Professor John Lippitt

John Lippitt

Director, Institute for Ethics & Society
Professor of Philosophy


  • Biography

    John Lippitt is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Institute for Ethics & Society at the University of Notre Dame Australia, based in Sydney. He currently holds secondary positions as Visiting Professor of Philosophy at the University of Hertfordshire, UK (where he worked for many years prior to his appointment at Notre Dame Australia) and as Honorary Professor of Philosophy at Deakin University. While at Hertfordshire, John served as Director of Research for the Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities Research Institute and as Research Leader for Philosophy.

    John’s research interests include virtue ethics and the moral psychology of the virtues; forgiveness; philosophical and theological aspects of love and friendship; and the thought of Søren Kierkegaard. He also has an active interest in the ethics of policing.

    John's latest monograph, Love's Forgiveness, was published by Oxford University Press in 2020. This research was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship (2018–2020). His previous books include: The Routledge Guidebook to Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (second edition, 2016); Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-love (Cambridge University Press, 2013); The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (co-edited with George Pattison, Oxford University Press, 2013); Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self (co-edited with Patrick Stokes, Edinburgh University Press, 2015); Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought (2000) and two further edited volumes, Nietzsche and the Divine (co-edited with Jim Urpeth, 2000) and Nietzsche's Futures (1999). John's articles have been published in such journals as the British Journal of AestheticsContinental Philosophy ReviewInquiryInternational Journal for Philosophy of ReligionThe MonistPhilosophy and LiteratureProceedings of the Aristotelian Society and Religious Studies.

    He has been awarded research grants by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) of the UK, the British Academy, the UK Higher Education Academy, the Kierkegaard House Foundation (USA) and the EU FP7-funded Marie Curie Scheme, as well as the Leverhulme Trust. John is a member of the editorial board of Oxford Research Directions (formerly Oxford Handbooks Online) and the Royal Institute of Philosophy Council. He has also served as an officer for various academic societies and as a member of the AHRC Peer Review College and the Leverhulme Trust Advisory Panel. He has held visiting research fellowships at the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St Olaf College, Northfield, MN, USA and the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre at the University of Copenhagen.

  • Research expertise and supervision

    • Kierkegaard
    • Ethics and Moral Psychology (especially virtues and vices)
    • Forgiveness
    • Religion and Modern Thought
    • Philosophy of Love and Friendship
    • Philosophy of Education (especially the role of virtues in higher education)
    • Ethical Issues in Policing
  • Books


    • 2020. Love’s Forgiveness: Kierkegaard, Resentment, Humility, and Hope. (Oxford University Press).
    • 2016 The Routledge Guidebook to Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (Routledge).
    • 2013 Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love (Cambridge University Press).
    • 2000 Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard’s Thought (Palgrave Macmillan).

    Edited Volumes

    • 2015 Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self (Edinburgh University Press). Co-edited with Patrick Stokes.
    • 2013 The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard (Oxford University Press). Co-edited with George Pattison.
    • 2000 Nietzsche and the Divine (Clinamen). Co-edited with Jim Urpeth.
    • 1999 Nietzsche's Futures (Palgrave Macmillan).
  • Book chapters

