The Self as a Center of Ethical Gravity: A Constructive Dialogue Between Søren Kierkegaard and George Herbert Mead

Christian Hjortkjær and Søren Willert

Abstract

This paper examines the striking similarity between Kierkegaard’s and Mead’s theories of the self as relation, reflection and process as well as the normativity behind these theories. It is claimed that the theologian and the social psychologist share the view that the human being is an ethical being because its self is a dual relation; it relates to itself and in this relating it relates to an Other. Thus, regardless of their diverging views on the nature of this Other, they both define that of becoming a self as an unavoidable task: the task of standing in an ethical relation to oneself and to the Other. It is argued that differences in professions can be overcome: while reading Kierkegaard in the light of Mead helps to underline the relational character of Kierkegaard’s ethical notions, reading Mead in the light of Kierkegaard underlines the normative aspect of Mead’s social psychology.

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The editorial and advisory boards of the KSYB are deeply committed to creating a genuinely international forum for publication which integrates the many different traditions of Kierkegaard studies and brings them into a constructive and fruitful dialogue. To this end the yearbook publishes articles from all related fields (philosophy, theology, literary studies etc.) in English, French and German.

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