Philosophy of Kierkegaard

Philosophy of Kierkegaard

George Pattison
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 220
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    Philosophy of Kierkegaard
    Book Description:

    Although the ideas of Søren Kierkegaard played a pivotal role in shaping mainstream German philosophy and French existentialism, the question of how philosophers should read Kierkegaard is difficult. His intransigent religiosity has led some philosophers to view him essentially as a religious thinker with an anti-philosophical attitude. In a major new survey of Kierkegaard's thought, George Pattison addresses this question and shows that although it would be difficult to claim a "philosophy of Kierkegaard" as one can a philosophy of Kant or Hegel, there are significant common interests in Kierkegaard's central thinking and the questions that concern philosophers today. The Philosophy of Kierkegaard examines existence, anxiety, the good, and the infinite qualitative difference and the absolute paradox, arguing that the challenge of self-knowledge in an age of moral and intellectual uncertainty which lies at the heart of Kierkegaard's writings is as important today as it was in the culture of post-Enlightenment modernity.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-8381-8
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
    George Pattison
  4. Abbreviations and forms of reference
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Kierkegaard and philosophy
    (pp. 1-11)

    To speak of “the philosophy of Kierkegaard” is, it may be said, problematic. It is not simply that Kierkegaard did not offer a rounded “philosophy”, in the sense of a conceptually grounded and logically consistent worldview. Whether in the analytic or in the continental tradition of philosophy, many of those considered to be leading philosophers of the twentieth century would stand with Kierkegaard in their resistance to the systematic ambitions of some versions of philosophy. Nor is the hesitation about naming Kierkegaard “a philosopher” confined to those from within analytic philosophy who continue to be dubious about the credentials of...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Existence
    (pp. 12-45)

    In 1934 the young German philosopher Werner Brock held a series of lectures at the University of London that were published the following year under the titleContemporary German Philosophy.The date was significant. Brock, a Jew, had been stripped of his right to function as a university teacher when the National Socialists had come to power in Germany in 1933 and he was now laying the foundations for a new life and career in Britain. No less significant was the fact that, only shortly before the National Socialist revolution, Brock had been given the much-coveted post of teaching assistant...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Anxiety
    (pp. 46-89)

    Existence, actuality, subjectivity, passion: we have seen how these terms are used by Kierkegaard to designate an experience of life in which I, as this particular individual that I am, become aware of the uniqueness and fragility of my life, as it moves ineluctably into an unknown future. Does this future contain possibilities for creative self-transformation? Might it even open out onto an eternal happiness? Or, perhaps, eternal damnation? Or just extinction? The questions seem unanswerable, yet how can I know who I myself really am if I cannot answer them? For there would seem to be all the difference...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The good
    (pp. 90-132)

    We have now had the opportunity to consider what Kierkegaard called the aesthetic life from several angles. In Chapter 1 the Romantic ironist appeared as an individual version of the Fichtean absolute “I”, inventing himself in what Kierkegaard judged to be an arbitrary and capricious manner. Unfortunately for the ironist, this meant that he deprived himself of a genuinely vivifying contact with reality and is likely to end up, like the Seducer ofEither/Or 1,living at one remove from real life, behind the gauze. Despite the ironist’s self-image being capability of playing infinite variations upon any given mood or...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR The infinite qualitative difference and the absolute paradox
    (pp. 133-171)

    The religious dimension of Kierkegaard’s thought has now been touched on a number of times. Of course (and as I noted in the Introduction), the mere fact that a thinker is also religious or occupies himself at a number of points in his writings with religious questions does not immediately disqualify him from counting as a philosopher. But just as the communist poet V. V. Mayakovsky promulgated artistic principles concerning the subordination of art to the Communist Party that proved self-destructive for his own career as a poet in Soviet Russia, so too a thinker like Kierkegaard might seem to...

  10. EPILOGUE: The Christian witness and the simple wise man of ancient times
    (pp. 172-184)

    In the very last of his works written for publication during his lifetime, the tenth number of the polemical pamphlet series calledThe Momentand dated September 1855, just weeks before his death, Kierkegaard made the following declaration: “The only analogy I have for what I am doing is Socrates. My task is the Socratic task of revising the definition of what it means to be a Christian. Therefore I do not call myself a Christian (keeping the ideal free), but I can make it plain that nobody else is either” (19 319/M 341). Both the content of this remark...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 185-196)
  12. Guide to further reading
    (pp. 197-200)
  13. Index
    (pp. 201-205)