, and changed by later philosophers, notably Sankara, Ramanuja, Nimbarka, Madhva, and Vallabha (which see). The central theme is that enunciated in the Upanishads of the relation between world soul and individual soul or self. Within the Vedanta, a number of solutions were found and taught with varying success. Sankara supposed God and soul identical (see advaita), Madhva different (see dvaita), Ramanuja different yet identical (see visistadvaita), Vallabha had a theory of obscuration, etc. -- K.F.L.
Vedantasutras: See Brahmasutras.
Vedantic: Adjective, "belonging to the Vedanta" (q.v.).
Vedic: (Skr.) Adjective, referring to the Vedas (q.v.) or the period that generated them, considered closed about 500 B.C. -- K.F.L.
Vedic Religion: Or the Religion of the Vedas (q.v.). It is thoroughly cosmological, inspirational and ritualistic, priest and sacrifice playing an important role. It started with belief in different gods, such as Indra, Agni, Surya, Vishnu, Ushas, the Maruts, usually interpreted as symbolizing the forces of nature, but with the development of Hinduism it deteriorated into a worship of thousands of gods corresponding to the diversification of function and status in the complex social organism. Accompanying there was a pronounced tendency toward magic even in Vedic times, while the more elevated thoughts which have found expression in magnificent praises of the one or the other deity finally became crystallized in the philosophic thought of the Upanishads (q.v.). There is a distinct break, however, between Vedic culture with its free and autochthonous religious consciousness and the rigidly caste and custom controlled religion as we know it in India today, as also the religion of bhakti (q.v.). -- K.F.L.
Venn diagram: See Euler diagram.
Verbal: Consisting of or pertaining to words. Having to do (merely) with the use and meaning of words. -- A.C.
Verbum mentis: (Lat. mental word) The concept; the intra-mental product of the act of intellection. -- V.J.B.
Veridicity: A property of certain perceptions, memories and other acts of cognition which, though not in the strictest sense true -- since truth is usually considered an exclusive property of propositions and judgments -- tend to form true propositions. Non-veridical cognitions including illusions and hallucinations though not in themselves false are deceptive and foster falsity and error. -- L.W.
Verification: (Ger. Bewährung) In Husserl: Fulfilment; especially, fulfilment of the sense of a doxic thesis. -- D.C.
Verification, Confirmation:
  1. Verification: the procedure of finding out whether a sentence (or proposition) is true or false.
  2. A sentence is verifiable (in principle) if a (positive or negative) verification of it is possible under suitable conditions, leaving aside technical difficulties.
  3. Many philosophical doctrines (e.g. Scientific Empiricism, q.v.) hold that a verification is replaced here by the concept of confirmation. A certain hypothesis is said to be confirmed to a certain degree by a certain amount of evidence. The concept of degree of confirmation is closely connected or perhaps identical (Reichenbach) with the statistical concept of probability (q.v.).
  4. A sentence is confirmable if suitable (possible, not necessarily actual) experiences could contribute positively or negatively to its confirmation.
  5. Many etnpiricists (see e.g. Scientific Empiricism 1C) regard either verifiability (e.g. Wittgenstein, the Vienna Circle in its earlier phase) or confirimability as a criterion of meaningfulness (in the sense of factual meaning, see Meaning, Kinds of, 2). This view leads to a rejection of certain metaphysical doctrines (see Anti-metaphysics, 2)
-- R C.
Verite de fait (Verite de raison): There are two kinds of truth, according to Leibniz, truths of fact and truths of reason (or reasoning).These two classes of truths are exhaustive, and also, with the single exception of the existence of God, which has a logically anomalous position of being a necessary truth about existence, completely exclusive. Truths of reason are completely certain and necessary, for their denial involves a contradiction and is hence impossible. Truths of fact, on the other hand, are not completely certain and necessary. Their denial involves no contradiction, they rest upon experience and they have, hence, only a limited inductive certainty. The truth of inductive inferences which go beyond the evidence of immediate experience depends upon the Law of Sufficient Reason, which is the expression in logic of the choice of the best on the part of God. Since God conceivably could have chosen another world for realization, rathcr than this best of all possible worlds, these truths can never equal in certainty the truths of reason, which depend not on God's will, but on the Principle of Contradiction, which not even God himself can make to be false. -- F.L.W.
Vicious circle: A vicious circle in proof (circulus in probando) occurs if p1 is used to prove p2, p2 to prove p3, . . . , pn-1 to prove pn, and finally pn to prove p1 -- p1,p2, . . . , pn being then taken as all proved. This is a form of the fallacy of petitio principii (q.v.).

