Volume 28, Issue 4, 2018
Philosophical Anthropology at the Crossroads
Max Scheler—Bernhard Waldenfels
Two Phenomenological Conceptions of Suffering
This comparative study of Max Scheler’s and Bernhard Waldenfels’ conceptions shows how they differ in their philosophical assumptions. Whereas Scheler’s strove to define the essence of suffering, which he saw in the objective situation of being a victim (sacrificing the inferior for the superior good), Waldenfels emphasized the intentional aspect of suffering and its connections to activity (suffering was to be the necessary and passive “other side” of activity). In this context Waldenfels introduced the distinction between suffering as a) that what happens to us, and b) that what we subjectively feel as “brutally” imposed upon us, ignoring all eidetic questions related to suffering as well as the metaphysical threads which Scheler addressed. The author runs a detailed and critical analysis of Scheler’s position, to which he voices multiple objections, and concludes that it coincides conceptually with the axiological conception of tragedy he propounded in his work On the Tragic. In the section on Waldenfels the author reviews the polemical arguments against his views voiced by several contemporary German philosophers.