The work is a poignant attack against Hegelianism , the philosophy of Hegel , especially Hegel's Science of Logic. The work is also famous for its dictum, Subjectivity is Truth. It was an attack on what Kierkegaard saw as Hegel's deterministic philosophy. Against Hegel's system, Kierkegaard is often interpreted as taking the side of metaphysical libertarianism or freewill , though it has been argued that an incompatibilist conception of free will is not essential to Kierkegaard's formulation of existentialism. As the title suggests, the Postscript is sequel to the earlier Philosophical Fragments.
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He might thus be deemed the author of Kierkegaard's greatest philosophical works. The style of Climacus varies from each of the three productions, but they are singular as to their dialectical mission. Kierkegaard took this name from a Greek monk c. This book, incidentally, was the first book to be printed in the New World, translated into Spanish Mexico, Climacus' work was written for a monastic audience.
He says that no one should attempt the contemplative life without first warring against and subduing the passions. The ladder is thus a series of thirty steps which ultimately lead to impassability and imperturbability, not entirely unlike the ataraxia of the Epicureans, except that Epicureans seek to escape the troubles of the world for quiet contemplative pleasure while Climacus strove for the heavenly vision.
As The Imitation of Christ is one of the most popular devotional works outside of the Bible in the West, the Ladder has long achieved the same importance in the East. It is read every Lent in Orthodox monasteries, and is appointed to be read aloud in church or in the refectory.
For Kierkegaard, the pseudonym Johannes Climacus represents the subjective approach to knowledge, though this Climacus is not a believer. The ladder is not then the ascent to God but is meant to call to mind an ascending series of logical plateaus, where the logician, represented particularly by Descartes and Hegel, proceeds from one premise to the next. Johannes rejects this method in spiritual matters, thinking it ridiculous to approach the Absolute in any way except through faith.
He is concerned with subjective knowledge and with the leap for more on the leap see a Primer on Kierkegaardian Motifs. Objective knowledge, which is the avowed goal of rational philosophers, is impossible to appropriate by subjective creatures. Moreover, Kierkegaard was concerned with knowledge that would encourage the soul to turn to God. But Johannes claims not to be a Christian, since he has not yet reached that knowledge of God.
The rigorous ascent to God toward impassibility has been replaced by the very passionate and subjective approach to truth whereby the believer, by virtue of the absurd, finds himself before Christ. The Concluding Unscientific Postscript is a huge and unwieldy book.
In the recent Princeton edition it runs to pages. It is quite wordy throughout and unorthodox in its overall presentation. This is nothing new to readers of Kierkegaard, who have come to expect his prolix and remarkable style, which began with his dissertation, The Concept of Irony. The word "Concluding" has a two-fold meaning, since it refers both to the conclusion of the material first presented in Philosophical Fragments , and it was to be the conclusion of Kierkegaard's writing career, though in later years he would describe it as a turning point.
Hong points out, there is irony in calling this work a postscript to another work, when this is five times the size of the former. The term "unscientific" requires an explanation. Science refers to learning in general. Concerning existence itself, there can be no teacher except God. As a consequence, the work is not systematic. Kierkegaard's titles and chapter divisions in many of his works typify his idiosyncratic dialectic. I refer to H. Mimical : Mime is the dramatic art of expressively imitating emotions and thoughts by actions and gestures, usually without words.
Here "mimical" presumably can be interpreted as "poetically artistically elucidated" in such a way that the tone and form are appropriate to the content. It may also refer to a gathering of all the earlier "mimed" pseudonymous works as background material for this "concluding" work. Pathetical Pathos marks the poet and his work, and in Postscript Kierkegaard is the poet's Climacus's poet. Dialectical : The dialectical marks the thinker. Climacus is a poetic philosopher. In the Postscript Kierkegaard underscores the necessity of approaching truth subjectively.
He does not deny objective truth, but asserts that objective truth can only be known and appropriated subjectively. Like the Philosophical Fragments , he lists himself as editor, again, showing the importance of the work. Philosophers like Kant, Hume and Hegel struggled with epistemological issues concerning the acquisition of knowledge based on reason versus empirical data. Sometimes philosophical methodology was applied to Christian theology dogmatics. Kierkegaard maintained that knowledge through traditional means cannot begin to span the chasm of doubt between the individual person and God.
One cannot amass proofs so that the object of faith becomes probable, as if the gap were nearly closed. No, the chasm is broad. The individual who approaches God must swim in water "70, fathoms" deep. Objective knowledge applies to the sciences. Subjective knowledge applies to the individual who approaches God. It is the truth he must live for, that he has made his own.
But the subjective is not therefore arbitrary. Rather, the truth cannot come by standard means, but must be appropriated by the individual's entire being. From the beginning of the work, the subjective issue is stated. The system presupposes faith as given a system that has no presuppositions!
Next, it presupposes that faith should be interested in understanding itself in a way different from remaining in the passion of faith, which is a presupposition a presupposition for a system that has no presupposition! In order, however, to avoid confusion, it should immediately be borne in mind that the issue is not about the truth of Christianity but about the individual's relation to Christianity, consequently not about the indifferent individual's systematic eagerness to arrange the truths of Christianity in paragraphs but rather about the concern of the infinitely interested individual with regard to his own relation to such a doctrine The objective issue, then, would be about the truth of Christianity.
