THE INDIVIDUALITY OF HUMAN PERSONS: A STUDY IN THE ETHICAL PERSONALISM OF MAX SCHELER.
The most essential and important proposition that my present investigations would ground and communicate as perfectly as possible is the proposition that the final meaning and value of the whole universe is ultimately to be measured exclusively against the pure being (and not the effectiveness) and the possible perfect being-good, the richest fullness and the most perfect development, and the purest beauty and inner harmony of persons, in whom at times all forces of the world concentrate themselves and soar upward.(2)
We want to enter into the sanctuary of Scheler's thought by picking out a central theme of his personalism. He himself refers to it in the following:
At no point does the ethical personalism to which our investigation has led us reveal its distinctiveness from other present ethical currents to a greater degree than in the position that it allocates to the becoming and being of the spiritual individuality of the person as the bearer of moral value.(3)
This is what we propose to examine here: Scheler's understanding of the radical individuality of persons and in particular of the ethical significance of personal individuality.(4)
The Antagonists of Scheler. We must first know against whom Scheler is turning in his discussions on personal individuality. I quote again von Balthasar:
The basic situation of Scheler results very simply from the twofold negation in which he was involved: the `no' which he spoke to the declining Lebensphilosophie [of Bergson and Nietzsche], the insufficiency of which showed the urgent need to recognize a positive `spirit' that is independent from `life'; and the `no' which he spoke to the old idealism, which was still influential.(5)
It is precisely this latter adversary, German Idealism, that puts the individuality of the person in question. Scheler sees in Kant's characterization of the person as Vernunftperson a depersonalizing Logonomie. He means that Kant and his followers tend to conceive of the Vernunftperson as something superindividual. When they relate the Vernunftperson to individual human persons they think of it as one and the same thing existing in all persons. Thus the individuality of human persons becomes a problem in just the way it is a problem for Averroes, whom Scheler repeatedly invokes as an intellectual antecedent of Kant and the German Idealists. As a result these thinkers are driven to offering purely extrinsic explanations of the principle of personal individuation; they say that individuality results from some relation to space and time, or they say that it results from a relation to a body or to the experiences of the person or to the sequence of the person's acts. In each case the principle of individuation remains extrinsic to the person. We shall see how Scheler argues for a radically intrinsic principle.
Of course, Scheler does not stop with Kant; he finds the same Logonomie in Fichte and Hegel, of whom he says that "the person becomes in the end an indifferent thoroughfare [gleichgueltige Durchgangsstelle] for an impersonal rational activity."(6) He even finds a similar dissolution of personal individuality in Schopenhauer; despite the fact that Reason gives way to Will in Schopenhauer, individuals are still sacrificed to a superindividual principle:
According to him, it is fellow-feeling [Mitgefuehl] which reveals the unity of being underlying the multiplicity of selves. It is this which destroys the illusion to which we are otherwise enslaved, whereby each of us considers himself as having an independent reality.(7)
In other words, before experiencing fellow-feeling, I experience myself as different from you; in fellow-feeling I come to recognize that we are ultimately not two but one. It is thus that the illusion of my (and your) personal individuality is unmasked.
We need not concern ourselves with the accuracy of Scheler's interpretation of Kant and of German Idealism. His self-understanding of his polemical situation suffices for our task of understanding him.
There are other antagonists that Scheler has in mind when he affirms the individuality of persons. Consider, for instance, his sharp polemic against most theories of the equality of all human beings. He suspects that these theories rest on the assumption of a superindividual humanity which, once it has been individuated in an extrinsic way, becomes the individual human beings who are equal to each other. They are equal because of the "indwelling" in each of the same super-individual humanity. When he objects to theses asserting the equality of human beings, it is usually this underlying metaphysics that is the real target of his objection.
Personal Individuality. What exactly does Scheler understand by "individuality?" If we let ourselves be sensitized by Jorge Gracia's important work on individuality to the many meanings of individuality,(8) we can discern in Scheler at least these two meanings. (a) Sometimes he refers to a certain antithesis to "general" or "universal," as when he protests against the dissolution of the person into some general nomos; in this case individuality is simply equivalent to concreteness (and comes very close to Gracia's "non-instantiability"). (b) In other places, he refers to a certain antithesis to other beings, as when he protests against the various pantheistic attempts to dissolve individual persons into God. In this case, individuality means standing in oneself in such a way that a being is set off against everything else (Gracia's "distinction"). We will have occasion below to make a further distinction within this aspect of individuality.
Whereas Gracia thinks that only concreteness or non-instantiability s a true note of individuality, Scheler would also recognize distinction from other beings as a note of individuality. Most emphatically he would recognize it as a note of personal individuals. These two notes of individuality, though not explicitly discriminated by Scheler, would represent for him two interrelated aspects of the Urphaenomen of personal individuality.
Scheler finds a particular strength of individuality in human persons, which he explains like this: each person has an essence all his own, that is, an essence that could not possibly be repeated in a second person.(9) It is of course true that "human nature" is not restricted to one human being but is found in a certain sense in every human being, but this is in sharp contrast to the personal essence of a given person that cannot be repeated again in any other person. Scheler deliberately breaks with the Greek idea that essence is always only something general or universal. More than once in his major ethical work, Formalism in Ethics, he says provocatively "essence has nothing to do with generality."(10) Scheler seems to mean that there is not only essence in the sense of a universal, and not only the universal essence concretized or instantiated in many individuals, but that there is also the radically individual essence, unutterable in general terms, where the talk of instantiating a universal essence has no meaning,(11) There is an essence in each person of which one cannot say that the person has it or shares in it, but of which one must say that the person is it. Of course, this is not said in the same sense in which God is said to be His essence; it is said only by way of affirming the unique unity formed by concrete essence and individual precisely in the case of persons. This is at least part of the reason why Scheler repeatedly emphasizes the positivity of personal individuality. He means that this individuality is not simply a "contraction" of something general or of something superindividual; it is based on a positive content that is unrepeatable in any other individual.
It goes without saying that the individual personal essence, which for Scheler stands at the center of the individuality of a person, has nothing to do with logical constructions such as "the last soldier killed in the Civil War" or "the eldest son of Smith." In such cases, recently introduced into this discussion, we have indeed a kind of essence that can be instantiated by only one person, but it is not any special strength of individual being which explains the unique instantiability. In fact, we can find this one-time instantiability among non-personal beings whose individuality is as poor as could be, as for example in "the first copy of the Times printed today." The first copy is a mere instance of today's Times, and in fact just as much a mere instance as any other copy; it is fully replaceable by any other copy. The one-time instantiability of "the first copy" or of "the three hundred and twenty-third copy" seems to derive from an intention of the mind that picks out one thing; it does not seem to derive from any inherent strength of individual being. With persons, however, it is just this inherent strength of individual being which prevents multiple instantiations; indeed, so great is the individuality of persons that it is unutterable (individuum est ineffabile), that is, it cannot be translated into general terms. General terms, however, entirely suffice to give expression to the one-time instantiables, which are therefore entirely utterable.
