Liebe als Kommunikationsform in der Intimität


  • Riku Yokoyama



Max Scheler, Love, Sympathy


This paper aims to elucidate the relation between sympathy and personal love in Max Scheler’s philosophy of emotion, in terms of his counter argument against Nietzsche, who criticized compassion and Christian love as «resentment». Nietzsche’s criticism of compassion presupposes that emotions of others are not accessible to us, so that we must imitate their bodily gestures and reproduce their emotions within us. Against this premise Scheler shows the phenomenological fact that we perceive directly emotional experiences of others expressed in their bodily gestures and reenact them sometimes from their own perspective. Therefore, in order to sympathize with others, we do not have to reproduce their same emotional state within us, but only to reenact their emotional act from their own perspective. With regard to this distinction between the state and the act of an emotional experience, Scheler classifies then the forms of sympathy into emotional infection (Gefühlsansteckung), empathy (Nachfühlung), sympathy (Mitgefühl) and feeling with one another (Miteinanderfühlen). Each form can be characterized as fusional, cognitive, curative and integrative. These characters are also constitutive for love, but Scheler sees the essence of personal love rather in dialogic communication, which is based not only on bodily perception but also on linguistic understanding. This form of communication in the intimate sphere does not aim at consensus with others; the purpose is nothing more than a dialogue itself in which lovers feel that their narrated personalities are accepted and recognized by one another. Whereas Nietzsche insists that compassion puts its object to shame and recommends keeping a distance instead, according to Scheler only compassion with love can avoid such shaming. However, Scheler also recognizes that there is a distance as a limit of communicative understanding and that the absolute intimate sphere of the personality is therefore not accessible to us. The fact that we cannot entirely know one another does not stop nonetheless dialogue in love, but motivates it further