'A Glorious Sun and a Bad Person'. Wittgenstein, Ethical Reflection and the Other

Philosophia 39 (2):207-223 (2011)
Most commentators working on Wittgenstein’s remarks on ethics note that he rejects the very possibility of traditional normative ethics, that is, a philosophically justified normative guide for right conduct. In this article, Wittgenstein’s view of ethical reflection as presented in his notebooks from 1936 to 1938 is investigated, and the question of whether it involves ethical guidance is addressed. In Wittgenstein’s remarks, we can identify three requirements inherent in ethical reflection. The first two is revealed in the realisation that ethical reflection presupposes both a clear understanding of oneself and a normative ideal of how one ought to live and reason. The third source of normativity springs from the fact that ethical reflection involves a relationship with the other, not as judge, but as example and addressee. In this way, ethical reflection is essentially relational. In the article, we unfold how these three normative sources figure in Wittgenstein’s remarks, especially how the third requirement, the relationship with the other, shows both a point of conversion and a difference between his view of ethics and religious faith. It will also be argued that even if Wittgenstein thus presents ethical reflection as a normatively guided activity, the content of the guidance is personal, springing solely from the reflecting individual
Keywords Wittgenstein  Diaries  Ethics  Ethical reflection  The other  Religion
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DOI 10.1007/s11406-010-9297-y
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Thomas Hurka (1993). Perfectionism. Oxford University Press.

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