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Ethical Demand

The Ethical Demand

Knud Ejler Løgstrup, Edited by Hans Fink

Knud Ejler Løgstrup’s The Ethical Demand is the most original influential Danish contribution to moral philosophy in this century. This is the first time that the complete text has been available in English translation. Originally published in 1956, it has again become the subject of widespread interest in Europe, now read in the context of the whole of Løgstrup’s work.

The Ethical Demand marks a break not only with utilitarianism and with Kantianism but also with Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism and with all forms of subjectivism. Yet Løgstrup’s project is not destructive. Rather, it is a presentation of an alternative understanding of interpersonal life. The ethical demand presupposes that all interaction between human beings involves a basic trust. Its content cannot be derived from any rule. For Løgstrup, there is not Christian morality and secular morality. There is only human morality.

The Ethical Demand is of the highest relevance to contemporary debate, especially around those issues raised by Levinas. It will exert a steadily increasing influence both in theology and philosophy.

ISBN: 978-0-268-00934-2
344 pages
Publication Year: 1997

Knud Ejler Løgstrup was born in Copenhagen in 1905; he studied philosophy and theology in Denmark, France, Germany, and Austria. In 1943, he became Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Aarhus, where he worked until his retirement in 1975. Two of the four volumes of his major work on metaphysics were published only after his death in 1981.

“This is highly original and rewarding, if difficult, treatise on moral philosophy. Løgstrup, in the same general tradition as Kant whom he criticizes severely, gives a philosophical account of the commandment to love the neighbor as the basis of ethics. Løgstrup’s version of the moral imperative, or ‘ethical demand,’ is ontological: it is the silent, radical, one-sided, impossible, unarticulated, and anonymous demand that ‘we take care of the life which trust has placed into our hands.’ . . . A revised and expanded version, with a helpful introduction, of a 1971 edition, this edition includes both the final chapter, a polemic against Kierkegaard’s Works of Love, and an article attacking teleology and deontology. The critique of Kierkegaard is particularly incisive. . . .” — Religious Studies Review

“. . . The volume is a useful introduction to the work of a very insightful heart and mind. Indeed, The Ethical Demand is one of those rare books that can inspire readers to moral virtue. . . . English readers are in the considerable debt of Fink, MacIntyre, Hauerwas, and Notre Dame Press for making Løgstrup’s magisterial work again available in translation. It is an exercise in attention, a schooling of empathy, that deserves to be much more widely read and responded to.” — Modern Theology

“Løgstrup’s intent—to reach the secular world with the message of Jesus—is a contemporary issue of vital importance. . . . [This] is a work most likely to be appreciated by scholars and advanced students in philosophy and theology.”
Catholic Library World

P01193

Beyond the Ethical Demand

K. E. LøgstrupIntroduction by Kees van Kooten Niekerk

P03345

Disarming Beauty

Essays on Faith, Truth, and Freedom

Julián Carrón

P03098

Patristics and Catholic Social Thought

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Brian Matz

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Preferential Option for the Poor beyond Theology


Edited by Daniel G. Groody and Gustavo Gutiérrez

The Ethical Demand

Knud Ejler Løgstrup,
Edited by Hans Fink

The Ethical Demand
Paper Edition

Knud Ejler Løgstrup’s The Ethical Demand is the most original influential Danish contribution to moral philosophy in this century. This is the first time that the complete text has been available in English translation. Originally published in 1956, it has again become the subject of widespread interest in Europe, now read in the context of the whole of Løgstrup’s work.

The Ethical Demand marks a break not only with utilitarianism and with Kantianism but also with Kierkegaard’s Christian existentialism and with all forms of subjectivism. Yet Løgstrup’s project is not destructive. Rather, it is a presentation of an alternative understanding of interpersonal life. The ethical demand presupposes that all interaction between human beings involves a basic trust. Its content cannot be derived from any rule. For Løgstrup, there is not Christian morality and secular morality. There is only human morality.

The Ethical Demand is of the highest relevance to contemporary debate, especially around those issues raised by Levinas. It will exert a steadily increasing influence both in theology and philosophy.

ISBN: 978-0-268-00934-2

344 pages

“This is highly original and rewarding, if difficult, treatise on moral philosophy. Løgstrup, in the same general tradition as Kant whom he criticizes severely, gives a philosophical account of the commandment to love the neighbor as the basis of ethics. Løgstrup’s version of the moral imperative, or ‘ethical demand,’ is ontological: it is the silent, radical, one-sided, impossible, unarticulated, and anonymous demand that ‘we take care of the life which trust has placed into our hands.’ . . . A revised and expanded version, with a helpful introduction, of a 1971 edition, this edition includes both the final chapter, a polemic against Kierkegaard’s Works of Love, and an article attacking teleology and deontology. The critique of Kierkegaard is particularly incisive. . . .” — Religious Studies Review

“. . . The volume is a useful introduction to the work of a very insightful heart and mind. Indeed, The Ethical Demand is one of those rare books that can inspire readers to moral virtue. . . . English readers are in the considerable debt of Fink, MacIntyre, Hauerwas, and Notre Dame Press for making Løgstrup’s magisterial work again available in translation. It is an exercise in attention, a schooling of empathy, that deserves to be much more widely read and responded to.” — Modern Theology

“Løgstrup’s intent—to reach the secular world with the message of Jesus—is a contemporary issue of vital importance. . . . [This] is a work most likely to be appreciated by scholars and advanced students in philosophy and theology.”
Catholic Library World

Revisions: A Series of Books on Ethics