Between Ontology and Ethics (abstracts)

ethics-KPost-Ontological Thinking in Kant and Levinas

Both Kant and Levinas criticize (traditional) ontology‘s imperialistic nature and agree about the primacy of ethics over theory. Despite this concurrence, Levinas nevertheless criticizes all aspects of Kant‘s turn towards ethics. Although his critique is directed at all of western philosophy, and, therefore, rarely names Kant directly, it implies a rejection of Kant‘s reason for turning towards ethics, the kind of critique that he applies to this domain, and the outcome thereof.

One can understand these three points in light of his more general critique that Kant did not succeed in overcoming ontological discourse, as Levinas understands it. The goal of this paper is to present Levinas‘s three, superficially convincing, critiques, and, ultimately, show how Kant can reply to, and overcome, them. In this way, I intend to reveal the commonalities between these two thinker‘s approaches that contemporary commentators often overlook.
Author: Simon Truwant (PhD)

The Evil of Being

In the 19th century, German philosophy seems to be, at least in part, dominated by something which I term the evil of being‘ which I define as ?a covert tendency to regard being in general, and fleshed being in particular, as ?no good‘ ushering in the rational demand to abstain from emerging into it as well as overcoming it through the powers of autonomy in favor of a higher aspiration of sorts.

My doctoral research investigates three different reactions to this hidden premise: Kant, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche. In my presentation, I would like to delve deeper into Kant‘s specific response to the evil of being with regard to moral motivation. I investigate the objective and subjective elements so to motivate a natural and a priori evil, human agent to incorporate the moral law into his maxim and in which way this can be taken as a response to ‘the evil of being.‘
Author: Dennis Vanden Auweele (PhD)

Ethos and Environmental Dwelling

This paper focuses on one central question: would the environment be better served by an eco-phenomenological approach that cultivates a sense of dwelling in the ethos, rather than from a traditional ethical approach? In other words, when considering the environment, should we be thinking ethos instead of ethics?

The field of eco-phenomenology looks to emphasize one‘s experience of the phenomenal earth to accomplish two tasks: first, to undo the inherently environmentally destructive ethical and metaphysical presumptions of modern philosophy that mischaracterize our experience and to secondly replace these with the phenomenological method. By these means, eco-phenomenologists contend, we discover not the true value of natural objects, but the true value of one‘s relation to nature. However, value, which in traditional ethics is closely associated with fact, is here based instead upon what cannot be reduced to fact.

The difficult of grounding an environmental ethics by way of eco-phenomenology has led to the increasing interest in the philosophy of Heidegger, which arms the environmental philosopher with concepts such as dwelling, presencing, and ethos. These concepts, I suggest, overcome some of the most significant challenges to environmental ethics, precisely by not being ethics.
Author: Carol Linnitt (MA)

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