Notice how the two aspects of individuality distinguished above flow together in Scheler's discussion of personal individuality. The unrepeatable essence of a person forms a contrast to every general or universal essence, and it serves to distinguish one person from all other persons.(12)
Scheler develops his account of personal individuality by saying that the human person is more or less individual according to the level of his being with which we are dealing.(13) Scheler sees the person as much less individual in certain social roles, as in being a mother, a German, a professor, or in holding some office, as in being a judge. After all, many different persons can play these social roles; everyone who does so shares in something general. Scheler distinguishes in every human being between what he calls "social person" and "intimate person," and he says that I can experience myself as intimate person only by prescinding from all such roles, which constitute the social person in me. Only in experiencing myself as intimate person do I experience deeply my personal individuality.(14) In this connection Scheler also mentions other generalities under which a human being can "fall." Thus in one place he speaks of our "common bondage to similar instincts, passions, and necessities of life.(15) These are for him so many "layers" surrounding the individual personal center. We have to prescind from these relatively general aspects of a human being in order to attain to the fully individual person.
Scheler goes farther. He says that even the traits or qualities of a person, which are much closer to the person than the just-mentioned social roles, still have something of this relative generality. This is why one cannot think of a person as being simply a composition of all of his qualities or properties. One would miss that which is most individual in the person. Thus Scheler says that:
the love which has moral value is not that which pays loving regard to a person for having such and such qualities, pursuing such and such activities, or for possessing talents, beauty, or virtue. It is that love which incorporates these qualities, activities, and gifts into its object, because they belong to that individual person.(16)
The qualities appear in their full individuality only on the basis of being rooted in the person. We can say that it is this person that in a certain sense communicates full individuality to the qualities.(17)
Of course one can pick out such qualities and properties in a being as serve to mark it off against all other individuals (so that one formulates one of those one-time instantiables that we discussed above). In this case, however, the qualities and properties are only serving as criteria for our knowledge of individuality, that is, aids for our discernment of individuality; they are not that in which personal individuality consists. Gracia is perfectly right to distinguish between the question what individuality is and the question how we come to recognize it.(18)
Scheler distinguishes the different levels of individuality in human beings in such a way as to reverse a certain conception that he traces back to "eighteenth-century individualism":
According to this doctrine, men and their values are to be regarded all the more equal, the more their being approaches the absolute level of being (as `rational entity') and the more their values are compared to values of the highest ranks (salvation and spiritual values); and they and their values should ... appear all the more unequal, the more their being approaches sensible states of the lived body and the more their values are compared to values of the lowest ranks. This connection between transcendental universalism and empirical aristocratism and individualism is the exact opposite of our opinion.(19)
Scheler's opinion is that we are much more different from each other as persons than we are say as bearers of a racial identity or as having a gender. Our individuality is much more pronounced at the level of personhood than at the level of race or gender. Thus he makes his own "the notion of a spiritual individual qua spiritual and the notion that the individualization of being and value increases with the purity of spirituality."(20) Notice that Scheler is here taking individuality as difference from other beings; the stronger individuality goes with greater difference from other beings, and the weaker individuality goes with less difference.
Notice, too, that Scheler is not just dissenting from what he calls "eighteenth-century individualism"; his position involves a breach with the traditional Aristotelian way of "descending" from genus and species down to the individual. For according to this way, beings are the same as to their species-identity; they begin to become individuals (still in the sense of differing from each other) by acquiring various "accidents." It is true that one is here not exactly working with higher and lower value, as Scheler does in reversing the scheme of eighteenth century individualism, but rather with essential and accidental notes of a being. Yet these pairs partially overlap, and Scheler would hardly approve of letting individuality increase simply in virtue of acquiring accidents.
We proceed now to consider a controversial claim that Scheler makes about levels of individuality in persons. Central to his philosophical anthropology is a sharp contrast between "life" and "spirit," or in other words between the vital center and the personal center in each human being. He conceived the vital center as occupying a middie position between purely bodily life and properly personal life. He drew the contrast between vital and personal so sharply because he was struggling to overcome all forms of Lebensphilosophie and all traces of vitalism in philosophy. Now for Scheler the real "seat" of individuality in a human being is the personal center and not the vital center of the human being.
When we live out of our personal center, we never lose ourselves in the beings with which we have to do. We remain intact as persons, standing in ourselves over and against all other beings. Thus in the properly personal act of Mitgefuehl (sympathy) I enter into another without losing myself in the other, or identifying myself with the other, or the other with myself; I and the other remain irreducibly two persons throughout the most heartfelt act of sympathizing with the other. Sympathy does not imply my being identical with the other, as Schopenhauer thought, but rather just the opposite, it implies the irreducible two-ness of myself and the other. The same holds for love. It too is a properly personal act and so there can be no question of any amalgamation of two persons loving each other. Their irreducibility to each other, their inalienable two-ness is presupposed and in fact powerfully lived from within in all authentic love.
I can, however, live out of the vital center in myself as for instance when I experience a certain oneness with my people at the outbreak of war. Here I lose myself in my people, according to Scheler, feeling myself to be as it were of one piece with my people. I do not stand over against them but am submerged in them. I feel small as being only a drop in a vast collective ocean, but also large and powerful as being a part of this vast collectivity. Here my individuality is weakened, for the boundary between myself and the others is effaced (Scheler speaks of my Einsfuehlung with them), and not just in my self-experience but in very reality, that is, as a vital being I really can get absorbed in my national collectivity and my individuality really can be to some extent effaced. In sympathizing with another, by contrast, this boundary is presupposed and experienced and reinforced.(21)
It will be noticed that individuality has a somewhat different sense here than it had above in connection with the unique personal essence of each person. Here individuality does not belong to the order of essence as it did there. It belongs more to the order of real existence and causality. What abolishes the essential individuality is to be just like some other who can replace me. What abolishes the existential individuality is to be really absorbed into some other. In this existential sense of individuality it is clear that for Scheler we human beings have a relatively weak individuality insofar as we live out of our vital center and that we have a much stronger individuality insofar as we live and act as persons.
The Principle of Personal Individuation. Gracia distinguishes this question of what individuality is from other fundamental questions about individuality. For the purpose of understanding Scheler we pick out from among these other questions the question about the principle of individuation. What the individuality of a being is, has to be distinguished from the question as to the principle or source of the being's individuality. In answer to the first question Gracia says that the individuality of a being consists in the "non-instantiability" of the being. In answer to the second, he says that it is existence that is the principle of any individual's individuality. The different answers reflect different questions. Gracia is surely right that philosophers discussing individuality have commonly conflated these two questions. Now some of Scheler's richest insights into personal individuality are expressed in terms of the principle of personal individuation.
