The strict sense of the word integrity – the state of being whole and unimpaired; or ethically: the quality of acting in accordance with one’s own moral principles – seems to suggest that it would be simple to lead a life of integrity, if only there was no external world, no other people, no „outside“ impairing us. This leads to an egocentric view, an aesthetic preoccupation with one’s own self, which has to be shielded from the vicissitudes of life and the dangers of the world at large. Yet it is only in situations that require compromise and concession, that the goal of integrity – the conformity of one‘s actions with one’s moral principles – becomes interesting, above all in politics. Here, the highest precept is no longer the purity of moral values, but instead their practical realization. Put differently: moral principles that neglect the difficulties of political practice are useless when seeking to determine a type of integrity that has to prove itself in the world. Using the example of the three maxims of the communal sense in Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Judgement, „1. Thinking for oneself, 2. Thinking for all others, 3. Thinking in accordance with oneself“, as one of the foundations of trustworthy behaviour in politics, Gesine Schwan will examine the difficulties that can occur in their practical application.
Gesine Schwan, studied Roman Languages, History, Philosophy and Political Science in Berlin and Freiburg/Breisgau. Extensive research stays in Warsaw and Krakow followed in preparation for her dissertation about the Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski. In 1971, Gesine Schwan was appointed Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Free University Berlin and in 1975 received her Habilitation there. In 1977, Gesine Schwan was named Professor of Political Science, in particular of Political Theory and Philosophy, at the Free University Berlin. Research stays in Washington D.C., Cambridge and New York followed. Her main fields of research are Political Philosophy and Theories of Democracy, recently also problems of Political Psychology and Political Culture. From October 1999 to October 2008 Gesine Schwan was president of the Europe University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder). She was one of the joint founders and since June 2010 also president of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance. In 2004 and in 2008, she was nominated by SPD and Bündnis 90/Die Grünen as candidate for the office of the Federal President, but lost the election to the candidate of CDU/CSU and FDP. Her main publications include among many Die Gesellschaftskritik von Karl Marx. Philosophische und politökonomische Voraussetzungen (1974); Sozialismus in der Demokratie? Theorie einer konsequent sozialdemokratischen Politik (1982); Politik und Schuld. Die zerstörerische Macht des Schweigens (1997); Vertrauen und Politik. Politische Theorie im Zeitalter der Globalisierung (2006) and (together with Susanne Daschke) Allein ist nicht genug. Für eine neue Kultur der Gemeinsamkeit (2007).