Grant Julin

Defense Date


Graduation Date

Summer 2011


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

Ronald Polansky

Committee Member

Charles D. Keyes

Committee Member

James Swindal


Ethics, Existentialism, Repetition, Subjectivity


Conventional interpretations of Kierkegaard's ethical theory during his 1843 authorship fall into two general categories: In the first, Kierkegaard's understanding of the ethical is reducible to some duty bound, Kantian reading of Judge William in Either/Or II; in the second, Kierkegaard is depicted as an advocate of some form of Divine Command theory through the Abraham story in Fear and Trembling. Both interpretations not only lack textual and scholarly support, but also result in a faulty rendering of Kierkegaard's philosophical teachings, namely the idea that the ethical is a derivative "stage" to be surpassed for the religious. Such a reading not only grossly misinterprets Kierkegaard's stages--for no "stage" is surpassed, but only enhanced and enriched in its successor--but also overlooks the importance of the ethical in Kierkegaard's philosophy. The essence and foundation of Kierkegaard's teachings is the subject, i.e., the existing individual, and it is only when one transitions into the ethical that the subject is said to truly exist. From this perspective, the ethical is the foundation and core of Kierkegaard's philosophy. Unfortunately, the 1843 work that speaks to the question of becoming ethical--Repetition--has gone largely overlooked by scholars of Kierkegaard. While Repetition has gained popularity in recent years as the "darling of deconstruction," few scholars acknowledge the ethical importance of this work. In this dissertation, I argue that Repetition puts forth a very unique contribution to existential ethical theory and in particular to the problem of ethical subjectivity. Kierkegaard's ethics of repetition is based upon what I call "the repetition movement," a transcendence of self that incorporates elements of Aristotelian metaphysics, as well as Kierkegaard's own unique understanding of existential inwardness and movement.