kierkegaard faith and reason

His preference for excluding the sunlight and working behind drawn blinds was symbolic of his inward climate, which was one of an almost pathological gloom. When one finally reaches the stage of not only speculating about it, but of understanding it speculatively, one has reached the highest pitch of misunderstanding.’84, The attempt to know religious truth by the intellect is thus fundamentally misguided because destined to defeat by the nature of its object. There is no discontinuity between thought in philosophy and science and that of ordinary life, in which we find ourselves dealing constantly and successfully with existence. We have said our say regarding the doctrine of original sin and need not discuss it again. Immortality is the most passionate interest of subjectivity; precisely in the interest lies the proof.’77. So far as Kierkegaard means this by insisting that a sense of imperfection and sin belongs to the religious life, we must agree. ~ Faith And Reason In Kierkegaard ~ Uploaded By Ken Follett, faith and reason kierkegaards legacy by charles colson breakpoint ministry cbncom in 2006 pope benedict gave a lecture in regensburg germany entitled faith reason and the university the lecture is remembered for the reaction of muslims to the popes quotation of a thirteenth Philosophy, for example, deals not with this or that particular thing or man, but with ‘as suches’—with the nature of matter as such, or with man as such, or with mind or cause or time as such. Theologians have discovered that the strange Dane had forged so potent a weapon against rationalism that they could use it against science as effectively as he had used it against Hegel. He clearly means to say something more important. We never do or can reach pure immediacy, as has been seen; we leave it behind in infancy, if indeed we ever experience it; by the time the child recognises a ball or a milk-bottle, he has lost his innocence and eaten of the tree of knowledge. For the incarnation is not a fact of more or less probability; to our reason it is bound to look like an impossibility. To try to explain it or defend it rationally is to play into the hands of the enemy. Kierkegaard’s Philosophy of Faith For centuries philosopher and theologians have debated the existence of God and the legitimacy of religion, trying to justify faith through logic. Aesthetic. There is likewise some recognition that with our other gettings we should get understanding and should love God with our minds as well as with our hearts. His chief contribution to it is to say that at times it breaks down, and that when it does, our resort must be to a ‘teleological suspension of the ethical’ at divine behest. But if on a cardinal point like this the human standard is unreliable, it can be relied on nowhere. Furthermore, he seems never to have worked out what was involved for the normal exercise of reason by its breakdown at crucial points—for ethics by the suspension of its clearest rules, and for logic by the admission of contradictions to the status of higher truths. Sullivan argues that he views faith as reasonable in a distinct way that must be uncovered. Taking the former point first: a process of thought is itself a process of willing; to hold attention to a certain course and to resist the solicitation of irrelevancies may be voluntary action of a peculiarly resolute kind; indeed James considered the control of attention the essential factor in willing. No!… when one looks at him one might suppose that he was a clerk who had lost his soul in an intricate system of book-keeping.… He goes to church. In some of his pseudonymous works, Kierkegaa… Some confusion is evidently at work. It is not enough to have a good eye for ethical distinctions and values; many moral philosophers of Laodicean record have had that. It might seem, then, that the proper attitude is one of doubt and suspended judgement, just as it would be if we were asked to accept the existence of King Arthur. His description of the state as active, passionate, and incommunicable applies as well to the accusers’ state of mind as to the defenders’; the high priests were vehemently sure of themselves. That assurance Kierkegaard never supplies. He resigned everything infinitely, and then he grasped everything again by virtue of the absurd.’99. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 86. However, this view is not always supported by Kierkegaard's own writings. 7 Our concern will naturally be with the third or religious level, but the first two should be noticed briefly. It may be that the speaker is confusing connotation and denotation, or Frege's Sinn and Bedeutung. He admits that we cannot deal with an individual, even a broomstick, if this means that we can apprehend all its properties; they are presumably infinite, and we shall never wholly exhaust them. I cannot think that a psychopathologist would have much trouble in connecting the irrationalism of his thought with the irrationality of his temper. This rightness is always assumed in ordinary life to be something open to debate and reflection, something that can be supported or impugned by reason; we have no doubt that some choices are reasonable and others not. Suppose we grant him that in every event there is an ‘existence’ inaccessible to reason, and that