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Res Philosophica

Volume 90, Issue 4, October 2013
Kierkegaard on Rationality

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Displaying: 1-9 of 9 documents


winner of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Eleanor Helms, The Objectivity of Faith: Kierkegaard's Critique of Fideism
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Perhaps Kierkegaard’s most notorious—though pseudonymous—claim is that truth is subjectivity. This claim is commonly elaborated to mean that faith is a “how” (an attitude or practice of believing) and not a “what” (a certain objective content). I show through a discussion of examples taken from throughout Kierkegaard’s writings that Kierkegaard accepts a basic insight of Kant’s philosophy: each experience implicitly includes an underlying unity—the object—that does not itself appear. Both Kant and Kierkegaard emphasize the importance of a “continuity of impressions,” which gives experience its unified structure beyond changing superficial appearances. I show that Kierkegaardian faith requires an object in just this Kantian sense: the object of faith (the Incarnation) does not directly appear but is implicitly present in all experience. For Kant, this type of object is not “beyond” experience but is posited by reason as the unity of experience as a whole. In this respect at least, Kierkegaard’s account of faith shows similarities not just with Kant’s practical philosophy (as suggested by C. Stephen Evans) but with his metaphysics as well.
runner up of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Anna Strelis, The Intimacy between Reason and Emotion: Kierkegaard's "Simultaneity of Factors"
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This paper elucidates Kierkegaard’s notion of the “simultaneity of factors” in order to reveal the intimate connection between reason and emotion. I begin with the romantic vision of aesthetic education as embodied in Friedrich Schiller, which Kierkegaard himself inherited, though in a critical and nuanced manner. Next, I explore Kierkegaard’s pointed critique of the romantics, namely through his conviction that they had misrepresented the role of imagination to the detriment of harmony in the individual. Finally, I present Kierkegaard’s positive view of the simultaneity of factors, emphasizing his improvement on the romantics through the central category of “inwardness.” Throughout, I underline that Kierkegaard gave higher status neither to emotion nor reason, taking them as complimentary aspects of human existence and thereby inviting their reunion in the history of philosophy.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen, Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective: Integrating Existence into Idealism
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Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be one of the most vocal critics of German idealism. The present paper analyzes the philosophical similarity between Friedrich Schelling’s early idealistic work and Kierkegaard’s existential writings, endeavoring to display Schelling’s epic 1809 publication Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom as a possible forerunner to Kierkegaard. This juxtaposition reveals concrete similarity that supports the thesis that Schelling’s work could have been of great inspirational value for Kierkegaard, especially Kierkegaard’s core concepts such as freedom, morality and God. However, Schelling’s early work is primarily appreciated as a philosophy of nature (metaphysics), and therefore fundamentally different from Kierkegaard’s theistic-psychological writings. The present paper tentatively opposes this distinction, concluding that if Schelling really is a forerunner to Kierkegaard, then we ought to appreciate Kierkegaard’s writings as conveying more than a theological message. The conclusion suggests that Kierkegaard’s writings should be interpreted in a broader philosophical context, closer to the metaphysical idealism he is often assumed to resist.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jennifer Ryan Lockhart, Kierkegaard's Indirect Communication of Kant's Existential Moment
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This paper distinguishes between two rationalist readings of Either/Or: (1) the Rational Argument Interpretation, according to which the aim of the book is ultimately to offer a rational argument in favor of living ethically, and (2) the Rational Presupposition Interpretation, according to which the pseudonymous authors presuppose that it is rational to live ethically. The paper argues in favor of (2). In particular, it argues that the fundamental presuppositions of Either/Or are those of Kant’s moral philosophy and rational religion. At the heart of Kant’s arguments for the practical postulates lies an “existential moment”: Kant’s practical arguments are subjectively valid in virtue of the personal decision of the individual to do his duty. According to the Rational Presupposition Interpretation advanced here, Either/Or is best understood as an attempt to communicate indirectly and to confront the reader with the significance of personal choice for inhabiting a hopeful moral life-view.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Walter Wietzke, Practical Reason and the Imagination
