Volume 90, Issue 4, October 2013
Kierkegaard on Rationality
Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith
The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
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.”