in the absence of this element the ‘what’ or character would be an ‘airy nothing’, powerless to make any difference in the actual course of events. He was a forerunner of existentialism; true. 33 There is another and fourth fact about subjectivity that is momentous, though it is hard to grasp. The problem of the either-or is the fundamental one whether by a leap of resolution one will move up to the level where ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’ have meaning.7 To make the leap is to enter a new world and to become a moral being. Kierkegaard takes as his example a happy marriage, setting off Judge William's defence of it in Stages on Life's Way against the picture of Don Juan in Either/Or. Its truth lay not in the conformity of statement to fact but in the sincerity, the completeness, the passionateness, with which one committed oneself to it as a life. It is hopeless to patch the older theory of nature to meet facts like these; that might be done with two or three of them, but hardly with ten thousand. But surely the dominant tone of his extraordinary letters is not one of suffering, dread, and despair, but very much on the contrary, of invincible courage, of an exhilarating confidence and hope. The suffering he has in mind is more fundamental and inescapable, a darkness that remains within even while the outward sun is shining, and belongs to the very essence of religion; ‘the religious man believes that it is precisely in suffering that life is to be found’.18. Since Christianity is not a set of doctrines but a way of living, the truth that it possesses is a quality of the act of accepting it; we accept it ‘truly’ if we commit ourselves to it whole-heartedly, unreservedly, and passionately. 12 The resignation must be total. Kierkegaard is widely considered to be an irrationalist. No matter how many qualities and relations of a concrete thing or event we come to know, our knowledge will never exhaust its object; it will always be an approximation merely; there will always be something about the fact that will elude us; thought always falls short of existence. Now it is obvious that an indiviual thing or man, say Socrates, is not made up of universals like these. The term appears in Fear and Trembling to describe the movement of faith Abraham makes to regain Isaac. It is a doctrine without basis in biology or ethics, a doctrine, moreover, that is linked, both as cause and effect, to something pathological in human nature—to irrational fear, to a morbid sense of guilt, and not improbably to stirrings of sadism. He had long contemplated with growing passion a neighbour's daughter, a girl in her teens named Regine Olsen. Faith and Reason. ‘The object of faith is thus God's reality in existence as a particular individual, the fact that God has existed as an individual human being.’81 This is the distinctive fact of Christianity, which marks it out from all other religions. By "absurd," he means that which contradicts reason. Kierkegaard revelled in paradox; ‘if anyone has ever used the slogan credo quia absurdum,’ says Emil Brunner, ‘it was Kierkegaard’.98 Those who love daylight, even in religion, will greet the absurd with less acclaim. To understand him, it's important to understand how he understood God, which Ken helps us to do. But the passion of the infinite is precisely subjectivity, and thus subjectivity becomes the truth.’107 (This looks like both an undistributed middle and an illicit minor, if logic still has any importance.) Soeren Kierkegaard, a danish philosopher, is probably as much influential as much misunderstood by the public opinion. The sin for which his overwhelming guilt must be felt he cannot verify in his deeds or his intentions. He may be maintaining that even if we take the characters of an individual in their completely specific form, their totality is not enough to constitute the man. A Catholic who believed every clause in the Nicene, the Athanasian, and the Apostles’ creed, or an Anglican who subscribed without demur to all the thirty-nine articles but who hated and exploited his neighbours, would certainly not be regarded as a Christian. Thus the inference seems clear that if thought can deal only with characters, and existence is not a character, thought cannot deal with it. His alternations of exaltation and depression, his temptations to suicide, the feverish activity of an over-pressed brain in darkened rooms, the hysterical-sounding claims to being ‘a genius in a market town’ and his comparison of himself to Christ, the frenzied excoriations of church and clergy in his later years, his own report that he had stood on the verge of insanity—it would be a mistake to pass over these things as if they were wholly irrelevant. 14 If Kierkegaard did not derive this stress on suffering from the facts, where did it come from? 2 Paradox of Reason The more perceptively religious he becomes, the wider becomes the felt abyss between what God demands of him and what he can do. No, once more. We may therefore follow him as he does so. So speaks logic. Even though he lives whole-heartedly for the good of his community, if he has no belief in a God, rejects the divinity of Christ, finds the atonement meaningless, and denies a future life, he will hardly be regarded as a Christian. I recall that, stimulated by such fair words, I approached his books with high expectations. This view of the relation of God and man was accepted by Luther because he believed it to be the sense of the New Testament, and it was accepted by Kierkegaard on the same ground. He prefers to write about it in parables, but the reference is unmistakable. 