A large focus of this examination is a look at interpersonal relationships as well as the ontology that is in play during these relationships, of which inter-subjectivity is a major theme. Inter-subjectivity is the study of how two individuals, subjects, whose experiences and interpretations of the world are radically different understand each other and relate to each other. Recently anthropology has begun to shift towards studies of inter-subjectivity and other existential/phenomenological themes. Studies of language have also gained new prominence in philosophy and sociology due to language's close ties with the question of inter-subjectivity.
Max Scheler, a German phenomenologist, is known for his highly developed philosophical anthropology which defines the human being not so much as a "rational animal" (as has traditionally been the case since Aristotle) but essentially as a loving being. He breaks down the traditional hylomorphic conception of the human person, and describes the personal being with a tripartite structure of lived body, soul, and spirit. Love and hatred are not psychological emotions, but spiritual, intentional acts of the person, which he categorises as "intentional feelings."
The academic Michael Jackson is another important philosophical anthropologist. His research and fieldwork concentrate on existential themes of "being in the world" (Dasein) as well as interpersonal relationships. His methodology challenges traditional anthropology due to its focus on first-person experience. In his most well known book, Minima Ethnographica which focuses on intersubjectivity and interpersonal relationships, he draws upon his ethnographic fieldwork in order to explore existential theory. In his latest book, Existential Anthropology, he explores the notion of control, stating that humans anthropmorphize inanimate objects around them in order to enter into an interpersonal relationship with them. In this way humans are able to feel as is they have control over situations that they cannot control because rather than treating the object as an object, they treat it as if it is a rational being capable of understanding their feelings and language. Good examples are prayer to gods to alleviate drought or to help a sick person or cursing at a computer that has ceased to function.
Other important philosophical anthropologists are Soren Kierkegaard, Rene Girard, Ernst Cassirer, Helmuth Plessner, Arnold Gehlen, Paul Häberlin, Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Pierre Bourdieu, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Jaques Derrida, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, Martin Buber, Eric Voegelin, Hans Jonas, and Hans-Eduard Hengstenberg.