K. E. LøgstrupIntroduction by Kees van Kooten Niekerk
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.
“Making a large part of Knud Løgstrup’s legacy accessible to the English-speaking public is an event of enormous cultural, philosophical and political importance—and we are all in debt to his disciple, Kies van Kooten Niekerk, and the University Press of Notre Dame, for making it happen. Løgstrup, alongside few other giants of 20th Century ethical thought, like Emmanuel Levinas or Hans Jonas, anticipated and articulated all the major challenges and urgent tasks with which the coming century is likely to confront the moral self. Our ethical discourse was all the poorer so far for being barred access to his findings and proposition. This will no longer be the case.” —Zygmunt Bauman, emeritus, University of Leeds
“The publication of an English translation of Knut Eljert Løgstrup’s later works in ethics provides a wider readership with the opportunity to better understand his important contribution to ethics in the second half of the last century. With his notion of the Sovereign Expressions of Life Løgstrup articulates his rejection of moral atomism that has become influential in recent times. The introduction and annotation by Kees van Kooten Niekerk are very helpful to see how Løgstrup’s thought developed beyond The Ethical Demand."
—Hans S. Reinders, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam
“This collection of essays by the late Danish philosopher and theologian Logstrup presents his theory of using phenomenology in understanding our ethical decisions. According to Logstrup, phenomenology not only provides an understanding of human existence but also of ethics, through examination of the phenomena of ethical concepts. . . . These essays will be valuable to scholars and students in philosophy and ethics.” — Library Journal
“. . . The University of Notre Dame Press is to be congratulated for publishing . . . [this book] . . . as well as The Ethical Demand. . . . Løgstrup’s work remains mostly unknown among Anglophone moral philosophers. It is, however, filled with significant moral psychological and ethical insights. Løgstrup is especially incisive in noting and analyzing matters of moral phenomenology, and the overall thrust of his view has great interest as well. Moreover, . . . Løgstrup was himself engaged with mid-twentieth-century British moral philosophers like Nowell-Smith and Hare. Twenty-first-century Anglophone ethical philosophy would engage him to its profit.” — Notre Dame Philosophical Review