Kierkegaard as Humanist

Kierkegaard as Humanist: Discovering My Self

Arnold B. Come
Copyright Date: 1995
Pages: 512
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  • Book Info
    Kierkegaard as Humanist
    Book Description:

    Kierkegaard as Humanist is an extensive analysis of Kierkegaard's concepts of self, freedom, possibility, and necessity. Topics examined include the essential and continuing duality of the self, the process by which the self becomes self-consciousness, freedom as the dialectical tension between necessity and possibility and between temporality and eternity, the indeterminate/determinate leap as freedom's form, and love as freedom's content.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6413-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xvii-2)
  4. 1 My Self: An Overview
    (pp. 3-17)

    Kierkegaard says that a physician has a view of sickness different from that of the patient. Why? “Because the physician has a definite and developed conception of what it is to be healthy and ascertains a person’s condition accordingly.”¹ When he came to the climax of his creative vision in 1848, Kierkegaard believed that he had captured a comprehensive understanding, “a definite and developed conception,” of spiritual health. Typically, he explores and depicts this vision of ideal human “health” as the reverse implication of a detailed analysis of die universal human “sickness unto death,” namely despair. In the first six...

  5. 2 My Self: A Synthesis of Two
    (pp. 18-45)

    “The view which sees life’s doubleness[Duplititcet]or duality[Dualisme]is higher and deeper than that which seeks unity.”¹

    These words, a journal entry of 1844, could be inscribed as the motto above everything Kierkegaard wrote. Not that he did not yearn and seek after unity, and find it in the experience of Christian faith/love. But his fundamental conviction was that any unity, however arrived at, which erased, “annulled,” or even blurred “life's doubleness” would lead to the loss of freedom and to the absorption and destruction of the human individual, of human “existence.” This duality is at the base...

  6. 3 My Self: A Task Part 1: Coming to Consciousness
    (pp. 46-108)

    Kierkegaard says, quite simply, that the task set for every human being is to become a self. In this deceptively plain word “task”(Opgave),he concentrates all the complexities of his understanding of the human self. By explicating the ramifications of this term, we will come to see how Kierkegaard understands the emergence of the self as a “third” (entity, or reality, or structure) beyond but including the polarities of body/soul, finitude/infinitude, necessity/possibility.

    It is important to note that this term runs throughout the authorship. InEither/Or,Kierkegaard has Judge William use it as a key way of distinguishing the...

  7. 4 My Self: A Task Part 2: Freedom: The Dialectical in Temporality/Eternity
    (pp. 109-136)

    It has been impossible, in this exposition of the “self” as a “task,” to trace the emergence of self-consciousness without constant reference to the topic of freedom. At the very begining, it was said that the transition from possibility to actuality occurs only as the “leap” of freedom. But before freedom could be described, it was necessary to analyse its precursors: angst, reflection, and consciousness. And a brief preliminary summary of some aspects of freedom was required in order to clarify the nature of angst. Now those aspects must be explored and exposited in detail. Kierkegaard's understanding of “freedom” is...

  8. 5 My Self: A Task Part 3: Freedom: The Dialectical in Possibility/Necessity
    (pp. 137-231)

    “The self is composed of infinitude and finitude. But this synthesis is a relation which, even though it is derived, relates to itself, which is freedom. The self is freedom. Butfreedom is the dialectical [factor?] in the determinants possibility and necessity” (emphasis added).¹

    What is Kierkegaard saying about freedom in this formulation? Clearly, he is rejecting the idea that human “freedom” is nothing more than the immanent, inferential, necessary working out of the inherent potentialities of one’s given finitude. And, as already noted above, freedom is something more, somethingotherthan the openness of human imaginative infinitive to being...

  9. 6 My Self: A Task Part 4: The Leap as Freedom’s Form
    (pp. 232-323)

    Throughout the entire foregoing text, the words “free” and “voluntary” have been used as if they indicate a simple, self-evident and irreducible act (or event) of “deciding” and “choosing.” Certainly Kierkegaard assumes and believes in such an event when he says that “the self is freedom.” While writingWorks of Love(1847), he confides to his journal, “That which has made my life so strenuous but also full of discoveries is that I ... have had to choose decision infinitely. ... In the decisions of the spirit, one can make up one’s mind freely. ... To ’be compelled” is the...

  10. 7 My Self: A Task A Task Part 5: Love as Freedom’s Content
    (pp. 324-397)

    We will proceed first to see how Kierkegaard distinguishes the “higher nature” of the human individual as the vicinage of freedom, and we will need then to demonstrate that the onlypositivedefinition of the content of the higher life and hence of “freedom” is provided by his concept of love.

    The distinction between lower and higher natures is especially important because it sets the location of and directs our attention to the functioning of what Kierkegaard calls “the will” or the act of “willing.”¹ In this crucial passage inSicknesshe is taking to task what he calls the...

  11. 8 My Self: A Task Part 6: The Leap of Love Is Indeterminate
    (pp. 398-464)

    We turn again to take one last look at the enigma at the heart of Kierkegaard’s entire conceptuality: the leap. In exploring the leap as theformof freedom, we hedged it in by delimiting it with a series of conditions so that the leap (and hence freedom) could not be understood as arbitrary and capricious. In exploring love as thecontentof freedom, we explored an ultimate and transcendent delimitation to which the leap must submit if it is to be authentically “free.” But now the question arises whether the limits thus imposed leave any significant meaning to the...

  12. Interlude: Ontology and Theology
    (pp. 465-474)

    “Ontology” is not a widely used word or concept in contemporary philosophy. The dominance of the perspectives of formal logic and linguistic analysis in the schools of philosophy in the academic scene has largely relegated traditional metaphysics and its interest in ontology to a purely historical account of the past. But some scientists and philosophers of science have not been satisfied with the reduction of truth to matters of formal methodology and abstractions expressed in mathematical formulae. The two authors ofPrincipia Matkematicaseparated and took quite opposite paths. Bertrand Russell followed the route of logical science and ended in...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 475-480)
  14. Index
    (pp. 481-483)