Zitate von Max Scheler

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Max Scheler

Geburtstag: 22. August 1874
Todesdatum: 19. Mai 1928

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Max Ferdinand Scheler war ein deutscher Philosoph, Anthropologe und Soziologe.

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Zitate Max Scheler

„Thirst for revenge is the most important source of ressentiment. As we have seen, the very term “ressentiment” indicates that we have to do with reactions which presuppose the previous apprehension of another person's state of mind. The desire for revenge—in contrast with all active and aggressive impulses, be they friendly or hostile—is also such a reactive impulse. It is always preceded by an attack or an injury. Yet it must be clearly distinguished from the impulse for reprisals or self-defense, even when this reaction is accompanied by anger, fury, or indignation. If an animal bites its attacker, this cannot be called “revenge.” Nor does an immediate reprisal against a box on the ear fall under this heading. Revenge is distinguished by two essential characteristics. First of all, the immediate reactive impulse, with the accompanying emotions of anger and rage, is temporarily or at least momentarily checked and restrained, and the response is consequently postponed to a later time and to a more suitable occasion (“just wait till next time”). This blockage is caused by the reflection that an immediate reaction would lead to defeat, and by a concomitant pronounced feeling of “inability” and “impotence.” Thus even revenge as such, based as it is upon an experience of impotence, is always primarily a matter of those who are “weak” in some respect. Furthermore, it is of the essence of revenge that it always contains the *consciousness* of “tit for tat,” so that it is never a mere emotional reaction.“

—  Max Scheler

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„One cannot love anybody without turning away from oneself. However, the crucial question is whether this movement is prompted by the desire to turn toward a positive value, or whether the intention is a radical escape from oneself. “Love” of the second variety is inspired by self-hatred, by hatred of one’s own weakness and misery. The mind is always on the point of departing for distant places. Afraid of seeing itself and its inferiority, it is driven to give itself to the other—not because of his worth, but merely for the sake of his “otherness.” Modern philosophical jargon has found a revealing term for this phenomenon, one of the many modern substitutes for love: “altruism.” This love is not directed at a previously discovered positive value, nor does any such value flash up in the act of loving: there is nothing but the urge to turn away from oneself and to lose oneself in other people’s business. We all know a certain type of man frequently found among socialists, suffragettes, and all people with an ever-ready “social conscience”— the kind of person whose social activity is quite clearly prompted by inability to keep his attention focused on himself, on his own tasks and problems. Looking away from oneself is here mistaken for love! Isn’t it abundantly clear that “altruism,” the interest in “others” and their lives, has nothing at all to do with love? The malicious or envious person also forgets his own interest, even his “preservation.” He only thinks about the other man’s feelings, about the harm and the suffering he inflicts on him. Conversely, there is a form of genuine “self-love” which has nothing at all to do with “egoism.” It is precisely the essential feature of egoism that it does not apprehend the full value of the isolated self. The egoist sees himself only with regard to the others, as a member of society who wishes to possess and acquire more than the others. Selfdirectedness or other-directedness have no essential bearing on the specific quality of love or hatred. These acts are different in themselves, quite independently of their direction.“

