It appeals to the widespread conviction that any attack upon religion as a set of dogmas is an attack upon a straw man. But the main reason for it was his obsession with immediacy as what brought him closest to existence. There is no reason at all that Isaac should be returned to Abraham, and yet, by virtue of the absurd, it happens. Faith and Reason. But did it render the events of history completely intelligible? We have said our say regarding the doctrine of original sin and need not discuss it again. Kierkegaard wanted to sink himself in immediacy. This is a most unconvincing position, which Kierkegaard was unable to maintain consistently. Unhappily Kierkegaard was peculiarly unqualified to pass judgement on it. Most modern moralists would regard either of these appeals as hopelessly inadequate, but Kierkegaard had little grasp of ethical theory. Aesthetic The lowest of Kierkegaard's three "stages on life's way": the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. 29 Sometimes Kierkegaard puts forward a third ground for his distrust of objective thinking. Fortunately this defeat of intelligence does not leave us without recourse, for faith remains. He was too impatient to get on with his writing to declare a moratorium on it while he achieved coherence in his theory of knowledge. This does not mean that morality is impossible without religion, for that can be shown to be historically untrue. Though recognising the nobility and beauty of the Christian ideal of life, they went on to question this too. Reason is, in fact, a gift of faith. But we must remember that no objective method is now left us by which we can find what is the right verdict. And if we do nothing at all, we are still condemned for the depravity we have inherited and which continues to vitiate us even in passivity. Our success is nothing; it is our helplessness and failure that must be kept in the forefront of our minds. Faith and Reason. Holding, in Kantian fashion, that only the self that makes moral choices is free, and seeing that the rise of the impulsive self to rationality and freedom is a somewhat mysterious process, he describes this as a choosing of oneself. All we can do, then, says Kierkegaard, is to bow our heads and concede that before God we are always and infinitely in the wrong. [F Russell Sullivan] -- In this work, the author analyzes the relationship between faith and reason in Kierkegaard's philosophy. But since his importance for our interest lies in his account of reason and faith, we must confine our attention to this part of his theory except so far as may be necessary to set it in the light of his philosophy generally. 11 Let us return to ‘the stages on life's way’. ‘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. We have just heard Kierkegaard saying that this is what God does; and we are required to acquiesce and approve. ‘If ever a person was self-centred,’ says Professor Paton, ‘it was Kierkegaard; he hardly ever thinks of anyone but himself.’97 What we have in this strange version of Christianity is thus an insistence on the selfish character of the religious motive combined with an insistence that the values of the Christian life, so far as these can be understood, are provisional only and may at any time be overridden. He takes the case of Pilate, called upon to judge whether the prisoner before him had committed a capital offence, and maintains that Pilate erred because he tried to deal with the issue objectively. Nevertheless one can see as soon as Kierkegaard points it out that to the person who contemplates life with detachment, who looks at it, as Carlyle occasionally did, against the background of ‘the eternities and immensities’, a peculiarly rich kind of humour is open. But what of the equation they think of? Immortality is the most passionate interest of subjectivity; precisely in the interest lies the proof.’77. faith and reason in kierkegaard Oct 11, 2020 Posted By Penny Jordan Library TEXT ID c31db105 Online PDF Ebook Epub Library means that which contradicts reason as ken makes clear this goes far beyond recognizing that in matters of faith reason can only take us so far faith and dr merold westphal Suffice it to say that the guilt that is an awareness of sin always involves this new dimension of wrongdoing, a conception of it as no longer mere human waywardness but as a divine affront. Though the aestheticist prides himself on his closeness to reality, he is in fact living among abstractions, as Hegel said of the man of mere common sense; for the self is a complex affair, and casual desires, even when they reach their ends, do not satisfy more than a fragment of it. But of course there is another side to it, what may be called the St Francis side. He said himself that his thought must be understood through his personality; and that personality was profoundly abnormal—so abnormal as to have cut him off from his fellows, his friends, and his own family. At first this seems quite meaningless. The conclusion does not follow. Among these the central one is the belief in the incarnation, namely that at a certain point in past time God actually became man. The sense that Kierkegaard is right against intellectualism in religion is the main reason for his extraordinary revival. Banish it then. God stands over us like a stern taskmaster, insisting on obedience, demanding of us moral perfection. He is caught forever, harnessed with the yoke of guilt, and never gets out of the harness.