Transcendental Guilt : Reflections on Ethical Finitude
Transcendental Guilt challenges traditional ways of understanding moral philosophy by proposing, instead of mainstream ethical theorizing, a serious moral reflection on our ethical finitude, focusing on the concept of guilt. It argues that guilt plays a "transcendental" role in our ethical lives by being constitutive of the seriousness characteristic of the moral point of view.
- Hardback | 144 pages
- 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 385.55g
- 16 May 2011
- Lexington Books
- Lanham, MD, United States
This is a brave book, taking on a number of unthinkable topics with a human touch. Not only does Sami Pihlstrom make guilt the foundation stone of morality, but he rethinks guilt in such a way that none of us escape the experience, or should even want to, for to do so would be less than human. Writing on the borderline between philosophy and psychology, the author shows that guilt not only gives meaning to our lives, but that moral guilt is constantly endangered by ethical solipsism and nihilism. Sharing much with Emmanuel Levinas, Pihlstrom writes with a clarity and style quite remarkable for the philosophical depth and seriousness of the topic. -- C. Fred Alford, University of Maryland, College Park In this imaginative study, Sami Pihlstrom argues that the human capacity to feel guilty is constitutive of the possibility of morality. Appropriating insights from Kant, Wittgenstein, Dostoevsky, and Levinas, he argues that guilt is not only an empirical concept but also a transcendental concept that structures ethical seriousness. Although transcendental guilt is related to the concept of original sin, it does not presuppose theological or religious beliefs. Pihlstrom probes the issues of ethical solipsism, our responsibility to others, and the meaning of life. A highly original, bold, and provocative approach to fundamental questions of morality. -- Richard J. Bernstein, New School for Social Research Transcendental Guilt is a rigorous and gripping account of guilt as the moral emotion that is constitutive of the moral point of view. Drawing on the work of Kant, Wittgenstein, Levinas, Gaita, and the American pragmatists, Philstrom forges a compelling and provoking account of one's embeddedness in the 'metaphysically tragic nature of morality' where ethical seriousness demands that one recognize oneself as guilty in the face of the reality of the other. Transcendental Guilt is deeply personal and, at the same time, insightful and informative to the professional philosophical side of any reflective reader struggling to come to grips with the basis of human moral action in an at best difficult world. It is one of those rare books that shifts one's vision and reorients one's understanding of oneself as an ethical agent. -- Kathleen Wallace, Hofstra University
About Sami Pihlstrom
Sami Pihlstrom is director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies at University of Helsinki and professor of practical philosophy at the University of Jyvaskyla.
Table of contents
Chapter 1 Preface Chapter 2 Chapter 1. Introduction: Moral Reflection and Ethical Theory Chapter 3 Chapter 2.Transcendental Guilt Chapter 4 Chapter 3. Guilt and Ethical Solipsism Chapter 5 Chapter 4. Ethical Unthinkabilities and Philosophical Seriousness Chapter 6 Chapter 5. A Meaningful Life in a Meaningless Cosmos? Chapter 7 Chapter 6. Constructing Moral Identity Chapter 8 Chapter 7. Concluding Reflections: Does Anyone Ever Do What Is the Right Thing to Do?