Research Repository

Between Action and Suffering: Kierkegaard on Ambiguous Guilt

Watts, Daniel (2021) 'Between Action and Suffering: Kierkegaard on Ambiguous Guilt.' International Journal on Humanistic Ideology, XI (1). pp. 169-198.

[img] Text
Watts proofread.pdf - Accepted Version
Restricted to Repository staff only until 1 April 2023.

Download (184kB) | Request a copy


I draw out from Kierkegaard’s work a critical perspective on evaluative frameworks that rely on a sharp distinction between agents and patients. In this perspective, human lives are shaped by complex entanglements of actions and sufferings. By abstracting away from this complexity, the agent/patient dichotomy occludes important ethical phenomena. I focus here on one such phenomenon: ‘ambiguous guilt’. Ambiguous guilt arises from interdependencies between how individuals are passively formed, through what they suffer, and how they are actively formed as agents, through what they do. With reference both to the aesthetic perspective of tragic drama and also the religious idea of human sinfulness, I show how Kierkegaard’s work makes a case for our need for evaluative frameworks that remain properly responsive to experiences of ambiguous guilt.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special issue on the Humanistic and Literary Inheritance of Kierkegaard
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kierkegaard; tragedy; guilt; moral luck; agency; responsibility; complicity; sin
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2021 13:25
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:19

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item