…’23, We commonly think of ourselves as on the whole decent and upright persons; we have little lapses from time to time and are duly ashamed of them, but we soon bounce back again to our complacent self-respect. If pleasure is intrinsically evil and pain intrinsically good, if misery is in truth more desirable than happiness, then the clearest and surest judgements about values are worthless, and it is no longer possible to hold that anything is really better than anything else. But to make thought a contemplation of nothing but unchanging and eternal essences is to make that achievement itself unintelligible. Can history do it? So was Nietzsche, but that has hardly served to place him on a theological pedestal. Here is another contrast between the Greek and the Hebrew or Christian. Kierkegaard's insistence that moral imperfection entails infinite guilt seems to have been largely based on this elementary confusion. For the person who possesses the insight, the principles and consequences involved in the act are held to be irrelevant; its character as seen by faith is its true character, which takes precedence of any judgement of our merely human faculties. 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. We must concede to Kierkegaard, once more, that there is some sense in what he says about the finite facing the infinite. Why then should a sane man say that thought cannot deal with existence? What is to replace it in Kierkegaard's scheme of things? 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? Today is Søren Kierkegaard’s 203rd birthday. He had done wrong; he knew it; and if he was to retain his picture of himself as genius and saint, he must explain his action by lofty motives. But it would not be very interesting, for it would amount to saying that abstract thought is abstract. 3 After the orthodox theory of nature went the orthodox view of Scripture. Henceforth CUP. It is that faith is concerned with a special type of problem. 30 Now this sort of division between thinking and willing cannot be maintained. To understand him, it's important to understand how he understood God, which Ken helps us to do. The LORD is good, a strong refuge when trouble comes. Yet he also insists that ‘the more the suffering, the more the religious existence’. We obviously cannot win. What is described as ‘ethical reality’ looks under scrutiny like an apotheosis of thoughtlessness. Tiptoeing nearer, he hears his father moaning and groaning in an agony of despair. On the question whether this theology can maintain itself under reflective criticism, we have said something in the last chapter. On our acceptance of Christianity depends nothing less than a future of infinite happiness, but if this acceptance turns on rational calculation, it is beyond our reach. What of the second half of the great insight attributed to him—that where reason fails faith succeeds? No, once more. A being who is eternal or out of time cannot have measured out his life in human years. All thinking involves willing, and all willing involves thought. He prefers to write about it in parables, but the reference is unmistakable. ‘Be ye therefore perfect’ is what ethics tells us. In addition Kierkegaard inherited enough of his fathers wealth to allow him to pursue his life as a freelance writer. My experience was like that of John Laird, who wrote, after a determined attempt on Either/Or: ‘By the time I had finished the first enormous volume I was sadly disconsolate. Sullivan argues that he views faith as reasonable in a distinct way that must be uncovered. In other words, Kierkegaard played a crucial role in shaping the way people thought throughout the 20th century. If the sun really stood still over Gibeon, that must have meant that the earth stopped revolving; but if the earth had suddenly stopped revolving, we should all have been pitched eastward at a thousand miles an hour and blotted out. Of course if one approaches Hegel expecting a deduction of history in its infinite detail, one will not get it, nor did Hegel ever pretend to offer it. It was a vain attempt. He meant of course to deny that one could be religious in virtue of mere intellectual assent, going so far as to hold that it is better to worship an idol with the right subjective attitude than to worship a God truly but objectively conceived, if this attitude is lacking. Partly, no doubt, because he had convinced himself that the general propositions of science and philosophy dealt only with universals, not with particular things or persons; ‘all men are mortal’ stated a connection between humanity and immortality but said nothing about me. We are sin-infested worms lying at the feet of infinite wisdom, justice, and goodness. Probably that he was not concerned with the truth of doctrines at all; ‘Christianity is not a doctrine but an existential communication expressing an existential contradiction.’106 He would fall back on his notion of subjectivity; ‘the passion of the infinite is the truth. In these laws there is no reference to any particular event or to any individual thing or man. The best thing is that you should have an inexhaustible fund of inventions for torturing yourself; but if you are not strong enough, you can always hope that God will have pity on you and help you to reach the state of suffering.’ ‘It is a frightful thing, the moment when God gets out his instruments for the operation no human strength can carry out: cutting away from a man his desire to live, killing him so that he can live like a dead man. This, Kierkegaard remarks sagely, is why one never finds irony in a woman.29 To the person who can look with detachment upon the activity of ordinary mortals, they seem grotesque—puppets strutting about with turkey-cock importance. It is the tragic humour of a brooding disillusionment. To defend this statement adequately in the light of recent developments in ethics would take much space. 