Scheler rejects all extrinsic principles of personal individuation. He usually considers three such principles: the body of a person, the spatio-temporal position of a person, and the history of the experiences of a person. He says that the individuality of a person is established "prior" to these three aspects of a person.(22) It is established in and through the unique personal essence of each human person. "The spiritual substances inherent in persons or their acts are thus the only substances having a truly individual essence, and whose existence as separate entities follows directly from their intrinsically individual character.(23) This is what Scheler means in calling persons, and only persons, "absolute individuals.(24) If the whole essence of a given person could be repeated in another person, then it could hardly serve as a principle of individuation for the first person. It is because the first person, as we saw, has in his essence something incommunicably, unrepeatably his own that his essence constitutes him as this individual.(25)
Scheler is not just rejecting extrinsic accounts of personal individuation in favor of an intrinsic one. He is also rejecting a metaphysical hypothesis that commonly goes with the extrinsic theories. He is rejecting absolutely and uncompromisingly the idea that the point of departure for an individual human person is some Allgeist, some superindividual personal spirit, which gets contracted to individual human persons by means of one or other of the extrinsic principles of individuation. The radical and intrinsic individuality that each human person has as a result of his or her unique personal essence excludes any such (often pantheistically understood) Allgeist as well as any of the extrinsic individuating principles that go with it. In opposing this metaphysics of individuation Scheler is opposing what he takes to be one of "the gravest of metaphysical errors."(26)
There is something else that Scheler teaches about the principle of personal individuation. The unique personal essence of each person not only serves to individualize the whole human being, marking it off against other human beings. It also serves to individualize those levels in a human being that are in a sense common to other human beings. Thus the body, the voice, the hands, the handwriting of a person are imbued with the mystery of the person's individuality and so are lifted beyond the limited individuality that they, considered in themselves, have.
It is very interesting to set Scheler's thought on personal individuation in relation to Jorge Gracia's account of the principium individuationis (which is meant by Gracia as a general account for all individuals and not just for persons).(27) For Gracia a being is individual only through its existence. Scheler would remark that this existential theory of individuation is in any case no extrinsic theory, since the existence of a being is entirely intrinsic to it. Yet he would have a reservation about it, at least if it were meant as an exhaustive account of the source of personal individuality. He would say that with persons it does not suffice to invoke only existence; essence, too, is a principium individuationis. For there is an essential core in each person that establishes nothing at all in common with other beings. It establishes only the incommunicable person. This essential core of the person is so radically individual that it can no longer be thought of as the instantiation of some universal form, as we saw. I would think that Scheler is quite right to recognize not only an existential principle of individuation, but also, at least in the case of persons, this essential principle of individuation.(28)
It is also interesting to set Scheler's account of personal individuation in relation to the Aristotelian theory of matter as the principle of individuation: "the ultimate and authentic principium individuationis in man (and not in angels only, as St. Thomas supposed), lies in his spiritual soul (that is, the real substratum of his personal center)...."(29) In Aristotelian terms: it lies in the individual form and not in the matter of the composite nature of man. Thus for Scheler we do not need one theory of individuation for human beings and an entirely different one for angels. All persons, whether human or angelic, are individual through theft unique personal essence, which is always a spiritual and never, not even with human beings, a material principle of individuation. Needless to say, if the Aristotelian position on individuation gets elaborated in an Averroistic vein so that identically the same intellectual soul is assumed to exist in all human beings, Scheler will have much more to say by way of fundamental objection.
Now this account of personal individuation is strictly limited to the personal in man; it is not meant to apply to the vital part of the soul. Given the way Scheler contrasts the vital and the personal in human beings, it is not so surprising that he gives a completely different account of the individuation of our vital being. Though he will have nothing to do with the hypothesis of an Allgeist, he himself introduces the hypothesis of an Alleben, which he defines as "a collective, unitary and universal life-force, embracing all kinds and conditions of terrestrial life, and purposefully guiding and governing the empirical development of one species from another."(30) It is a superindividual life-force that transcends all living beings even while it inhabits and informs them, being the source of their life. Beings with vital life grow out of the Alleben, they exist as individuations of it. They may well have extrinsic principles of individuation. Thus the very scheme of individuation that Scheler combats so vigorously with respect to personal being and personal life, this scheme he himself introduces and develops with respect to vital being and vital life in human beings. Here we have the explanation for something observed above. On the level of vital experiencing, persons can dissolve one into the other. This is because as vital beings they are in some sense already one, being just differentiations of the same Alleben. In Einsfuehlung they come to experience the oneness with others that comes from their common "descent" from the Alleben. Thus the positivity of personal individuality gives way to a certain negativity of vital individuality, for individual vital life really does arise from a certain "contracting" of the Alleben.
We are now in a position to understand why Scheler declared himself in favor of the "profoundly true idea of creationism,"(31) that is, of the thesis that God creates each person immediately, or more exactly, creates immediately the personal center of each human being. In order to understand Scheler we have only to put ourselves into the above-mentioned position of those who conceive of individual persons as differentiations of an already-existing Allgeist. From this point of view one could ascribe the emergence of individual persons to the secondary causes governing the process of differentiation, and one would not need to assume any immediate intervention of God. This is why Scheler, when he speaks of the emergence of living beings out of the Alleben, does not dream of assuming any such divine intervention for each living being. Since, however, the personal center has an individuality which immeasurably surpasses that of a living being Scheler can only reject any emergence that is supposed to occur by means of contracting something which is already given. Only an emergence from nothing, and with this a direct dependency on a creator-God, seems to remain.
In his study of Scheler, von Balthasar, for all his sympathetic understanding of Scheler, objects to something in Scheler that has emerged in our last few pages, namely to his "distributing the individuation problem over two spheres, so that individuation in the sphere of the spirit is purely positive, but in the vital sphere purely negative (because here it is only the Alleben which is the ultimate subject)." Then he goes on:
The purely positive individuation of the person raises him [man], in the end, beyond creaturely potentiality and passivity and lifts him in a Promethean way into the realm of the very ideas of God himself. The purely negative individuation, however, gives as an ideal only an Einsfuhlung with the anonymous instinctual life of the Weltgrund in which the individual arises like a wave which loses itself in the sea. The true concept of individuation, which Scheler sought but never found, lies in a certain middle position. Man is neither pure spirit nor pure nature. His individuality is indissolubly positive and negative, actual, and potential.(32)
While it is not clear to me why Scheler's account of the positivity of personal individuality tends to exclude "creaturely potentiality," this much seems to be valid in the criticism of Von Balthasar: Scheler tends to an excessive dualism of vital center and personal center in man, a dualism that shows itself in the fundamentally different account of individuation that he offers for each center. It also shows itself with all clarity in the following from Scheler: "Between spirit and life, between person and life-center, we discern no unity of substance but only a bond of dynamic causality."(33) He goes on to explain that if one were to affirm the substantial unity of each human being, then either the vital center would get invested with the potent individuality of the person, or else the person would get dragged down to the weak individuality of the vital center.
When Von Balthasar speaks again and again of a certain "worldlessness (Weltlosigkeit)" of the Schelerian person, or of the "ascension into heaven" which Scheler builds into his concept of the person,(34) he is only developing his idea that Scheler excessively separates vital life and spiritual person. Yon Balthasar quotes a passage from one of Scheler's books on World War I to show the existential meaning of this worldlessness of the person and this loss of the substantial unity of man:
The nature of man now appears clearly: he stands before God, his feet implanted in the filth of his animality, laden with the festering wounds of original sin and with his own guilt, but at the same time with his head in the light of the sun and in the radiance of the stars, here and there even touching heaven.(35)
Von Balthasar unfolds a little further the existential content of this worldlessness in the understanding of person when he speak with great perception of the tendency of Scheler "to evade the hard discipline of obedience."
