Max Scheler On the “Order of Love” (Part 2)

In Dignity of the Person, Friendship on October 1, 2012 at 7:11 am


Max Scheler uses one of Pascal’s theses on love as a philosophical foundation for his idea of “ordo amoris.”  Pascal’s famous quote is “Le coeur a ses raisons, que la raison ne connaît point,” (The heart has reasons that reason does not know). Scheler says, “The heart is itself a structured counter-image of the cosmos of all possible things worthy of love; to this extent it is a microcosmos of the world of values.” (Selected Philosophical Essays Max Scheler. Ed. John Wild et al., Northwestern University Press: 1973, p.116) It is only through the heart that we understand the true meaning of the person and the person’s place in the universe, the meaning of the universe itself and where he finds himself in relation to God.  Scheler believes Pascal’s point to be that the mind formulates its reasons, but so too does the heart formulate its own reasoning, its own understanding, both are autonomous, but the heart’s reasons are based upon moral values not strict logic.

Scheler says that if you have the ordo amoris of a person, you understand the person, because within the parameters of his values paradigm, there is a range of his behavior which he is wont to follow.   Scheler says, “Where his ‘heart’ is attached, there for him, is the ‘core’ of the so-called essence of things…His actual ethos, that is, the rules of his value-preference and value-depreciation, defines the structure and content of his world-view and of his knowledge and thought of the world…This is true of individuals and of races, of nations, of cultural circles, of peoples and families, of parties, of classes, of castes and of professions.”(p.111)  The ordo amoris is transcultural, everyone universally experiences value instantiation in their life from their culture and this is the window out of which they view the world.  Scheler continues, “Within the world-order which is valid for all men, every particular form of the human is assigned some definite range of value-qualities.  Only the harmony of these, their fitting together in the structure of common world-culture, can display the greatness and expanse of the human spirit.”(p.111) Scheler seems to be saying that each culture has a series or system of values that it emphasizes, and taken aggregately, the whole of the world’s mix of cultures creates a tapestry of the one world’s soul, this is the world’s spiritual magnanimity.  Somehow if awareness of this commonality is promulgated successfully, then the world will experience greater peace.

How about the ordo amoris at the personal level?  What if we don’t want others to depend on us or us on them?  Well, that’s not going to work according to Scheler, it simply isn’t reality.  Scheler emphasizes the fact that as persons, we are all intimately interdependent upon each other, not just for resources and community life, but even to the point of influencing each other’s individual eternal salvation.  In other words, from a spirit perspective, Scheler says that not only is there a macrocosmic universe that God is ordering based upon love, but that each individual person’s destiny is tied to all other persons.  If each person’s life is a universe and mystery unto himself, and each person’s individual destiny is a story of salvation, then the billions upon billions of persons who make up the history of humanity from Adam and Eve to the last person at the end of human history and beyond into the afterlife of eternity, all people constitute the central part of the macrocosmic drama of salvation history, or Time, into Eternity.  With this in mind, we all have a duty to serve the interests not only of our own salvation but that of all others persons we come in contact with everyday of our lives.  Our life experience with another person is part of that individual’s salvation history which is directly tied to the macrocosmic end of the universe and eternity.   No act is small when it is done out of love because it is an integral part of all of the ordo amoris.

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