Kierkegaard's Livingroom

Kierkegaard's Livingroom: Faith and History in The Philosophical Fragments

DAVID E. MERCER
Copyright Date: 2001
Pages: 256
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt81828
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  • Book Info
    Kierkegaard's Livingroom
    Book Description:

    He shows us that Kierkegaard's expressed intent is to provide readers with the opportunity to choose or reject Christ. He explores the question of who Kierkegaard understands Jesus to be and why he believes that faith or history alone cannot answer this question, claiming that history is meaningful only when it is understood from the perspective of "sacred history."

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-6874-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    The main purpose of this book is to examine the relationship between faith and history in Søren Kierkegaard’sPhilosophical Fragments.Why faith and history? Because I believe that this is the fundamental question for Kierkegaard. There are excellent studies of Kierkegaard as a theologian, philosopher, communicator, student of the psychological structures of the self, and student of literature. They all contribute to our understanding of this Danish genius. But, as he says in hisThe Point of View for My Work as an Author,he is first and foremost a religious author and his primary concern is “related to Christianity,...

  5. 1 The Elephant in the Living-Room
    (pp. 11-29)

    Unquestionably there were three major forces that influenced Søren Kierkegaard and his work. First, the work of René Descartes led Kierkegaard to develop his theory of the self as the foundation for certainty and truth in his philosophy. Under the guise of Johannes Climacus,¹ Kierkegaard demonstrated his debt to Descartes inJohannes Climacus,where he credited Descartes with providing his point of departure in method.² Second, one of the principal forces in the philosophical world of Kierkegaard’s age was Hegel. The impact that Hegel’s philosophy had on the philosophical and religious thinking of the time was profound. It was against...

  6. 2 The Preliminary Discussion of History and Its Structure in Either/Or
    (pp. 30-58)

    Søren Kierkegaard raises a fundamental question for Christian belief on the title page of thePhilosophical Fragments.He asks if there is or can be a connection between history and faith. Can history serve as a reliable foundation for belief in the eternal?¹ The question arises as the result of an understanding of the self that Kierkegaard has developed inEither/Or.The method inEither/Oris deliberate in that he moves through an examination of the self, beginning with the aesthetic. By the end of the work it becomes clear that for Kierkegaard there is a connection between being human...

  7. 3 The Poetic Study of the Temporal and the Eternal in Philosophical Fragments
    (pp. 59-81)

    Kierkegaard has made it clear inEither/Orthat the self can only realize itself as an existential being in freedom. The self as a freely acting self must also be a self that has a connected past, and as a result, can be said to exist as a historic self. InEither/OrKierkegaard has developed the framework for the historical self by an examination of its elements in his study of Don Juan in part 1 ofEither/Orand in “The Balance between the Esthetic and the Ethical in the Development of the Personality” in part 2. He has demonstrated...

  8. 4 The Puzzle of the Absolute Paradox
    (pp. 82-99)

    Kierkegaard begins his discussion in the “Absolute Paradox” by pointing out that Socrates’ desire to know fulfils itself in knowing, and that the focus of the Socratic desire is self-knowledge. Kierkegaard holds Socrates’ pursuit of knowledge in high regard because of its focus on self-knowledge, and because the seeking is full of passion. It is the lack of passion together with the failure to seek self-knowledge that is at the heart of what Kierkegaard understands to be the problem with modern philosophy. Philosophy is no longer a matter of the seeking for the truth, as it was with Socrates, but...

  9. 5 The Condition of the Follower
    (pp. 100-117)

    In the “Absolute Paradox” Kierkegaard has developed his understanding of the paradox and has drawn a distinction between the ultimate paradox of thought, which he consigns to the philosophical arena, and the absolute paradox, which he more directly connects with theology. What Kierkegaard has established by this point in thePhilosophical Fragmentsis that either we accept the Socratic position, which he designates as the if/then proposition “A,” that the truth is internal and knowledge is recollection; or the if/then proposition “B,” that the truth is external and the self dwells in untruth. Kierkegaard points out that the Socratic position...

  10. 6 The Role of the Necessary in the Past and the Future
    (pp. 118-141)

    At the end of “The Contemporary Follower” in thePhilosophical Fragments,Kierkegaard has established that the historical-temporal categories do not serve to address the question of the relation between the follower and the teacher. He has introduced a new understanding of the termcontemporarythat encompasses the belief relation for both the immediate and the secondary follower. He has used this new understanding to explain the possibility of belief, not only in terms of the direct experience of an event in a particular spatial-temporal relation, but also across all spatial-temporal relations. The foundation of this new understanding depends on (a)...

  11. 7 The One Who Comes after the Event
    (pp. 142-160)

    Kierkegaard has used the “Interlude” as an opportunity to explore the relations the contemporary follower and the one who comes later have to an event. He has also explored the nature of faith and its relation to an event and to the historical. In addition he has examined the nature of immediate sensation and immediate cognition. Kierkegaard has concluded that the immediate is accessible to the senses and the intellect, but reflection upon the immediate places certainty beyond the grasp of the intellect. The doubt and uncertainty that reflection generates are overcome by belief, for belief suspends doubt. Kierkegaard also...

  12. 8 Sacred History
    (pp. 161-173)

    In thePhilosophical FragmentsKierkegaard has demonstrated that history provides knowledge of the past. This knowledge is subject to interpretation and, as a result, is reduced to the level of opinion. Nevertheless, history does enable man to understand himself and his relation to reality and the world. The question that Kierkegaard asked at the beginning of thePhilosophical Fragmentshas been answered. History cannot provide a firm enough foundation for knowledge of the divine. In addition Kierkegaard has also demonstrated that the nature of the divine’s entry into the temporal is such that knowledge of its temporal existence is impossible....

  13. 9 Kierkegaard’s Place in the Current Debate
    (pp. 174-186)

    I have argued that Kierkegaard represents a conservative stream of thought and that he responded in clear tones to the liberals of his day. He demonstrates that the relation between faith and history is at the heart of the Christian question of faith. It is his position that the purpose of history is not to provide a stable foundation for faith, but to provide an object for faith. For Kierkegaard this is vital if God is to be known, because the existential nature of man affects his relation with God. In fact Kierkegaard comes to the conclusion that it is...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 187-198)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-204)
  16. Index
    (pp. 205-207)