Max Scheler’s <i>Ordo Amoris</i> in Albert Camus’s Philosophical Work


  • Samantha Novello



Love, Revolt, Ressentiment


Generally, Albert Camus’s name (1913-1960) is not mentioned in historical overviews of the French phenomenological movement. The purpose of this study is to reassess his philosophical work as an original contribution to the French Phenomenology of the 1940s and 1950s by exploring the role that Max Scheler’s phenomenology of love played in the genesis of Camus’s essays Le Mythe de Sisyphe (1942) and L’Homme révolté (1952). 

Critics have inexplicably neglected the import of Scheler’s phenomenological work in Camus’s philosophical and sociological studies in Algiers between 1930 and 1936. By examining the French reception of Scheler’s works, and especially the editions that were published between 1928 and 1936, the author traces in Nature et formes de la sympathie, M. Lefebvre’s translation of Wesen und Formen der Sympathie, and in L’Homme du ressentiment, the 1933 translation of Das Ressentiment im Aufbau der Moralen, two essential sources that directly and indirectly contributed in shaping the theoretical framework within which Camus developed his ethical and political thought. 

Detailed textual analysis confirmed that, from 1936 onward, the French writer moulded his understanding of philosophical reflection on Scheler’s emotional phenomenology, which he read through Groethuysen and Nietzsche, separating the analysis of love and ressentiment from its theistic perspective and tracing in the sentiment of love and world-openness the condition for re-founding ethics beyond Western rationalism and contemporary political nihilism. 

The author concludes that in order to fully understand Camus’s popular notions of “absurd” and “revolt” one must take into account Scheler’s analysis of the ordo amoris and its perversions, of which the French writer’s philosophical essays should be recognized as giving a personal interpretation. For this reason they deserve mention and further study among the most significant works of the Twentieth century French phenomenological movement.