November 01, 2005

Max Scheler and Nicolai Hartmann

Abandoning his early adherence to idealism, Nicolai Hartmann (1882–1950), propounded instead a philosophical realism based on the intelligibility of being. For Hartmann, ontology was the source of philosophy. He saw philosophy's mission as the statement of the problems of being and the unraveling of the irrational and the puzzling. Although a nontheistic humanist, he posited three levels of the spirit, which he considered to be a process rather than a substance.
He held the world to be a unity, but said that one would not be justified in calling that unity God. In his Ethik (1926, tr., 3 vol., 1932), he sought to develop a system of values from the ethics of Max Scheler; Hartmann's ethics, like Scheler's, are distinctive in their treatment of the freedom of the will. Hartmann argued that there exist objective values that we can intuit and use as guides for action. Encyclopedia
Teilhard de Chardin, Nicolai Hartmann and the Role of Freedom: Nicolai Hartmann was a contemporary of Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955). Both men were phenomenologists, that is, they sought to understand and describe the phenomena which they encountered. Their perspectives on the world, however, were quite different. Both studied mankind, but while Teilhard sought to situate mankind within the broad sweep of cosmogenesis - the evolution of the cosmos from its initiation - and from a religious perspective, Hartmann studied mankind at much closer quarters and from an atheistic perspective. Despite this bias, Hartmann focussed particularly on understanding man's spiritual nature. Sydney Hook, the philosopher who reviewed Hartmann's 'Ethics', recognised Hartmann as the greatest analyst, since Aristotle, of the ideals by which men live, and for which they live. (Stanton Coit, 1932,11) Dr. Anthony Kelly, Quodlibet Journal: Volume 2 Number 1, January 2000

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