The subjective issue is about the individual's relation to Christianity. Now, if Christianity requires this infinite interest in the individual subject The subjective side is posited to exclude all uncommitted interest—whether of the physical scientist or of the anthropologist. Anyone who as a believer posits inspiration must consistently regard every critical deliberation—whether as for or against—as something dubious, a kind of temptation. And anyone who, without having faith, ventures out into critical deliberations cannot possibly want to have inspiration result from them.
To whom, then, is it all really of interest? Faith does not result from straightforward scholarly deliberation, nor does it come directly; on the contrary, in this objectivity one loses that infinite, personal, impassioned interestedness, which is the condition of faith, the ubique et nusquam [everywhere and nowhere] in which faith can come into existence p.
The Postscript consists of a bewildering complex of chapters and sections, divided quite unequally into two parts. Part Two is about pages long. Thus, Kierkegaard first seeks to establish the nature of traditional inquiry, before offering his own view. Thus, objectively understood, truth can signify: 1 historical truth, 2 philosophical truth.
Viewed as historical truth, the truth must be established by a critical consideration of the various reports etc. In the case of philosophical truth, the inquiry turns on the relation of the doctrine, historically given and verified, to the eternal truth p.
Kierkegaard goes on to address the three main historical bases for Christian knowledge: the Bible, the church and church history.
He wonders how a knowledge of truth can be founded on any combination of these. The objective view, however, continues from generation to generation precisely because the individuals the observers become more and more objective, less and less infinitely, passionately interested The more objective the observer becomes, the less he builds an eternal happiness, that is, his eternal happiness, on his relation to the observation, because an eternal happiness is a question only for the impassioned, infinitely interested subjectivity If Christianity is essentially something objective, it behooves the observer to be objective.
But if Christianity is essentially subjectivity, it is a mistake if the observer is objective p. Kierkegaard's main concerns included dismantling the philosophical "system", by which he meant that of Hegel. To Kierkegaard, it was arrogant to develop a philosophy from a detached standpoint, as if a philosopher stood outside of the system that he created. Kierkegaard was not concerned with a system, but with man in the world, especially as an individual before God.
He emphasized subjective truth over objective truth, or "the truth that is true for me". By this, he did not deny objective, propositional truth, but rather, he asserted that truth, especially the claims of religion, must be appropriated subjectively to have any effect on, or value for, the thinker. That is to say, the ability to verify the claims of religion are only good to the philosopher if he can personally appropriate those claims for himself.
Who is supposed to write or finish such a system? Surely a human being, unless we are to resume the peculiar talk about a human being's becoming speculative thought, a subject-object p. Section One is devoted to Gotthold Ephraim Lessing , who in ways was groping toward some of Kierkegaard's conclusions.
He was a noted German esthetician, dramatist and critic. His drama abandoned neo-classical forms and assumed more personal and ideal themes. He also alluded to the concept of the leap, which held great interest for Kierkegaard. The subjective existing thinker is aware of the dialectic of communication. Whereas objective thinking is indifferent to the thinking subject and his existence, the subjective thinker as existing is essentially interested in his own thinking, is existing in it.
Therefore, his thinking has another kind of reflection, specifically, that of inwardness, of possession, whereby it belongs to the subject and to no one else In his existence-relation to the truth, the existing subjective thinker is just as negative as positive, has just as much of the comic as he essentially has of pathos, and is continually in a process of becoming, that is, striving In the domain of thinking, the positive can be classed in the following categories: sensate certainty, historical knowledge, speculative result.
But this positive is precisely the untrue. Sensate certainty is a delusion see Greek skepticism That is, all of this positive fails to express the state of the knowing subject in existence Lessing has said that contingent historical truths can never become a demonstration of eternal truths of reason, also that the transition whereby one will build an eternal truth on historical reports is a leap Lessing has said If God held all truth enclosed in his right hand, and in his left hand the one and only ever-striving drive for truth, even with the corollary of erring forever and ever, and if he were to say to me: Choose!
Pure truth is indeed only for you alone! If something can only be speculated about, we cannot approach it objectively with assurance of understanding. If something is historical, we again cannot approach it objectively with assurance of understanding, since we were not there.
Don't have an account? The book is divided into two parts, the second of which concerns subjectivity and the subjective relation to the thought of the eternal within religion in general and within Christianity in particular. The chapter first considers Kierkegaard's views about Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Hegelianism within the context of the relationship between modernity and Christianity and the relationship of history to faith. It then examines Kierkegaard's arguments about God's transcendence and revelation, faith and subjectivity. The chapter concludes by asking whether Kierkegaard's authorship may or may not have fed into the cult of irrationalism.
Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Volume 1
There have so far been three discernible phases -- three stages, appropriately enough -- in the enterprise of translating Kierkegaard into English. The first began during the Great Depression, and was something of a religious stage. Its spearhead was Walter Lowrie, an Episcopal minister who cast himself as Kierkegaard's "missionary", and promoted Kierkegaard's vision of faith as a bulwark against liberal theology. A second stage, which it is tempting to call "ethical", was launched in the s by Howard and Edna Hong of St.
Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
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