A Secular Absolute

How Modern Philosophy Discovered Authenticity

  • Ulrich Steinvorth

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xvi
  2. Ulrich Steinvorth
    Pages 1-17
  3. Ulrich Steinvorth
    Pages 19-72
  4. Ulrich Steinvorth
    Pages 73-126
  5. Ulrich Steinvorth
    Pages 127-178
  6. Ulrich Steinvorth
    Pages 179-249
  7. Back Matter
    Pages 251-278

About this book


Premodern societies believed in something sacred that obliged unconditionally. Modern societies rely on fallible science. Do they also need something absolute, a secular sacred? Steinvorth analyzes the writings of modern philosophers who claim that there is an absolute norm: the norm to be rational and authentic. In his view, their claim is true if it is reinterpreted. The norm is not moral, as it was thought to be, but metaphysical, and authenticity is not self-realization, but doing things for their own sake. 

 In discussing the pros and cons of philosophical claims on absolutes, this book spreads out the rich pool of philosophical ideas and clarifies urgent contemporary questions about what can be demanded with universal validity. It argues this is not only the principle of justice, not to harm, but also a metaphysical principle by which to find meaning in life. Moreover, it points to some consequences this principle has in politics.


Transcendental idealism Sittlichkeit Vernünftigkeit Eigentlichkeit Heidegger

Authors and affiliations

  • Ulrich Steinvorth
    • 1
  1. 1.University of HamburgHamburgGermany

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-35035-2
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-35036-9
  • Buy this book on publisher's site