A vicious circle in definition (circulus in definiendo) occurs if A1 is used in defining A2, A2 in defining A3, . . . , An-1 in defining An, and finally An in defining A1. (The simplest case is that in which n = l, A1 being defined in terms of itself.) There is, of course, a fallacy if A1, A2, . . . , An are then used as defined absolutely. Apparent exceptions, such as definition by recursion (q.v.), require special justification, e.g., by finding an equivalent form of definition which is not circular.

The term vicious circle fallacy is used by Whitehead and Russell (1910) for arguments violating their ramified theory of types (q.v.). Similarly, the name circulus vitiosus is applied by Hermann Weyl (1918) to an argument involving impredicative definition (q.v). -- A.C.


Vidya: (Skr.) Knowledge; especially knowledge of the real, noumenal. -- K.F.L.
Vienna Circle: See Scientific Empiricism I.
Vijnana: (Skr.) Consciousness; the faculty of apprehension or individualization of experience, and as such perhaps equivalent to ahamkara. -- K.F.L.
Vijnana-vada: (Skr.) Theory (vada) of consciousness, specifically that consciousness is of the essence of reality; also the Buddhist school of subjective idealism otherwise known as Yogacara (q.v.). -- K.F.L.
Virtue: (Gr. arete) In Aristotle's philosophy that state of a thing which constitutes its peculiar excellence and enables it to perform its function well; particularly, in man, the activity of reason and of rationally ordered habits.

(Lat. virtus) In Roman philosophy, virtue became associated with virility and strength of character. In the Italian renaissance, e.g. Machiavelli, (Ital. virtu), the word means shrewd prudence -- G.R.M.


Visnu: (Skr.) Deity of the Hindu trinity (see Trimurti). In philosophy, the principle of conservation, maintenance, or stability, the principle worshipped in Vishnuism (q.v.). -- K.F.L.
Vishnuism: (Visnuism) One of the major philosophico-religious groups into which Hinduism has articulated itself. It glorifies Vishnu as the supreme being who creates and maintains the world periodically by means of his bhuti and kriya saktis (q.v.) or powers of becoming and producing, corresponding to the causae materialis et efficiens. The place of man's soul in this development is explained variously depending on the relation it maintains to the world-ground conceived in Vishnuite fashion. -- K.F.L.
Visistadvaita: (Skr.) "Qualified non-duality", the Vedantic (q.v.) doctrine of qualified monism advocated by Ramanuja (q.v.) which holds the Absolute to be personal, world and individuals to be real and distinct (visista), and salvation attainable only by grace of God earned through bhakti (q.v.). -- K.F.L.
Vitalism: (Lat. vita, life) The doctrine that phenomena of life possess a character sui generis by virtue of which they differ radically from physico-chemical phenomena. The vitalist ascribes the activities of living organisms to the operation of a "vital force" such as Driesch's "entelechy" or Bergson's elan vital. (See H. Driesch, Der Vttalismus als Geschichte und als Lehre (1905); The Science and Philosophy of Organism, 2 Vols. (1908); The Problem of Individuality (1914); H. Bergson, Creative Evolution.) Opposed to Vitalism is biological mechanism (see Mechanism) which asserts that living phenomena can be explained exclusively in physico-chemical terms. (See J. Loeb, The Organism as a Whole from a Physico-Chemical View-Point, 1919; The Dynamics of Living Matter, 1910. See also C. D. Broad, The Mind and Its Place in Nature, ch. II.) -- L.W.
Vivarta: (Skr. turning, whirling) The Cyclonic process of manifestation by which the One becomes the (illusory) Many, an essentially Vedantic (q.v.) concept of cosmogonic as well as psychologico-philosophical implications. -- K.F.L.
Volkelt, Johannes: (1848-1930) Waa influenced by the traditions of German idealism since Kant. His most imported work consisted in the analysis of knowledge which, he contended, had a double source; for it requires, first of all, empirical data, insofar as there can be no real knowledge of the external world apart from consciousness, and also logical thinking, insofar as it elaborates the crude material of perception. Consequently, knowledge may be described as the product of rational operations on the material of pure experience. Thus he arrived at the conclusion that reality is "trans-subjective", that is to say, it consists neither of mere objects nor of mere data of consciousness, but is rather a synthesis of both elements of existence. -- R.B.W.