It seems to us that von Balthasar has really brought to light a kind of break that runs through the whole image of man in Scheler. True as it is that human beings derive in part from the earth and in part from the divine breath, the way in which Scheler separates and contrasts these two origins is really dubious in just the sense in which von Balthasar says it is. Yet we are not of the opinion that Scheler's insights into personal individuality stand in some necessary connection with this break; they do not in themselves involve any distorted "worldlessness" of the personal center or any dissolution of the substantial unity of man. There is also nothing unsound in Scheler's idea about the "differences in niveau" in man, that is, in the thought that not everything in man is equally individual and that we can distinguish levels in man that do not have the supreme individuality of the person. Von Balthasar does not seem to do full justice to such differences. So we want to render more precise the critique made by yon Balthasar and to say that the mistake of Scheler occurs at the point at which he plays off the various levels of individuality in man against the substantial unity of man. The task would be to understand anew the substantial unity of that man who "stands in the filth of his animality" and at the same time reaches out for God--that man who lives not only out of a vital center but also out of a personal center. But this is not our task here, where we are concerned not so much with the coherence of Scheler's image of man but with his teaching on the individuality of each human person. I repeat that this profound teaching of his is not intrinsically tied to those problems that von Balthasar has pointed out in his anthropology.
Individual Persons and Community. One could at this point ask whether Scheler with his teaching on the radical individuality of each person is perhaps enclosing himself in a negative individualism. Strange as it would be if a thinker so well known for his penetrating critique of bourgeois individualism were to share in this individualism, one may still wonder, coming fresh from the ideas of his that we have just presented, whether he can still do justice to I and Thou and to the different forms of community.
Let us return to the two aspects of individuality that we distinguished at the beginning of this study. Insofar as "individual" expresses simply the antithesis to "general" or "universal," it need involve no least opposition to community. We have to recall that for Scheler the individual person (Individualperson) is not identical with the single person (Einzelperson). For him individual person comprises both single person and collective person (Gesamtperson). By collective persons he means the person-like unities formed by certain communities, such as the French nation or the Catholic Church. You and I, by contrast, are single persons. Now Scheler wants to say of collective persons too that they are radically individual. They are not just extrinsically individuated, nor do they first of all exist as something general. The concrete essence of the French nation can just as little be common to several nations as the concrete essence of an individual person can be common to several single persons. The individuality affirmed by Scheler, then, extends to community and therefore cannot stand in opposition to community.
What about personal individuality, however, in the sense of standing in oneself and being marked off against all other persons? Here, one may want to object, individuality is unavoidably affirmed at the expense of interpersonal communion. Yet here too Scheler will say that community can encompass individuality rather than be excluded by it, for he will say that each nation is itself and no other. It is not just single persons who are themselves and no other.
One will want to respond, however, that it is also single persons who are themselves and no other, and that their individuality cannot fail to play into the hands of that individualism that undermines community. Out of the writings of Scheler we could get various responses, including this one: the highest forms of interpersonal communion, such as sympathizing with another, or loving another, presuppose the person as individual, as we saw, and are undermined precisely as communion if persons become obscured in their irreducible individuality. How should we otherwise explain certain obvious disorders of interpersonal life, such as the thing that Scheler calls heteropathic identification with another, whereby one person is completely taken over by another, as in hypnosis as well as in certain hypnotic dependencies of one person on another?(36) How explain this obvious disorder except in terms of an irreducible individuality that persons should maintain even in the closest forms of interpersonal life?
From the heteropathic identification of oneself with another Scheler distinguishes the idiopathic identification of another with oneself. This is the opposite pathology: remaining so fortified in oneself and one's own experiencing that one never really attains to the other as other. Scheler argues that such an existential solipsism is a fundamentally disordered way of living one's personal individuality, which is never fully lived in this isolation from others. One can even find in Scheler elements of Buber's idea that the isolated I of the I-It relation is much poorer than the participating I of the I-Thou relation. In a separate study of Scheler's great work on sympathy one could discuss these and other ways of developing an adequate philosophy of the interpersonal precisely on the basis of Scheler's insights into personal individuality.
Let me also just mention here his so significant "principle of solidarity": "Every false so-called individualism, with its erroneous and pernicious consequences, is excluded in my ethics by the theory of the original coresponsibility of every person for the moral salvation of the whole of all realms of persons...."(37) Scheler explains being "originally coresponsible" by saying that each person is just as coresponsible for others as he is directly responsible for himself. Furthermore, we stand in such a solidarity one with another that we always have some share in the guilt of others. I recently discussed this neglected theme in Scheler elsewhere.(38) It suffices here to stress that for Scheler human beings are responsible one for another not just as parts of some whole but as individual persons. Below we will be led back to Scheler's principle of solidarity in the course of unfolding further his thought on personal individuality.
The Knowledge We Have of Individual Persons. Scheler has not only studied personal individuality, but also the knowledge we have of it. Here too he breaks with a certain Greek idea, namely, the restriction of knowledge to that which is universal. According to Scheler persons can be known in all their individuality. How is this possible?
It is possible through love for a person. Scheler says:
Indeed, the essence of another's individuality, which cannot be described or expressed in conceptual terms (individuum ineffabile), is only revealed in its full purity by love or by virtue of the insight it provides. When love is absent the `individual' is immediately replaced by the `social personality,' the mere focus of a set of relationships (being an aunt or an uncle, for instance), or the exponent of a particular social function (profession), and so on.(39)
In other words, without love we can attain only to those aspects of a human being which are common to the human being and to others; only through love can we attain to the mystery of individuality in a person, that is, get a glimpse of the unrepeatable personal essence of a person.
There is a well-known paradox of love and knowledge that makes itself felt here. It would seem that the personal love of which Scheler speaks presupposes some prior apprehension of the personal individuality of the one who is loved; it would seem that such love is engendered by the sight of the other as unrepeatable person. While Scheler does not deny this more obvious relation of love and knowledge, he is here affirming that love for another also grounds our knowledge of the other as person, empowering us to see beyond all that the person shares with others, so that we attain to what the person is in his or her own incommunicable right.(40) The dialectical difficulty which goes with letting love precede and ground knowledge would perhaps be mitigated if this preceding love were that Menschenliebe, or love of humanity, of which he says in another place that it "merely regards individuals as lovable qua `specimens' of the human race."(41) For then the preceding love would be different in kind from the properly personal love which regards individuals as individuals. Scheler, however, does not let us simplify things in this way. While he recognizes that the Menschenliebe can stand in the service of properly personal love,(42) he still teaches, at least as I understand him, that the love which opens our eyes to the other as unrepeatable individual is not the Menschenliebe but a different and more properly personal love. I do not see that he attempts to resolve the dialectical difficulty of this position. I would just say that there must be some difference between the love we bring to a person so as to encounter him or her as unrepeatable person and the love that lives from the sight of an unrepeatable person.
By the way, it accords entirely with the central place of the heart and the affections in Scheler's anthropology, and with Scheler's attempt to rehabilitate these, to say that the heart has a place even in the knowing operations performed by persons, even to the point of making certain of them possible at all.
He grasps still more deeply this epistemic power of love by distinguishing the knowing of a concrete person from a merely empirical observation of the person:
What mediates the intuition of the person's ideal and individual value-essence is, first of all, the understanding of his most central source, which is itself mediated through love for the person. This understanding love is the great master workman and ... the great sculptor who, working from the masses of empirical particulars, can intuitively seize, sometimes from only one action or only one expressive gesture, the lines of the person's value-essence.(43)
He goes on to say that even the most complete empirical observation of a person can never yield the value-essence (Wertwesen) of that person. Indeed, he thinks that it is rather the case that such observation commonly grasps things in a person which only obscure his value essence. The understanding of the value-essence is so far removed from empirical observation that it in fact precedes and gives direction to all such observation. It is this understanding which lets us distinguish between valid and invalid, expressive and non-expressive empirical facts about the person.
