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Thinking through Kierkegaard

Existential Identity in a Pluralistic World

Peter J. Mehl

Publication Year: 2005

Thinking through Kierkegaard is a critical evaluation of Søren Kierkegaard's vision of the normatively human, of who we are and might aspire to become, and of what Mehl calls our existential identity. Through a pragmatist examination of three of Kierkegaard's key pseudonymous "voices" (Judge William, Climacus, and Anti-Climacus), Peter J. Mehl argues that Kierkegaard's path is not the only end of our search, but instead leads us to affirm a plurality of paths toward a fulfilling existential identity. _x000B_Contrary to Kierkegaard's ideal of moral personhood and orthodox Christian identity, Mehl aims to acknowledge the possibility of pluralism in existential identities. By demanding sensitivity to the deep ways social and cultural context influences human perception, interpretation and self?representation, Mehl argues that Kierkegaard is not simply discovering but also participating in a cultural construction of the human being. _x000B_Drawing on accounts of what it is to be a person by prominent philosophers outside of Kierkegaard scholarship, including Charles Taylor, Owen Flanagan, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Thomas Nagel, Mehl also works to bridge the analytic and continental traditions and reestablishes Kierkegaard as a rich resource for situating moral and spiritual identity. This reexamination of Kierkegaard is recommended for anyone interested in what it means to be a person. _x000B_

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface

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pp. ix-xii

My relationship with Kierkegaard is like my relationship with my wife. I fell in love with her as an undergraduate. Over time our differences began to surface but we had developed a bond of mutuality and affection and had influenced each other in ways that now constitute each of us. ...

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Introduction: Kierkegaard's Existential Anthropology and the Search for Self

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pp. 1-12

This book is a critical evaluation of Søren Kierkegaard’s vision of the normatively human and the tactics he uses to defend that vision. It is, to use more contemporary language, an examination of his image of human flourishing and the sorts of epistemic strategies he employs to justify it. ...

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1. Judge William: Strong Evaluative Identity

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pp. 13-40

Either/Or was Kierkegaard’s first pseudonymous work and the most popular during his lifetime. In volume two of Either/Or we find the letters of Judge William, letters to his younger friend known only as A. The Judge’s second letter is entitled “The Balance between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality,” ...

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2, Johannes Climacus: Spiritual Existence Intensified by Reflection

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pp. 41-77

The ideal of personhood, of the strong spiritual evaluator, runs throughout Kierkegaard’s authorship. I think that much of this ideal is found in the Judge’s letter entitled “The Balance between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality” examined in the last chapter; ...

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3. Anti-Climacus: Theological Selfhood and the Dialectics of Despair

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pp. 78-118

When it comes to Kierkegaard’s mature existential vision, The Sickness unto Death is perhaps his clearest statement. It is also, interestingly enough, given Kierkegaard’s aversion to systems, his most systematic statement about the conditions of human existence. ...

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4. In the Twilight of Modernity: Kierkegaard and Contemporary Reflections on Existential Identity

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pp. 119-162

So where does this analysis of Kierkegaard leave us, those of us who are searching for existential identity by way of Kierkegaard? Thinking after Nietzsche means understanding our situation as one of multiple perspectives with no clearly noncontroversial uncontested framework, a pluralistic context. ...

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Conclusion: Reconstructing Kierkegaard

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pp. 163-170

Kierkegaard, I have argued, is compelled to postulate a transcendent standard as the only adequate measure because he thinks that the human desire for existential orientation can mean only ultimate security and final rest in the flux and contingency of everyday life. But what does the human desire for existential orientation and identity come to? ...

Works Cited

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pp. 171-174

Index

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pp. 175-177


E-ISBN-13: 9780252091919
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252029875

Page Count: 192
Publication Year: 2005