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I argue that Kierkegaard’s work is relevant to an issue currently being debated within Anglo-American ethical theory. Kierkegaard’s account of the transition between existence spheres maps onto discussions in the contemporary field that concern how an agent can acquire motivations for new normative obligations. Following Kierkegaard’s work, a deeper understanding of the conditions behind a transition between existence spheres suggests that an individual’s set of motivations can be revised to direct the individual towards new and different ends. From the contemporary perspective, this helps explain how agents can be led to appreciate different normative obligations (i.e., existence spheres) based on the self-conscious understanding they have of their own interests. To guide this analysis I discuss Jamie Ferreira’s work on the imagination and explain how it can illuminate Kierkegaard’s contribution to current debates in ethical theory.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Robert Wyllie, Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith: The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
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Scholarly debate about Kierkegaard’s fideism focuses upon whether his voluntarism—the doctrine that religious faith can be simply willed—is practicable or credible. This paper proposes that a close reading of Philosophical Fragments and The Concept of Anxiety (1844) reveals that there is a role for both the will and the intellect in Kierkegaard’s concept of faith. Kierkegaard arrives at a compatibilism that emphasizes the roles of both the intellect and the will. The intellect perceives a “moment” that paradoxically intersects time and eternity and assents to a skeptical argument that one cannot understand how things and events come into existence. And beyond simply recognizing that belief is not unreasonable, the intellect perceives an internal logic to faith in a theological aesthetic—Johannes Climacus’s “poem” in Philosophical Fragments. Against the standard view of Kierkegaard’s voluntarism, this argument for compatibilism shows how the intellect combined with the will forms the “eyes of faith.”
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Ryan West, Faith as a Passion and Virtue
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The Christian tradition affirms that faith is a virtue. Faith is a multifaceted reality, though, encompassing such diverse aspects as belief, trust, obedience, and more. Given this complexity, it is no surprise that various thinkers emphasize different aspects of faith in accounting for faith’s status as a virtue. In this paper I join Søren Kierkegaard in arguing that faith is (in part) a passion, and that faith is a virtue (in part) because it disposes the person of faith to proper emotional responses. The paper has three sections. First, I lay the groundwork for understanding faith as a passion by explaining the relationship between passions and emotions. Drawing on the works of Kierkegaard, Merold Westphal, and Robert C. Roberts, I distinguish two senses of passion, and show how these senses are related to each other and to faith. The second section uses the account of faith developed in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to develop the idea that passional faith is a deep, identity-forming attachment to God. Finally, I explicate the idea that passional faith, so understood, functions as an emotion disposition. I do so by expounding part one of Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses, which explores some of the ways in which faith disposes one away from certain emotions (what Kierkegaard calls “the cares of the pagans”) and toward other emotions.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jason Kido Lopez, Kierkegaard's View of Despair: Paradoxical Psychology and Spiritual Therapy
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Though many hold Søren Kierkegaard’s The Sickness unto Death contains psychological descriptions of those who suffer from despair, I will argue that this is not so. Kierkegaard makes three claims—the conjunction of which I call ‘the triple reduction’—that take contradictory stances on whether people in despair are aware of their despair and whether they want to be their true self. Indeed, if the triple reduction were true, people in despair would be both aware and unaware of their despair, and would both want and not want to be their true self. Unless we want to attribute to Kierkegaard this paradoxical psychological view of the despairer, then we must, I will argue, read Sickness not as a work that answers the question of what is happening in the mind of someone in despair. Instead, it is a therapeutic work meant to help its readers out of despair.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
David Diener, Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
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Throughout his works Kierkegaard repeatedly claims that the modern age has subverted authentic Christianity. While interpretations of Kierkegaard’s critique of the modern approach to religion abound, they generally agree that the critique is based on various conceptual distinctions regarding the limits of human reason, the epistemological differences between subjective and objective truth, or the (irrational?) nature of religious faith. Very little attention, however, has been paid to the prominent role authority plays in the critique or to the fact that according to Kierkegaard it is disobedience to authority, and not any conceptual confusion, that is the primary fault of the flawed modern approach. This paper argues that Kierkegaard’s most fundamental indictment of the modern approach to religion is its disobedience to the authority of the Christian command. Given this, the paper then examines what, for Kierkegaard, is the basis on which a person should choose to submit to an alleged religious authority.