Scheler also brings his principle of solidarity in to his account of how we know personal individuality. Though he speaks in the following of the individual calling (Bestimmung) of each person, what he says holds entirely for the value-essence of each, since it is this value-essence that grounds the individual calling, as we shall see in the next section:
... another can understand my individual calling better than I can ... another can do much to help me achieve it. To be there for each other in the form of living, acting, believing, hoping one with another, belongs to the general calling of every finite spirit. It thus belongs to the essential nature of one's individual calling that one is co-responsible for everyone coming to understand and to realize his or her own individual calling. The idea of the individual calling, therefore, far from excluding the mutual solidarity of responsibility in both guilt and merit on the part of moral beings, includes this solidarity.(44)
This important passage should also be used in dispelling the suspicion, addressed above, that Scheler's teaching on personal individuality undermines important truths about the interpersonal and communitarian nature of human persons.
Personal Individuality as a Moral Task. The reason why empirical observation gives us so little is that the individual value essence of a person is usually far from being fully realized. Each person stands before the task of becoming himself, of realizing his individual value-essence. Scheler is presupposing this when he speaks of the power of love to effect a certain "emergence [zum Auftauchen zu bringen]"(45) of the value essence of the beloved person. Insofar as a person is in any way unfaithful to his value-essence, the empirical observation we make of that person must clearly lag far behind a deeper understanding of his value-essence, which remains intact in spite of this unfaithfulness to it. Love calls the person back to his value-essence, but without any of that pedagogical intention by which one deliberately tries to improve the beloved person, as Scheler shows in keen and subtle analyses.(46) Thus the individual value-essence has something ideal about it, although nothing ideal in the sense of general, for it is the essence only of this unrepeatable person.
Talking like this about possible divergence of the ideal value-essence of a person from his factual condition, we arrive at the ethical significance of personal individuality. Here I see particularly original contributions of Scheler to a personalist philosophy, contributions which Scheler himself thought were central to his personalism.(47)
Personal individuality is permeated by value. This is why it can only be grasped by one who loves the individual person. Scheler expresses this value dimension of it by using the expression, "individual value-essence." Therefore there is for Scheler a personal value that shares entirely in personal individuality. Now since it is a fundamental principle of his ethics that value grounds the ought and not vice versa, it is only natural for him to say that in the moral life there are radically individual moral requirements, that is, requirements grounded in the individual value-essence of a person and valid only for that person. There are, in fact, for Scheler moral requirements which are just as little concretizations of a general norm as the personal essence is a mere concretization of a general essence. With this Scheler in no way holds the position of situation ethics, because he in no way thinks that the moral life consists exclusively in such highly personal tasks and requirements. It goes without saying that he recognizes universally valid norms--how could he not, he who is constantly speaking of "the material apriori" in ethics, that is, of essential necessity and essential impossibility proper to ethics? In no place does he say that the individual requirements can contradict the general ones. Yet he is of the opinion that the general norms represent a certain indispensable moral minimum, so that the fullness of moral existence is impossible without attending to the personal requirements. So we find no situation ethics in Scheler, and yet, as one sees, he is able to salvage a core of truth in what has come to be called situation ethics and to place it in a non-situationist frame of reference. Here is the central point: for Scheler there are individual tasks and requirements corresponding to the individual essence of each person.(48)
He also develops the idea that the individual tasks are given at very definite times, not just at any time:
Every moment of life in the development of an individual represents at the same time a possibility for the individual to know unique values and their interconnections, and, in accordance with these, the necessitation of moral tasks and actions that can never be repeated; such tasks and actions are predetermined, as it were, in the objective nexus of the factual-moral value-order for this moment (and for this individual, for example) and, if not utilized, are lost forever.(49)
One understands why Scheler says that Goethe's Forderung der Stunde (call of the moment) represents a fundamental category of any personalist ethics.
Let me offer here a concrete example. When we read in the newly-published memoirs of Dietrich von Hildebrand concerning his life in the twenties and thirties, we see clearly that he felt a personal call to carry on his struggle against National Socialism in Austria between 1933 and 1938.(50) After he had lost everything in Germany in 1933, he could have saved his life by taking refuge in the United States, where in fact some years later he came as a refugee. We cannot derive from any general norms, however, valid for all people, that obligation that Von Hildebrand felt in conscience to carry on his struggle against Hitler in Vienna, living in constant danger of assassination. He felt himself personally called to make this commitment. It was not the case that he gladly went beyond the call of duty, generously ready to do something that was not strictly required of him. That interpretation does not do justice to the urgency of the call that he felt in conscience. This call went in the direction of a moral necessity--but only for him. Von Hildebrand could not have blamed a similarly-situated colleague who would have right away taken refuge in the United States. One should also not misunderstand the peculiarity of this moral call by offering a premature religious interpretation of it. One should not be too quick to say that Von Hildebrand felt, as once Abraham did, directly commanded by God. No, the moral requirement that he responded to cannot be interpreted as a positive command of God. That would miss the decisive point, namely that this call was mediated through the personal individuality of the one who was called. Naturally von Hildebrand said that God was calling him, but not on the basis of a private revelation, rather on the basis of a personal encounter with God in conscience, where his consciousness of his own unique value-essence must have flowed into his deliberations of conscience.
With this example in mind let us read what Scheler says about the moral evaluation of a person:
If we try to assess fully and to take the measure of a person in a moral respect, we have to have before our minds not only the universally valid norms but also the idea of the individual calling that is proper to him and not to ourselves or to someone else.(51)
To take the moral measure of someone like von Hildebrand, to praise or blame his actions justly, one would have to know not only whether he fulfilled those universal norms binding on all moral beings but also whether he fulfilled the personal moral calling that he discerned in his conscience.
