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Teaching Ethics


published on April 6, 2016

Matthew T. Nowachek

Teaching How to Read Ethics Texts With the Help of Kierkegaard’s “The Mirror of the Word”

This essay develops the argument that Søren Kierkegaard’s text “The Mirror of the Word” can serve as a valuable resource for addressing the problem of poor reading habits of students enrolled in introductory ethics courses. Although Kierkegaard writes this text as a way of challenging his Danish contemporaries to read the Bible in a proper manner, it can nevertheless apply to reading ethics texts in that the underlying point Kierkegaard makes is the importance of reading in such a fashion that one fosters inwardness and subjectivity in relation to what is read. After introducing Kierkegaard’s text and three requirements for reading that he outlines therein, the significance of these requirements is drawn out by pointing to several concrete examples of how they have proven successful in introductory ethics courses. To conclude, the case is made that Kierkegaard’s requirements measure up well against a sampling of the relevant research on deep learning and deep reading.

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