1859. The Kierkegaardians have seen that this will not serve. In the Century Dictionary of Names, published about 1900, one will look in vain for any mention of him. To reject intellectualism in religion is one thing; to embrace subjectivity in Kierkegaard's sense is quite another. It is the thought of Dante about Beatrice as a person of grace and goodness that appoints his complex feelings about her. But he never succeeded, nor could anyone succeed, in fitting the two pictures together. To Kierkegaard is it not Kantian reason which leads to God but faith. Though Kierkegaard was emphatic in protesting that the divine nature was inscrutable, he was not indisposed to fill in the blank, and the picture that formed itself bore a striking resemblance to the theologian himself. Thus is it not simply the rules of logical inference or the embodied wisdom of a tradition or authority. There must, therefore, be some other means to the certainty which we so passionately desire, one that he finds in a non-rational ‘leap of faith’. All that matters for Kierkegaard is the willingness to take a "leap into faith.". 11 Let us return to ‘the stages on life's way’. If will enters into the process of thinking, it is equally true that thought enters into volition. But is this act therefore a breaking out of the order of thought into an alien order of existence where thought cannot follow with its canons of relevance and validity? We shall have to pay a price undoubtedly. If he is a married man, he will unhappily recognise that he has chosen the worse part. 41 What are we to say of a rhapsody (in forty thousand words) in praise of pure and holy murder, of a defence of the humanly immoral on the ground that it is religious duty? 29 Sometimes Kierkegaard puts forward a third ground for his distrust of objective thinking. He imagines himself meeting such a person: ‘Good Lord, is this the man? Christianity does include beliefs, and it insists rightly or wrongly that these beliefs are true in the common and ancient sense. If we cannot do what is right, we can at least recognise that we cannot; we can confess that we are miserable sinners deserving of the divine anger and castigation. Certainly the ordinary thoughtful man does not go about feeling ‘harnessed with the yoke of guilt’, weighed down with its ‘fetters’, and voicing terror at what God will do ‘when He gets hold of me in eternity’. Emil Brunner, Revelation and Reason (London, Student Christian Movement Press, 1947), 310. Is there any process of thought, philosophic, scientific, or historical, by which we can prove these things to be true? One might be the first poet or the first philosopher of the world; that was nothing in God's sight. Since he also agreed God is beyond logic, proof, or reason, he had no problems admitting it takes a leap of faithto believe in God. It is therefore worth asking whether his insistence that ‘the distinguishing mark of religious action is suffering’ does have a Scriptural basis. Thereafter rationalism became anathema to him, and the very attempt to apply rational standards to religion came to seem an irrelevance and an offence. The reason for Kierkegaard's revival, I suggest, is his relevance to the position of religion in our time. Evans here defends the Kierkegaardian view that genuine religious knowledge is grounded in faith beyond reason by analyzing faith as making possible a critical analysis of the limits of reason that reason … The Christian lives alone. 34 But there is more to be said. by Walter Lowrie (Princeton Univ. One of the early advocates of fideism was the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). A pagan or an atheist can do wrong and know it; the sinner is a man who lives ‘before God’ and sees that his wrongdoing is an offence against God's will. Theologians as different as St Thomas and Luther have agreed that some of the cardinal doctrines of the faith are indemonstrable, and however strong the confirmation may be for events in the synoptic gospels, it will always fall short of certainty. But this is matter for the pathologist, and what I am thinking of here is sanity in a less technical sense, the kind of intellectual health that one looks for in a matured and reflective mind. But even here the invading forces would not halt. Now that's easier said than done, because his writing is dense and his style tempts the reader to rename him "Snoring Kierkegaard." In some of his pseudonymous works, Kierkegaa… But he had other grounds for his protest, which can be dealt with more briefly. 1855. In this work, Sullivan analyzes the relationship between faith and reason in Kierkegaard's philosophy. 1 In the long line of Lutheran theologians stretching from Luther himself to Brunner, Barth, and Bultmann, Kierkegaard holds a unique place. He invites them all to accept subordination to one directing head in return for grandiose, even infinite, promises. So was Nietzsche, but that has hardly served to place him on a theological pedestal. 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