The polemical edge of Scheler's teaching about these highly personal tasks is turned above all against Kant, who cannot fail to be a main adversary of Scheler on account of his teaching that we act morally only on the basis of a certain universalizability of the maxim of our action. We must always act so that the maxim of our action can be willed as a general law for all men, indeed we should so act that it is not so much the content as the universal validity of the maxim which is willed. Kant says that it is only this kind of willing that lets us become morally good. Scheler by contrast speaks of actions whose maxims can only be willed by one person, actions in which the person acts in the consciousness of precisely not positing a universal law for all others. Scheler is also aware that this is not just a problem of Kant's. We all inherit a certain tendency to identify the objective with the universally valid and to suspect that there must be something accidental, something capricious in that which is unique and happens only once. Scheler is surely right to hold that the personally unique, valid only for me, can be just as real and valid as the universal that repeats itself in many individuals: "... let a sharp distinction be made between the `universally' and the `objectively' valid, as well as between the `personal' and the `subjective.'"(52)
It is not only in his ethics that Scheler develops this personalist idea of something valid only for me. It is also found, surprisingly enough, in his epistemology:
Just as there is a good which is intrinsically of ... objective universal validity, as well as a good intrinsically of ... objective individual validity, so there can certainly be also an `intrinsically universally valid truth' and an `intrinsically individually valid truth.'(53)
In order to clarify what he means by an "individually valid truth" he proceeds to ask rhetorically:
For what reason is there to rule out the possibility that certain objective entities or values are cognitively accessible only to one particular individual person, or to one particular individual civilization or culture or to one particular phase of historical development?(54)
One is perhaps inclined to object to Scheler that the two cases (of an individually valid good and an individually valid truth) are not as parallel as he thinks, for the subject matter which is at first knowable only to one person must in principle ultimately be knowable to others, and in the end to all others, even if through the mediation of that person. In this case the restriction to one person seems to be relatively accidental and to form a contrast with the essential restriction of a moral task to the person who has it. In saying this, however, we should perhaps be understood as qualifying Scheler's position rather than raising an objection to it.(55)
Let us mention just one other element in Scheler's teaching on individually valid truth. There is for him not just the partiality with which different eras and different persons know reality, but also the complementarity that exists among their efforts at knowing. In one place he brings this out in discussing the knowledge we can have of God:
... only the fullness of all individual personal minds ... can, in solidary cooperation and intercompletion, make as it were a full circuit round the inexhaustible fullness of the deity, and see all humanly accessible aspects of the divine.... (56)
Scheler must mean that these different aspects, originally seen by different knowers, can also be brought together in the knowledge of one person. If he were to mean that the different insights into these different aspects of the divine nature formed only an objective unity, complementing each other only objectively but not subjectively in the sense of being able to be comprehended together by one human knower, then he would be teaching something very questionable about the intelligibility of being and the power of personal spirit to know being. He would also entangle himself in the dialectical difficulty that he, Scheler, would be unable to know the complementarity of the aspects brought to light by many different knowers, and would have no philosophical basis for affirming it. His knowledge would be entirely limited to that particular aspect of being for which Scheler has a particular affinity. Scheler falls into none of these traps, however, because he holds that we can learn from others about those particular aspects of being for which they have particular affinities. He sees here the basis for a philosophy and theology of dialogue, which presupposes that we can subjectively appropriate insights that are first achieved by others.(57)
Note that this complementarity does not seem to have a counterpart on the side of personal moral calls and tasks. These do not seem to complete each other and to form a unity in the way in which his individually valid truths do. Or if they form a complementary unity, then it is a unity known only to God.
As for the way in which I come to know my personal moral calls, Scheler says, as we would expect, that this is a knowledge based on love. If it takes love to see the value-essence of a person, then it will take love to find the individual moral call growing out of the value-essence. Scheler distinguishes between Eigenliebe and the nobler thing of Selbstliebe and sees in the latter love that which gives me eyes and ears for my personal moral tasks. We have already seen how the love of others for me can enable them to help me find my individual moral tasks. There is also something else that he says about this moral self-knowledge: we commonly gain it through a certain via negativa:
Only by feeling again and again when and where we deviate from it [our personal moral vocation], when and where we yield to what Goethe called "false tendencies" ... does the image of our vocation emerge.(58)
Before concluding our discussion of the unique moral tasks that a person has as a result of his or her value-essence, it is worth noticing how this issue turns up in Charles Taylor's recent study, The Ethics of Authenticity. Taylor wants to find certain noble moral aspirations at work in the culture of authenticity despite all the subjectivism, relativism, and narcissism that disfigure it. He thinks that such often-criticized aspects of this culture are not the whole story and that in the midst of them important moral insights are struggling to be born. Taylor would clearly reckon to these insights the one we have been studying in Scheler, the unrepeatability of each person both in his value-essence and in his moral vocation. At the same time Taylor provides helpful historical context for understanding Scheler's insights into personal individuality:
Herder put forward the idea that each of us has an original way of being human. Each person has his or her own "measure" is his way of putting it. This idea has entered very deep into modern consciousness. It is also new. Before the late eighteenth century no one thought that the differences between human beings had this kind of moral significance. There is a certain way of being that is my way. I am called upon to live me life in this way, and not in imitation of anyone else's. But this gives a new importance to being true to myself. If I am not, I miss the point of my life, I miss what being human is for me. This is the powerful moral ideal that has come down to us. It accords crucial moral importance to a kind of contact with myself, with my own inner nature, which it sees as in danger of being lost, partly through the pressures towards outward conformity ... And then it greatly increases the importance of this self-contact by introducing the principle of originality: each of our voices has something of its own to say.(59)
We agree with Taylor that this powerful moral ideal is susceptible of all kinds of subjectivistic and self-centered corruption--we also agree that it is not itself a corruption but precisely a powerful moral ideal, an important new moral acquisition. How is it to be protected from degenerating into narcissism and individualism? If we were to answer on the basis of Scheler then we would say: it can be protected by Scheler's teaching on sympathy, love, and above all by his great principle of moral and religious solidarity.(60) Yet as we remarked already it would take a separate study to do justice to the rich communitarian side of Scheler's mind.(61)
Convergences with Maritain and Above All with Rahner. It is extremely interesting to notice that Jacques Maritain is in full agreement with Scheler here, though without in any way being influenced by Scheler. After he has listed several examples taken from the lives of the saints of extraordinary actions, he goes on:
We utter something deeper than we realize when we say of such acts that they are admirable, but not imitable. They are not generalizable, universalizable. They are good; indeed, they are the best of all moral acts. But they are good only for him who does them. We are here very far from the Kantian universal with its morality defined as the possibility of making the maxim of an act into a law for all men.(62)
It is quite according to the mind of Scheler when Maritain distances himself here from Kant, making room within ethics for the strictly personal moral tasks.
The agreement of Karl Rahner with Scheler goes even further. In his significant and influential study, "On the Question of a Formal Existential Ethics," Rahner deals not with Kant but rather with a teaching that used to be found among many Catholic moral theologians; and yet Rahner is concerned with the same problem as Scheler. The teaching in question says: "Whoever knows the universal laws exactly and comprehends the given situation down to its last detail, knows also clearly what he must or may do here."(63) In other words, concrete moral tasks always result unambiguously from the application of general moral norms to the concrete situation in which I have to act. Rahner responds that while this is often the case, it is by no means always the case. He is not thinking of a contradiction of the general norms, but of moral tasks which are found within that which is allowed on the basis of those norms.(64) That is, when in my moral deliberations I see that there are several ways of acting that do not contradict any general norms and are therefore allowed, I am by no means at the end of my deliberation. It may still be the case that one of these ways of acting is personally required of me and that, therefore, the other ways of acting are not allowable--not for me. Such a judgment of conscience(65) cannot be derived from general norms. "The concrete moral act is more than just the realization of a universal idea happening here and now in the form of a case. The act is a reality that has a positive and substantial property which is basically and absolutely unique."(66)
What is the source of this uniqueness which belongs to certain moral acts? Rahner answers entirely in the spirit of Scheler's personalism, though without explicitly speaking of person: it is grounded in the uniqueness of the one who performs the act.