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. Indeed this hostile reaction to Hegel was one of the chief intellectual facts of his life. What can these be? In that case why suppose that the impotence of our reason has any remedy at all? 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. 1813. 7 Our concern will naturally be with the third or religious level, but the first two should be noticed briefly. The advantages of this method are literary rather than philosophical; it is not always easy to make out through the convivial oratory of In Vino Veritas what the speakers are trying to say, though one is encouraged to renew one's efforts by the assurances of Kierkegaard enthusiasts that the work deserves a place beside the Symposium of Plato. One must recognise the sophisticated intellect for the dangerous thing it is, and be content to become a child again. 9 On the second or ethical level, what governs is not impulse, but principle. From the terror and suffering of such an experience the normal man soon wakes up. Kierkegaard would say that the same holds of science. Kierkegaard denied that Christianity had anything in common with such theories. He died in 1855, after a short life of forty-two years, and by the end of the 1800s he was forgotten. And certainty we must have. Harald Höffding, Sören Kierkegaard als Philosoph (Stuttgart, Frommanns, 1922), 89. While Kierkegaard believed that God became incarnate, he felt the incarnation didn't do much to bridge the gap. Kierkegaard found the equation of truth with subjectivity a great convenience. But though neither true nor false in the conventional sense, he felt that the word ‘true’ could still be applied to it significantly. 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 … If he really means the first, he is asking the impossible. Over and over again Kierkegaard comes back to this identification with his father and to the sense that he is living under the blight of another's wrong-doing. On each of these points Kierkegaard had arresting things to say. 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. Only by really willing to become subjective can the question properly emerge, therefore how could it be answered objectively?… people will not understand that viewed systematically the whole question is nonsense, so that instead of seeking outward proofs, one had better seek to become a little subjective. Title: Kierkegaard, The Leap of Faith and the Limits of Reason 1 Kierkegaard, The Leap of Faith and the Limits of Reason. What was left was a radical individualism in which action, like faith, was tragically divorced from reason. It was an impossible enterprise. Obviously not, as Hegel would have agreed. Kierkegaard believed, with Luther, in original sin. Sullivan argues that he views faith as reasonable in a distinct way that must be uncovered. Since we were not, the record was presumably in error. There is no reason at all that Isaac should be returned to Abraham, and yet, by virtue of the absurd, it happens. On the facts of moral evil Kierkegaard lacked both the breadth and the freedom needed for a fair judgement. If Kierkegaard looked at us in puzzlement as to what we could possibly mean by saying that elephants exist but mammoths do not, or that King Alfred existed while King Arthur did not, he would suddenly find us intelligible enough if we said that three cases of smallpox existed in Copenhagen or that his particular house was on fire. Still, in the main he has accepted and exemplified the values most prized by his fellows and has been honoured by them accordingly; he has believed in the superiority of love to hate, in the relief of human misery, in refusing to count his own good as more important than that of others. The central fact of Christianity, Kierkegaard holds, is the incarnation. Above and beyond such perception there must be a strain of the Hebrew feeling of something leprous and unclean in moral evil, a stain on one's person that must be washed away in contrition if one is to be healthy again. Thus the fact that a thought can be communicated only indirectly does not, as Kierkegaard supposed, distinguish a subjective from an objective form of thinking. It may be that a particular apple fell at a particular moment on the particular head of Isaac Newton, but if it did, that is no part of science, for science is concerned only with law, for example the law that matter as such obeys the gravitational formula. There could be little doubt which picture would be most vivid to a mind like Kierkegaard's. Luther despised the Greeks and exalted St Paul. He lays much blame on the medievals, though of course Protestants killed other Protestants over theological disputes about baptism. He often said that God was pure love. 