—  Max Scheler

„There are two fundamentally different ways for the strong to bend down to the weak, for the rich to help the poor, for the more perfect life to help the “less perfect.” This action can be motivated by a powerful feeling of security, strength, and inner salvation, of the invincible fullness of one’s own life and existence. All this unites into the clear awareness that one is rich enough to share one’s being and possessions. Love, sacrifice, help, the descent to the small and the weak, here spring from a spontaneous overflow of force, accompanied by bliss and deep inner calm. Compared to this natural readiness for love and sacrifice, all specific “egoism,” the concern for oneself and one’s interest, and even the instinct of “self-preservation” are signs of a blocked and weakened life. Life is essentially expansion, development, growth in plenitude, and not “self-preservation,” as a false doctrine has it. Development, expansion, and growth are not epiphenomena of mere preservative forces and cannot be reduced to the preservation of the “better adapted.” … There is a form of sacrifice which is a free renunciation of one’s own vital abundance, a beautiful and natural overflow of one’s forces. Every living being has a natural instinct of sympathy for other living beings, which increases with their proximity and similarity to himself. Thus we sacrifice ourselves for beings with whom we feel united and solidary, in contrast to everything “dead.” This sacrificial impulse is by no means a later acquisition of life, derived from originally egoistic urges. It is an original component of life and precedes all those particular “aims” and “goals” which calculation, intelligence, and reflection impose upon it later. We have an urge to sacrifice before we ever know why, for what, and for whom! Jesus’ view of nature and life, which sometimes shines through his speeches and parables in fragments and hidden allusions, shows quite clearly that he understood this fact. When he tells us not to worry about eating and drinking, it is not because he is indifferent to life and its preservation, but because he sees also a vital weakness in all “worrying” about the next day, in all concentration on one’s own physical well-being. … all voluntary concentration on one’s own bodily wellbeing, all worry and anxiety, hampers rather than furthers the creative force which instinctively and beneficently governs all life. … This kind of indifference to the external means of life (food, clothing, etc.) is not a sign of indifference to life and its value, but rather of a profound and secret confidence in life’s own vigor and of an inner security from the mechanical accidents which may befall it. A gay, light, bold, knightly indifference to external circumstances, drawn from the depth of life itself—that is the feeling which inspires these words! Egoism and fear of death are signs of a declining, sick, and broken life. …
This attitude is completely different from that of recent modern realism in art and literature, the exposure of social misery, the description of little people, the wallowing in the morbid—a typical ressentiment phenomenon. Those people saw something bug-like in everything that lives, whereas Francis sees the holiness of “life” even in a bug.“

—  Max Scheler
L. Coser, trans. (1961), pp. 88-92

„The “noble” person has a completely naïve and non-reflective awareness of his own value and of his fullness of being, an obscure conviction which enriches every conscious moment of his existence, as if he were autonomously rooted in the universe. This should not be mistaken for “pride.” Quite on the contrary, pride results from an experienced diminution of this “naive” self-confidence. It is a way of “holding on” to one’s value, of seizing and “preserving” it deliberately. The noble man’s naive self-confidence, which is as natural to him as tension is to the muscles, permits him calmly to assimilate the merits of others in all the fullness of their substance and configuration. He never “grudges” them their merits. On the contrary: he rejoices in their virtues and feels that they make the world more worthy of love. His naive self-confidence is by no means “compounded” of a series of positive valuations based on specific qualities, talents, and virtues: it is originally directed at his very essence and being. Therefore he can afford to admit that another person has certain “qualities” superior to his own or is more “gifted” in some respects—indeed in all respects. Such a conclusion does not diminish his naïve awareness of his own value, which needs no justification or proof by achievements or abilities. Achievements merely serve to confirm it. On the other hand, the “common” man (in the exact acceptation of the term) can only experience his value and that of another if he relates the two, and he clearly perceives only those qualities which constitute possible differences. The noble man experiences value prior to any comparison, the common man in and through a comparison. For the latter, the relation is the selective precondition for apprehending any value. Every value is a relative thing, “higher” or “lower,” “more” or “less” than his own. He arrives at value judgments by comparing himself to others and others to himself.“

—  Max Scheler
L. Coser, trans. (1973), pp. 54-55

„"Another situation generally exposed to ressentiment danger is the older generation's relation with the younger. The process of aging can only be fruitful and satisfactory if the important transitions are accompanied by free resignation, by the renunciation of the values proper to the preceding stage of life. Those spiritual and intellectual values which remain untouched by the process of aging, together with the values of the next stage of life, must compensate for what has been lost. Only if this happens can we cheerfully relive the values of our past in memory, without envy for the young to whom they are still accessible. If we cannot compensate, we avoid and flee the “tormenting” recollection of youth, thus blocking our possibilities of understanding younger people. At the same time we tend to negate the specific values of earlier stages. No wonder that youth always has a hard fight to sustain against the ressentiment of the older generation. Yet this source of ressentiment is also subject to an important historical variation. In the earliest stages of civilization, old age as such is so highly honored and respected for its experience that ressentiment has hardly any chance to develop. But education spreads through printing and other modern media and increasingly replaces the advantage of experience. Younger people displace the old from their positions and professions and push them into the defensive. As the pace of “progress” increases in all fields, and as the changes of fashion tend to affect even the higher domains (such as art and science), the old can no longer keep up with their juniors. “Novelty‟ becomes an ever greater value. This is doubly true when the generation as such is seized by an intense lust for life, and when the generations compete with each other instead of cooperating for the creation of works which outlast them. “Every cathedral,” Werner Sombart writes, “every monastery, every town hall, every castle of the Middle Ages bears testimony to the transcendence of the individual's span of life: its completion spans generations which thought that they lived for ever. Only when the individual cut himself loose from the community which outlasted him, did the duration of his personal life become his standard of happiness.” Therefore buildings are constructed ever more hastily—Sombart cites a number of examples. A corresponding phenomenon is the ever more rapid alternation of political regimes which goes hand in hand with the progression of the democratic movement. But every change of government, every parliamentary change of party domination leaves a remnant of absolute opposition against the values of the new ruling group. This opposition is spent in ressentiment the more the losing group feels unable to return to power. The “retired official” with his followers is a typical ressentiment figure. Even a man like Bismarck did not entirely escape from this danger."“

