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Workshop Existential Ethics

  • Lisa Foran
  • Gert-Jan van der Heiden
Wednesday 20 June 2018
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden

Existential Ethics with Kierkegaard, Heidegger and others

The Institute for Philosophy, Leiden University, is pleased to invite you to the workshop Existential Ethics with Kierkegaard, Heidegger and others, to be held in celebration of the dissertation by Karin Kustassoo, titled PATHS TOWARDS PHILOSOPHY. Søren Kierkegaard’s place in Martin Heidegger’s first Freiburg period lecture courses (1919-1923).
Note that the dissertation will be defended after the symposium.


The theme of this workshop is the relation between ethics and existence in the light of the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Heidegger. We seek to address three issues that arise within this relation. The first is the rapport between Kierkegaard and Heidegger in their interpretation of the term ‘existence’. Being an ‘existential philosopher’ may be the similarity between the two, but it is clear that Kierkegaard understands himself more as a religious writer, whereas Heidegger focuses on the possibilities of a methodical approach to the notion of existence through existential analysis.  The questions we seek to address in this area are:  what is the role of Kierkegaard in Heideggers development towards a methodical existential philosophy? What is the relation between Kierkegaard and Heidegger concerning ‘existence’? Where to find their similarities concerning ‘ways’ of doing philosophy?

Secondly, Heidegger and Kierkegaard seem to share an approach to ethics that could be characterised by the notion of an ‘ethics of authenticity’ (Charles Taylor). Here, ethics seems to be concentrated on the responsibility of the single individual and the figure of Abraham, unable to communicate about the good in Kierkegaards Fear and Trembling.
Questions we hope to address in this area are: how to relate ethics and existence in a meaningful way?and Hhow is ethics implied in existential philosophy? What room does the ethics of authenticity leave for an ethical stance towards others?

Thirdly, the development of existential ethics is an ongoing story. After Kierkegaard and Heidegger, thinkers as varied as De Beauvoir, Marcel, Levinas and Derrida, and possibly the early Arendt as a student of Heidegger, have made their contribution to this theme. Whether they were responding explicitly to Kierkegaard and Heidegger or not, the diverging ways in which existential ethics has been thought in the history of continental philosophy provides ample material for a rich discussion.


Lisa Foran

Dr. Lisa Foran

Lisa Foran lectures in European Philosophy at Newcastle University (UK). Her recent publications include Derrida, the Subject and the Other. Surviving, Translating and the Impossible (Palgrave Macmillan 2016) and the co-edited collection (with Rozemund Uljée) Heidegger, Levinas, Derrida: The Question of Difference (Springer 2016). Her research draws on phenomenology and hermeneutics to investigate the role of translation in ethical and political relations.

Prof. G.J. van der Heiden (Gert-Jan)

Prof. Dr. Gert-Jan van der Heiden

Gert-Jan van der Heiden is professor of Metaphysics at the Department of Philosophy of the Radboud University Nijmegen. He is a member of its Center for Contemporary European Philosophy. He mainly works on contemporary developments in metaphysics and hermeneutics and phenomenology. Since 2011, he is a member of the Young Academy of the Royal Dutch Academy for Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In 2012, he received together with Ben Vedder and Geurt Henk van Kooten a grant for the NWO-Free Competition program Overcoming the Faith-Reason Opposition: Pauline Pistis in Contemporary Philosophy.The research project has been concluded with the volume Saint Paul and Philosophy: The Consonance of Ancient and Modern Thought, Berlin, De Gruyter, 2017.