Alterity and Judgment: Some Moral Implications of Hegel’s Concept of Life
Moral philosophers have not looked often to the concept of life as a foundation for moral judgment and moral respect. Greek ethics, focusing on education and the formation of character, treat life as a more or less promising raw material, to be properly reshaped through the application of appropriate pedagogical disciplines. As Christianity develops the conceptual opposition between a sensible and an intelligible world, life appears, not only raw, but also evil. In addition to disciplines of formation or education, disciplines of redemption and salvation proliferate.1 And, despite some attention to the role of actual sentiment or feeling in supplying both force and direction for moral judgment, notably by Montaigne and Hume, the tradition culminates in Kant’s celebrated alienation of reason and feeling: invoking “mutual love” as one of the two indispensible “great moral forces”, Kant is careful to point out that this love is “not to be taken as a feeling (aesthetic love), i.e., a pleasure in the perfection of other men; it does not mean emotional love… It must rather be taken as a maxim of benevolence” (, sec. 25). Thus, respect is not a “feeling” dependent upon actual comparisons among living beings, but a maxim derived analytically from the idea of freedom. The domain of actual life, where moral judgment and moral respect will be deployed, may contribute nothing to their determination.
KeywordsMoral Judgment Social Practice Mutual Recognition Moral Consciousness Moral Discourse
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