The Teleological Self: Plato and Kierkegaard

Anthony Rudd

in Self, Value, and Narrative

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199660049
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191744976 | DOI:
The Teleological Self: Plato and Kierkegaard

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This chapter argues that classical virtue ethics, with its teleological conception of selfhood, was able to do justice to both self-acceptance and self-shaping. However, the abandonment of teleological thinking in much of modernity has made it difficult to reconcile these views of the self. Schopenhauer and Sartre are used to illustrate the extremes forms both ideals have taken. The consideration of a neglected option in contemporary philosophy—a Platonic form of teleological thinking—is then argued for. A sketch of the basic elements of Platonic teleology is given and it is argued that Kierkegaard has given the richest modern restatement of a broadly Platonic view. The chapter concludes with a description of Kierkegaard’s account of selfhood, according to which the ‘immanent’ and ‘transcendent’ aspects of the self (its givenness and its capacity for self-constitution) can be properly synthesised only through the self relating to an objective Good.

Keywords: immanence; Kierkegaard; Plato; Sartre; Schopenhauer; teleology; transcendence; virtue ethics

Chapter.  14776 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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