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The Possibility of Phenomenology: Scheler's Confrontation with Pragmatism

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Zachary Davis
St. John's University
United States

Max Scheler and his work, Arbeit und Erkenntnis, stand at the crux of the reception of pragmatism in Germany. My interest in this paper is the meaning of the pragmatic method for the phenomenological attitude. Much of the early reception of pragmatism in Germany rests on a conflation of the pragmatic method with a metaphysical system or theory. For Scheler, pragmatism as a method harbors an all pervasive will to dominate nature and as a consequence fails to recognize the most profound sense of human being, namely the transcendence of love. The pragmatic method is not one method among others, is not just some tool in our tool box, but a way of being in the world, a way of being that privileges domination and adaptation as our primary relation to the world. What is at risk is not merely the value and purpose of the phenomenological attitude, but its very possibility.


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