kierkegaard faith and reason

Kierkegaard is the real founder of existentialism, which has made possible the development of the philosophies of Heidegger and Sartre.Fighting along his life against Hegel, Kierkegaard … 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. One cannot make a rational decision towards … When anyone says that it is our duty to be perfect, does he mean that we ought to be perfect or that we ought to do our best to be perfect? It was in this sense that for Kierkegaard subjectivity was truth. Subscription will auto renew annually. Get to know others seeking God’s guidance and wisdom for life. For consider: a character may either exist or not exist. Quotes & Important Sayings by Soëren Kierkegaard on Existentialism, Faith and Love. Again, one might start with the assumption that the objects of thought must be somehow embraced in the thought itself, which seems plausible enough when we think such abstractions as that 2 + 2 = 4, whereas when we say that Gibraltar exists it is not at all plausible to suppose that the rock exists bodily in our consciousness. Still, this leap of faith demands scrutiny. And that's why my teaching on the Colson Center website and my book The Faith is important. And just as an impulse must be kept in place if it is to serve the interests of the whole self, so a self must be kept in place if it is to play its part in society. 1 In the long line of Lutheran theologians stretching from Luther himself to Brunner, Barth, and Bultmann, Kierkegaard holds a unique place. If once this magic spell were broken, there would be room for the Gospel… the theological problem as well as the Church problem is this—to deliver modern man and the modernized Church and theology from the illegitimate self-sufficiency of reason and the spirit of autonomy.’1, ‘What can be proved is eo ipso unimportant.… Faith only can prove the reality of God, because God cannot be known by theoretical reason but must be comprehended by an act of decision.’2. Ad hominem reasoning, besides being distasteful, is never conclusive and is often self-defeating. 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. If it were, one could by a parallel argument call Newton and Einstein in question because John Alexander Dowie disagreed with them and insisted that the earth was flat. The second stage, it will be recalled, was the ethical, in which impulse was replaced by law or principle in the guidance of conduct. Now this is not so much profound as confused. St Abraham the Hermit appears to have thought it the divine will that, beginning with the day of his conversion and continuing for fifty years, he should wash neither his face nor his feet. 27 Kierkegaard's contention that ‘objective’ thinking cannot deal with existence has been discussed at some length because it has often been regarded as a profound insight of existentialism. For one thing, the background against which human vanities are to present themselves as comic is so characterless that it is hard to see how contrast with it could render anything comic. No, existence is not an attribute; it is not a predicate; it is not a character or quality; it is not a ‘what’ of any kind. But even in Paul's epistles one will look in vain for anything corresponding to Kierkegaard's exaltation of suffering. Now the truly judicial mind is one which, with a broad apperception-mass of experience and ideas, is able to bring it freely to bear on each point as it arises. I owe a correction on this point to Professor Louis Dupre. 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. It is not simply that ‘before God we are always in the wrong’ in the way just indicated; it is rather that, because God and man are ‘absolutely unlike’, we are condemned by a standard we cannot hope to understand. To put it with his characteristic obscurity, ‘The only reality that exists for an existing individual is his own ethical reality’;54 which seems to mean that one really exists only when one is choosing between right and wrong. Each is a universal because each could in principle be repeated, nor can one place any limit on the number of them that might be repeated together. But it will be remembered that the central dogmas of the creed are also apprehended by faith, and are regarded as equally absurd. Faith has leaped so high that it has shot up beyond the earth's atmosphere to where thought and conscience can no longer breathe. Mere doubt, mere intellectual conviction that these goods are tinsel, will not do; one must resort to something that plays the part in real life that doubt plays in reflection, namely despair. Much in his philosophy seems to have been a rationalisation, in the Freudian sense, of his conduct in this affair. For it implies that there are no common truths for Christians to accept, no common principles by which their lives may be guided, indeed no common Deity for them to contemplate and worship. But though neither true nor false in the conventional sense, he felt that the word ‘true’ could still be applied to it significantly. Kierkegaard, so voluble elsewhere, here finds his tongue at last tied. As Thomte says, Kierkegaard ‘presents no objective ethical values, the only value being the inwardness of the existing individual as he faces crises and makes his choices.’58 It is thus impossible to give rational guidance in advance of choice; it is impossible for the person choosing to choose on a rational basis; it is impossible for the critic reviewing the conduct to judge it by any rational standard. And this theology itself needs sanity in exceptional degree for its appraisal, for its claims and its confidence are enormous. But these again are incidental counsels. We have just heard Kierkegaard saying that this is what God does; and we are required to acquiesce and approve. But of course there is another side to it, what may be called the St Francis side. by A. Dru (Oxford Univ. His attitude at this highest level reminds one, as did his attitude on the lowest level, of the hedonism of Aristippus, for whom