From God-seeker to God's Co-operator

A Key to Understanding Max Scheler's Philosophy

by Eric Boateng Asare (Author)
©2022 Thesis 184 Pages


From the first awakening of his philosophical consciousness to his last philosophical
work, Max Scheler pondered questions about the human being. He thought that the
anthropological question provides unity to all philosophical inquiry. Scheler’s thought
has not received attention in the English-speaking world as compared to those of his
contemporaries due, among others, to the difficulty those new to him encounter in
finding a common thread that facilitates understanding of his philosophy. Therefore,
this book explores four prominent Schelerian conceptions of the human being, proposes
their unfolding as a key that opens the reader to a broader and unified view of
Scheler’s philosophy, and offers a framework within which it could be understood.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Preface
  • Acknowledgments
  • Contents
  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1 The Human Being as God-Seeker
  • 1.1 Phenomenological Analysis of the Religious Act
  • 1.1.1 Essential Characteristics of the Religious Act
  • World-Transcending Character of Its Intention
  • Only the Divine Can Fulfill Its Intention
  • Fulfillment of Its Intention through Revelation of the Divine
  • 1.1.2 The Summum Bonum as the Intentional Object of the Religious Act
  • 1.1.3 The Religious Act as Proof of God’s Existence?
  • 1.1.4 Negation of the Religious Act
  • 1.2 The Nature of the Divine
  • 1.2.1 The Basic Attributes of the Divine Being
  • 1.2.2 Other Attributes of the Divine Being
  • 1.3 Revelation: God’s Self-communication
  • 1.3.1 Natural Revelation
  • 1.3.2 Positive Revelation
  • Chapter 2 The Human Being as Ens Amans
  • 2.1 The Nature of Love According to Max Scheler
  • 2.1.1 The Uniqueness of Love
  • 2.1.2 Love as Movement
  • 2.1.3 The Object of Love
  • Value Relations
  • Value Modalities
  • 2.1.4 Forms, Kinds and Modes of Love
  • Sexual Love
  • Sacred Love
  • 2.1.5 The Moral Value of Love
  • 2.2 The Ordo Amoris
  • 2.2.1 Normative and Descriptive Ordo Amoris
  • 2.2.2 Fate and Destiny
  • 2.2.3 Self-love and Love of Self
  • 2.2.4 Disordering of the Ordo Amoris
  • 2.3 Love as a Fundamental Attribute of God
  • 2.3.1 Human Love as Emulation of God’s Love
  • 2.3.2 Love of God as Foundation of Community
  • Chapter 3 The Human Being as Microcosm
  • 3.1 World and Cosmos
  • 3.1.1 Microcosm
  • 3.1.2 Macrocosm
  • 3.2 The Stratification of Psycho-Physical Being
  • 3.2.1 Vital Impulse
  • 3.2.2 Instinct
  • 3.2.3 Associative Memory
  • 3.2.4 Practical Intelligence
  • 3.3 The Human Being and Animals
  • 3.3.1 World-Openness
  • 3.3.2 Naysaying (Neinsagen)
  • 3.3.3 Self-consciousness
  • 3.4 The Human Being, World and God
  • 3.4.1 Origin of Consciousness of Self, World and God
  • 3.4.2 Panentheism
  • Chapter 4 The Human Being as God’s Co-operator
  • 4.1 Spirit and Life
  • 4.1.1 The Impotence of Spirit
  • 4.1.2 The Interpenetration of Spirit and Life
  • 4.2 The Nature of Scheler’s Weltgrund
  • 4.2.1 Spirit and Life as Attributes of the Weltgrund
  • 4.2.2 God-In-Becoming
  • 4.2.3 The Human Being as Locus of Deification
  • 4.3 Scheler’s New Idea of the Human Being
  • 4.3.1 Allmensch as Ideal Human Being
  • 4.3.2 Allmensch as Goal of Human History
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • Index

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Many European authors have focused their attention on the nature of the human being not only as the continuation of an antecedent philosophical concern, but also “out of the sense of a contemporary crisis in respect of the human.”4 Although philosophical questions about human nature date back to ancient Greek philosophy, it may be said that a sense of crisis regarding the essential nature of the human being influenced philosophers such as Max Scheler, Helmut Plessner and Arnold Gehlen, in the first half of the twentieth century, to pursue a new philosophical endeavor that came to be identified as philosophical anthropology.

Even though Scheler’s relatively short life is marked by numerous shifts, experts usually agree on three stages or phases of his philosophical career. E. Kelly, without stipulating specific durations, argues that Scheler’s intellectual history could be organized into three major periods, namely: the neo-Kantian, the phenomenological, and the metaphysical.5 E. Vacek, on the other hand, offers a time-based division by grouping Scheler’s philosophical writings into three periods: 1898–1912, 1913–22, and 1922–28.6 J. Nota combines both by dividing the development of Scheler’s thought into three periods as follows: the period of preparation, 1900–1912; the period of blossoming and of application of phenomenology to ethics and philosophy of religion, 1912–1922; and the period of meta-anthropology and sociology, 1922–1928.7 This book subscribes to Nota’s classification since it comprises both the temporal and thematic organization of Scheler’s thoughts.

