Max Scheler: Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik

Neuer Versuch der Grundlegung eines ethischen Personalismus

Gesammelte Werke, 2

Bouvier, 2008 (1913-16)     Amazon.de

English translation:

Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values: A New Attempt Toward the Foundation of an Ethical Personalism

Northwestern University Press, 1973     Amazon.com

JOB’s Comment:

It could, I think, perhaps by now be possible, in retrospect, to understand this work to have been the most important of all in twentieth-century European personalism. There is much to say about it, and may have to add some of it here later, not least since the publishers say nothing by way of promotion of these editions that can be quoted in the way I normally do.

4 Responses to “Max Scheler: Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik”


  1. 1 John Anngeister March 29, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    I own the book and have read it and others by and about Scheler – but not very recently. His criticism of Kant is not at all like the flippant ignorance we hear from philosophers who are not equipped to understand Kant. The mitigation of Kant’s formalism is the only important corrective to the critical philosophy in my opinion.

    I would qualify your estimation of Scheler by elevating him only to the level of most important of the German thinkers between the wars for the development of personalism, because I think there were several contemporary English and American thinkers (now obscure) who understood Kant enough to retain all that was of value in his thought while pushing the argument for the supremacy of the category of the Personal in metaphysics and theology.

  2. 2 Jan Olof Bengtsson March 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    OK, I can see I did not express myself clearly enough. But let me explain.

    First of all, I said “European personalism”. That excludes the Americans. But I also really did not intend to includes the Brits: I should have written “continental European personalism”.

    Second, I wrote “twentieth-century” European personalism. By this, I meant the forms of personalism that are specific to the twentieth century. The British and American personalists that I understand you to have in mind do not represent such forms. Although, for instance, Bowne’s and Pringle-Pattison’s late works were written in the early twentieth century, they still express, like their earlier work, the tradition of what I call “early personalism”, i.e. the idealistic personalism or personalistic idealism of the nineteenth century. The main distinctive characteristic of all or at least all the most important twentieth-century forms of personalism is that they are more or less influenced by Husserlian phenomenology, and mainly through Scheler, the first Husserlian – but also of course to a considerable extent independent and original – phenomenological personalist.

    Third, I said “It could..perhaps by now be possible, in retrospect, to understand this work to have been the most important”. By this I meant to indicate that I was speaking in terms of historical influence quite as much as, or even rather than, intrinsic value, although it is possible that I would be prepared to stand by my judgement, understood within the limits indicated by the above explanations, as valid with regard to the latter too.

    But none of this was as clearly expressed as it should have been, and I am v. grateful for your comment which drew my attention to this and to the need for these clarifications. I will consider reformulating the JOB Comment in accordance with them.


  1. 1 Landschaft & Oekologie Trackback on October 28, 2012 at 10:43 am
  2. 2 Landschaft & Oekologie Trackback on October 30, 2012 at 8:37 am

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Jan Olof Bengtsson D.Phil. (Oxon.)

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