what was all-important was the feeling of the moment; and it was anticipatory of Bergson, for whom reality lay only in the immediate. He often said that God was pure love. Sin is of course a fact in human nature, and a most important fact. We have seen long ago that this will not do. But the occurrence of a particular event is not timeless, and the existence of an individual man, oneself for instance, is not to be resolved away into any set of as-suches. Kierkegaard explains it as follows: ‘This suffering has its ground in the fact that the individual is in his immediacy absolutely committed to relative ends; its significance lies in the transposition of the relationship, the dying away from immediacy, or in the expression existentially of the principle that the individual can do absolutely nothing of himself, but is as nothing before God; for here again the negative is the mark by which the God-relationship is recognised, and self-annihilation is the essential form for the God-relationship.’19. If we doubt the rightness of an act, thought is the only way out.55. There will always be something in our actual life, indeed much in it, that slips through the meshes and escapes control. Kierkegaard's pronouncement that ‘God hates all existence’ has a very different sound from ‘I came that ye might have life and have it more abundantly’. It may be replied that the attitude of the accusers was not genuine subjectivity, and could be regarded as such only if it gave the right verdict. Dread, suffering, guilt, and—toward the end—bitterness, scorn, and hatred are his characteristic emotions. 21 The four conditions we have now considered—resignation, suffering, guilt, and humour—are requisites for the first stage of religion, called by Kierkegaard stage A. 12 The resignation must be total. He fails to note that it was precisely subjectivity that did give the verdict—the passionate, unreflecting, unquestioning, moral condemnation of the priestly accusers. For the incarnation is not a fact of more or less probability; to our reason it is bound to look like an impossibility. In the game of argument, the dice are loaded on the side of the rationalist, and if you are to avoid bankruptcy, there is only one way out, namely to decline the game altogether. The intrinsic question is whether the content of faith, the beliefs disclosed to it, are meaningful and credible; the extrinsic question is whether their credibility is affected for better or worse by the sort of mind through which they are disclosed. ‘Religiously it is the task of the individual to understand that he is nothing before God, or to become wholly nothing and to exist thus before God; this consciousness of impotence he requires constantly to have before him, and when it vanishes the religiosity also vanishes’;21 ‘suffering is precisely the expression for the God-relationship’.22. In it, a person is a subjective being whose “ telos ” is the ethical.This ethical force is objective and universal, meaning it is true independent of humans perceiving it and it is true in all contexts for all time. ‘Christianity exists,’ he writes, ‘because there is hatred between God and men.’ ‘God hates all existence.’, ‘To be a Christian means that you will be tortured in every way. So, too, does Kierkegaard advocate a leap, not out of reason or against reason (the swimmer has done some intellectual preparation), but recognizing that forward movement in life is not primarily a function of our rational capacities but our will and our trust. It is also a leap of faith since faith, not reason, is the only thing that can enable it. His sentence is the last, is the only one, from His congizance none can flee.…’25. The weapon was no blunderbuss or fowling-piece, designed to slow the enemy's advance while beating a retreat; Kierkegaard would have no half-measures with an enemy he so cordially hated. If people pointed out that this was not fair, if they protested, as they did, that it was less than accurate to describe priests as ‘cannibals’ and fellow-Christians as ‘whoremongers’, Kierkegaard could reply that ‘there still remains One that I take with me in my disrepute, God in Heaven.…’ For anyone who regards his passions, and particularly his malevolent passions, as ‘the truth’, it is prudent to secure unimpeachable references. What did Kierkegaard mean by these cryptic pronouncements? Efterladte Papirer, IX, 503; quoted by Regis Jolivet, Introduction to Kierkegaard (N.Y., Dutton, n.d.), 158. This position, unlike the preceding one, is actually advanced by some rationalists. To conceive morality as a quest, not for an immediate or visible goal but for one that is ultimate and infinitely distant, is thus in a sense to conceive it religiously; the religious man will naturally look at it in this light. It is not that you in particular are a failure; you may indeed be the nearest thing to a saint that the race has produced; no matter; you too have failed, and must go on failing. The traditional concept of a universal is that of a character that may occur in varying contexts. The enjoyment of the contrast need not be cruel; there may be sympathy for the fallen estate of the man with pretensions; indeed the main distinction between humour and irony, which appears a little lower in the scale, is that humour has sympathy, while irony lacks it. The aesthetic life is not, as current usage would suggest, a life devoted to beauty, but is rather, in line with the Greek origin of the word ‘aesthetic’, a life devoted to the goods of the senses. Subscription will auto renew annually. The thought of a distant thing or person is only a thought; it is not the thing or person, and it cannot bring them into existence; it is only a shadow, a suggestion, a foretaste of its object. 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. It is hard to take the claim seriously. He lays much blame on the medievals, though of course Protestants killed other Protestants over theological disputes about baptism.

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