The role of identification in experiencing community
Edith Stein, empathy, and Max Scheler
Edith Stein consistently rejects the possibility that identification plays a constitutive role in the structure of community, whereas Max Scheler, though sympathetic to Stein's claims, admits that community does require a basic level of identification, but is in no way reducible to a complete union wherein the individual is absorbed by the collective, the I by the we. The latter position is exemplarily taken up by Stein's student Gerda Walther, who argues that the most intense form of community is an Einigung or Vereinigung, a becoming-one in which a we can overtake the I. I argue that Scheler's claim of a low-level identification as constitutive of community must be rejected, for although one may feel unified or as "one" with a group, the feeling itself cannot negate the larger phenomenological and fundamental reality of individuation while undergoing the feeling of identification. We can deploy Stein's understanding of the I and its embodiment to show how Scheler's claims about the role of identification in community, though identification may be experienced as Scheler says it is, still remains grounded within the sphere of an individual I: one can never absolutely transcend the sphere of ownness that is constitutive of who and what an individual person is. At best, one may temporarily lose focus of the sphere of ownness, which is always possible in the natural attitude or in intense emotional experiences, but these possibilities do not negate the phenomenological and fundamental principle of personal individuation that is characteristic of Stein's early work in phenomenology.
Calcagno, A. (2017)., The role of identification in experiencing community: Edith Stein, empathy, and Max Scheler, in E. Magrì & D. Moran (eds.), Empathy, sociality, and personhood, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 143-159.
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