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Beyond the Ethical Demand

K. E. Logstrup

Publication Year: 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.

Published by: University of Notre Dame Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

The idea of publishing an English translation of central texts from K. E. Løgstrup’s later ethical work arose at an international workshop organized by the Løgstrup Archive and held at the Sandbjerg Estate in Denmark from 8 to...

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pp. ix-xxxii

Over the last fifteen years a new interest in the ethics of the Danish theologian and philosopher K. E. Løgstrup1 has arisen in the Anglo-American world. Th is interest gave rise, among other things, to a new edition of his recognized book...

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1. Rejoinder

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pp. 1-48

The aim of the following pages is to consider some of the criticism that has been leveled against The Ethical Demand (1956). In doing so, I have chosen to disregard the shorter reviews, for although several of them off er interesting criticisms, they are not really written...

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2. The Sovereign Expressions of Life

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pp. 49-82

In Opgør med Kierkegaard (Controverting Kierkegaard), Løgstrup’s critical assessment of Kierkegaard’s understanding of Christian belief provides the context for his exposition of the notion of the sovereign expressions of life. These are formulated and elucidated in Part Three, which carries the...

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3. Sovereign Expressions of Life, the Golden Rule, Character Traits, and Norms

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pp. 83-122

At four o’clock in the morning there is an insistent ring at the door. When the woman descends the secret police are outside, demanding that she open up. Once inside, they ask for her husband. They are informed that, as it happens, he is not at home...

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4. Norms and Expressions of Life

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pp. 123-139

We are normally unaware of what it is that sustains us in our actions and enterprises. Initially, and for the most part, it is hidden, so preoccupied are we with the things we want to accomplish through our actions, so preoccupied are we with the goals...

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5. Politics and Ethics

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pp. 141-148

There are two different types of power. One is the immediate or strictly personal power that one person exercises over another. This is occasionally also referred to as psychological power. The underlying idea is that the life of one person is interwoven with that of another...

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6. Expressions of Life and Ideas

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pp. 149-165

If it is the spontaneous and sovereign expressions of life that engender ethics, any attempt to elucidate the relation between ethics and politics prompts the important question of how expressions of life relate to the social order. At first glance...


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pp. 167-173

E-ISBN-13: 9780268085735
E-ISBN-10: 0268085730
Print-ISBN-13: 9780268034078
Print-ISBN-10: 0268034079

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2007