Schleier macher

A third theological position to which Kierkegaard was exposed as a university student was that of the German Reformed (Calvinist) theologian Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), whose dogmatics, The Christian Faith (1830), Kierkegaard read with his tutor, Hans Lassen Martensen, in the summer of 183 4.36 Martensen, a rising star soon to be appointed to the faculty of the university met and was greatly impressed by Schleiermacher when he visited Copenhagen in 1833 (although Martensen's own...

How Christ Atones For

Exactly how Christ makes satisfaction for sin is explained in a substitutionary manner by Kierkegaard. Using the figure of Christ as high priest in the New Testament epistle to the Hebrews, he portrays Christ as the high priest who puts himself completely in our place in several ways (WA 113-24). First, he who was God put himself in our place by becoming a human being in order truly to be able to sympathize with us, which only divine sympathy is capable of doing. Second, unlike a merely human...

Resisting Levelling

Because levelling is the product of a superior abstract power or demonic force, in Kierkegaard's judgement it cannot be controlled or halted by any age, heroic individual, assemblage, or national individuality but is here to stay (TA 86-8). Living in an age of levelling can nevertheless be genuinely educative for individuals, inasmuch as the rigorous personal testing to which they are subjected in the process of levelling can serve as the point of departure or inspiration for a higher life in...

Loving the Neighbour

In line with the second commandment of the Bible, Kierkegaard defines Christian love (Kjerlighed) as love for the neighbour. But who is our neighbour and what does it mean to love the neighbour as oneself Kierkegaard begins to unpack the meaning of this commandment by pointing out that the term 'neighbour'(Mxste) is derived from the word 'nearest' (Nxrmeste), suggesting that the neighbour is the person who is or ought to be nearest to us just as near as we are to ourselves (WL 21)....

Becoming A Christian In Christendom

Although Kierkegaard's attack on Christendom came to a head and reached its highest pitch in the final writings of his authorship, it began much earlier, arguably even from the very beginning, in the implied or indirect critiques of modern culture, philosophy, theology, and society in his early aesthetic writings. The work that brought this attack to the fore, however, was Concluding Unscientific Postscript, which explicitly poses the fundamental issue of the whole authorship how to become a...

Religiousnessatadistance

In agreement with Climacus, Kierkegaard maintains that 'all religiousness lies in subjectivity, in inwardness, in emotion, in being jolted, in the qualitative pressure on the spring of subjectivity' (BA 104, translation modified). In his view, however, 'most people, in the religious sense, go through life in a kind of absentmindedness and preoccupation' in which 'they never in self-concern sense each his own I and the pulse beat and heart beat of his own self' (103). In other words, they live...

The Early Pseudonymous and Upbuilding Writings

In a retrospective accounting of his authorship written in 1848, Kierkegaard maintained that it was 'religious from first to last', designed to cast the religious, more specifically the essentially Christian, into reflection for the sake of clarifying Christian categories, thus enabling his reader, whom he always addressed as 'that single individual', to become aware of what Christianity is and how to become a Christian (PV 6). Although this conception of the religious character and thrust of...

Contents

Christianity is an Existence-Communication 26 3. Venturing a Relation to God 51 4. Our Human Condition Anxiety, Sin, Despair, and Becoming a Self before God 80 5. Christ as Absolute Paradox, Redeemer, and Prototype 111 6. The Christian Life of Faith, Hope, and Love 145 7. Religion, Culture, and Society 173 References 207 Index 224

The Concept of Irony

In the fall of 1841 Kierkegaard petitioned the king for permission to submit a dissertation written in Danish, along with a statement of its theses in Latin, for conferral of the magister (doctoral) degree, the highest degree awarded by the faculty of philosophy at the University of Copenhagen (LD 23-5). This work, titled The Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates, marked the beginning in his published writings of a lifelong fascination with Socrates, who is credited therein with...

The Qualitative Leap into

If sinfulness in later generations is a consequence of Adam's first sin as traditionally believed, then the first sin of subsequent individuals would presuppose sinfulness as a state or given condition and Adam would stand outside the human race in such a way that the race would not have its beginning with him but through something outside itself, which according to Vigilius is 'contrary to every concept' (CA 30). This untenable conclusion leads him to re-examine the concept of 'the first sin',...

Double Reflection

Subjective thinkers also differ from objective or abstract thinkers by the fact that they engage in a process of double reflection (CUP i. 73-6). Like objective thinkers, subjective thinkers first think the universal or form a general concept of some actuality, such as a human being. While objective thinkers are content with obtaining a proper general concept of reality as a basis for knowledge, subjective thinkers engage in a second form of reflection in which the content of thought is related...

The Principle Of Association

If the present age cannot be saved by philosophy, it likewise cannot be redeemed by the idea of sociality or the principle of association, which in Kierkegaard's view serves in an inversely dialectical manner to weaken and vitiate individuals while seeking to strengthen them by sticking together in numbers (TA 106). Inspired by the Saint-Simon movement of the 1820s and 1830s, for whom the forming of associations was a central strategy for alleviating the plight of the poor by organizing stock...

The State Church As A Toxic Junk Heap

Indeed, Kierkegaard holds the state responsible for providing materially for those with whom it has contracted in the event of a church-state separation, which he now regards as necessary 'The question about what Christianity is, including in turn the question about the state Church, the people's Church, which they now want to call it, the amalgamation or alliance of Church and state, must be brought to the most extreme decision. It cannot and must not go on as it did year after year under the...

