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Løgstrup's Unfulfillable Demand

Martin, WM (2017) 'Løgstrup's Unfulfillable Demand.' In: Stern, R and Fink, H, (eds.) What is Ethically Demanded: K.E. Løgstrup’s Philosophy of Moral Life. University of Notre Dame Press, 325 - 347. ISBN 978-0-268-10185-5

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In his pioneering work of moral phenomenology, K. E. Løgstrup offered a phenomenological articulation of a central moment of ethical life: the experience in which “one finds oneself with the life of another more-or-less in one’s hands” (cf. EF p. 58/ED p. 46). In such circumstances we encounter what Løgstrup calls simply the ethical demand. Løgstrup’s preferred formulation of the content of that demand is taken from the Bible: Love thy neighbor. This neighborly love is expressed in the form of spontaneous, selfless care for the other. We shall have occasion in what follows to return to the content that Løgstrup associates with the ethical demand, but my primary focus here is not its content but its distinctive modality. Løgstrup specifies that modality in a fourfold analysis: the ethical demand is radical, silent, one-sided, and unfulfillable. My concern in what follows will be with the fourth element in this analysis – or what I shall refer to simply as Løgstrup’s unfulfillability thesis. My discussion addresses three specific questions: (1) Is it coherent to suppose that the ethical demand is unfulfillable? (2) Why does Løgstrup hold that the ethical demand is unfulfillable? (3) What kind of response is appropriate in the face of an unfulfillable ethical demand?

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Nov 2017 10:33
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2018 22:38

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