Vincent McCarthy

The Ethics of Authenticity: Kierkegaard and Heidegger

While the theme of recovery and self-actualization are central in the works of both Kierkegaard and Heidegger, both have been faulted for a lack of a social ethics and been criticized for a view of individuality and individual self-realization that seems distorted in the absence of such a social ethics.

Yet not a few assert that there is the basis for a social ethics in both authors, that the elements thereof are indeed present, even partially developed, and add in defense of both philosophers that a social ethics is not their declared program, any more than a systematic philosophy is.

If one can argue that the Delphic "Know the Self" is also a command to "Become the Self", then a moral imperative to do so is clearly implied in the works of both authors. Even without this, the ethico-religious imperative to become a self is clearly present in Kierkegaard's Sickness Unto Death and even implied in its sub-title, perhaps less so in Heidegger who copied him in so much but not in this.