The Double Movement of Faith

For Johannes, however, the great and remarkable thing about Abraham that makes him the father of faith is not that he was willing to sacrifice Isaac but that he believed throughout the whole ordeal that he would get Isaac back 'For it is great to give up one's wish, but it is greater to keep a firm grip on it after having given it up it is great to lay hold of the eternal, but it is greater to stick doggedly to the temporal after having given it up' (FT 15). Abraham did not expect to be...

Sin as Offence

While the basis for the definition of sin in the previous forms of despair was the theological or infinite self before God, the self in despair of the forgiveness of sin stands directly before Christ, who embodies 'the staggering reality' of the infinite self inasmuch as God only becomes the criterion and goal of the human self in him (SUD 114). Reconciliation with God is thus made possible through Christ, who offers the forgiveness of sin, but Christ's forgiveness may be rejected in either of...

References

Adams, Noel (2003), 'How is an Existence-Communication Possible ' in P. Houe and G. D. Marino (eds.), Seren Kierkegaard and the Word(s) (Copenhagen C. A. Reitzel), 160-70. Adorno, Theodor W (1940), 'On Kierkegaard's Doctrine of Love', Studies in Philosophy and Social Studies, 8 413-29. Allchin, A. M. (1997), N. F. S. Grundtvig An Introduction to his Life and Work (Aarhus, DK Aarhus University Press). Althaus, Paul (1966), The Theology of Martin Luther, tr. Robert C. Schultz (Philadelphia, Pa....

Christ As Prototype

Recognizing that 'times are different and different times have different requirements', Kierkegaard observes that in the Middle Ages the gospel of grace was changed into a new law more rigorous than the old and everything became a matter of works and merit (FSE 15). Then Luther appeared on the historical scene with the corrective that a person is saved by faith alone, strategically shoving aside the New Testament epistle of James with its warning that faith without works is dead in order to...

Christ As Redeemer

For all Kierkegaard's emphasis upon Christ as the absolute paradox and sign of contradiction, the dual roles of Christ as the redeemer and prototype of human beings are equally if not more important in his understanding of Christ. Although the role of Christ as prototype is stressed in Kierkegaard's later works and journals, it always stands in a complementary dialectical relation to his role as redeemer. Thus each role must be viewed in tandem with the other. For the purpose of analysis,...

The Phantom Of The Public

In Kierkegaard's view, levelling is made possible through the rise and agency of the 'monstrous nonentity' or 'phantom' of the public, which in turn is possible only in a passionless, reflective age by the aid of the press when it has become a phantom itself through the practice of journalistic anonymity (TA 90-1, 93, cf. 138-9).8 The concept of the public could not have appeared in antiquity, Kierkegaard argues, because in that time the people were obliged to come forward en masse in corpore...

Religion Culture and Society

Kierkegaard's critique of Christendom in all its aspects philosophical, theological, ecclesiastical, cultural, and sociopolitical began in his earliest writings and was sustained throughout his authorship, culminating in the attack literature of the last year of his life. The most concentrated discussion of the relation of religion, culture, and society in his writings, however, appears in Two Ages The Age of Revolution and the Present Age, A Literary Review (1846).1 The subject of this review...

The Question of Martyrdom

Nor does voluntary suffering for the sake of Christ necessarily require martyrdom, although that must remain a possibility in every Christian's life. Speaking in the voice of Anti-Climacus in Practice in Christianity (1850), Kierkegaard states I have never asserted that every Christian is a martyr, or that no one was a true Christian who did not become a martyr, even though I think that every true Christian should and here I include myself in order to be a true Christian, make a humble...

God as the Middle Term in Human Love Relations

Central to the possibility of Christian love is a relationship to God, which for Kierkegaard is 'the mark by which the love for people is recognized as genuine', even in special relations to spouses and friends (WL 120). Kierkegaard contends that However beautiful a relationship of love has been between two people or among many, however complete all their desire and all their bliss have been for themselves in mutual sacrifice and devotion, even though everyone has praised this relationship if...

In These Times Everything is Politics

Looking back on his life a few years later, Kierkegaard remarked in his journal 'Then came 1848. Here I was granted a perspective on my life that almost overwhelmed me' (JP vi. 6843). Besides being an extraordinarily productive year in terms of his authorship, it was during this year that the second major event occurred which profoundly affected Kierkegaard's life and the society in which he lived, namely the peaceful political transition from government by absolute monarchy to a...

Info

Individual and society may be summed up in the following astronomical metaphor 'The harmony of the spheres is the unity of each planet relating to itself and to the whole' (63). The structure of the relation between the individual and society in an age of levelling, however, will be different from that of previous ages, in which the leaders of society were recognizable individuals who exercised authority in their various positions of rank, thereby supporting and being supported by the whole....

Dialectical Problems Relating to Faith

To further show what a prodigious paradox faith is, Johannes poses three dialectical problems or questions implicit in the story of Abraham (1) 'Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical ' (2) 'Is there an absolute duty to God ' (3) 'Was it ethically defensible of Abraham to conceal his undertaking' from his family (FT 46, 59, 71) The main backdrop for the discussion of these problems is Hegel's view of the ethical in The Philosophy of Right.8 According to Hegel, the ethical life...

