Volume 90, Issue 4, October 2013
Kierkegaard on Rationality
Practical Reason and the Imagination
I argue that Kierkegaard’s work is relevant to an issue currently being debated within Anglo-American ethical theory. Kierkegaard’s account of the transition between existence spheres maps onto discussions in the contemporary field that concern how an agent can acquire motivations for new normative obligations. Following Kierkegaard’s work, a deeper understanding of the conditions behind a transition between existence spheres suggests that an individual’s set of motivations can be revised to direct the individual towards new and different ends. From the contemporary perspective, this helps explain how agents can be led to appreciate different normative obligations (i.e., existence spheres) based on the self-conscious understanding they have of their own interests. To guide this analysis I discuss Jamie Ferreira’s work on the imagination and explain how it can illuminate Kierkegaard’s contribution to current debates in ethical theory.