Workshop (5) – Scheler’s contribution

John Paul II studied the thought of Max Scheler and from this study began his to develop his critique of Kant. Scheler used phenomenology and literature to criticize the formalism and individualism of Kantian ethics. As much as Wojtyla learned from Scheler, the outcome was limited by the phenomenological method. Experience of God is more important than the reality of God:

For the Phenomenologist, man is a theomorphic being only and exclusively by virtue of experiencing the idea of God. Scheler is not concerned with the real relation to God as an existing, positive and defined reality. He is concerned with experiencing the idea of God.

As a movement toward the things themselves, and as a way to see the expansiveness of experience, or to cherish the “lived experience” of human things, Wojtyla would benefit from his study of phenomenology. Later in his life Pope John Paul II said this:

Phenomenology is primarily a style of thought, a relationship of the mind with reality whose essential and constitutive features it aims to grasp, avoiding prejudice and schematisms. I mean that it is, as it were, an attitude of intellectual charity to the human being and the world, and for the believer, to God, the beginning and end of all things. To overcome the crisis of meaning which is characteristic of some sectors of modern thought, I insisted, in the Encyclical Fides et Ratio (cf. n. 83), on an openness to metaphysics, and phenomenology can make a significant contribution to this openness. JOHN PAUL II TO THE WORLD INSTITUTE OF PHENOMENOLOGY OF HANOVER

 To develop the theology of the body John Paul II combined theology, philosophy of nature, metaphysics, scriptural theology and moral theology to better understand the human person as male and female and the significance of marriage. In the subsequent workshop sessions the key points of this theology were explained.

Some pages by Waldstein on Scheler can be found here.

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