The Ethical Demand in Societal Perspective: Zygmunt Bauman’s Sociological Interpretation of the Danish Philosopher K. E. Løgstrup’s Moral Philosophy

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    Zygmunt Bauman’s entire body of work has been dedicated to exploring sociological issues. However, problems of moral philosophy have come to play an increasingly crucial role for his understanding of social life in later works. In particular, the Danish philosopher Knud Ejler Løgstrup’s moral philosophy has shaped Bauman’s thinking. Løgstrup argued that there is an unconditional imperative in the ethical demand to take care of the Other, and this imperative cannot be superseded, rationalized, calculated, or strategically managed. Bauman is right in telling us that the personal ethics is the point of departure for a moral judgement. In this context it is very relevant to integrate Levinas’ and Løgstrup’s considerations. However, this perspective cannot stand alone. It is necessary to move forward to a form of Habermasian communicative ethics that can transmit the substantial moral judgement from a spontaneous communal perspective to a pragmatic societal perspective expressed in political terms. In other words, both perspectives are essential: on the one hand Bauman’s, Levinas’ and Løgstrup’s substantial phenomenological perspective, on the other hand Habermas’ pragmatic communicative perspective. Therefore, it would be more fruitful to consider these two perspectives as complementary instead of as in opposition, as is mostly done. They are both needed.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPhilosophy & Social Criticism
    Issue number6
    Pages (from-to)523-534
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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