Existenzphilosophie und Ethik
The question of whether a system of ethics can be developed from existentialist principles has been long debated. One common objection to Kierkegaard, for example, is that he would close himself off from any form of sociability through a closed-off individual communication with God; he even speaks of a “suspension of the ethical”. In Being and Time, Heidegger famously denies the possibility of an ethical interpretation of human existence. And in a similar way, Sartre admits in Being and Nothingness that from the perspective of the ontological description of human being, ethical consequences can only be derived in the mode of the “as if”.
But the actual course of existential philosophy tells a different story. From the beginning, existential thought opposed itself to narrowly self-directed academic philosophy and sought to apply itself to the concrete praxis of human life, as well as to related questions of moral philosophy. Although they differ in many ways, the various approaches of particular existential philosophers all center on the concept of human freedom, which Schelling described as the “faculty of good and evil”. This faculty stands as the condition of the possibility of any ethical system.