Max Scheler’s Tripartite Anthropology

Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association 75:255-266 (2001)
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A central but somewhat obscure concept in Scheler’s philosophy is that of person. I suggest that one aid to understanding Scheler’s notion of person is interpreting it in terms of what I call a tripartite anthropology. This term is meant to suggest that the human being can be conceived as comprising three distinct though characteristically cooperating sources of conscious activity. Once we understand Scheler’s anthropology in these terms, his concept of person becomes clearer. In this paper, I develop the notion of a tripartite anthropology, including some discussion of its roots in the tradition. Second, I offer an overview of Scheler’s own anthropology, offering some account of the three-fold sources of activity in the human being and how they function together. Finally, I discuss Scheler’s anthropology in comparison to a section of Aquinas’s On Spiritual Creatures. I show that Scheler is not as far from Aquinas as it might seem and can actually help us to understand Aquinas’s intentions



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