Volume 13, Issue 2, April 1996
Karen L. Carr
The Offense of Reason and the Passion of Faith
Kierkegaard and Anti-Rationalism
This essay considers and rejects both the irrationalist and the supra-rationalist interpretations of Kierkegaard, arguing that a new category---Kierkegaard as “anti-rationalist”---is needed. The irrationalist reading overemphasizes the subjectivism of Kierkegaard’s thought, while the suprarationalist reading underemphasizes the degree of tension between human reason (as corrupted by the will’s desire to be autonomous and self-sustaining) and Christian faith. An anti-rationalist reading, I argue, is both faithful to Kierkegaard’s metaphysical and alethiological realism, on the one hand, and his emphasis on the continuing opposition between reason and faith, on the other, as manifested in the ongoing possibility of offense (reason’s rejection of the Christian message) in the life of the Christian.