Main works: Erfahrung u. Denken, 1886; System d. Aesthetik, 1905-14, Phänomenologie u. Metaphysik d. Zeit, 1925; Problem d. Individualität, 1928.


Voltaire, Francois Marie Arouet de: (1694-1778) French dramatist and historian. He was one of the leading Encyclopaedists. He preached a natural religion of the deist variety. Though characterized as an atheist because of his fervent antagonism to the bigotry he found in the organized religions, he nevertheless believed in a righteous God. He was opposed to all intolerance and fought passionately to right the evils he discerned in religion and in society in general. In ethics, he based his views on the universal character of morals in which he firmly believed. His famous Candide is illustrative of his keen satire in its blasting of the Leibnizean best of all possible worlds. -- L.E.D.

Main works: Lettres philosophiques, 1734; Elements de la philos. de Newton, 1738; Essai sur les moeurs et l'esprit des nations (Philosophie de Christoire), 1756; Traite de tolerance, 1763; Dict. philosophique, 1764.


Voluminousness: (Lat. volumen, volume) The vague, relatively undifferentiated spatiality characterizing sensations of every sense. See W. James, The Principles of Psychology, Vol II, p. 134 ff. See Extensity. -- L.W.
Voluntarism: (Lat. voluntas, will) In ontology, the theory that the will is the ultimate constituent of reality. Doctrine that the human will, or some force analogous to it, is the primary stuff of the universe; that blind, purposive impulse is the real in nature. (a) In psychology, theory that the will is the most elemental psychic factor, that striving, impulse, desire, and even action, with their concomitant emotions, are alone dependable. (b) In ethics, the doctrine that the human will is central to all moral questions, and superior to all other moral criteria, such as the conscience, or reasoning power. The subjective theory that the choice made by the will determines the good. Stands for indeterminism and freedom. (c) In theology, the will as the source of all religion, that blessedness is a state of activity. Augustine (353-430) held that God is absolute will, a will independent of the Logos, and that the good will of man is free. For Avicebron (1020-1070), will is indefinable and stands above mature and soul, matter and form, as the pnmary category. Despite the metaphysical opposition of Duns Scotus (1265-1308) the realist, and William of Occam (1280-1347) the nominalist, both considered the will superior to the intellect. Hume (1711-1776) maintained that the will is the determining factor in human conduct, and Kant (1724-1804) believed the will to be the source of all moral judgment, and the good to be based on the human will. Schopenhauer (1788-1860) posited the objectified will as the world-substance, force, or value. James (1842-1910) followed up Wundt's notion of the will as the purpose of the good with the notion that it is the essence of faith, also manifest in the will to believe. See Will, Conation. Opposed to Rationalism, Materialism, Intellectualism. -- J.K.F.
Vortices: (Lat. vortex) Whirling figures used in Cartesian physics to explain the differentiation on geometrical principles of pure extension into vanous kinds of bodies. See Cartesianism. -- V.J.B.
Vyapakatva: (Skr.) "All-reaching-ness", omni-presence. -- K.F.L.
Vyavaharika: (Skr.) Relating to practical or empirical matters. -- K.F.L.