Two parents stand beside the dead body of a beloved child : Max Scheler on Shared Feeling

Krebs, Angelika. (2011) Two parents stand beside the dead body of a beloved child : Max Scheler on Shared Feeling. Appraisal Journal, 8 (3). pp. 1-21.

Full text not available from this repository.

Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/dok/A6001862

Downloads: Statistics Overview


On the first pages of his book The Nature of Sympathy from 1913, German phenomenologist Max Scheler introduces a category of feeling, which did not play any special role in the philosophy either before or after him. This is the category of the shared feeling or emotional sharing. Scheler is not the only philosopher interested in the phenomenon of shared feeling. Think of Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Emanuel Lévinas or Hermann Schmitz. But Scheler is perhaps the philosopher who took this phenomenon the most seriously and who explored it the most deeply. Contemporary philosophy is just rediscovering the phenomenon of shared feeling. This has partly to do with the lively debate on collective action or we-intentionality, which has been going on for years (the two main opponents in this debate are Margaret Gilbert 1989 and Michael Bratman 1999). If there is shared action, the obvious question is if there is also shared feeling. A second reason for the newly awakened interest in the phenomenon of shared feeling is the not less lively debate in the philosophy of emotions and there especially in the philosophy of love. The mainstream of this debate which understands love between partners as reciprocal “caring” (cf. Harry Frankfurt 2004) faces a minority which conceives of love as “sharing”, as shared action and feeling. In order to understand love, this minority needs to understand what shared feeling is.[1] But the phenomenon of shared feeling is philosophically and life-worldly important also independently of love and collective action. It is not only lovers that share feelings, but also teams in sports, musicians in an orchestra, or politicians in a party. Even strangers can share feelings, if they find themselves in a situation in which, like in an accident or a crime, a shared emotional response is demanded. Shared feeling is a basis for community. As the longstanding debate between liberals and communitarians has shown, modern individualized society is in bitter need of a reflection on all the sources of community. With Max Scheler, this text wants to understand what constitutes shared feeling. For this purpose the text first deals with the, for the analysis of shared feeling, central passage in Scheler’s work. In this passage at the beginning of The Nature of Sympathy, Scheler distinguishes four forms of fellow-feeling: beside shared feeling also fellow-feeling “about something”, emotional infection and emotional identification. The second section reconstructs Scheler’s distinction of four forms of the social unit, which builds upon the above distinction, in his main work Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Values. The forms of the social unit are: mass, life-community, society and personal community. The third section takes a literary example, Henry James’ short story “The Pupil”, as an illustration of the different categories of fellow-feeling and the social unit. The fourth section asks how the unity of feeling in shared feeling is exactly to be understood and distinguishes three options: as a unity of an I-Thou indifferent stream of experience, as a unity of the supraindividual accessibility of a value-content and as a unity of sense of different feeling contributions. The fifth section develops on the third option with the help of Edith Stein and reads the central passage from Scheler again in this light. The claim is that with Edith Stein on Max Scheler’s shoulders we finally have a convincing account of shared feeling. [1] Since my book Arbeit und Liebe from 2002 I have been working on a dialogical model of love. See my forthcoming contribution to the Nussbaum-volume in the Library of Living Philosophers.
Faculties and Departments:04 Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > Departement Künste, Medien, Philosophie > Fachbereich Philosophie > Praktische Philosophie (Krebs)
UniBasel Contributors:Krebs, Angelika
Item Type:Article, refereed
Publisher:Appraisal Institute
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
Last Modified:07 Feb 2017 09:25
Deposited On:11 Oct 2012 15:26

Repository Staff Only: item control page