The Phenomenology of Essences: Max Scheler (1874–1928)

  • Herbert Spiegelberg
Part of the Phaenomenologica book series (PHAE, volume 5/6)


There can be little question that in the early twenties before the advent of Martin Heidegger Max Scheler was in the eyes of the German public the number two phenomenologist; in fact, to many he was more -a star of the first magnitude whose dazzling light revealed more than the prominent member of a new school: a philosopher of the age. Fortunately it is not my assignment to discuss the validity of such contemporary estimates. Mine will be merely to describe and to evaluate Scheler the phenomenologist, leaving aside as far as possible the overflow of Scheler’s boundless energies and ideas into fields like sociology, politics, and education. For Scheler was certainly more than a phenomenologist. It may even be asked to what extent, in the last analysis, he was a phenomenologist. Scheler’s impact on the Phenomenological Movement as a whole, however, is an indisputable historical fact. Besides, he probably did more for the spread of the entire Movement abroad, especially in the French- and Spanish-speaking world, than any other phenomenologist. This alone secures him a central place in the history of the Movement.


Phenomenological Method Veridical Perception Phenomenological Reduction Philosophical Anthropology Absolute Knowledge 
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Selective Bibliography

Major Works

  1. Zur Phänomenologie und Theorie der Sympathiegefühle und von Liebe und Hass 1913; second edition under the title Wesen und Formen der Sympathie 1923. Gesammelte Werke (G. W. 7). Translated by Peter Heath as The Nature of Sympathy — at times rather free; the introduction by W. Stark often misleading.Google Scholar
  2. Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik 1913, 1916; second edition 1921, third edition 1926 (G. W. 2). Translated as Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values by M. S. Frings and R. L. Funk 1973 — conscientious.Google Scholar
  3. Abhandlungen und Aufsätze 1913; second edition 1923 under the title Vom Umsturz der Werte (G.W. 4). The essay “Das ressentiment im Aufbau der modernen Moral” is available as a book in the translation by Wm. Holdheim, preceded by an introductory essay by Lewis A. Coser (1961). Vom Ewigen im Menschen 1921 (G. W. 5). Translated by B. Wall — adequate; some serious mistakes.Google Scholar
  4. Die Wissensformen und die Gesellschaft 1926 (G. W. 6).Google Scholar
  5. Die Stellung des Menschen im Kosmos 1928 (G.W. 9). Translated by Hans Meyerhoff as Man’s Place in Nature. Deliberately free, but good, with helpful introduction.Google Scholar
  6. Philosophische Weltanschauung 1928 (G. W. 9). Translated by Oscar Haac as Philosophical Perspectives, 1958 — good, except for technical terms.Google Scholar


  1. DUPUY, MAURICE, La philosophie de Max Scheler. Son évolution et son unité. 2 vols. 1959. Comprehensive, scholarly work; biographically not quite adequate.Google Scholar
  2. DUPUY, MAURICE, La philosophie de la religion chez Max Scheler, 1959. This collateral work deals perceptively and critically with Scheler’s early phenomenology of religion.Google Scholar
  3. FRINGS, MANFRED S., Max Scheler. A Concise Introduction into the World of a Great Thinker, 1965. Dealing with major themes of Max Sender’s thought, but not including his views on the phenomenological method and “tenvisagement of essences”; without historical background.Google Scholar
  4. STAUDE, JOHN, Max Scheler. An Intellectual Portrait, 1967. Not interested in his philosophy and phenomenology. Not a sympathetic voice. Informative, but not always reliable.Google Scholar
  5. FRINGS, MANFRED S., Person und Dasein. Zur Frage der Ontologie des Wertseins. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1969.Google Scholar
  6. LEONARDY, HEINZ, Liebe und Person. Max Scheler’s Versuch eines “phänomenologischen” Personalismus. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1976.Google Scholar

Comprehensive Bibliographie

  1. 1.
    HARTMANN, WILFRIED, Scheler Bibliographie, 1963.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bibliography 1963–1974” in Frings, M. S., ed., Max Scheler (1874–1928) pp. 165–173.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bibliography of English Translations by M. S. Frings and K. W. Stikkers in JBSP 9 (1978), 207–8.Google Scholar
  4. Max Scheler’s papers are deposited and catalogued in the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek in Munich. — See Die Nachlässe der Münchener Phänomenologen in der Bayerischen Staatsbibliothek, verzeichnet von Eberhard Avé-Lallemant. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1975, pp. 41–124.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Herbert Spiegelberg

There are no affiliations available

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