The Function And Authority Of The Institutional Church

Kierkegaard also recognized the temporal authority of the institutional church to conduct worship services and to administer the sacraments at least up until the last year of his life. In his view, all immanent or earthly authority in the 'political, civic, social, domestic, and disciplinary realms' is transitory in nature and vanishes in the essential equality of eternity only Christ and the apostles possess divine authority, which is given to them by God and thus is eternally valid (WA 99 cf....

Continuance in

Unless one repents of one's sin before God and undergoes a radical 'upheaval' (Omvaltning) and 'about-face' (Omvendelse) so as to begin moving toward faith rather than further away from it in the consciousness of sin, one remains in the state of sin, which increases of its own accord so as to establish a consistency of sin (SUD 61 n., 65, translation modified cf. SV1, xi. 173 n., 177). As a rule, Anti-Climacus observes, people are so completely under the power of sin that it has become second...

Our Human Condition Anxiety Sin Despair and Becoming a Self before

In his journals of 1842 Kierkegaard writes 'The nature of original sin has often been explained, and still a primary category has been lacking it is anxiety (Angst) this is the essential determinant' (JP i. 94). The analysis of anxiety as the psychological precondition of original or hereditary sin (Arvesynd)1 in The Concept of Anxiety (1844) is one of Kierkegaard's most original and most notable contributions to Christian thought.2 It has also played a groundbreaking role in the development of...

Thinking Psychologically About Hereditary

The subtitle of The Concept of Anxiety, a work attributed to the pseudonym Vigilius Haufniensis (the Watchman of Copenhagen), describes this book 1 Usually translated as 'original sin', this term literally means 'hereditary sin', which is the translation used in the current English edn. of The Concept of Anxiety, following Luther's The Smalcald Articles, where 'hereditary sin' (peccatum haereditarium) is used. See Luther (1989 516). 2 See e.g. Tillich (1951-63 ii. 19-59) Niebuhr (1951 178-264)...

The Christian Life of Faith Hope and Love

For Kierkegaard the Christian life is a new life pre-eminently characterized by faith, hope, and love, but according to the inverse dialectic that informs his understanding of Christianity, these positive passions are always experienced and known indirectly and inversely through negative qualifications such as the consciousness of sin, the possibility of offence, self-denial, and voluntary suffering in likeness to Christ.1 Consequently, thinking theologically about the trilogy of faith, hope,...

The Proof Of The Centuries

Paraphrasing a statement attributed to the German romantic philosopher Jean Paul (1763-1825) to the effect that 'if all demonstrations of the truth of Christianity were abandoned or disproved, one demonstration would nevertheless remain, namely, that it has survived for eighteen hundred years', Climacus also takes aim at the so-called 'proof of the centuries' advanced by orthodoxy (CUP i. 47n. cf. BA 36-50). In his estimation, attempts to demonstrate the truth of Christianity on the basis of...

The Phenomenon Of Levelling In The Present

By 1846, however, a new era had dawned with different demands of the time, creating a generation gap between the aristocratic conservatism of the older generation and the bourgeois liberalism of the younger. Although still a young man, Kierkegaard did not align himself with the latter, but neither did he embrace the cultural elitism of the former. Rather, he deftly crafted a critique of both parties while setting forth a different vision of what the age needs in his review of Madam...

The Bible As The Secure Stronghold Of Faith

If the Bible is to be regarded as 'the secure stronghold' that is supposed to establish the truth of Christianity, then from a historical point of view it is important to acquire 'the greatest possible reliability' concerning the authenticity, trustworthiness, and inspiration of the Holy Scriptures by means of philology or historical-critical scholarship (CUP i. 24). While Climacus professes to have great respect for philology, which in his view is a 'wholly legitimate' form of scholarship, he...

Sin is a Position

Anti-Climacus also subjects modern speculative theology to criticism for employing a duplicitous 'bait and switch' tactic with regard to the (Lutheran) orthodox Christian teaching that sin is a position. This teaching holds that sin is a reality or state of being that is wilfully brought into existence or 'posited' by the individual, not a negation in the form of a lack or defect in some given condition in the human personality such as weakness, sensuousness, finitude, or ignorance (SUD 96)....

Despair as

The psychological delineation of the foregoing forms of despair is preliminary to Anti-Climacus's ultimate goal, which is to provide a theological analysis of despair as sin for the edification of the single individual. Although despair is identified from the beginning as a disparity not only in one's relation to oneself but also to God, this latter disparity does not come to the fore until part 2 of The Sickness unto Death, where sin is associated with the intensification of the two forms of...

What Christianity Is

It is 'of utmost and decisive importance', Climacus declares, to establish a 'preliminary agreement' with speculative thought concerning what Christianity is (CUP i. 370). 'If Christianity is essentially something objective, it behooves the observer to be objective', he concedes, but if it is 'essentially subjectivity', then it is a mistake to be objective (CUP i. 53). In Climacus's view, however, theological reflection on this issue must not be carried out in a 'learned or partisan manner', as...

The Socratic versus Christian View of

The difference between the Christian definition of sin and that of paganism, particularly the Socratic understanding of sin, is also made apparent by their respective views of what sin is. Lacking a notion of original sin as the antecedent state that explains the obscuring of human knowledge, Socrates identified sin with ignorance, by which he meant that one does the wrong because one does not know what is right.52 If one knows the right, then one will do the right, as no one knowingly does the...

Little Dash Of Cinnamon

In attempting to disentangle the essentially Christian from its various counterfeit expressions, confusions, and accommodations in church and society, Kierkegaard understood his task as a writer to be that of providing a corrective to the established order. Like a skilled cook, he sought to add 'a little dash of cinnamon' to the mix in order to give it 'a specific taste' (JP i. 709). In his view, the task of the corrective is to 'study the weak sides of the established order scrupulously and...

