Formalism in Ethics and Non-Formal Ethics of Value [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 27 (4):813-814 (1974)
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Abstract

One can only look with favor upon the appearance of the English translation of this tremendously important work in the history of ethical theory in twentieth century European philosophy. We are also fortunate to have in Manfred Frings both the general editor of the German edition of the collected works of Scheler and a skillful translator of this significant work. In this work, Scheler hopes to mediate between Kant’s empty formalism and ethical relativism by developing an absolutistic ethics which nonetheless does not focus on mere "duty" but on a definite moral "content". In the absence of an adjectival form for "content," Frings and Funk have decided to translate "die materiale Wertethik" by "non-formal ethics of values." Such an ethics centers on the absolute value of persons; thus the subtitle of the work: "A New Attempt toward the Foundation of an Ethical Personalism." Scheler’s method in this work is, as is well known, "phenomenological," i.e., concerned with intuiting the essence or absolute being of ethical values. There is a helpful bibliography, an index of names, and a detailed index of subjects.—J.D.C.

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