Andrew Komasinski - Philosophy Page

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My primary research interests in philosophy are 19th Century philosophy (especially Hegel and Kierkegaard) and classical Confucian philosophy.

Current Projects

Hegel and Kierkegaard on Recognition
Before I started working on the Hegel and crime project, I started to research Kierkegaard's notion of recognition and compare it with Hegel's account of mutual recognition. For Kierkegaard, this occurs in several places and at least two pseudonyms: Johannes Climacus\'s Philosophical Fragments and Anti-Climacus\'s Sickness Unto Death. To make sure I was not missing any loose ends, I read the Philosophy of Right, and in the process, I found the current accounts of crime to be inadequate. The main focus of this project is to look at how Kierkegaard thinks we can have our identity consituted by an other (God) without us being necessary to give that other a coherent identity. This is very much the opposite of Hegel's notions in political philosophy where mutual recognition stands at the root of value.
Hegel and Chinese Philosophy: Insults and Infighting
I am always on the look out for areas where Chinese philosophy and Western philosophy interact. And one of the major lacuna here is Hegel's relationship to Confucianism. I say this because both share relational accounts of the self and both have a very communitarian image of society. Despite this, Hegel's most well-cited remarks with respect to Confucius are whole-heartedly negative. In his lectures, Hegel said that China has no "spirit" (Geist). In my article, I will suggest describe this as an unfortunate misreading and point to common ground between the two. At the same time, I want to explain why Hegel would say this and assess whether this is a slight Confucians should ignore or respond to.

Completed Projects in Philosophy

Hegel's Complete Views on Crime and Punishment
In this article, I argue that Hegel's complete and mature view of crime and punishment is more robust than many interpretations of the Unrecht passage in the ‘Abstract Right’ section of Hegel's Elements of the Philosophy of Right suggest. First, I explain the value of revisiting the interpretation of Hegel as a simple retributionist in the contemporary debate. Then, I look at Hegel's treatment of crime and punishment in the section on abstract right to show the role of punishment in Hegel's account. Next, I argue that this needs to be situated in Hegel's broader social philosophy and that we can accomplish this by looking at how the Unrecht passage fits in the Elements of the Philosophy of Right’s dialectical structure. I do so by building on the sections on civil society and state in the part of Elements of the Philosophy of Right dealing with ethical life (Sittlichkeit), which include considerations of prevention and rehabilitation. I contend that this analysis reveals an account of punishment as more complicated than simple retribution.
Faith, Recognition, and Community: Abraham and “Faith-In” in Hegel and Kierkegaard
This article looks at “faith-in” and what Jonathan Kvanvig calls the “belittler objection” by comparing Hegel and Kierkegaard’s interpretations of Abram (later known as Abraham). I first argue that Hegel’s treatment of Abram in Spirit of Christianity and its Fate is an objection to faith-in. Building on this from additional Hegelian texts, this paper argues that Hegel’s objection arises from his social command account of morality. This paper then turns to Johannes de Silentio’s treatments of Abraham in Fear and Trembling and Søren Kierkegaard’s Works of Love to argue that Kierkegaard defends faith-in as part of a moderate divine command account of moral knowledge. Finally, this article concludes that the belittler objection is ultimately an objection to faith-in as a divine command source of moral knowledge or obligation rather than a social command source.
This research was published in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly
How Relational Selfhood Rearranges the Debate between Feminists and Confucians
Stephanie Komashin joined me as a co-author in this paper where we look at the debate between Confucians and feminists anew. We contend that before we can really articulate whether "Confucians" and "feminists" agree we need to understand what each of the respective terms is supposed to mean. Both groups find common cause in highlighting a relational account of the self that seems neglected in Modern philosophy, but there are real differences both among and between feminists and Confucians about how relational the self should be / is.
This research was published in Feminist Encounters with Confucius
Ethics is for Children: Revisiting Aristotle's Virtue Theory
In this book chapter, I argued that children can be virtuous agents in a semi-Aristotelian virtue ethics. To argue for this, I combined insights from the research of Daryl Tress and others in terms of Aristotle's views of children with Ackrill and Nagel’s analyses of the function-argument in the Nicomachean Ethics. I first look at how Aristotle viewed children within ethics. Here, we find that Aristotle rejects children as possible virtuous agents primarily because they have not reached maturity as adults. I then suggest an alternate approach where children could be virtuous agents and have their own form of Eudaimonia. Here, a central point is that they are already capable of some forms of human excellence, and that we can include their continued growth as a part of their excellence.
How Kierkegaard can Help Us Understand Covering in Analects 13.18.
In this article, I looked at how Kierkegaard through his deliberation “Love covers a multitude of sins” in Works of Love can help in understanding yin ("covering") in Analects 13.18. I first explain the variety of ways that Kierkegaard suggests covering could work in the deliberation in Works of Love. I then apply this to the variety of interpretations of yin that are featured in a contemporary debate in China about Analects13.18 especially the question of whether yin means hiding or straightening. And then correspondingly whether this should be understood as a moral philosophy we should admire or detest. From these considerations, I maintain that there are good reasons to believe hiding is the best way.
This research was published in Asian Philosophy
A Hegelian Approach to Applied Ethics and Technology
In this paper, I argue that the concept of “object” (Das Objekt) in Hegel’s Encyclopedia Logic provides a framework for moral thought that can handle scientific discoveries in a robust and versatile way. I first support this by showing how developments in contemporary science can often pose seeming challenge to ethics. I then look at how Hegel’s concept of natural law determines his concept of objects. In this, Hegel proposes three concepts object: physical, chemical, and social with each involving a different form of objectivity. With this distinction, I conclude by showing how the relevant type for ethics is social objects and how this can provide a frame that can withstand many scientific discoveries for doing applied ethics.
This research was published in Applied Ethics:Ethics in an Era of Emerging Technologies
Anti-Climacus's Pre-emptive Critique of Heidegger's “Question Concerning Technology
In this article, I compare Martin Heidegger’s “Question Concerning Technology” and Anti-Climacus’s (Søren Kierkegaard’s Pseudonym’s) Sickness unto Death. I begin by presenting a brief account of Heidegger’s critique of technology centered on the problem of how technology draws the user out of authenticity (“Eigentlichkeit”). For Heidegger, the failure to relate to yourself correctly is “inauthenticity.” Dasein’s Proper relation is “authenticity” in existence towards the self’s utmost possibility, i.e. death. I then contrast this with the account of despair Anti-Climacus presents in Sickness unto Death. For Anti-Climacus, despair is a psychological concept that arises whenever the self is not properly related. For Anti-Climacus, what Heidegger calls “inauthenticity” describes one species of despair. Moreover, Anti-Climacus’ framework goes further by seeing Heidegger’s account of “authenticity” in the problem of technology as a form of despair and identifying the self’s completion as a self that relates itself to itself through its God-relation.
This research was published in International Philosophical Quarterly
Phd Dissertation
In my dissertation, I looked at relationality in moral selfhood. I spent the first chapter looking at Kant’s account of the moral self, which I argued was universal but neither dynamic nor relational. In the second chapter, I built on Hegel’s critique to better explain the relational critique and how it poses a problem for the Kantian model. I then compared the diverse relational account of the moral self in Confucius, Levinas, and Kierkegaard. In Confucius’ Confucianism, we find a relational account built on society, which I argued is inadequate for a universal ethics, because its mode of relationality is wholly dependent on culture. I then turned to Levinas where ethical relationality depends on relationship with the Other through “responsibility for Other,” but this, in my view, fails to integrate with “justice for all.” Finally, I looked at Kierkegaard’s account, which I think gives us the desiderata of a universal relationality through the idea of a self that relates itself to itself through its relation with its base (God) but that this theological price is difficult for many to accept.
Maybe Happiness Is Loving Our Fathers: Confucius and the Rituals of Dad
In this article, I investigate the nature of fatherly love. Working from Confucius’s Analects, I argue that the most important concept is not rule-following but developing a good relationship with one's father. Building on the example of sheep-stealing Yang, I compare this with Plato's treatment of filial piety in the Euthyphro. In the Analects, it is considered appropriate to cover up for one's father whereas Plato advocates revealing this. I then turn to the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Matthew 15 to explicate the Confucian ideal of fatherhood.
This research was published in Fatherhood and Philosophy
A Transcendental Phenomenology that Leads out of Transcendental Phenomenology: Using Climacus' Paradox to Explain Marion’s Being Given
In this paper, I suggest that Johannes Climacus' presentation of the paradox in Philosophical Fragments hints at a critique of Marion's notion of the saturated phenomenon.
This research was published in Quaestiones Disputatae