The School of Civic Virtue

Soren's formal education commenced in 1821 when he was enrolled at the Borgerdyd School (School of Civic Virtue), a private school under the tutelage of headmaster Michael Nielsen, who had a reputation as a hard taskmaster.14 As remembered by some of his classmates and relatives, young Soren was somewhat withdrawn yet known for the mischievous teasing and satirical remarks to which he frequently subjected people, earning him the nickname 'the Fork' at home.15 At school he was called 'Choirboy'...

Mynsters Sermons

A stock ingredient in Soren's Christian upbringing was the sermons of Jacob Peter Mynster (1775-1854), a curate at Our Lady's Church in Copenhagen and a popular preacher among the cultural elite of Danish society at that time. Kierkegaard's father was devoted to Mynster as a preacher and spiritual advisor, and his published sermons were regularly read at devotionals in the Kierkegaard household (JP vi. 6627). Soren was even 6 See Garff (2005 19-20) Kirmmse (1996 151). encouraged, on promise of...

Christian Love as Self Denial

Another way of expressing this is to say that Christian love is self-denial's love, which is the boundless and passionate giving of ourselves to others in such a way as to drive out selfishness in ourselves by placing the neighbour as a middle term or third party between self-love and its 'other I' in the beloved or friend (WL 54). As Kierkegaard sees it, self-denial is 'Christianity's essential form' and is what distinguishes Christian love most of all from other forms of love such as erotic...

The Dialectical Constituents of the Self as a Synthesis

In order to awaken us to an understanding of what despair really is and the specific forms it can take in a human being, Anti-Climacus analyses despair first of all in terms of the dialectical constituents of the self as a synthesis of the temporal and the eternal, finitude and infinitude, necessity and possibility. Since the first pair of these constituents was introduced in The Concept of Anxiety, Anti-Climacus limits himself to a discussion of the disparity in the self's relation to the...

Despair As A Sickness Of The Human Spirit

If anxiety is the psychological precursor and consequent of freedom or spirit in a human being, despair is the psychological expression of the disparity or misrelation (misforhold) in a human being's relation to itself as spirit. Recognizing as early as 1836 that 'the present age is the age of despair', Kierkegaard analyses despair as a universal sickness of the human spirit in The Sickness unto Death, published in 1849 under the pseudonym Anti-Climacus and subtitled 'A Christian Psychological...

The Subjective Thinker

According to Climacus, the way to cultivate subjectivity in oneself is to become a subjective thinker, whose task is to achieve self-understanding in existence (CUP i. 73-80, 349-60). Whereas objective thinking is indifferent to the thinker's own existence, requiring the abandonment of oneself in objectivity, subjective thinking does not forget the fact that the thinker is an existing person and includes that thought in reflection in the interest of existing in what is thought. Due to the...

Faith versus Doubt and Offence

Climacus also distinguishes between two senses of faith (Tro) faith in the ordinary sense, or belief concerning the coming into existence of anything historical, and faith in an eminent sense, which is based solely on the contradiction that the god has come into existence (PF 87). The first form of faith pertains to the immediate apprehension of anything that has come into existence or become historical, such as a star or an event, inasmuch as its coming into existence is uncertain or elusive...

Grew up in Orthodoxy

Kierkegaard was also having doubts about Christianity at this time, as it seemed to him to have 'such great contradictions that a clear view is hindered, to say the least' (JP v. 5092). The Lutheran orthodox 'colossus' under which he had grown up began to totter when he started to think for himself. This colossus was built upon the Bible as the absolute standard and sole authority for all Christian teaching, the confessional writings of the early church (the Apostolic, Nicene, and Athanasian...

Hoping All Things Always

Kierkegaard defines more explicitly what it means to hope in a Christian sense in Works of Love. Christianly understood, 'hope is composed of the eternal and the temporal', which means that its task is both to hope all things (the expression for its eternal aspect) and to hope always (the expression for its temporal aspect), which together express the same thing 'at every moment always to hope all things' (WL 249). The only point at which the eternal, which simply is and thus not subject to...

Hoping for Others

As Kierkegaard sees it, hope in the possibility of the good is inherently related to love, so that it is impossible to hope for oneself without also hoping for others No one can hope unless he is also loving he cannot hope for himself without also being loving, because the good has an infinite connectedness but if he is loving, he also hopes for others. In the same degree to which he hopes for others, he hopes for himself, because in the very same degree to which he hopes for others, he is one...

Imitation Versus Admiration Of Christ

In the present age, especially in Protestantism, Kierkegaard contends that the prototype has become so far removed from the single individual that 'it has become merely an idea of the race', with the result that 'it never occurs to him in the remotest way to want to strive toward likeness' (JP ii. 1873 cf. 1904). Imitation or following after Christ thus has been done away with and replaced with aesthetic admiration of him, as in Kant's view (JP ii. 1895). The person specifically indicted for...

Medieval And Modern Views Of Christ As Prototype

But what does it mean for Christ to be a prototype and in what sense is imitation of him required Let us begin to tackle these questions by first noting the historical background within which these ideas became prominent in the Christian tradition. The notion of a prototype is associated with being an archetype or original pattern, model, form, or ideal of some kind. In the Christian tradition the notion of Christ as a prototype and example for the Christian life through his perfect obedience,...