In him, the individual, there must rather be a positive reality. Expressed differently: his spiritual individuality cannot be (at least not in his acts) merely the circumscription of an in itself universal nature through the negativity of the materia prima, understood as the mere repetition of the same thing at different points in space-time. ... anyone who cannot rise to the metaphysical thought that ... God cannot even de potentia absoluta create a second Gabriel--in other words, anyone who cannot rise at all to the notion of something individual which is not [merely] the instance of some universal idea, of something repeatable--cannot follow our thought here from the very start.(67)
Later on Rahner formulates the thought in such a way as to bring out the profound connection between the positive individuality which he finds in human beings and the individual immortality of each human being:
At least in his actions, man is really also (not only!) individuum ineffabile, whom God has called by his name, a name which is and can only be unique, so that it really is worthwhile for this unique being as such to exist in eternity.(68)
If human beings were just specimens of the human kind, so that all that is found in one human being can be found as well in some successor human being, then an unending succession of human beings would provide all the immortality that could be meaningfully required. Only because with human persons the individual surpasses the species or kind, being far more than just a specimen of the kind, being something incommuncably, unrepeatably its own, does immortality have to be a personal, individual immortality.
Rahner draws some very interesting consequences from his existential ethics.(69) Let us pick out only one of them:
In the usual theory of sin we treat sin too exclusively as the mere offence against a universal divine norm. Could not an existential-ethics help us to see more clearly that sin, over and above its property of being an offence against the law of God, is also and just as much an offence against an utterly individual imperative of the individual will of God, which is the basis of uniqueness? Would we not perceive sin more clearly in this way as the failure of the personal-individual love of God?(70)
The difference to Scheler is only that Rahner develops in a more religious vein the concept of personal moral tasks.
Conclusion. The phenomenology represented by Scheler is well known for reviving apriori knowledge and for recognizing more domains of apriori knowledge than had been traditionally recognized. When Scheler speaks of the material a priori in ethics he means that we do not just subsume ethical subject matters under formal laws of being, but that we find properly ethical laws that are underivable from the formal laws but are no less necessary than these. Scheler labored to advance the science of the material a priori in ethics. Now all a priori knowledge is universal knowledge, especially for Scheler, who as a realist phenomenologist stressed against Husserl the validity of the a priori "in any possible world." This is why many have suspected phenomenology of being the revival of a Platonic philosophy that is incapable of doing justice to individual being. The side of Scheler's thought that we have studied here, however, shows that phenomenology, for all its concern with essential necessity and essential impossibility, also has within itself the resources for illuminating the mystery of the concrete individuality of persons. It is not an essentialism that is prevented from being a personalism.(71)
(1) Hans Urs von Balthasar, Apocalypse der deutschen Seele (Salzburg: Anton Pustet Verlag, 1937), 3:152; the translation here and the translations in the subsequent citations from this work are my own. The study that von Balthasar gives here of Scheler (84-193) seems to be little known among students and critics of Scheler, even among those writing in German: and yet it is in my opinion the deepest critical study of Scheler that we possess. It is a particularly important study of Scheler's relation to Christianity.
(2) Max Scheler, Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values, trans. Manfred Frings and Roger Funk (Evanston, m.: Northwestern University Press, 1973), xxiv. For the German see: Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik (Bern: Francke Verlag, 1966), 16. I will cite this and other works of Scheler according to the English translation but will always give in parentheses the corresponding pages in the German text as found in Scheler's Gesammelte Werke. One can see already in this citation that Scheler makes abundant use of italics. Unless otherwise indicated the reader should take the italics in the Scheler quotes as Scheler's own.
(3) Scheler, Formalism in Ethics, 508 (499).
(4) To give the reader a general orientation in the texts of Scheler let me indicate the ones that I have found to be the most revealing sources of his thought on personal individuality. In his Formalism chapter 6A see section 1, "Person and Reason" and in chapter 6B see section 2, "Person and Individual," and in chapter 6B section 4 see the subsection also entitled "Person and Individual." In part I of his The Nature of Sympathy see Chapter 4, "Metaphysical Theories" and Chapter 7, "The Interaction of the Sympathetic Functions," especially the last ten pages. See also his essay, "Ordo Amoris,' in Gesammelte Werke, vol. 10.
(5) Von Balthasar, Apocalypse, 85.
(6) Scheler, Formalism, 372-3 (372).
(7) Max Scheler, The Nature of Sympathy, trans. Peter Heath (Hamden Conn.: Archon Books, 1973), 51. For the German see: Wesen und Formen der Sympathie (Bern: Francke Verlag, 1973), 61-2.
(8) I refer above all to Jorge Gracia, Individuality (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), especially chapter 1.
(9) Scheler, Formalism, 489 (481).
(10) Scheler, Formalism, 489 (481).
(11) Of course it has some meaning in light of the fact that each human person once did not exist, which implies that the concrete essence of any person "preceded" the coming into being of that person. One might therefore say that on coming into existence a person "instantiates" his or her concrete essence. One should really not say "instantiate" here, however, because an "instance" of a kind is always one of many possible instances, whereas a given person is the only possible one who can realize his or her concrete essence.
(12) In chapter 2 of my book, The Selfhood of the Human Person (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1996), I defend an account of personal individuality that is very close to Scheler's. There is a terminological difference between me and Scheler: where he says "individuality" I say "incommunicability."
(13) For all the different questions about individuality that Gracia recognizes and distinguishes, he does not take notice of the fundamental metaphysical question as to degrees, kinds, levels of individuality. One can pose this question with regard to the different kinds of individuality found in different beings, or with regard to the different levels of individuality found in one and the same being. It is above all this latter question that Scheler addresses in the following.
(14) Scheler, Formalism, 561 (548). See also Scheler, Sympathy, 121 (130): "Das heisst ein Mensch ist umso mehr Individuum, je mehr er intime Person ist, je mehr er zugleich schweigendes Erleben ist...."
(15) Scheler, Sympathy, 121 (129).
(16) Scheler, Sympathy, 166 (167).
(17) Scheler finds that these different "levels" of individuality in man are reflected in our knowledge of man; as this knowledge "progresses from the associative level of the soul to the vital, and thence to the existence of the spiritual person, the impression of individual quality grows, increasing by leaps as each new level is reached, until full individuality is attained"; ibid., 123(131).
(18) Gracia, 16-21.
(19) Scheler, Formalism, 510 (501).
(20) Scheler, Formalism, 510 (501).
(21) Scheler thinks that the preeminent example of living out of one's vital center is the sexual union of man and woman lovingly performed. In the text I give a different example of vital existence, for Scheler seems to me to fail to do justice to the personal dimension of sexual union, giving a onesidedly vitalistic account it and so exaggerating the tendency of man and woman to lose themselves in each other in their sexual union.
(22) Scheler, Sympathy, 65 (76).
(23) Scheler, Sympathy, 123 (131). It comes as a surprise--a pleasant surprise for me--to find Scheler using the category of substance in explaining personal individuality; in the Formalism and elsewhere he sharply criticizes all attempts to think of persons in terms of substance.
(24) Scheler, Sympathy, 65 (76).
(25) It is remarkable that, though the question what individuality is (Gracia calls it the intensional question) and the question what individuates a being are two different questions, and though they sometimes receive two different answers, in the present case of the human person they receive a very similar answer, namely an answer in terms of the unique personal essence of each human being.
(26) Scheler, Sympathy, 75 (86).
(27) Gracia, 170-8.
(28) Gracia would be quick to point out, and would be right in pointing out, that this divergence of Scheler from his position rests on the underlying divergence of Scheler from him concerning what individuality is at all. As we saw, Scheler includes in his understanding of individuality that in virtue of which a being is itself and no other. Gracia excludes all such "distinction from others" in his determination of the intension of individuality. Thus Scheler is working with a somewhat different explanandum when he takes up the question of the principle of personal individuation.
