Volume 22, Issue 1, Fall 2017
Idioms of Ethical Life
In a World Fraught and Tender
On Dennis Schmidt’s Contribution to an Original Ethics
In this essay, the author argues that Dennis Schmidt’s considerations of ethical life, when taken together, comprise a prescient and distinctive response to Heidegger’s call to pursue an ‘original ethics.’ In this, Schmidt disavows discourses within the discipline of ethics that seek to establish an ethical theory or position, arguing instead that the demands of ethical life require us to focus on the incalculable singularity of the factical situations in which we find ourselves. The author suggests that Schmidt’s contributions to such an original ethical turns on Schmidt’s claims that the context of ethical life is fraught because bound up with radical finitude—though, for that very reason, also tender because marked by the need to care for one another in our vulnerability and fragileness.