Ethics, Love, and Faith in Kierkegaard
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: Indiana University Press
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These explorations of ethics, love, and faith in Kierkegaard first saw the light of day in Copenhagen, mid-August 2004. They were the centerpiece of a celebration held for Alastair Hannay, a philosopher who has devoted his life to bringing Kierkegaard into the open. Author of...
Introduction: A Socratic and Christian Care for the Self
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The essays gathered here display Kierkegaard’s thoughts on ethics, faith, and love refracted through the prisms of over a dozen contemporary scholars. They are vivid testimony to the ongoing power of Kierkegaard’s texts to pull new circles of unexpected readers from successive generations; only writers of...
1. Kierkegaard on the Self
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Kierkegaard’s existential thinking clearly has its roots in the Pensées of Blaise Pascal. Looking at the variety of cultures and religions that were becoming known at the time, Pascal concluded that human beings have no essence, but rather define themselves through their cultural practices. “Custom is our nature,” 1 he wrote. But, although the self...
2. Affectation, or the Invention of the Self: A Modern Disorder
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“Despite the fact that I certainly see in it the expression of significant intellectual strengths, I nevertheless cannot deny that it makes a generally unpleasant impression on me, particularly because of two things, both of which I detest: verbosity and affectation.”1 This was the judgment uttered by Hans Christian Ørsted, then Rector of the University of Copenhagen,...
3. Postscript Ethics: Putting Personality on Stage
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In his recent biography, Alastair Hannay characterizes Concluding Unscientific Postscript as “an itinerary for personality.”1 Kierkegaard himself says of Postscript that “what is new is that . . . here we have personality.”2 Personality is a moral status one works to attain. This is true as well of subjectivity. Each demarcates an ideal that calls on me to respond in a way that truly...
4. Kierkegaard on Commitment, Personality, and Identity
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These comments group around Bert Dreyfus’s powerful analysis of selfhood. Dreyfus’s skill in putting together clear-headed and topical accounts of texts widely considered inaccessible is enviable and legendary. Any doubts Dreyfus’s readers may entertain about whether the authors of these texts would feel at home in his renderings are balanced by the way they throw fresh light on current issues. As with Dreyfus’s Heidegger, spokesman for...
5. Love and the Discipline of Philosophy
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In this chapter I’m going to take my lead from two essays by Alastair Hannay that have been reprinted as the first two chapters of his recent collection Kierkegaard and Philosophy. The earlier of the two was originally called “Kierkegaard’s Philosophy of Mind,” and the latter first appeared as “Kierkegaard and What We Mean by...
6. Kierkegaard and Ethical Theory
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Anyone who happens to read both Kierkegaard’s writings and the works of moral philosophers from the last hundred years or so is bound to be struck by the great difference in character of these two bodies of literature. One might well read Works of Love or Practice in Christianity or Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits as a source of personal moral strengthening,...
7. “The Problematic Agapeistic Ideal—Again”
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Kierkegaard studies has much for which to be grateful to Alastair Hannay, not least of all his superb translations, his recent biography (2001), his co-editorship with Marino of the Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard, and the volume on Kierkegaard in the “Arguments of the Philosophers” series. The latter, an early work (1982), marked the definitive inclusion of Kierkegaard...
8. Kierkegaard on Natural and Commanded Love
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All three preceding chapters refer to Works of Love, the first two in the light of what that work tells us about Kierkegaard’s relation to philosophy, the third in its own terms and in respect of what Works of Love is saying, in criticism of what, some time ago, I myself have said about that. My remarks on Rick Furtak’s essay are directed at the more general topic of the second part of his title, “the discipline of philosophy” (though we note that the second part’s actual...
9. Despair and Depression
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Kierkegaard used to complain that “the age of making distinctions is passed.”1 The age of making the distinction between despair and depression is certainly passed. Indeed, were someone today to say that he was in despair, we would almost surely think that what he really meant to say was that he was depressed. No doubt the demise of despair has something to do with...
10. Spleen Essentially Canceled—yet a Little Spleen Retained
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In the introduction to his translation of an abridged version of Either/Or: A Fragment of Life,1 Alastair Hannay discusses the appropriateness of publishing Either/Or in an abbreviated form and in just a single volume. He notes that Kierkegaard himself published the second edition in one single volume in 1849—in its entirety. Hannay writes: “The most obvious...
11. Kierkegaard on Melancholy and Despair
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Gordon Marino more than anyone has sought to bring the ethical and moral-psychological precepts to be found in Kierkegaard’s writings to bear on today’s society. The most general of these, it can be claimed, is Kierkegaard’s stress on not blurring important distinctions. The distinction Marino takes up is that between psychological and spiritual disorder, a distinction...
12. Philosophy and Dogma: The Testimony of an Upbuilding Discourse
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No doubt there are things that look like fragments of philosophy in Kierkegaard, things like contributions to long-standing debates in the philosophy of religion, in epistemology, in logic, maybe even an attempt at a kind of proto-phenomenology. But there would seem to be a clear limit to the extent to which Kierkegaard as a whole can be read as a philosopher. For what made...
13. The Dangers of Indirection: Plato, Kierkegaard, and Leo Strauss
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Much has traditionally been made of the fact that Kierkegaard’s writing style is not one that is usual to philosophers. Philosophers, though this is more true of Anglo-American philosophers than of any other group of thinkers, tend to write in a straightforward, exegetical, or axiological manner, whereas Kierkegaard’s style is often closer to that of a novelist, dramatist,...
14. Abraham’s Final Word
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Even a brief encounter with Johannes de Silentio confirms that he is decidedly, even comically, misnamed. Garrulous to the extreme, he is prone to lengthy disputations, didactic digressions, elliptical illustrations, and parabolic comparisons. Despite announcing on several occasions that he does not understand Abraham, he nevertheless proceeds to weave an elaborate...
15. Faith as Eschatological Trust in Fear and Trembling
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It is well known that Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling,1 which he attributed to the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio,2 is about the complex relation between the ‘stages’ of existence that he calls “the ethical” (characterized by moral duties and virtues) and the religious (or ‘faith’). Despite much scholarly attention, deep disagreement remains about how these life-views...
16. Silence and Entering the Circle of Faith
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George Pattison’s thesis is cautious. It is that there is evidence that Kierkegaard had a more complex view of the relation of philosophy to Christian dogmatics than that which the works assigned to Johannes Climacus leave us with. Where Climacus says, Hands off, this is religion!, the new view gives some leeway to philosophy but ends up presenting yet another way of holding faith and philosophy apart, but a “subtly different” way...
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List of Contributors
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 2 figures
Publication Year: 2008
Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion