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Exemplarity, an untimely proposal of meaning put to the test of trust. An analysis from Bergson and Scheler

Maria Teresa Russo


The paper explores the category of exemplarity of which trust is an essential element, analysing it within its function of epistemic authority, hence in its trustworthiness and reliability, as well as a force generating trusting relationship, which create authentic social transformation, while encouraging the break of conformism and attachment to the own group. As essential need of human being, trust may, however, be declined in surrogates which produce forms of exclusive social cohesion, where reassurance is sought in expulsion of the stranger or even in war. Also, trust in an exemplar is not free from ambiguity, unless it is reported to objectivity of values witnessed by that exemplar: hence its “untopicality” within a relativistic context. The thought of Bergson on the closed society, in which trusting bonds are transfigured by some exemplary personalities, is compared with the reflection – a few years earlier – of Scheler on the exemplars “bearers of values”. Extremely actual considerations in sight of the recent “Exemplarist ethics” suggested by Zagbeski as alternative to eudaimonistic and normative ethics.


trust; exemplarity; Bergson; Scheler; Zagbeski;

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