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Ways of Knowing

Kierkegaard's Pluralist Epistemology

M.G. Piety

Publication Year: 2010

While Kierkegaard is one of the most important thinkers of the nineteenth century, until now very little scholarly attention has been paid to his epistemology. As M. G. Piety explains, this is a serious problem, as Kierkegaard’s views on our ways of knowing are, and must be, intimately related to his view on religious faith and its role in human experience. Thus, in Ways of Knowing, Piety offers the first book-length exploration of Kierkegaard’s views on knowledge, an epistemology that she argues is both foundationalist and nonfoundationalist, substantive and procedural, and includes both internalist and externalist theories of belief justification. In developing, then, a general outline of Kierkegaard’s views, Piety provides the foundational material for future contextualizing and comparative scholarship.

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

Many people have contributed either directly or indirectly to the project this volume represents. I first began working on Kierkegaard's epistemology when I was a graduate student at McGill University. Merold Westphal very kindly agreed to help direct my work even though he was at Fordham and not McGill. I received a great deal of helpful advice and criticism from...

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pp. ix-xi

I moved to Denmark in the fall of 1990. I had been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to spend a year in Copenhagen working on my dissertation on Kierkegaard. I had no idea that fall that I would spend the next eight years of my life in Denmark. To the best of my knowledge, that is more consecutive...


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pp. xiii-xvi

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1. Introduction: Kierkegaard as Epistemologist

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pp. 1-19

Kierkegaard is considered one of the most important thinkers of the nineteenth century, yet very little scholarly work has been done on his epistemology.1 This is a serious problem because Kierkegaard's views on knowledge are, and must be, intimately related to his views on religious faith and its role...

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2. The Knowing Subject

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pp. 21-41

Kierkegaard was a realist in the sense that he believed there was a distinction between what he referred to as "factual being" (faktisk Væren) and "ideal being" (ideel Væren) (C, 114--15n3). Factual being does not, according to Kierkegaard, refer to tangible existence but to what one could call "objective...

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3. Defining Knowledge

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pp. 43-62

Despite Climacus' famously equating truth with subjectivity (CUP, 159ff.), Kierkegaard is no enemy of objective knowledge.1 He wanted simply, as Slotty explains, "to expose . . . the impossibility of absolute knowledge" (Slotty, 20).2 That is, there is no presuppositionless knowledge according to...

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4. Objective Knowledge

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pp. 63-94

Experience alone cannot yield knowledge according to Kierkegaard. The knower must have something like a collection of innate ideas. Kierkegaard's pseudonym Frater Taciturnus asserts, for example in The Stages on Life's Way, that "if I know that Caesar was great, then I know what greatness is, and this...

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5. Redefining Knowledge

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pp. 95-113

I argued in chapter 4 that Kierkegaard's main quarrel with his contemporaries concerned the possibility of absolute knowledge. Kierkegaard "was content," observes Slotty, "to have convinced himself that there was no such thing as presuppositionless knowledge [in philosophy] and proceeded...

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6. Subjective Knowledge

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pp. 115-160

Subjective knowledge was Kierkegaard's primary epistemological interest. It is tempting to jump to the conclusion that subjective knowledge is something that is idiosyncratic to Kierkegaard. It should be clear, however, that while a fully developed theory of subjective knowledge such as is possible to extract from Kierkegaard's works may indeed be specific to Kierkegaard,...

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7. Conclusion: The Implications of Kierkegaard's Epistemology

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pp. 161-177

Kierkegaard clearly believes that his account of subjective knowledge reflects what one could call a real category of knowledge, or a genuine sense in which the expression "knowledge" is used in common parlance. This use is enormously significant with respect to the issue of ethical, or religious, truth. There are some difficulties with the concept of subjective knowledge,...

Works Cited

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pp. 179-186


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pp. 187-196

E-ISBN-13: 9781602584907
E-ISBN-10: 1602584907
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602582620
Print-ISBN-10: 1602582629

Page Count: 210
Publication Year: 2010

Edition: 1