The Ethical context of Either/Or

Konturen 7 (2015)
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Abstract

In an earlier paper I argued that J.G. Fichte (rather than Kant or Hegel or some amalgam) was the primary historical model for the ethical standpoint described in Kierkegaard’s Either/Or II . There I offered a list of reasons for thinking that Hegel was less important than some believed and that Kierkegaard addressed Kantianism largely in its Fichtean form. In the interim I have discovered another reason to add to that list: as it happens, there was a quite general consensus among philosophers in the 1830s, ’40s and ’50s not just that Fichte’s ethics was Kantian ethics in its most perfect form, but even that it was the best example available of normative ethics on a philosophical (rather than a religious) foundation. So Kierkegaard’s use of Fichte as a foil was the perfectly obvious choice in the context. That is a curious fact, given the complete obscurity of Fichte’s ethics today, and one whose interest should not be confined to Kierkegaard scholars.

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Michelle Kosch
Cornell University

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Kierkegaard.Michelle Kosch - 2015 - In Michael Forster Kristin Gjesdal (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of 19th century Philosophy. Oxford University Press.

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