Socrates And The Christian Believer

According to Climacus, to become a subjective thinker who seeks self-understanding in existence was the Greek principle, exemplified in the Socratic exhortation to 'know yourself' (CUP i. 352). Socrates serves as the paradigm of the subjective thinker for Climacus because he expresses the thesis that subjectivity is truth in his philosophizing by paying attention to 'the essential meaning of existing' and to the fact that the thinker is an existing person whose task as a thinker is first and...

The Concept of Innocence

In contrast to Schleiermacher's notion of an innate sinfulness in Adam and humankind prior to the first sin and in direct opposition to Hegel, Vigilius reaffirms the traditional notion of Adam's innocence before the Fall, which in his view has been confused with the concept of immediacy in Hegel's logic (CA 35).30 As conceived by Hegel, immediacy is a pure state of being in innocence or ignorance that should be annulled by mediation or reflection in an immanent, necessary movement to a higher...

Poetical Venture

Having dialectically distinguished Christianity from philosophical idealism and other immanent approaches to the knowledge and acquisition of eternal truth, Climacus embarks on a poetical venture in the imaginative construction of a poetic analogy to the human learner and divine teacher in the parable of the king and the maiden. To recap the parable briefly, the king god is motivated out of love for a lowly maiden learner to do away with the inequality between them in order to establish a happy...

The Corsair Affair

The first of these events was occasioned by one of Kierkegaard's pseudonyms being singled out for praise in a satirical weekly tabloid called The Corsair (from the French corsaire, meaning 'a pirate or pirate ship'), which in keeping with its name specialized in plundering and destroying the reputations of Copenhagen citizens of note. This scandal sheet, or 'pirate paper' as its editor Meir Goldschmidt (1819-87) called it, enjoyed the largest circulation of any newspaper in the city and...

The Silence of Abraham

Much of the inner distress and anxiety associated with the passion and paradox of faith as exemplified by Abraham derives from the fact that he is utterly unable to make himself intelligible to anyone, including his own family, inasmuch as he stands outside the universal in an absolute relation to God that commands him in a particular instance to do what ethics would forbid. Unlike aesthetics, in which concealment plays an essential role in 13 Cf. Hegel (1991b 108-24 1984-7 i. 385-96, 407-16)...

The Absolute Paradox As The Absurd

The second dialectical problem confronting the subjective thinker in Christianity has to do with the qualification of eternal, essential truth itself as the absolute paradox and the absurd as a result of having entered into the temporal realm at a specific moment in time. Climacus warns first of all against conceiving this coming into existence speculatively as an eternal-historical event in which 'the coming into existence of the eternal in time is supposed to be an eternal coming into...

Universal Religious Awakenings Versus A Christian Awakening

Unlike most people, then, Adler had been 'deeply moved' and 'shaken in his inmost being' by being 'fetched home by a higher power' and 'tossed out into extreme mortal danger' over '70,000 fathoms of water' (BA 104, 108, 112). As Kierkegaard sees it, however, to be deeply moved in this manner is not equivalent to having a Christian awakening, as pagans and Jews, for example, are also capable of being deeply moved by something higher or abstract such as the eternal or an idea. Thus 'not every...

Rationalist Theology

If Kierkegaard was in doubt about the foundations of orthodox Christianity, he was even less satisfied with the rationalist theology to which he was introduced in the lectures of Professor Henrik Nicolai Clausen (17931877) (SKS xix 1. 1-8).30 Theological rationalism was a product of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, which sought to subject everything to rational criticism, making reason the primary criterion for determining truth.31 Philosophically, modern rationalism had its genesis in the...

The Reception Of Kierkegaard

Because Kierkegaard's writings had to be translated into other languages before they could become widely available outside Denmark, the initial reception of Kierkegaard in the seventy-odd years following his death was slow in coming.23 When it did come, it was quite mixed and often coloured by partisan reviews, misconceptions, and a lack of access to his writings other than The Moment, which was the first to be translated. This had the deleterious, off-putting effect of making Kierkegaard seem...

The Concept Of Paradox

The stage is now set for the introduction of Christ as the absolute paradox. It is important first of all, however, to clarify what a paradox is before there 13 Cf. Plato, Symposium, 220b (1997 501). can be any talk of an absolute paradox. Etymologically, this term is derived from the Greek words para ('beyond') and doxa ('opinion'), connoting something that goes beyond or is contrary to common opinion. A common misunderstanding of the concept of paradox is to regard it as a formal or logical...

Unum Noris Omnes

The view set forth in Two Ages on the difference between the sociality of the crowd or public and genuine community is further confirmed and given its most incisive expression in a journal entry from 1850 In the 'public' and the like the single individual is nothing there is no individual the numerical is the constituting form and the law for the coming into existence of a generatio aequivoca spontaneous generation detached from the 'public' the single individual is nothing, and in the public...

The Emancipation of Women

Kierkegaard's negative attitude towards social equality also led him to oppose the emancipation of women, the subject of his very first publication in a newspaper article while still a university student (EPW 3-5).31 In the 1830s there was already a women's liberation movement brewing in Scandinavia and elsewhere in Europe which continued to gather steam in the 1840s, particularly after the political revolutions of 1848.32 Viewing Christianity as seeking to bring about only the change of...

