Immediate Certainty and the Morally Good: Luther, Kierkegaard and Cognitive Psychology

In Marius Timmann Mjaaland (ed.), The Reformation of Philosophy. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. pp. 109-118 (2020)
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I consider the relationship between the notion of certainty and the notion of a form of life. There are circumstances under which a feeling of certainty may become the ground for adopting a certain form of life. The forms of life I have in mind are those with a formal orientation towards the realization of the (morally) good for its own sake. The article proceeds in three steps: First I consider Luther’s certainty of salvation as a kind of inaugural (theological) reflection on what will be called immediate certainty as the basis for a form of life aiming at the realization of the morally good for its own sake. With reference to Kierkegaard’s “Either-Or” I then try to show that such an immediate certainty can also be considered as the ground of an ethical form of life without religious implications. With the help of contemporary cognitive psychology I will finally propose an explanation of such a certainty as one that we experience because of our universal cognitive and conative constitution. The three steps amount to a universalization and naturalization of Luther’s certainty of salvation.



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Jörg Disse
Theologische Fakultät Fulda, Germany

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Vorrede.[author unknown] - 2018 - In Manuskripte Und Drucke Zur Deutschen Ideologie. De Gruyter. pp. 2-3.

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