Volume 61, Issue 2, June 2021
Kierkegaard’s Response to the Hegelian Necessity of the Past
Possibility, Actuality, and Necessity in Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments
This article analyzes the “Interlude” in Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments. In particular, it examines Johannes Climacus’s response to Hegel’s view that a past actuality is necessary. I provide an in-depth analysis of Hegel’s view of modality (possibility, actuality, necessity) and of what he means when he says that a past actuality is necessary. In contrast to the standard scholarly interpretation, I argue that Climacus need not reject Hegel’s view because Hegel’s view of the necessity of the past is not so controversial or difficult to accept. Finally, I show that Climacus’s main critique is that we cannot know the past as necessary in any meaningful way. He worries that we might get so preoccupied with the futile task of trying to know the Hegelian necessity of the past that we forget to personally appropriate the past in a way that can help us live in the present.