Henning Nörenberg

Existenzphilosophie als Ontologie moralischer Phänomene?

In my paper I wish to discuss the following theses about existential philosophy and ethics:

1) Existential philosophy is projecting a phenomenological ontology considering the human self as its object: This philosophy’s program is to render man’s facticity or being-in-the-world ontologically transparent with regard to its “origin”. According to this program, it would be impossible to explicate irreducible phenomena like understanding of the world, anxiety, temporality, or the historical, but of course also phenomena with a special relevance to man’s morality like being with others, truth or conscience without recurring to the particular ontology of the self. Even more, the constitution of the self would have to have a certain priority in order to explicate these phenomena’s origin.

2) The ontology of the self reveals a certain claim or pretention the self is exposed to: As Kierkegaard tries to show on the first pages of Sickness unto Death, a person cannot withdraw from the concrete conditions concerning her life. Even more, she cannot withdraw from relating to these concrete conditions. According to existential philosophy, it is this fact of freedom that all phenomena of man’s being-in-the-world are grounded in.

3) Existential philosophy proposes a conscious or rather a responsible handling of that fact of freedom as a more or less explicit ethical norm. The question is which arguments are offered in order to account for this claim. Why handling one’s own “origin” in a responsible way, why becoming a self instead of declining to the “They”?

4) A last question is, if and how an ontological transparency of existential phenomena can have any practical effect with regard to the being in the world with others. As the existential analysis does ground the ethical claim within the structure of the self it has often been objected that this strategy contained a strong tendency to solipsism which might be dissatisfying with regard to ethics.