Beyond the Ethical Demand

University of Notre Dame Press (2007)

The Danish theologian-philosopher K. E. Løgstrup is second in reputation in his homeland only to Søren Kierkegaard. He is best known outside Europe for his _The Ethical Demand_, first published in Danish in 1956 and published in an expanded English translation in 1997. _Beyond the Ethical Demand_ contains excerpts, translated into English for the first time, from the numerous books and essays Løgstrup continued to write throughout his life. In the first essay, he engages the critical response to _The Ethical Demand,_ clarifying, elaborating, or defending his original positions. In the next three essays, he extends his contention that human ethics “demands” that we are concerned for the other by introducing the crucial concept of “sovereign expressions of life.” Like Levinas, Løgstrup saw in the phenomenon of “the other” the ground for his ethics. In his later works he developed this concept of “the sovereign expressions of life,” spontaneous phenomena such as trust, mercy, and sincerity that are inherently other-regarding. The last two essays connect his ethics with political life. Interest in Løgstrup in the English-speaking academic community continues to grow, and these important original sources will be essential tools for scholars exploring the further implications of his ethics and phenomenology. “K. E. Løgstrup’s work undoubtedly made in his time an original contribution to the field of moral philosophy and philosophy of religion. This translation makes extracts from his later publications on moral philosophy accessible to an English-speaking audience. I am again impressed by the depth of his ideas, which are certainly not outdated and still relevant for contemporary debates in moral philosophy.” —_Bert Musschenga, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam _ “Making a large part of Knud Løgstrup’s legacy accessible to the English-speaking public is an event of enormous cultural, philosophical and political importance—and we are all in debt to his disciple, Kies van Kooten Niekerk, and the University Press of Notre Dame, for making it happen. Løgstrup, alongside few other giants of 20th Century ethical thought, like Emmanuel Levinas or Hans Jonas, anticipated and articulated all the major challenges and urgent tasks with which the coming century is likely to confront the moral self. Our ethical discourse was all the poorer so far for being barred access to his findings and proposition. This will no longer be the case.” —_Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus, University of Leeds_ “The publication of an English translation of Knut Eljert Løgstrup's later works in ethics provides a wider readership with the opportunity to better understand his important contribution to ethics in the second half of the last century. With his notion of the _Sovereign Expressions of Life_ Løgstrup articulates his rejection of moral atomism that has become influential in recent times. The introduction and annotation by Kees van Kooten Niekerk are very helpful to see how Løgstrup's thought developed beyond _The Ethical Demand.” —__Hans S. Reinders, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam_
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