Structure and Diversity. Studies in the Phenomenological Philosophy of Max Scheler

Article excerpt

KELLY, Eugene. Structure and Diversity. Studies in the Phenomenological Philosophy of Max Scheler. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1997. 247 pp. Cloth, $110.00--Structure and Diversity deals with Scheler's writings highlighting his arguments against relativism, his ethics, his philosophy of religion, the late Scheler's adoption of Buddhism, and his social-political philosophy. Kelly argues that Scheler is influenced by Husserl in his conviction of the realm of essences that is revealed through "phenomenologically reduced cognitive acts" (p. 15). Both philosophers apply the "natural standpoint." However, Scheler argues to go beyond Husserl's phenomenology of objects by means of his account of "structural and material essences that condition human consciousness" (p. 19). Consciousness is necessarily individual and situated within a "milieu." Phenomenology can use perceptions to elucidate "meaning-elements" that form a unified realm of essence.

Scheler (when his late work is disregarded) establishes a philosophical foundation without reference to metaphysics or language. However, conditions of knowledge are not purely formal, they also entail the material meaning-elements of language. In addition, these conditions are learned through cognitive development. This explains that essences can be perceived differently. The natural standpoint can be perverted as much as it can be improved through phenomenological reflection. The latter nonetheless can provide knowledge of objective structures. This knowledge is grounded in an act of love.

Kelly employs Scheler's Der Formalismus in der Ethik to interpret his ethics. For Scheler, values are independent of the mind. They can be revealed within the ordo amoris which is both noetic and noematic in its structure. Scheler attributes intentionality to feelings and intentionality is open to phenomenological investigation. He also uses an understanding of Gesinnung (disposition or basic moral tenor) in his ethics that clearly complements both rule-based as well as virtue-based moral theories. Gesinnung is a material structure of agency capable of establishing human dignity.

In his sociology of knowledge Scheler considers community to be relevant for epistemology: "knowledge of the other founds knowledge of the self" (p. 143). This generates Daseinsrelativitat, that is a multitude of values in the worlds of persons. However, Scheler does not succumb to historical relativism. He assumes spheres of reality that are prior to specific knowledge. …