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Quaestiones Disputatae

Volume 3, Issue 2, Spring 2013

Selected Papers on The Philosophy of Dietrich von Hildebrand

Philip Blosser
Pages 69-84

What Makes Experience “Moral”? Dietrich von Hildebrand vs. Max Scheler

In this paper I examine two problems in Scheler’s ethics to which I believe von Hildebrand provides a solution: his (1) identification of moral value with the positive or negative response value that appears as a by-product of personal agency directed at realizing a non-moral value; and (2) the lack of any clear distinctively moral antithesis between good and evil in personal agency. In response to (1), I enlist von Hildebrand’s distinction between morally relevant and irrelevant values and his observation that not all value-responses are morally good/evil, and I illustrate the existence of specifically non-moral kinds of good/bad, such as the aesthetic. In response to (2), I enlist von Hildebrand’s distinction between the “subjectively satisfying” and “intrinsically important.” As von Hildebrand demonstrates, Scheler fails to see that this is not a distinction between ranks of values but rather is a distinction between views of importance in our motivation and importance of objective value independently of any motivation whatsoever. These solutions are elaborated vis-à-vis Peter Spader’s attempted defense of Scheler against von Hildebrand.

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