—  Max Scheler

„Impulses of revenge lead to ressentiment the more they change into actual *vindictiveness*, the more their direction shifts toward indeterminate groups of objects which need only share one common characteristic, and the less they are satisfied by vengeance taken on a specific object. If the desire for revenge remains permanently unsatisfied, and especially if the feeling of “being right (lacking in an outburst of rage, but an integral part of revenge) is intensified into the idea of a “duty,” the individual may actually wither away and die. The vindictive person is instinctively and without a conscious act of volition drawn toward events which may give rise to vengefulness, or he tends to see injurious intentions in all kinds of perfectly innocent actions and remarks of others. Great touchiness is indeed frequently a symptom of a vengeful character. The vindictive person is always in search of objects, and in fact he attacks—in the belief that he is simply wreaking vengeance. This vengeance restores his damaged feeling of personal value, his injured “honor,” or it brings “satisfaction” for the wrongs he has endured. When it is repressed, vindictiveness leads to ressentiment, a process which is intensified when the *imagination* of vengeance, too, is repressed—and finally the very emotion of revenge itself. Only then does this *state of mind* become associated with the tendency to detract from the other person's value, which brings an illusory easing of the tension."“

—  Max Scheler

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„Yet all this is not ressentiment. These are only stages in the development of its sources. Revenge, envy, the impulse to detract, spite, *Schadenfreude*, and malice lead to ressentiment only if there occurs neither a moral self-conquest (such as genuine forgiveness in the case of revenge) nor an act or some other adequate expression of emotion (such as verbal abuse or shaking one's fist), and if this restraint is caused by a pronounced awareness of impotence. There will be no ressentiment if he who thirsts for revenge really acts and avenges himself, if he who is consumed by hatred harms his enemy, gives him “a piece of his mind,” or even merely vents his spleen in the presence of others. Nor will the envious fall under the dominion of ressentiment if he seeks to acquire the envied possession by means of work, barter, crime, or violence. Ressentiment can only arise if these emotions are particularly powerful and yet must be suppressed because they are coupled with the feeling that one is unable to act them out—either because of weakness, physical or mental, or because of fear. Through its very origin, ressentiment is therefore chiefly confined to those who serve and are dominated at the moment, who fruitlessly resent the sting of authority. When it occurs elsewhere, it is either due to psychological contagion—and the spiritual venom of ressentiment is extremely contagious—or to the violent suppression of an impulse which subsequently revolts by “embittering” and “poisoning” the personality. If an ill-treated servant can vent his spleen in the antechamber, he will remain free from the inner venom of ressentiment, but it will engulf him if he must hide his feelings and keep his negative and hostile emotions to himself.“

—  Max Scheler

„But this instinctive falsification of the world view is only of limited effectiveness. Again and again the ressentiment man encounters happiness, power, beauty, wit, goodness, and other phenomena of positive life. They exist and impose themselves, however much he may shake his fist against them and try to explain them away. He cannot escape the tormenting conflict between desire and impotence. Averting his eyes is sometimes impossible and in the long run ineffective. When such a quality irresistibly forces itself upon his attention, the very sight suffices to produce an impulse of hatred against its bearer, who has never harmed or insulted him. Dwarfs and cripples, who already feel humiliated by the outward appearance of the others, often show this peculiar hatred—this hyena-like and ever-ready ferocity. Precisely because this kind of hostility is not caused by the “enemy's” actions and behavior, it is deeper and more irreconcilable than any other. It is not directed against transitory attributes, but against the other person's very essence and being. Goethe has this type of “enemy” in mind when he writes: “Why complain about enemies?—Could those become your friends—To whom your very existence—Is an eternal silent reproach?” (West-Eastern Divan). The very existence of this “being,” his mere appearance, becomes a silent, unadmitted “reproach.” Other disputes can be settled, but not this! Goethe knew, for his rich and great existence was the ideal target of ressentiment. His very appearance was bound to make the poison flow.“