    • Kierkegaard” in The Routledge Handbook of Forgiveness, eds, R. Enright and G. Pettigrove (Routledge), forthcoming.
    • “Kierkegaard” (with C. Stephen Evans), in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, under contract.
    • “Beyond worry: on learning humility from the lilies and the birds” in The Kierkegaardian Mind, eds., A. Buben, E. Helms, & P. Stokes (Routledge). 2019
    • “Jest as humility: Kierkegaard and the limits of earnestness” in All Too Human: Humor, Comedy and Laughter in Nineteenth Century Philosophy, ed., L. Moland (Springer). 2018
    • “Kierkegaard’s Virtues? Humility and Gratitude as the Grounds of Contentment, Patience and Hope in Kierkegaard’s Moral Psychology” in Kierkegaard's God and the Good Life, eds., S. Minister, J. A. Simmons, & M. Strawser. (Indiana University Press). 2017
    • “Self-knowledge in Kierkegaard” in Self-Knowledge: A History, ed., U. Renz (Oxford University Press). 2017
    • “Kierkegaard on Love” in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Love, eds., C. Grau & A. Smuts (Oxford University Press). 2017
    • “What can therapists learn from Kierkegaard?” in Therapy and the Counter-Tradition: The Edge of Philosophy, eds, M. Bazzano & J. Webb (Routledge). 2016
    • “Giving the 'dear self' its due: Kierkegaard, Frankfurt and self-love” in Love, Reason and Will: Kierkegaard after Frankfurt, eds., J. J. Davenport & A. Rudd (Bloomsbury). 2015
    • “Forgiveness and the Rat Man: Kierkegaard, 'narrative unity' and 'wholeheartedness' revisited” in Narrative, Identity and the Kierkegaardian Self, eds., J. Lippitt & P. Stokes (Edinburgh University Press). 2015
    • “Learning to hope: the role of hope in Fear and Trembling” in Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling: A Critical Guide, ed., D. W. Conway (Cambridge University Press). 2015
    • “Forgiveness” in Kierkegaard’s Concepts: Tome III: Envy to Incognito, eds., S. Emmanuel, W. McDonald, & J. Stewart (Taylor & Francis). 2014
    • “Kierkegaard and moral philosophy: some recent themes” in The Oxford Handbook of Kierkegaard, eds., J. Lippitt & G. Pattison (Oxford University Press). 2013
    • “A Philosophical Response: The Kierkegaardian self and person-centred therapy” in Kierkegaard's Pastoral Dialogues, eds., G. Pattison & H. M. Jensen (Wipf and Stock). 2012
    • “Can a Christian be a friend? God, friendship and love of neighbour” in Thinking about Friendship: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, ed., D. Caluori (Palgrave Macmillan). 2012
    • “Irony and humour in the Postscript” in Kierkegaard's 'Concluding Unscientific Postscript': A Critical Guide, ed., R. A. Furtak (Cambridge University Press). 2010
    • “Humour” in A Companion to Aesthetics, eds., S. Davies, K. M. Higgins, & R. Hopkins (2nd ed., Wiley Blackwell). 2009
    • “Lewis, Kierkegaard and friendship” (2007) in Surprised by Faith: Conversion and the Academy, eds., D. McCarthy, B. Vander Vennen, & J. McBride (Cambridge Scholars Publishing). 2007
    • “Second selves and genuine others: Kierkegaard and Aristotle on friendship and self-love” in The Many Facets of Love: Philosophical Explorations, ed., T. J. Oord (Cambridge Scholars Publishing). 2007
    • “Humour and religion: humour, irony and the comic in western theology and philosophy” in Encyclopedia of Religion, ed., L. Jones (2nd ed., Palgrave Macmillan). 2005
    • “Telling tales: Johannes Climacus and 'narrative unity'” in Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook, ed., N. J. C. Cappelorn (Walter de Gruyter). 2005
    • “A Funny Thing Happened To Me On The Way To Salvation: Climacus as Humorist in Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript” in Soren Kierkegaard: Critical Assessments, eds., D. W. Conway (Routledge). 2002
    • “Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and the narratives of faith” in Nietzsche and the Divine, eds., J. Lippitt & J. Urpeth (Clinamen). 2000
    • “On authority and revocation: Climacus as humourist” in Anthropology and Authority: Essays on Søren Kierkegaard, eds., P. Houe, G. D. Marino, S. H. Rossel (Rodopi). 2000
    • “Laughter: a tool in moral perfectionism?” in Nietzsche's Futures, ed., J. Lippitt (Palgrave Macmillan). 1998
  • In the media

    • ‘What would it mean to see forgiveness as a “work of love”?’, ABC Religion and Ethics, 5 May 2021
    • ‘The Pharisee on Social Media: Virtue Signalling and the Vice of Self-righteousness’, Comment magazine vol. 39-2 (Spring 2021)
    • “Dread, Time and the Pandemic: Kierkegaard on Worry.” Standpoint magazine (July 2020).
    • (With Assistant Chief Constable Nathan Briant), ‘The Only Way is Ethics’, cover story in Police Professional issue 646, March 2019
  • Journal articles and proceedings

