American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 96, Issue 3, Summer 2022

R. James Lisowski
Pages 435-452

To Pardon what Conscience Dreads
Revisiting Max Scheler’s Phenomenology of Repentance

This article will examine the religious phenomenology of Max Scheler as it is found in his essay on repentance. In outlining Scheler’s understanding of repentance, I shall note his attempt at defining the phenomenon, as well as the presuppositions to and outcomes of this religious act. With this foundation laid, I shall then offer two critiques. First, Scheler’s rendering of repentance limps in not accounting for the cyclical and repeatable nature of repentance, to which human experience and Scheler’s own broader philosophy attest. Second, Scheler’s essay does not consider the role of other persons both in leading one to repentance and in completing the process. As with the first critique, both human experience and Scheler’s own personalist philosophy testify to the necessary role of other persons. These lacunae detract from the otherwise rich phenomenological account.