(29) Scheler, Sympathy, 123 (131). I have amended the English translation in a few places to bring it closer to the German.
(30) Scheler, Sympathy, (85).
(31) Scheler, Sympathy, 127 (135).
(32) Von Balthasar, 191-2. He thinks that Scheler glimpses for a moment the unity of the vital and the personal in man in the course of discussing the spiritual achievement of St. Francis of Assisi (Sympathy, Part I, Chapter 5).
(33) Scheler, Sympathy, 76 (86).
(34) See von Balthasar's discussion of Scheler's essay "Zur Idee des Menschen" (1911): Von Balthasar, 162-3. He argues that Scheler here tends to identify the essence of man with the mystery of grace.
(35) Quoted by Von Balthasar, 164. It is not surprising when Von Balthasar says the radical sundering of spirit and instinct in the late philosophy of Scheler was already latent in the earlier and best works of Scheler.
(36) Scheler, Sympathy, 18-23 (29-33), 42-5 (53-6).
(37) Scheler, Formalism, xxiv (15).
(38) John F. Crosby, "Max Scheler's Principle of Moral and Religious Solidarity," Communio 24, no. 1 (1997): 111-27.
(39) Scheler, Sympathy, 160 (163).
(40) See also the kindred teaching of Scheler's essay, "The Nature of Philosophy and the Moral Preconditions of Philosophical Knowledge," in his On the Eternal in Man, trans. Bernard Noble (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1972). German: Vom Ewigen im Menschen (Bern: Francke Verlag, 1968). In this essay Scheler argues that philosophical knowledge is grounded in a certain love of absolute value and being.
(41) Scheler, Sympathy, 101 (109).
(42) Scheler, Sympathy, 101 (109). Scheler is here trying to establish the principle, "love of humanity [Menschenliebe] underlies acosmic personal love and the love of God." He explains himself by saying that I lose the chance of recognizing certain persons in all their uniqueness when I erroneously think that they are not even human beings. When, for instance, Aristotle divides human beings into free men and slaves, so that only the free men are really human beings, I can no longer encounter the slaves as persons. As I say, however, this love only disposes me favorably towards personal love for another, it is not that love whereby I apprehend them in all their personal individuality.
(43) Scheler, Formals, 488 (480).
(44) Max Scheler, "Ordo Amoris," in Gesammelte Werke, vol. 10 (Bonn: Verlag Herbert Grundmann, 1986), 352 (all translations from this essay are my own).
(45) Scheler, Sympathy, 157 (160).
(46) See especially Scheler, Sympathy, 156-9 (159-62).
(47) See Scheler, Formalism, xxiii-xxiv (15).
(48) It would be interesting to consider how Scheler's thought on personal individuality is limited and qualified by his thought on the important place of exemplary moral persons (Vorbilder) in the moral life (see Scheler, Formalism, 572-95 [558-80]). If his affirmation of personal individuality were simply unqualified, then persons would be too different from one another for any one of them to be exemplary for the others.
(49) Scheler, Formalism, 493 (485).
(50) Dietrich von Hildebrand: Memoiren und Aufsaetze gegen den Nationalsozialismus, 1933-1938, ed. Ernst Wenisch (Mainz: Matthias Gruenewald Verlag, 1994). (By the way, von Hildebrand was for years an intimate friend of Scheler and was deeply influenced by his philosophy.)
(51) Scheler, "Ordo Amoris," 351.
(52) Scheler, Eternal, 25 (19).
(53) Scheler, Eternal, 23 (18).
(54) Scheler, Eternal, 23 (18).
(55) The difficulties that we feel even with a suitably qualified concept of "individually valid truth" are placed in historical context by von Balthasar when he writes: "Still at work [today] in the background is the mathematical and natural science ideal of a truth whose criterion is general availability and obviousness. The positive value, indeed the very possibility of something that exists in itself also existing as such for me, seems to be a hidden contradiction.... The philosophy of personality that draws its ideal of objectivity from Greek thought is here at the end of its resources"; Von Balthasar, 153.
(56) Scheler, Eternal, 25 (19).
(57) The theme of dialogue in Scheler has been developed by Michael Barber in his Guardian of Dialogue: Max Scheler's Phenomenology, Sociology of Knowledge, and Philosophy of Love (London: Associated University Presses, 1993).
(58) Scheler, "Ordo Amoris, 354. The first section of this essay, entitled "Umwelt, Schicksal, `individuelle Bestimmung' und der Ordo Amoris," is one of the main texts in Scheler on the individual vocation of each person. Among other things Scheler makes an important distinction between the Schicksal and the Bestimmung of each person, arguing that it is really only the latter that fully expresses the person as person.
(59) Charles Taylor, The Ethics of Authenticity (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 28-9.
(60) I refer again to my 1997 Communio study of this principle.
(61) It would be interesting to inquire whether Scheler, with his teaching about the individual value-essence and the individual vocation of each person, does not look towards post-modernist ideas about the "face" of the "other" (Levinas). Certainly the other would be weaker in his otherness if he just instantiated kinds and types, and is that much stronger in his otherness as a result of having something unrepeatably his or her own.
(62) Jacques Maritain, Existence and the Existent, trans. Lewis Galantiere and Gerald Phelan (New York: Doubleday and Co., 1956), 64.
(63) Karl Rahner, "On the Question of a Formal Existential Ethics," in Theological Investigations, trans. Karl Kruger (Baltimore: Helicon, 1963), 2:222. German: "Ueber die Frage einer formalen Existentialethik," in Schrifien zur Theologie II (Einsiedeln: Benzinger Verlag, 1955), 232.
(64) While at the beginning of his essay Rahner rejects situation ethics, he is at pains to preserve its core of truth in his existential ethics. Rahner rejects, just like Scheler does, the nominalism of situation ethics.
(65) Scheler too sometimes speaks of "conscience" in this connection, as in Formalism, 494 (486) and 509 (499). Indeed, he seems to think that this deliberation about my most personal moral tasks is the most proper function of conscience.
(66) Rahner, "On the Question," 225 (236).
(67) Rahner, "On the Question," 226 (236-7).
(68) Rahner, "On the Question," 226-7 (237). Cf. also this: "God is interested in history not only in so far as it is the carrying out of norms, but in so far as it is a history which consists in the harmony of unique events and which precisely in this way has a meaning for eternity"; Rahner, "On the Question," 228 (239).
(69) An ethics that works only with general norms is for him an essential ethics, thus it is only natural for him to call the ethics that also recognizes strictly personal tasks an existential ethics.
(70) Rahner, "On the Question," 232 (243).
(71) My thanks to John White, Robert Miller, and Jorge Gracia for their critical reactions to earlier drafts of this study.
Correspondence to: Department of Philosophy, Franciscan University of Steubenville, Steubenville, OH 43952.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||CROSBY, JOHN F.|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Date:||Sep 1, 1998|
|Previous Article:||QUEST FOR TRANSCENDENCE(*).|
|Next Article:||PHILOSOPHY AND ART IN SCHELLING'S SYSTEM DES TRANSZENDENTALEN IDEALISMUS.|