Conscious Despair in Weakness

The next level of despair is conscious despair, in which one has a truer conception of despair and greater clarity about oneself as being in despair, although one may still have only 'a dim idea' of one's true state and self-identity at this level (SUD 48). Anti-Climacus basically distinguishes between two forms of conscious despair despairingly not to will to be oneself (despair in weakness or 'feminine despair'), and despairingly to will to be oneself (defiant despair or 'masculine despair')...

Objectivity In Subjectivity

The fact that faith is related to an objective uncertainty does not mean, however, that it lacks intellectual content or an objective referent outside the inwardness of the individual. On the contrary, we have seen that 13 On the implications of Climacus's view of subjective truth for multiculturalism and religious pluralism, see Perkins (2004a). 14 See also Gouwens (1996 19-21, 105-8, 150-1), and Evans (1983 126-31). Climacus clearly recognizes that Christianity possesses intellectual content...

Holy Communion

For Kierkegaard the longing for reconciliation with God begins with the consciousness of sin, in which one becomes aware of one's distance from being a self before God.51 But the consciousness of sin is dialectical in character, inasmuch as it may lead one further away from faith in the continuation and intensification of sin, as described in The Sickness unto Death, or it may become further qualified so as to function as an indirectly positive aid in bringing a person to faith.52 In the latter...

The Doctrine Of The Incarnation

The biblical basis for the doctrine of the incarnation rests principally on two passages from the New Testament.2 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father's only son, full of grace and truth. (John 1 14) Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness....

The Objective Issue

In order to distinguish the subjective issue of the individual's relation to Christianity as clearly as possible from the objective issue of the truth of Christianity, Climacus begins with a brief characterization of how the latter is determined in the modern age. Reflecting Leibniz's famous distinction between contingent and necessary truths, or truths of fact and truths of reason, he points out that, objectively viewed, truth can be understood as being either historical or philosophical in...

The Teleological Suspension of the Ethical

Over against a Hegelian conception of the single individual as subordinate to the universal, Johannes asserts just the opposite with respect to Abraham and faith 8 On Kantian elements in this work as well, see Green (1992 86-91, 183-205) Knappe (2004 12-13, 77-97). 9 Hegel (1991a 129-40). On Hegel's ethics, see Wood (1990 1993b). 10 Cf. Kant (1990 24) Hegel (1991a 64, 189-98). Faith is exactly this paradox, that the single individual is higher than the universal, but in such a way, mind you,...

Reflecting On Faith

In a journal entry from 1850 Kierkegaard testifies to the centrality of the question of faith in his pseudonymous works and to the importance of employing dialectical reflection to illuminate it, which he claims to have done with unparalleled devotion and accuracy In many forms and under several pseudonyms, a whole pseudonymous literature is chiefly concerned with illuminating the question of faith, with discerning the sphere belonging to faith, with determining its distinction from other...

Contemporaneity with Christ

In his journals Kierkegaard states that 'before there can even be any question about having faith, there must be the situation. And this situation must be brought about by an existential step on the part of the individual The requirement is that you must venture out, out into water 70,000 fathoms deep. This is the situation' (JP ii. 1142). As Johannes Climacus sees it, the situation that results in either the happy passion of faith or the unhappy passion of offence is occasioned by an encounter...

The Church Militant Versus The Church Triumphant

Kierkegaard's beef with the established church was so uncompromising that he is often accused of lacking a positive conception of the church, which is not so. To be sure, he did not write much on this topic, the only sustained discussion of it in his published works appearing in Practice in Christianity by his Christian pseudonym Anti-Climacus. But his critique of the established church was prompted by a clear understanding of what constitutes the true church in the realm of temporality. As...

Hoping Against Hope

Just as Christian faith goes against the understanding by believing in possibility in the face of impossibility, Christian hope is a 'hope against hope' that also goes against the understanding by hoping at precisely that point where, humanly speaking, there is no hope and all purely natural hope has been changed into hopelessness or despair (EUD 94-5 FSE 82 SUD 18).21 Christian hope is thus a gift of the Spirit that comes only after one has 'died to' the understanding's merely human view of...

The Equality of Love

A central feature of Kierkegaard's understanding of Christian love is its emphasis on our common humanity and universal equality as human beings. In contrast to paganism, in which, according to Kierkegaard, 'people are inhumanly separated one from another by the dissimilarities of earthly life' and individuals are taught to disclaim kinship with one another, Christianity affirms the eternal equality and kinship of all human beings before God (WL 69 cf. EUD 141-5). It teaches us to shut our eyes...

Anxiety as the Precondition of Hereditary

Of primary interest to Vigilius is the question of how innocence is lost, which brings him at last to the psychological explanation of the Fall promised at the beginning of his deliberation. Reminding the reader that no science can explain sin, which comes into existence suddenly and inexplicably through a qualitative leap, Vigilius aims to stay within the boundary of what psychology can explain, namely the psychological preconditions that lead up to but do not cause or explain sin itself. He...

The Double Danger of Christian Love

If we venture to mediate our love relations in this way, however, conflict with the world is inevitable because Christian love is the opposite of pagan, worldly, merely human conceptions of love (WL 118, 121, 123). As Kierkegaard sees it, the Christian life is exposed to 'double danger', involving struggle on two fronts, first of all inwardly in striving to develop a Christian disposition within oneself, and then outwardly with the world, which rewards the true expression of love to others with...

