The problem of spontaneous goodness: from Kierkegaard to Løgstrup

Continental Philosophy Review 49 (2):139-159 (2016)

Authors
Patrick Stokes
Deakin University
Abstract
Historically, Western philosophy has struggled to accommodate, or has simply denied, the moral value of spontaneous, non-reflective action. One important exception is in the work of K.E. Løgstrup, whose phenomenological ethics involves a claim that the ‘ethical demand’ of care for the other can only be realized through spontaneous assent to ‘sovereign expressions of life’ such as trust and mercy. Løgstrup attacks Kierkegaard for devaluing spontaneous moral action, but as I argue, Kierkegaard too offers an implicit view of spontaneous moral response as a regulative ideal. In attempting to articulate the model of character-formation that such an ethics requires, we can see both Løgstrup and Kierkegaard as engaging with an ancient problematic, running from Classical Daoism to medieval mysticism, of achieving spontaneity through purgation rather than edification—not building the subject up, but demolishing personality in order to become a conduit for a transcendent normativity.
Keywords Kierkegaard  Løgstrup  Spontaneity  Daoism  Wu-wei  Mysticism
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-016-9377-1
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References found in this work BETA

The Sources of Normativity.Christine Korsgaard - 1996 - Mind 106 (424):791-794.
The Way of the Wanton.J. David Velleman - 2008 - In Catriona Mackenzie & Kim Atkins (eds.), Practical Identity and Narrative Agency. Routledge.
Christian Hate: Death, Dying, and Reason in Pascal and Kierkegaard.Adam Buben - 2011 - In Patrick Stokes & Adam Buben (eds.), Kierkegaard and Death. Indiana University Press.

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