Being and Existence in Kierkegaard's Pseudonymous Works

Being and Existence in Kierkegaard's Pseudonymous Works

John W. Elrod
Copyright Date: 1975
Pages: 281
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  • Book Info
    Being and Existence in Kierkegaard's Pseudonymous Works
    Book Description:

    In this study John W. Elrod demonstrates that Kierkegaard's pseudonymous writings have an ontological foundation that unites the disparate elements of these books. The descriptions of the different stages of human development are not fully understandable, the author argues, without an awareness of the role played by this ontology in Kierkegaard's analysis of human existence.

    Kierkegaard contends that the self is a synthesis of finitude and infinitude, body and soul, reality and ideality, necessity and possibility, and time and eternity. Each of these syntheses reveals a particular and unique aspect of individual being not disclosed in the others. Part One shows that ontology is central to the discussion of the self in the pseudonyms. The author notes that spirit, as a synthesis of the expressions of the self, develops as consciousness and freedom. In Part Two he indicates the relationship between notions of being and existence. He notes that existence, in Kierkegaard's thought, grows out of the life of the spirit; the different stages of existence are concrete modes that develop in the spirit's striving to unify the self as a synthesis. These existential expressions of spirit are dialectically related, in that each step requires the preceding stages of spiritual development.

    Originally published in 1975.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6821-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    John W. Elrod
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. x-2)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    More often than not, passing remarks are just that and no more. However, they sometimes serve as important clues or hints to a man’s thought. There are obvious risks involved in paying them close attention, for it is all too easy a matter to make too much of such remarks. Those coming from the pen of Søren Kierkegaard are no exception. Indeed, given Kierkegaard’s flair for the ironic, one must be especially cautious in assaying the significance of his passing remarks. On at least two occasions, Kierkegaard suggests that ontology should be the main task of those who propose to...

  6. Part One: Kierkegaard’s Ontology
    • CHAPTER I Methodological Foundations
      (pp. 13-28)

      The last decade witnessed the waning of both Neo-orthodox Theology and Existentialist Philosophy. The fortunes of Søren Kierkegaard’s thought were deeply embedded in the dissipation of these two movements. Barth’s identification of his notion of the wholly otherness of God with the thought of Kierkegaard, on the one hand, and Heidegger and Sartre’s designation of Kierkegaard’s concepts of anxiety and existence as the proper subject matter for philosophical reflection, on the other, unfortunately pulled the Kierkegaardian corpus in two opposing directions. These theological and philosophical investments in Kierkegaard’s thought molded the two major interpretive approaches to his thought, which were...

    • CHAPTER II The Dialectical Self
      (pp. 29-71)

      The structural principle to which I have been referring is the self. The purpose of this chapter is to reveal the ontological dimensions of Kierkegaard’s understanding of the self. I hope to accomplish this goal, first, by providing a definition of the self, and second, by examining in detail the five ways in which Kierkegaard discusses the self.

      Kierkegaard’s formal definition of the self (Selv) has three aspects. First, he says that the self is spirit (aand). Second, he says that the self is a relation (Forhold) which relates itself to its own self. Then he modifies this aspect of...

    • CHAPTER III The Dialectical Development of Spirit
      (pp. 72-108)

      In the preceding chapter, we explored the sense of Fahrenbach’s termWas-Sein, and observed how the specific structure of each expression of the self as a synthesis is determined by the manner in which spirit constitutes and unites the relation. It is equally true, although it has not been emphasized until now, that the dialectical development of spirit is limited by what I have analyzed asWas-Sein. More explicitly, spirit is limited by that which it constitutes. To say that spirit is limited by that which it constitutes means that spirit cannot in any manner fulfill its own being apart...

  7. Part Two: The Task of Existing
    • Introduction
      (pp. 111-113)

      The structure of the ethical and ethico-religious stages of existence is to be comprehended in terms of the dialectical development of spirit. Freedom’s drive toward the existential unification of the two elements of the self’sWas-Seingives rise to the reality of the existing individual. In the following chapters we shall see that the task of the reconstitution of this existential unity is an ethical one. And the existing individual is an individual who accepts the task of ethics and attempts in his own unique and particular existence, through striving to unite himself in existence, to understand himself.

      The self...

    • CHAPTER IV The Ethical Character of Existence
      (pp. 114-142)

      Ethics has two meanings in Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous writings. It refers both to the process of self-understanding and to the ethical stage of existence. The former meaning refers to the self as a task whose fundamental possibility in life is self-understanding, and the latter meaning refers to that stage in the dialectical development of spirit in which the ethical requirement of ideality comes to consciousness. Since the more fundamental meaning of the term emerges, within the development of the ethical stage, I will first discuss ethics as a stage and then ethics as a process of self-understanding.

      The function of the...

    • CHAPTER V The Religion of Hidden Inwardness
      (pp. 143-202)

      We are now ready to move beyond the initial choice and the strictly ethical stage of existence which it makes possible to an analysis of the first level of the ethico-religious stage of existence. It is here in the religion of hidden inwardness that the existing individual comes to a more concrete understanding of the meaning of being a relation in which he freely exists and for which he is fully responsible. In the first and second sections of the chapter, we shall see how the notions of resignation and the God-relationship sharpen the meaning of choosing oneself as absolute....

    • CHAPTER VI The Religion of Faith
      (pp. 203-252)

      The religious qualification of the dialectical development of spirit leads to an impasse in repentance. The individual understands himself as in need of a divine ground, and yet as incapable of actualizing that ground. In this chapter I shall show that this religious impasse in the development of spirit requires a religious solution which appears in what Kierkegaard calls Religiousness B (Christianity). Specifically, I shall examine Kierkegaard’s re-definition of the nature of the eternal and his concept of faith as the two major aspects of this higher mode of religious self-understanding. The chapter is divided into five sections. The first...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 253-259)

    I have attempted to understand the self as the organizing principle in Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous works and am now in a position to venture some concluding remarks concerning this interpretation itself. The following thoughts are not intended as a final and definitive interpretation of Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous corpus. They are not offered in a dogmatically conclusive spirit. They serve only to reflect a light in which this interpretation of Kierkegaard can be summarily expressed and understood.

    I have attempted to steer an even course between those existentialist interpretations of Kierkegaard’s thought which wanted to remove “the sting of one’s life before God...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 260-268)
  10. Index
    (pp. 269-271)
  11. Back Matter
    (pp. 272-272)