The Ethical as a ‘Stage’ of Existence: Either/Or and Radical Choice
Though Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous authorship poses interpretive challenges, its ironical and humorous literary character does not make it impossible to develop from it an ethical theory. Readers of Kierkegaard must be wary of fashionable attempts to make Kierkegaard ‘postmodern’. They should avoid as well the temptation to understand the ethical life as a humanistic stance devoid of belief in God; Kierkegaard’s ethicists are actually pious believers who attend church regularly. Finally, Alasdair MacIntyre’s reading of Kierkegaard must also be resisted: Kierkegaard and the pseudonyms of Either/Or do not advocate a doctrine of radical choice, as MacIntyre claims. Instead, the three spheres or stages are ranked in the order that they are because the higher spheres realize the aims of the lower ones. The ethical life is not abandoned in one’s movement to the religious life; instead, it is fulfiled.
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