On the phenomenological view already referred to there exist various so-called 'domains of relevance' for a subject in accordance with 'er multifarious interests and involvements. Together these domains of relevance form the subject's 'system of relevances' with its own priorities and preferences always clearly distinguished and not necessarily stable for longer periods. This system of relevance falls into specific 'zones of relevance'. They have been labeled "the zone of primary relevance", "of minor relevance", "of relative irrelevance" and "of absolute irrelevance". There is a close parallel between the first three zones of this phenomenological subdivision and the philosophical-linguistic classification of topical, marginal and potential relevance mentioned in the previous section. The 'zone of primary relevance' has been described as that part of the world within the subject's reach which can be immediately observed by 'im and also at least partially dominated by 'im, that is, changed and rearranged by 'er actions. (Compare the notion of topical relevance.) The 'zone of minor relevance' is, then, a field which is not open to the subject's domination but mediately connected with the zone of primary relevance, because it furnishes, for example, the tools to be used for attaining the projected goal. (Compare marginal relevance.) The 'zone of relative irrelevance' has been said to be the zone which, for the time being, has no connection with the subject's interests at hand. (Compare potential relevance.) The 'zone of absolute irrelevance' is the one in which no possible change would, so the subject believes, influence 'er objective in hand.

In the terminology of the phenomenological theory adumbrated here it is not only the predicate (whether property or relation) which is called "relevance", but all things believed to be relevant are labeled "relevances" themselves. Furthermore, it even speaks of "a system of pertinent relevances", but lexically pertinent is a mere synonym of relevant. The excessive and doxastic use of the notion of relevancy in this doctrine would have drained it of almost all practical meaning if it had been generally adopted. The use is doxastic in that something would be 'relevant' on this reasoning with respect to, say, a goal, interest, motive or value, merely because the subject believes it to be relevant. The theory does not and cannot distinguish between something being relevant given a certain focus of relevancy (a nonpropositional or lower-level propositional fact), and something believed to be relevant or pertinent to that focus (a propositional or higher-level propositional fact).

Part of the question whether the occurrence of an event is relevant or not is the question whether people's conduct is relevant or not. Such conduct has been described by a later nonphenomenological theorist as "positively relevant" when it is doing such and such, and as "negatively relevant" when it is not doing so and so, altho the person in question could have done it. On this account saving someone's life, for instance, is positively relevant to someone's staying alive, whereas letting someone die is negatively relevant to someone's dying if the subject was in the position to save the life of the person concerned. Such a distinction between positive and negative relevancy is closely related to that between doing or causing and letting or allowing, and also to that between privative and nonprivative concepts. As such the relationship between positive and negative is one of negation, like that between privative and nonprivative or affirmative. The positive in positively relevant and the negative in negatively relevant are therefore not catenated. Moreover, they do not apply to the relevancy itself but rather to the kind of conduct which is said to be relevant to a certain state of affairs or not. If that conduct is something like closing or opening a door, the relevancy will have to be termed "positive"; if it is not closing or not opening that door (while being able to do so), it will have to be termed "negative". It does accordingly not depend on a division of facts into 'positive' (affirmative) and 'negative' (privative) ones, but at the very expense of the meaningfulness of this positive and this negative.

©MVVM, 41-57 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
The Diversity of the Notions of Relevancy