—  Max Scheler

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„These two characteristics make revenge the most suitable source for the formation of ressentiment. The nuances of language are precise. There is a progression of feeling which starts with revenge and runs via rancor, envy, and impulse to detract all the way to spite, coming close to ressentiment. Usually, revenge and envy still have specific objects. They do not arise without special reasons and are directed against definite objects, so that they do not outlast their motives. The desire for revenge disappears when vengeance has been taken, when the person against whom it was directed has been punished or has punished himself, or when one truly forgives him. In the same way, envy vanishes when the envied possession becomes ours. The impulse to detract, however, is not in the same sense tied to definite objects—it does not arise through specific causes with which it disappears. On the contrary, this affect seeks those objects, those aspects of men and things, from which it can draw gratification. It likes to disparage and to smash pedestals, to dwell on the negative aspects of excellent men and things, exulting in the fact that such faults are more perceptible through their contrast with the strongly positive qualities. Thus there is set a fixed pattern of experience which can accommodate the most diverse contents. This form or structure fashions each concrete experience of life and selects it from possible experiences. The impulse to detract, therefore, is no mere result of such an experience, and the experience will arise regardless of considerations whether its object could in any way, directly or indirectly, further or hamper the individual concerned. In “spite,” this impulse has become even more profound and deep-seated—it is, as it were, always ready to burst forth and to betray itself in an unbridled gesture, a way of smiling, etc. An analogous road leads from simple *Schadenfreude* to “malice.” The latter, more detached than the former from definite objects, tries to bring about ever new opportunities for *Schadenfreude*.“

—  Max Scheler

„There is usually no ressentiment just where a superficial view would look for it first: in the criminal. The criminal is essentially an active type. Instead of repressing hatred, revenge, envy, and greed, he releases them in crime. Ressentiment is a basic impulse only in the crimes of spite. These are crimes which require only a minimum of action and risk and from which the criminal draws no advantage, since they are inspired by nothing but the desire to do harm. The arsonist is the purest type in point, provided that he is not motivated by the pathological urge of watching fire (a rare case) or by the wish to collect insurance. Criminals of this type strangely resemble each other. Usually they are quiet, taciturn, shy, quite settled and hostile to all alcoholic or other excesses. Their criminal act is nearly always a sudden outburst of impulses of revenge or envy which have been repressed for years. A typical cause would be the continual deflation of one's ego by the constant sight of the neighbor's rich and beautiful farm. Certain expressions of class ressentiment, which have lately been on the increase, also fall under this heading. I mention a crime committed near Berlin in 1912: in the darkness, the criminal stretched a wire between two trees across the road, so that the heads of passing automobilists would be shorn off. This is a typical case of ressentiment, for any car driver or passenger at all could be the victim, and there is no interested motive. Also in cases of slander and defamation of character, ressentiment often plays a major role...“

—  Max Scheler

„"This law of the release of tension through illusory valuation gains new significance, full of infinite consequences, for the ressentiment attitude. To its very core, the mind of ressentiment man is filled with envy, the impulse to detract, malice, and secret vindictiveness. These affects have become fixed attitudes, detached from all determinate objects. Independently of his will, this man's attention will be instinctively drawn by all events which can set these affects in motion. The ressentiment attitude even plays a role in the formation of perceptions, expectations, and memories. It automatically selects those aspects of experience which can justify the factual application of this pattern of feeling. Therefore such phenomena as joy, splendor, power, happiness, fortune, and strength magically attract the man of ressentiment. He cannot pass by, he has to look at them, whether he “wants” to or not. But at the same time he wants to avert his eyes, for he is tormented by the craving to possess them and knows that his desire is vain. The first result of this inner process is a characteristic falsification of the world view. Regardless of what he observes, his world has a peculiar structure of emotional stress. The more the impulse to turn away from those positive values prevails, the more he turns without transition to their negative opposites, on which he concentrates increasingly. He has an urge to scold, to depreciate, to belittle whatever he can. Thus he involuntarily “slanders” life and the world in order to justify his inner pattern of value experience.“

—  Max Scheler

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