    Peer-reviewed Journal Articles

    • “Self-forgiveness and the moral perspective of humility: Ian McEwan’s AtonementPhilosophy and Literature vol. 43, no. 1: 121–138. (Reprinted in Garry L. Hagberg (ed.), Narrative and Self-Understanding (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019).)
    • “Forgiveness: a work of love?” Parrhesia, vol. 28: 19–39. 2017
    • “Kierkegaard and the problem of special relationships: Ferreira, Krishek and the 'God filter'” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion vol. 72, no. 3: 177–197. 2012
    • “True self-love and true self-sacrifice” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion vol. 66, no. 3: 125–138. 2009
    • “Wot U @ Uni 4?: expectations and actuality of studying philosophy at university” Discourse vol. 9, no. 1: 93–110. Co-authored with B. Larvor. 2009
    • “What Neither Abraham nor Johannes de Silentio Could Say” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume vol. 82, no. 1: 79–99. 2008
    • “Cracking the mirror: on Kierkegaard’s concerns about friendship” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion vol. 61, no. 3: 131–150. 2007
    • “Getting the story straight: Kierkegaard, MacIntyre and some problems with narrative” Inquiry, vol. 50, no. 1: 34–69. 2007
    • “Is a sense of humour a virtue?” The Monist vol. 88, no. 1: 72–92. 2005
    • “Illusion and satire in Kierkegaard's Postscript” Continental Philosophy Review, vol. 32, no. 4: 451–466. 1999
    • “Making sense of nonsense: Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein” Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, vol. 98, no. 3: 263–286. Co-authored with D. Hutto. 1998
    • “A funny thing happened to me on the way to salvation: Climacus as humorist in Kierkegaard's concluding unscientific postscript” Religious Studies vol. 33, no. 2: 181–202. 1997
    • “Existential laughter” Cogito vol. 10, no. 1: 63–72. 1996
    • “Humour and release” Cogito vol. 9, no. 2: 169–176. 1995
    • “Humour and superiority” Cogito vol. 9, no. 1: 54–61. 1995
    • “Humour and incongruity” Cogito vol. 8, no. 2: 147–153. 1994
    • “Nietzsche, Zarathustra and the status of laughter” British Journal of Aesthetics, vol. 32, no. 1: 39–49. 1992


    • “The only way is ethics” Police Professional vol. 646: 14–16. Co-authored with N. Briant. 2019
    • “What Do Universities Want? Output of HEA subject-centre funded project on Critical Friendships among Beginning Philosophers” University of Hertfordshire. Co-authored with B. Larvor. 2011
  • Community engagement

    Since arriving at Notre Dame, John’s public engagement activities have included giving the inaugural Sophia Annual Public Lecture at the University of Wollongong in 2021 and a keynote paper at the 2020 Notre Dame School of Virtue and Character. He also contributed to and oversaw the production of the IES  ‘Virtues for the Times’ podcast series on COVID-19.

    John has appeared on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, discussing Kierkegaard, and has written for various publications internationally, such as Comment (US/Canada), Philosophy Now, Standpoint, and Times Higher Education.

    Prior to arriving in Australia, John did a number of research engagement activities with senior police officers. He served for several years as an external advisor to Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Ethics, Equality and Integrity Board and Ethics Committee; and the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Constabulary Professional Standards Department Scrutiny Panel, advising on the national police Code of Ethics and on ethics education for policing. He was invited to give a keynote address to the UK Police Ethics Guidance Group and to write for Police Professional on this work. He is also interested in the relevance of philosophy for psychotherapy, having run a number of invited workshops for therapists on Kierkegaard and on forgiveness. At Hertfordshire, John co-organised Why Philosophy Matters, a series of public engagement events jointly run with the St Albans Cathedral Study Centre and continues in this vein through the IES’s support for Scholarship at the Cathedral in Sydney.

  • Awards

    Research Awards (Total: $568,148)

    • $20,000 "Developing Virtuous Character in Educational Institutions"" (with A. Pierdziwol and T. Smartt), Industry Collaboration Research Grant, The Scots College, 2020-21
    • $12,516 "Screening Virtue – the Importance of Character(s) in Film and Television"" (with S. Magerstädt), The University of Notre Dame Australia Research Grant Scheme, 2020-21
    • $174,945 “Love's Forgiveness,” Leverhulme Trust, 2018–2020.
    • $298,138 “Selves in Time,” (with P. Stokes) European Commission, 2010–2012.
    • $1,942 “Self-Love: An Investigation,” University of North Dakota, 2011.
    • $5,354 “Immortal Goods: Critical Friendships Amongst Beginning Undergraduates,” (with B. Larvor), Higher Education Academy, 2009–2010.
    • $9,352 “Wot u @ Uni 4?: Expectations and Actuality of Studying Philosophy at University,” (with B. Larvor), Higher Education Academy, 2008–2009.
    • $20,863 “The Quest for Unity: Narrative, Self and Ethics,” Hong Kierkegaard Library, 2004–2005.
    • $7,038 “The Quest for Unity: Narrative, Self and Ethics,” British Academy, 2004–2005.
    • $18,000 "Kierkegaard’s Humorist", Arts and Humanities Research Board Research Leave Scheme Award, 1999-2000