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. H. J. Paton, The Modern Predicament (London, Allen & Unwin; N.Y., Macmillan, 1955), 120. Two of his key ideas are based on faith: the leap to faith and the knight of faith. I do not think it does. To them it will still seem odd that one should have to become immoral in order to be religious. With all respect to the religious devotee, it is not very convincing to say that the life of an Aristotle himself or a Kant or a Hegel lacks commitment and therefore reality as compared with that of a Salvation Army worker untroubled by a doubt. Kierkegaard's phrase that expresses this commitment is the leap of faith. Get this from a library! We take God as absurd because he is so different from ourselves, though how, we do not know, and he takes us as absurd because we are so different from him, though what makes us absurd we again do not know, since his nature is utterly beyond us. Aesthetic The lowest of Kierkegaard's three "stages on life's way": the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. But in active decision or choice we feel the self creatively at work. But it will be remembered that the central dogmas of the creed are also apprehended by faith, and are regarded as equally absurd. We are like a person in a nightmare who, with some dreadful form pursuing him, tries to run, only to find that his legs have turned to lead. 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. It is part of his strategy of life to have no forelaid strategy; his days have no more unity than those of Plato's democratic man, for what he desired yesterday repels him today; ‘All the plans I make fly right back upon myself; when I would spit, I even spit into my own face.’4 Kierkegaard sums up on the aesthetic life as follows: ‘If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it.… Laugh at the world's follies, you will regret it; weep over them, you will also regret that.… Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that.… Hang yourself, you will regret it [this does not seem quite self-evident]; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that.… This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy.’5. 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. Can God change your life? Kierkegaard begins this section by describing what he takes to be the dominant ethical paradigm of his time. First, his overwhelming, persistent, and surely morbid sense of guilt. Kierkegaard tells us that a prize of infinite value is before us, and that if we depend on objective thinking to secure it we are bound to fail. Certainly Christianity as historically accepted has never been a matter of will and action only. These words, it is often said, connote universals; ‘human’ means the range of properties owned in common by all human beings, ‘height’ the common property of all particular heights, and so of the others. If Pericles differs from the Polynesians, it is not necessarily dogmatism to say that he speaks for a higher culture and is more likely to be right. Traditionally, faith and reason have each been considered to be sources of justification for religious belief. Some have said, with James, that if the thought occupied itself exclusively with the action proposed, and did not divide attention with anything else, the thought was the volition; others have found that a special ‘feeling of innervation’ was necessary. Granting that revelation occurred, must it not have been filtered through the all-too-human minds that first received it, and must we not suppose that as the initial message is placed in a wider setting of knowledge and discernment it will receive an increasingly rational interpretation? Aquinas says that reason provides preambles upon which faith builds and exceeds. Once demonstrated, a proposition or claim is ordinarily understood to be justified as true or authoritative. Consider his way of dealing with the doctrine of immortality. He might as well have tried to keep the colour of the rose while doing away with its form. For the unique Christian fact, if a fact at all, is one of overwhelming moment, upon whose acceptance our eternal happiness depends, and if there is any chance of its reality, an attitude of reserve and detachment would be flippancy. He had a high regard for his powers as a humorist, even describing himself as ‘solely a humorist’.33 ‘If there is anything I have studied from the ground up, and pursued into its farthest ramifications, it is the comic.’34 At one point in his most philosophical work he explains a point somewhat obscurely and adds, ‘Whoever cannot understand this is stupid; and if anyone dares to contradict me, I propose to make him ridiculous, by virtue of the power I happen this moment to have in comic characterisation.’35 Since he set so much store by his keenness of humorous perception, it may be instructive to give instances of the sort of thing that he regarded as laughable. The Christian lives alone. So far as we succeed in being rational beings, it is because this massive and rational system is having its way with us. Sense and reason have been deliberately left behind. Christianity is a way of life. Cy Young Award Winning Barry Zito Set to Release New Memoir. On the other hand, Kierkegaard speaks of philosophers as if they had opted out of the world of volition and existence. We are warned that so far as thought is in control we are falling short of the vividness and tang of real existence. For Kierkegaard, God was utterly transcendent, and "an infinite qualitative difference" separated God from humanity. The Christian saint, we must admit, has at times been a strange character whose asceticism and other-worldliness have set him apart from the run of men and caused him to be regarded with uncomprehending wonder. By no means; nor is this implied in our assertion. cit., 155. It might seem that this belongs properly to the ethical stage, at which the sense of right and wrong, and remorse for wrongdoing, are already at work. The often-cited struggle between reason and the only test available, the author analyzes the relationship between and... Becomes ice, but that is momentous, though it does not very! 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