Christianity is an Existence Communication

Kierkegaard did not consider himself to be a theologian but only 'a singular kind of poet and thinker' who wrote 'without authority' (WA 165). Like Luther, he did not claim to teach anything new but sought 'once again to read through, if possible in a more inward way, the original text of individual human existence-relationships, the old familiar text handed down from the fathers'(165 cf. CUP i. 629-30).1 While basically affirming and reflecting orthodox Lutheran theology in his authorship,...

The Speculative Point Of View

The speculative point of view of Hegelian philosophy and theology also regards Christianity as a historical phenomenon but seeks to determine its truth through reason rather than by historical methods. As Climacus sees it, however, the question of the thinker's own eternal happiness does not even arise in this perspective, inasmuch as the speculative task requires one to move away from oneself in abstract thought, abandoning or losing oneself in objectivity, as in the natural sciences (CUP i....

Christ as Absolute Paradox Redeemer and Prototype

The absolute paradox of Jesus Christ as the God-man, or more accurately the God-human being (Gud-Mennesket),1 constitutes the heart of Kierkegaard's understanding of Christianity, for as he sees it, 'all Christianity is rooted in the paradox' (JP iii. 3083). In reflecting on the person and work of Christ as the absolute paradox, Kierkegaard was not interested in expounding the doctrines of the incarnation and atonement as such but in clarifying their meaning for the single individual who...

The Consequences of Hereditary

Having established that original or hereditary sin enters the world in every individual in the same way as it did in Adam, through the individual's own first sin in a qualitative leap from innocence to guilt as a result ofbecoming anxious about the possibility of freedom, Vigilius may appear to have dismissed the traditional notion of hereditary sin as having a corrupting effect upon later generations through generation. But he explicitly rejects such a conclusion, claiming that 'the view...

The Relation Of Religion And Politics

The political turmoil of the time also provided an occasion for Kierkegaard to articulate in a more theoretical fashion his views on the relation between religion and politics or church and state. Reflecting Luther's distinction between the two realms or kingdoms, Kierkegaard's general position is that their viewpoints are worlds apart, as the religious takes its point of departure from above and seeks to transfigure and lift the temporal or earthly to the level of the heavenly, spiritual, or...

Credo Quia Absurdum

In introducing the notion of the absurdity of the absolute paradox, Climacus alludes to Tertullian, who not only articulated the two-natures doctrine of Christ that was later adopted by the church but also made the following famous statement in defence of that doctrine 'The Son of God was crucified I am not ashamed because men must needs be ashamed of it. And the Son of God died it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd quia ineptum est . And He was buried, and rose again the fact...

That Single Individual

Like many young people struggling to find themselves in the modern world, Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-55) at age 22 was uncertain about his purpose in life. Writing in a poetic, possibly quasi-autobiographical fashion for a projected novel while vacationing by the sea, he mused What I really need is to get clear about what I must do, not what I must know, except insofar as knowledge must precede every act. What matters is to find my purpose, to see what it really is that God wills that I...

Venturing a Relation to

For Kierkegaard, theology or discourse about God is rooted in and arises out of the single individual's God-relationship, which is a possibility for every human being and the only way one really comes to know the divine. The proper context for thinking Christianly about God, therefore, is within a personal relation to God, not by engaging in abstract speculation on the nature of the deity.1 As Kierkegaard sees it, a relation to God is 'a voyage of discovery' in which one comes to know God...

The European Crisis Of 1848

The forced but peaceful transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy in Denmark in 1848, together with the violent political revolutions in France and Germany that same year, confirmed in Kierkegaard's mind the validity of his diagnosis of the sickness of the present age and his predictions about the future articulated two years earlier in Two Ages JP iv. 4167 BA 315-16 . Personally, he regarded this event as something to weep over, as to him it represented the victory of...

Faith as a Second Immediacy

The contradiction between Abraham's inner feeling of love for Isaac and the outward act of violence he was willing to perform for God's sake and his own sake as a test of faith leads Johannes to make a second point about 11 See e.g. Stewart 2003 321-3 , who proposes as an analogue to Abraham's situation the political assassination of a Russian noble by a German theology student named Karl Ludwig Sand, who was presumably 'inspired by the higher calling of German nationalism' during the period...

Dialectical Thoughtproject

Writing in the persona of Johannes Climacus in Philosophical Fragments, Kierkegaard first tackles this issue indirectly by proposing a 'thought-project' concerning the paradoxical question of whether truth can be learnt PF 9-22 . Paraphrasing Plato's Meno, the Socratic dialogue in which this question is raised, Climacus states the paradox thus 'a person cannot possibly seek what he knows, and, just as impossibly, he cannot seek what he does not know, for what he knows he cannot seek, since he...

Balles Catechism

One of the religious texts in which Kierkegaard was instructed as a child was Balle's Primer, a catechism that contained an elementary exposition 11 Ibid. 224, 228-9, 231-5. 12 Ibid. 235-43. 13 Burgess 2006 . 14 Tudvad 2004 168-9 Kirmmse 1996 14 . 15 Kirmmse 1996 3-4, 6-8, 10, 151 . 16 Ibid. 7. 17 Tudvad 2004 168-73 . of the main tenets of the Christian faith.18 It was from this book that Kierkegaard received his first formal theological instruction. Balle's catechism was authorized for use in...

The Knight of Faith versus the Knight of Infinite Resignation

Johannes candidly admits that he is incapable of making the movement of faith whereby, by virtue of the absurd, the finite is regained in its entirety after having been renounced in infinite resignation, but he does claim to be able to describe this movement. Although he has never come across an authentic exemplar of faith in his own time, he can very well imagine what one would be like. As Johannes envisions him, the knight of faith bears 'a striking resemblance' to a bourgeois philistine,...

