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Chapter 7 - Moralized Religion: The Identity of the Good and the Divine

from Part II - Morality, Prudence, and Religion

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2022

Roe Fremstedal
Affiliation:
Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim
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Summary

Chapter 7 discusses the relation between ethics and religion in Kierkegaard’s signed and pseudonymous writings. It is shown that – despite appearances and despite influential commentators – religion cannot possibly conflict with ethics. There is not only strong textual evidence ruling out such conflict but also principled reasons, showing that there is no conceptual room for such conflict, since Kierkegaard is a Christian Platonist who identifies the good with the divine. Indeed, his account of religion is clearly moralized since he takes religion to concern practical questions of how to live morally. For Kierkegaard, religion thus entails ethics and vice versa, although we must distinguish between Christian and non-Christian variants of both. Still, he holds that the former can override the latter to some extent. But this does not involve any break with ethics (as such) or any moral exceptionalism that is beyond or above morality. Instead of suspending ethics, Kierkegaard stresses the overriding nature of morality, seeing what we ought to do all-things-considered as a specifically ethico-religious question. His position is therefore far less problematic than normally assumed.

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Kierkegaard on Self, Ethics, and Religion
Purity or Despair
, pp. 121 - 138
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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