American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 79 (1):91-119 (2005)
In the course of his polemic against Kant’s moral philosophy, Scheler was led to depreciate moral obligation and its place in the existence of persons. This depreciation is part of a larger anti-authoritarian strain in his personalism. I attempt to retrieve certain truths about moral obligation that tend to get lost in Scheler: moral obligation is not merely “medicinal” but has a place at the highest levels of moral life; the freedom of persons is lived in an incomparable way in responding to moral obligation; obligation and obedience even have an indispensable place in the existence of Christians. Drawing on the studies of Scheler by Rudolf Otto, Karol Wojtyla, Hans Urs von Balthasar, and Dietrich von Hildebrand, I show how Scheler’s personalism is corrected and enhanced once we distance ourselves from his anti-authoritarian animus against obligation and restore obligation to its place in the existence of persons
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