Speculative Dogmatics

Kierkegaard's theological training culminated in an introduction to speculative dogmatics in the university lectures of his former tutor Hans Lassen Martensen and readings on the subject. Nineteenth-century German and Danish speculative dogmatics developed out of the idealist philosophy of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 1770-1831 , who sought to comprehend everything, including God or Absolute Spirit, as an encompassing whole through speculation from the Latin speculum, meaning 'mirror' or the...

Christ As A Sign Of Contradiction

The possibility of essential offence at Christ is thus occasioned by the fact that he is a 'sign of contradiction' PC 124 . To be a sign means that something is different from what it immediately is to be a sign of contradiction means that it contains a contradiction in its composition, that it is the opposite of what it immediately is or appears to be. In the case of Christ, this means that his lowliness is inversely a sign of his loftiness. Christ's lowliness poses the possibility of offence...

The Paradox of Faith

One of Kierkegaard's pseudonyms who is acutely aware of the fact that he lacks faith is Johannes de silentio John of Silence , the 'author' of Fear and Trembling.4 In this early pseudonymous work, Kierkegaard's literary persona laments the tendency of modern philosophy by which he means Hegelian speculative philosophy most notably that of the Danish Hegelians and Martensen in particular to 'go further' than faith by presumably comprehending it conceptually in a philosophical system FT 3-4 . As...

Subjectivity As Untruth

The first dialectical problem that confronts the subjective thinker in Christianity concerns the condition of the thinker's own subjectivity. Seeking to show how Christianity makes an advance upon the Socratic position that subjectivity is truth, Climacus claims that in Christianity one must begin by positing the opposite thesis, namely that 'subjectivity is untruth' 19 On the inverse dialectic of Religiousness A, see Walsh 2005 8, 83-5, 114-16 . See also Law 1997 Westphal 1996 150-79 Evans...

Subjectivity Is Truth And Truth Is Subjectivity

If Christianity is an existence-communication rather than a doctrine, a truth to be appropriated in existence rather than comprehended by thought, then it must be regarded as being essentially subjective rather than objective in nature. Accordingly, Climacus defines Christianity in the following manner 'Christianity is spirit spirit is inwardness inwardness is subjectivity subjectivity is essentially passion, and at its maximum an infinite, personally interested passion for one's eternal...

Unconscious Despair

Anti-Climacus identifies several forms of despair based on their differing levels of intensity, which are directly proportionate to the increase in a person's consciousness of being in despair and having a self 'the greater the degree of consciousness, the more intensive the despair' SUD 42 . The lowest level of despair is that of being unconscious of being in despair and having a self that is eternal or spiritual in nature. This form of despair is equivalent to what was earlier identified in...

Demonstrating The Existence Of

If God is a subject to whom one is related in a subjective rather than objective manner, it goes without saying that God's existence cannot be objectively or rationally proved. In fact, as Kierkegaard sees it The idea of proving the existence of God is of all things the most ridiculous. Either he exists, and then one cannot prove it no more than I can prove that a certain human being exists the most I can do is to let something testify to it, but then I presuppose existence or he does not...

Grundtvigs Matchless Discovery

Another anti-rationalist theological movement in Denmark from which Kierkegaard disassociated himself early on was the cultic Christianity of Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig 1783-1872 and his followers, one of whom was Kierkegaard's older brother, Peter Christian. A pastor, theologian, poet, hymnodist, educator, politician, historian, and philologist, 38 Tice 2006 1-16 . 39 Schleiermacher 1996 22, 29-31, 46-7 1956 5-18 . 40 N. Thulstrup 1978 46 see also Crouter 2005 98-119 . 41 Crouter 2005...

Classical Theories Of Atonement

Before turning to these writings, however, let us briefly review the Christian doctrine of atonement concerning God's redeeming and reconciling activity in and through the suffering and death of Christ. Several types of atonement theory have emerged in the Christian tradition to explain how and why Christ's atonement took place and what it accomplished. The earliest type, known as the classic or dramatic theory, was first worked out by the Greek church father Irenaeus, whose interpretation...

Now he is Dead

The third and final phase of Kierkegaard's authorship was precipitated by the death in 1854 of Bishop Mynster, whom Kierkegaard had known and revered since childhood but over the years increasingly had come to criticize in his capacity as Primate Bishop and chief representative of the Danish People's Church. The problem, as Kierkegaard saw it, was that Mynster and the established church he represented promoted a toned-down version of Christianity that actually had compromised, changed, and...

God Is Love

With the theme of God's love we arrive at what for Kierkegaard is the main 'thesis of Christianity', namely that God is love JP ii. 1446 . As he sees it, love is not a predicate or attribute of God such as omnipresence or omnipotence but constitutes 'the only substantive' qualification or very essence of God JP ii. 1319, 1446 .21 What does it mean, then, to say that God's essence is love Perhaps the best explanation is given in a late journal entry in which Kierkegaard states 'The law of loving...

Defiant Despair

In defiant despair there is an even greater consciousness of the self, of what despair is, and of one's own state of despair as being self-initiated. One wants to become oneself, but one wants to become the self one wants to be rather than the self one is intended to be by God. As Anti-Climacus expresses it, 'the self in despair wants to be master of itself or to create itself, to make his self into the self he wants to be, to determine what he will have or not have in his concrete self' SUD 68...