Volume 16, 2016
Film and Phenomenology
Phenomenological Film Theory and Max Scheler’s Personalist Aesthetics
Max Scheler never published a theory of art, but his aesthetics, like the rest of his thought, occupies an intriguing position that links early phenomenology, Catholic personalist thought, and philosophical anthropology. His metaphysics of the person and theory of value, when combined with his account of the lived-body and of our access to other minds through love, translates into a powerful, humanistic theory of art. This article elaborates what Scheler’s aesthetics would look like had he developed it and applied it to film. Film offers an intimate access to the lives, bodies, and minds of others that is particularly well-suited to Scheler’s idea that art reveals the moral personality—the ordo amoris or “order of love”—that makes up the value-essence of the person. The person’s unique and highest possibilities for acting, feeling, and valuing are the contents of their spiritual essence and these, often thought obscure and inaccessible, are made present in film.