Lore Hühn

Der Tod - der Lehrmeister des Ernstes"?
Kierkegaards Rede "An einem Grabe" (1844/45)

Kierkegaard’s edifying discourse “At a Graveside” is the hermeneutical key to his concept of an indirect-maieutic ethics. This discourse contains Kierkegaard’s most striking analysis of death. Against the backdrop of his theory of “earnestness”, he highlights the immanence of death in life and within the individual’s relation to self, taking death’s presence as the grounding standard for what ought to be done in an ethical sense. Not only does Kierkegaard criticize the repression of death in modernity; he also attacks the tradition of ars moriendi that reduces death to life and thus falls short of death’s intractability and ultimacy. Following the positive philosophy of the late Schelling, Kierkegaard thus appears to be a precursor of modern existential philosophy (Rosenzweig, Jaspers). Existential ethics aims at an understanding of death’s intractability, which opens up the possibility of changing and reversing the individual’s relation to self and world.