Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
AN ABSTRACT OF THE DISSERTATION OF J. Edward Hackett, for the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Philosophy, presented on December 6, 2012 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: Scheler's Phenomenological Ontology of Value: Implications and Reflections for Ethical Theory MAJOR PROFESSOR: Dr. Kenneth W. Stikkers My dissertation provides the first comprehensive account of what values are in Max Scheler's Formalism in Ethics (Formalism hereafter). As a phenomenologist, Scheler did not attempt to invent a new ontological language to describe value experience clearly as Heidegger invented for his fundamental ontology of Dasein. In so doing, Scheler's phenomenological descriptions often use metaphysically rich language and in so doing, Scheler generates ambiguity surrounding what he most sought to make clear, value. To remedy this confusion, I argue that Scheler's concept of Aktsein can supply an ontological understanding of value given the dearth of a clear ontological explanation of value in his phenomenological period culminating in the Formalism. This inquiry is divided into three chapters. In Chapter 1, I explain the central concepts in his phenomenology of value at root in the Formalism. I both explain and reveal the central ambiguities in the Formalism. For the most part, Chapter 1 is expository and develops an interpretation of the central ambiguities in Scheler's phenomenology of value. In Chapter 2, I problematize these central ambiguities and take note of when and where phenomenology collapses into ontology. This transition can best be made clear in his Idealismus und Realismus essays where Scheler explicates the structure of being-in-an-act at the very moment he "ontologizes" phenomenology. In addition to that moment in this work, I make analogies to Heidegger's phenomenology as a way into ontology. By making specific analogies to being-in-an-act and being-in-the-world, I show how the similar ontological tendencies in Heidegger provide us with a way to regard Scheler's Aktsein. In making this analogy, I do not reduce Scheler's phenomenological ontology to Heidegger, but instead put them into dialogue with each other revealing the solution of Scheler's ontology of value is realized in the act-intentionality of love. When I draw my conclusions both from the analysis of the Idealismus und Realismus essays and Heidegger, I label Scheler's ontological account of value: participatory realism. In Chapter 3, participatory realism is, then, put into contact with philosophers from the emotivist tradition. I define the emotivist tradition to include a noncognitivist interpretation of David Hume, A. J. Ayer and C. L. Stevenson. While I could have been content to seek out a solution to this ambiguity in Scheler's work and conclude the merits of my interpretation, I am a firm believer in Scheler's position as a solution to the problem of value ontology. As such, participatory realism's uniqueness and merit are better served by putting it into contact with another decided alternative. Given that the analytic tradition had supplied emotivism as a view that connects the emotions with value-experience, it seemed only fitting that Scheler could call into question a dominant answer to value ontology and further clarify the resources Scheler brings to bear on the problem itself.
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