Lectures on Philosophical Ethics

Lectures on Philosophical Ethics

Lectures on Philosophical Ethics

Lectures on Philosophical Ethics

Synopsis

This is the first English translation of Friedrich Schleiermacher's mature ethical theory. Situated between the better-known positions of Kant and Hegel, Schleiermacher's ethics represent an under-explored option within the rich and creative tradition of German idealism. Although Schleiermacher is known to English readers primarily as a theologian and hermeneuticist, many German scholars have argued that his philosophical work in ethics constitutes his most outstanding intellectual achievement. This edition includes an historical and philosophical introduction and notes on further reading.

Excerpt

Friedrich Daniel Ernst Schleiermacher (1768–1834) – father of modern liberal theology, founder of modern hermeneutics, translator of Plato into German, co-founder (with Wilhelm von Humboldt) of the University of Berlin, and early advocate of civil rights for both women and Jews – was clearly a man of many talents and interests. But over the years a number of German scholar shaveargued that it is in fact Schleier macher' sphilosophical work in ethics that constitutes his most outstanding achievement. For instance, August Twesten, Schleiermacher's student and later successor at the University of Berlin, claimed in 1869 that Schleiermacher's ethics was “in truth the key to understanding all of his scientific works. ” And Otto Braun, in the Foreword to his 1910 German edition of Schleiermacher's works, summarized his criterion of selection by stating that “ethics is the crux of Schleiermacher's philosophy; all of the writings belonging to ethics therefore form the foundation of the edition. ” Hans-Joachim Birkner, founding editor of the more recent (and still incomplete)Kritische Gesamtausgabe (critical edition) of Schleiermacher and German editor of the ethics lectures translated below, begins his discussion of Schleiermacher's ethics by proclaiming that “without a doubt, Schleiermacher's philosophical ethics represents his most important achievement, and in the history of ethics constitutes a completely original project. ” Finally, Gunter Scholtz, in a more recent study, argues that Schleiermacher's ethics, in comparison with all other areas of his work, “has a far greater

I would like to thank the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine System for awarding me a 2001–2 Trustee Professorship, which greatly facilitated my research on Schleiermacher's ethics. Thanks also to Karl Ameriks, Peter W. Foley, Patrick Frierson, and Daryl Morazzini for their comments on an earlier version of this Introduction.

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