Volume 90, Issue 4, October 2013
Kierkegaard on Rationality
The Objectivity of Faith
Kierkegaard's Critique of Fideism
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.