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On Emotion and Value in David Hume and Max Scheler Essay

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On Emotion and Value in David Hume and Max Scheler

ABSTRACT: While some philosophers tend to exclude any significance of emotion for the moral life, others place them in the center of both the moral life and the theory of value judgment. This paper presents a confrontation of two classic positions of the second type, namely the position of Hume and Scheler. The ultimate goal of this confrontation is metatheoretical — particularly as it concerns the analysis of the relations between the idea of emotion and the idea of value in this kind of theory of value judgment. In conclusion, I point to some important theoretical assumptions which underlie the positions of both thinkers despite all the other differences between them.

In at least four types of ethical theories emotions and feelings are regarded as a vital factor in explaining the nature of both value judgement and value itself. Such types of ethical theories, however, offer not only different theories of value and valuation but they also assume or imply quite different theories of emotions and feelings. A look at the history of philosophical psychology can convince us that there has been no generally accepted theory of emotion but the idea of emotion has been changing together with the idea of mind or soul. (1) One could expect that there is a correlation between the idea of emotion and the idea of value or the good in each type of the above mentioned theories.

In what follows, I shall discuss this correlation for two ethical theories in greater detail. I shall consider the moral philosophy of David Hume which I construe as psychological naturalism of non-relativistic type. (2) I shall also consider the case of emotional intuitionism exemplified by Max Scheler. Both H...


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...the objects of emotion see: Sousa, de R. - The Rationality of Emotion, The MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1990.

(9) For excellent discussion of this point see: Hudson, S. D. - Humean Pleasure Reconsidered, "Canadian Journal of Philosophy" 5 (1975), no 4, pp. 545-62; Fieser, J. - Hume's Classification of the Passions and Its Precursors, "Hume Studies" 18 (1992), no 1, pp. 1-17.

(10) See note 8 above.

(11) Scheler, Max - Der Formalismus in der Ethik und die materiale Wertethik, Gesammelte Werke, Bd. 2, Francke Verlag, Bern - München 1954, pp. 256-278; hereafter cited as F.

(12) F, pp. 341-356. See also: Smith, Q. - Scheler's Stratification of Emotional Life and Strawson's Person, "Philosophical Studies" (Irleand), 25 (1977), pp. 103-127.

(13) F, pp. 125 -130.

(14) Cf. Calhoun, Ch., Solomon, R. C. - What is an Emotion, Oxford University Press, New York 1984.


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