From his earlier philosophical writings down to the last years, Max Scheler was mostly occupied with the question about the human being. ←15 | 16→In his late philosophical writings, he often made reference to an anthropological opus magnum which he hoped would detail his philosophical anthropology. Unfortunately, due to his untimely death, the project could not be realized. However, a summary of its principal ideas is presented in The Human Place in the Cosmos. Scheler’s earlier philosophical works focused on the relationship between the psychological and logical methods, and phenomenological analysis of religious, political and ethical topics, whereas the later works addressed metaphysical and sociological concerns, among others.

Nonetheless, in agreement with Immanuel Kant, he thought that the unity of philosophical inquiry is centered around the question about the human being. In fact, before his death he emphasized that questions about the essence of the human being and his place in the cosmos had occupied him since the first awakening of his philosophical consciousness more than any other philosophical question.8 By this I understand that even in those works which were not principally anthropological in outlook Scheler’s concern for human self-knowledge was not dropped but remained in the background.

The search for a unified understanding of the thoughts of Max Scheler presents some difficulty to readers. This stems from the variety of the areas of studies he engaged in, as well as a paradigm shift in his thought after the break with Catholicism. However, in many of his philosophical writings, we find a kind of opposition between spirit [Geist] and vital impulse [Drang] and he sought to resolve such a polarity in his late philosophical works. The point of departure for such an attempt was the review of his concept of spirit. Spirit, which was earlier considered to be powerful, came to be seen as formless and impotent. For its power, it had to resort to the repression and sublimation of vital impulse. Applying such a revision to the attribute of spirit in the foundation of all things, he came to conceive God as the end result of the interpenetration of spirit and vital impulse, in and through the human being, in history.←16 | 17→

Based on Max Scheler’s claim that the anthropological question unifies philosophical enquiry, this book presents four notable descriptions of the human being in the thought of the German philosopher and proposes them, taking into consideration their evolution, as a key that opens the reader to a broader perspective of issues he treated in his philosophy and how to understand them contextually.

The book is a product of my doctoral thesis on the evolution of the philosophical anthropology of Max Scheler. Here, it has been reworked to suit a broader readership. I begin by examining Scheler’s understanding of the human being as God-seeker. It is a description drawn from his earliest anthropological essay, On the Idea of Man. This view of the human being underpins his phenomenological analysis of the religious act, in particular, and his philosophy of religion in general. Passing on to the period of blossoming, I put forward Scheler’s account of the human being as a loving being and, by so doing, offer a quick glance at some aspect of his value ethics. Moreover, I examine Max Scheler’s description of the human being as a microcosm, an account which helps to understand the human being’s relation to the world, other things and God. Finally, Scheler’s view of the human being as God’s co-operator is scrutinized to offer insights into his late metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, and indirectly his social and political views, as well as the overturn of his earlier religious convictions.

Although the various methods employed by Scheler in the various phases of his philosophy could also be relied on as tools in exploring and understanding the development of his thought namely, by considering the noological, phenomenological and the sociological methods, I have opted for a thematic approach. That is, I explore Scheler’s anthropological discussions with the aim of bringing a greater part of the whole array of his philosophical thoughts to the knowledge of the reader.

My approach is at once descriptive, analytic and critical. I admit that this book does not have the last word to reading and understanding Max Scheler’s philosophy, since there are introductions to his thoughts.9 I also acknowledge that while seeking to make the German philosopher’s thought ←17 | 18→readily understandable, it has not been easy presenting a systematic and logically coherent work. In fact, “if there is any philosopher’s work marked by disorder and disorganization on its surface it is Scheler’s.”10 Therefore, some complexities which may be encountered in following certain arguments in this book are not necessarily mine but, rather, from the primary source of information: namely, Scheler’s philosophical works. Regardless of the limitations stated, I hope that the exposition will offer a new way of reading and appreciating the thoughts of a philosopher who was highly acknowledged in his days but remains in the periphery of present-day philosophical circles.

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Chapter 1 The Human Being as God-Seeker

“You have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”


ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (June)
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2022. 184 pp.

Biographical notes

Eric Boateng Asare (Author)

Eric Boateng Asare is a priest of the Catholic Archdiocese of Kumasi, Ghana. He earned a bachelor of arts in study of religions and sociology from the University of Ghana, Legon and a bachelor of arts in theology from the Pontificia Università Urbaniana, Rome. He also holds bachelor of arts, licentiate and PhD in philosophy, with specialization in anthropology and ethics, from the Pontificia Università della Santa Croce, Rome.


Title: From God-seeker to God's Co-operator