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Kierkegaard, Communication, and Virtue

Authorship as Edification

Mark A. Tietjen

Publication Year: 2013

In contrast to recent postmodern and deconstructionist readings, Mark A. Tietjen believes that the purpose behind Kierkegaard's writings is the moral and religious improvement of the reader. Tietjen defends Kierkegaard against claims that certain features of his works, such as pseudonymity, indirect communication, irony, and satire are self-deceived or deceitful. Kierkegaard, Communication, and Virtue reveals how they are directly related to the virtues or moral issues being discussed. In fact, Tietjen argues, the manner of presentation is a critical element of the philosophical message being conveyed. Reading broadly in Kierkegaard’s writings, he develops a hermeneutics of trust that fully illustrates Kierkegaard’s aim to evoke faith in his reader.

Published by: Indiana University Press

Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion


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p. 1-1

Kierkegaard, Communication, and Virtue

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pp. 2-3


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p. 4-4


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p. 5-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This book is a result of the confluence of many lives commonly pursuing the joys of learning and friendship. I should first thank James Loder, who introduced me to the thought of Kierkegaard and whose powerful influence on several generations of students and ministers at Princeton Theological Seminary continues to this day. ...


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pp. ix-x

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Introduction: Philosophy and Edification

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pp. 1-14

Today’s moral philosopher operates more like a physics scholar than a physician. The physics scholar is interested in truth about the physical world, including the natural laws that give shape to a human’s experience of the world. The physics scholar, however, does not prescribe how the human ought to operate in the world, ...

Part I. Jest and/or Earnestness

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1. Blunt Reading

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pp. 17-32

There is likely to be minimal disagreement over the claim that Kierkegaard’s upbuilding discourses and other religious writings like Works of Love and For Self- Examination function to edify the reader. If there is opposition to this claim, the burden rests on those who see other intentions on behalf of the author, and it is not my objective to anticipate such arguments here. ...

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2. Alternatives to Différance

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pp. 33-48

The reader new to Kierkegaard will find remarkable the diversity of discussions of concepts such as love to be found in his writings. The pseudonym A’s view of love in Either/Or I is based on popular erotic conceptions drawn from Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Augustin Eugène Scribe’s Les Premières Amours ou Les Souvenirs d’enfance, both of which he reviews. ...

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3. Communicating Capability

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pp. 49-58

In chapter 1 I considered Roger Poole’s claim that either one reads Kierkegaard with attentiveness to the indirect communication or one reads him earnestly, “on religious grounds,” as edifying. Kierkegaard seems to anticipate this approach to his work: “In pseudonymous books published by me the earnestness is more vigorous, ...

Part II. Suspicion or Trust

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4. Deconstructing The Point of View

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pp. 61-74

If indirect communication is to be understood as a communication of ethical and ethical-religious capability, then it is quite apparent how Kierkegaard’s authorship may effectively serve the end of edification. Kierkegaard makes explicit the relation between his communicative methods and the improvement of his reader in the published and unpublished works ...

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5. Trusting The Point of View

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pp. 75-86

Garff’s portrait of Kierkegaard is one critical of Kierkegaard’s own moral failings, especially of his dishonesty and self-deception. However, it seems Garff’s own approach in reading Kierkegaard is not itself “morally neutral.” In this chapter I will explore further Kierkegaard’s understanding of the moral backdrop to his authorial practice, ...

Part III. Faith and Virtue

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6. The Pseudonymous Dialectic of Faith, I

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pp. 89-100

Let us take stock of the arguments put forth thus far. In part 1 I claimed that it is a mistake to suppose that given Kierkegaard’s indirect, often playful methods of communication, there is nothing serious going on at the same time. Roger Poole exemplifies the kind of interpretation that generates a false dilemma out of jest and earnestness. ...

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7. The Pseudonymous Dialectic of Faith, II

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pp. 101-116

In chapter 2 we saw that Climacus, a humorist, discusses religion from a position outside faith; thus, in this respect, his illumination of faith is similar to de silentio’s. However, insofar as Climacus’s two-book corpus devotes itself to presenting the issue of what it means to become a Christian, his account of faith has significantly greater Christian content than de silentio’s. ...

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Conclusions: Kierkegaard, Virtue, and Edification

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pp. 117-134

In the preceding chapters we have considered Kierkegaard’s exploration of religious faith carried out in poetic-dialectical fashion across a number of pseudonymous authors with a number of diverse perspectives. We concluded the study by briefly pointing to a conception of faith in one of his signed writings, ...


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pp. 135-150


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pp. 151-156

E-ISBN-13: 9780253008718
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253008541

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2013

Series Title: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion