Sebastian M Rödl (Leipzig)

After a little time off it is nice to welcome back our readers to our mini-interviews series. This time we publish Prof Sebastian M Rödl’s answers. Prof Rödl wrote on actions, intention, good and evil, self-consciousness, judgment and knowledge. His book Self-Consciousness is well known and he also just published Self-Consciousness and Objectivity: An Introduction to Absolute Idealism. Enjoy!


1. How did you become interested in the philosophy of action?


By reading Michael Thompson’s 'Naive Action T​heory'. Since Anscombe’s Intention, there has been no work in this area of comparable depth and power.


2. What are you working on at the moment?


I seek to say how absolute knowledge is internal to practical knowledge.


3. What is your 5-15 sentence account of what an action is?


Human action is the knowledge of the good as the ultimate ground of what is actual. This is the true definition of human action, for it is the definition it gives of itself.


4. In your view, what were the three most important recent developments in philosophy of action?


Consideration of the way in which practical knowledge is knowledge of what is actual. The involvement of the second person, or address, in the constitution of human agency.


5. What direction would you like to see the field go in?


It would be a major advance if it were realized that there is no such thing as action theory, defined as Thompson defined it: a study of human action that does not use the concept of an ultimate end or unconditional goodness. That is, it should be realized that the philosophical study of human action is inherently ethical; that it is part of the effort to bring to explicit consciousness, and thus to live in comprehension of, the human relation to the good, which relation action itself is.


2018 June 26

Many thanks to Prof Rödl for his answers!


Visit us again on the 30th June, for our next set of answers.