SØREN KIERKEGAARD (1813-1855)
1813: born to Michael Kierkegaard and his second servant girl wife.
1821: known in grade school as "the Fork."
1830: his wild student days at the university. Lost his faith completely 1835-40.
1837: meets Regina Olsen for the first time.
1838: his father's confession.
1841: preaches his first sermon and finishes his M.A. thesis The Concept of Irony on Socratic irony. He presents Socratic dialectic as an "existentialist" dialectic.
1841: engaged to Regina, but breaks it off 10/11/41. "Flees" to Berlin to study Hegel.
1843: second book Either/Or. Dialogue of aesthete writer and husband/judge, who represent the "aesthetic" vs. "ethical" stages respectively.
1843: Fear and Trembling
1844: Philosophical Fragments
1846: Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments
1855: Attack on Christendom
Quote from 1855: "We are what is called a Christian nation, but in such a sense that not a single one of us is in the character of the Christianity of the New Testament, any more than I am, who again and again have repeated, and do now repeat, that I am only a poet."
"I owe everything to the wisdom of an old man and the simplicity of a young girl."
KIERKEGAARD'S FEAR AND TREMBLING
The meanings of teleological (telos) (Gk.) end, goal, purpose
1. teleological suspension: suspension for the purpose of finding a religious way out of the crisis of the ethical.
2. teleological ethicsCthe value of an act is in what it produces, not its intention or its conformity to universal moral law (Adeontological; deontos [Gk. law]) ethics.
3. teleological argument for God's existence. The universe exhibits various teloi (pl.) ends, goals, designs, purposes.
Questions about the text:
1. What was the ethical for Abraham? Child sacrifice was the norm? "The father shall love his son. . . ?" This may be a Christian reading back into the text. Evidence for polytheism in Genesis text relating to Abraham, so why not also other polytheistic practices?
2. Has SK the correct view of the ethical? Teleological (Aristotle) vs. deontological (Plato, Christianity, and Kant) ethics.
3. Orthodox Christian solution: "Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead" (Hebrew 11:19).
4. God had come through with impossible events for him before, so Abraham had sure evidence that this test would be no problem. The problem with this response is that the command to sacrifice Isaac went against everything that God had promised and all that he had previously did for Abraham.
p. 15: The paradox of faith and why it cannot stay within the ethical.
What is the difference between the tragic hero and the knight of faith? Agamenon sacrificing his daughter Iphigenia. Paganism vs. Christianity.
p.16: Why did Abraham do it? For God's sake and for his own sake? These two are the same?
SK revives the radical theology of Luther. Luther's three stages:
1. Self-accusation (the Law accuses, too)
2. Temptation (German: Anfechtung; Danish: Fristelse)
3. Self-condemnation to Hell
"Ordinary" temptation in the aesthetic stage vs. "ethical" temptation--prevents one from doing God's will. The greatest temptation is to make the Law the Lord rather than Christ Lord. The Moral Majority and its misunderstanding of Christianity.
"Mediation"--synthesis between the individual and the universal. SK believes that this is impossible.
Søren Kierkegaard's Contributions
1. The adjective "existentialist" with a new meaning. Human existence is fundamentally different from thing existence of inanimate things. Heidegger takes this idea from SK and uses the term Existenz as a special mode of being. Aristotle's and Kant's categories do not apply to human beings.
2 .Dread (Angst) vs. fear. The former has nothingness as its object; the latter always has an object.
3. Choosing defines the self, and what one chooses is always right (p. 14). Only by choosing can one maintain one's freedom. Voluntarism not rationalism--the will determines not reason. The free self exists only in choice.
4. Truth as subjectivity.