Kierkegaard and Christendom

Kierkegaard and Christendom

Copyright Date: 1981
Pages: 346
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  • Book Info
    Kierkegaard and Christendom
    Book Description:

    In contrast to those critics who consistently have accused Soren Kierkegaard of neglecting the social dimension of human life, John Elrod holds that in those books written after the publication of Concluding Unscientific Postscript Kierkegaard turned his attention to the social and political issues of nineteenth-century Denmark.

    Originally published in 1981.

    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: 978-1-4008-5394-6
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-xxi)

    This book attempts to provide an interpretation of Søren Kierkegaard’s second literature.¹ This literature comprises those published and unpublished writings that were composed after the publication ofConcluding Unscientific Postscriptin 1846. These writings have been traditionally referred to as Kierkegaard’s religious writings, as opposed to the more philosophically oriented pseudonymous works published between 1840 and 1846. Unlike the pseudonymous works, which generated the existentialist and neo-orthodox traditions in philosophy and theology, the second literature has neither received sustained scholarly attention nor enjoyed the broad-ranging philosophical and theological influence of the earlier pseudonymous writings. It is true, of course, that...

    (pp. xxii-2)
  6. CHAPTER ONE The Modernization of Denmark
    (pp. 3-46)

    Søren Kierkegaard could hardly have lived through a more significant and dramatic period in Danish history. His lifetime, 1813-1855, measures a period of great upheaval and change in practically every dimension of Danish life. These internal transitions followed Denmark’s loss of prestige in Europe as a result of its loss of Norway in 1814 and of the duchies of Schleswig and Holstein in 1864. Both events were occasioned by humiliating military defeats, by the British in 1813 and by Prussia in 1864. This period saw the final transformation of Denmark from a medium-sized European power into a small, weak, and...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Christendom
    (pp. 47-85)

    Kierkegaard’s discomfort with the modernizing influences in Denmark during his lifetime is well known.The Present Age¹ andAttack upon Christendomare by now familiar to many students of nineteenth- and twentieth-century thought, for in them one finds criticisms of modern society that later were articulated and refined by Martin Heidegger inBeing and Timeand by Karl Barth in his neo-orthodox theology. InThe Present Age,Kierkegaard worried about the disappearance of the individual as a center of value and as a self-determining being in modern society. He successfully anticipated the depersonalization of individual life that is occurring in...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The Natural Self
    (pp. 86-122)

    One finds in Kierkegaard’s second literature a continuation of his earlier emphasis in the pseudonymous writings on ethics as the search for self-knowledge. This Socratic principle is clearly a present and unifying theme in the pseudonymous literature, and Kierkegaard did not lose sight of this philosophical commitment in his later works. He continued to stress the search for self-knowledge as a subjective passion that receives its most exemplary expression in the ethical-religious form of life. More importantly, the second literature significantly deepens Kierkegaard’s preoccupation with self-knowledge by disclosing self-love as its essential motivation and the social-political context in which all...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The Ethical Self
    (pp. 123-163)

    The concept of neighbor is so central to Kierkegaard’s second literature that it is impossible to understand other key concepts in this literature without constant reference to it. The concepts of freedom, law, duty, love, willing the good (purity of heart), not willing the good (double-mindedness), self-deception, repetition, equality, God, action, conscience, suffering, ethics, and religion are all allied with the notion of neighbor in the second literature. Indeed, another way of expressing Kierkegaard’s negative reaction to his own age is to say that he perceived it as having lost the notion of the other as neighbor. His writings in...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Ethical Religion
    (pp. 164-192)

    Our discussion of Kierkegaard’s ethical analysis of the emergence of the modern Danish state will not be complete until we examine the role of religion in Kierkegaard’s later thought. The most important preliminary point to be made is that his understanding of religion is both logically and existentially continuous with his ethical theory. Ethical obligation and religious faith are neither separate and logically distinct categories of understanding nor alternative existential life styles but together constitute a unified vision of human destiny.¹

    Some of Kierkegaard’s severest criticisms of nineteenth-century Denmark are directed toward the tendency of Danish Christianity to separate itself...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Polemical Religion
    (pp. 193-248)

    In turning to a discussion of Kierkegaard’s polemical religion, we must focus on what Walter Lowrie called Kierkegaard’s “attack upon the established order” (AC,xiii). As we have seen, the religiously legitimated modern liberal state is what Kierkegaard meant by the term “Christendom.” It is important to note that Kierkegaard used a religious term to identify modernization and the new established order. Religious leaders like Mynster and Grundtvig tended to identify modernization as essentially religious, because they viewed it as either the will of God or an ethical achievement. Kierkegaard correctly perceived that religious legitimation of modernization in these terms...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Kierkegaard and the Matter of Style
    (pp. 249-303)

    In 1846 Kierkegaard officially acknowledged his responsibility for the pseudonymous works in an addendum, “A First and Last Declaration,” toConcluding Unscientific Postscript (CUP,551-54) · In this short confession, Kierkegaard makes the modest claim that the pseudonyms’ significance “does not consist in making any new proposal, any unheard-of discovery, or in forming a new party . . . but, precisely on the contrary, consists in wanting to have no importance, in wanting (at a distance which is the remoteness of double reflection) to read solo the original text of the individual . . . the old text, well known,...

    (pp. 304-314)

    At the completion of this analysis of Kierkegaard’s ethical-religious critique of the modernization of Denmark, an uneasiness may persist concerning Kierkegaard’s theory of society. Without a doubt, Kierkegaard found the political activity and social organization of the modern Danish state problematic, and his critique of Christendom brought them into serious question. But exactly what sort of political and social views did Kierkegaard propose to replace those he so thoroughly repudiated in his second literature? This literature presents a reasonably well-developed image of the ethical-religious vision of human association, which we have identified as a community of ends.¹ However, we have...

  14. INDEX
    (pp. 315-320)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 321-321)