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The Second Stage of Kierkegaardian Scholarship in America

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Part of the American University Publications in Philosophy book series (MNPL, volume 29)

Abstract

It is now some sixty years since the American “Dane,” David Swenson, discovered the “Danish Socrates,” Snren Kierkegaard. During the last twenty-five years Americans have had the opportunity of becoming well acquainted with Kierkegaardian reflection, both philosophical and theological. There has poured forth from the American presses not only the major works of this strange thinker, but also numerous attempts to present his life and the general tenor of his thought. Such attempts were both necessary and fruitful.1 This first stage of scholarship, however, although much needed and frequently well done, was but a preliminary to the work which is now beginning to appear. Professor Lowrie confessed to his limitations at interpretation, and many other have intended no more than an introductory presentation of “Kierkegaard in English.” Further work of this kind may still be needed to clarify scholarly issues of a biographical nature, and to present to a new age, in their terms, the general structure of Kierkegaardian thought. It is the thesis of this essay, however, that we have entered the preliminary stages in a more significant task, and that American students have started to move to a second stage in Kierkegaardian scholarship.

Keywords

Central Issue Western Philosophy Social Ethic General Tenor Metaphysical Position 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Footnotes

  1. 1a.
    For study of Kierkegaard’s introduction to the American public see an unpublished dissertation by M. M. Link, Kierkegaard’s Way To America (The American University Library, 1951),Google Scholar
  2. 1b.
    in addition to numerous scattered comments by Mr. Walter Lowrie, especially “Translators And Interpreters Of S. K.,” Theology Today, 12 (1955) 312–322.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    For a recent European interpretation of Kierkegaard’s theology see L. Dupre, Kierkegaard’s Theologie (Utrecht: Spectrum, 1958).Google Scholar
  4. 3a.
    I shall be especially concerned with the following books and articles: Books: J. Collins, The Mind Of Kierkegaard (Chicago: Regnery, 1953);Google Scholar
  5. 3b.
    C. O. Schrag, Existence And Freedom (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1961);Google Scholar
  6. 3c.
    M. Wyschogrod, Kierkegaard And Heideger (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954).Google Scholar
  7. 3d.
    Articles: J. Collins, “Faith And Reflection In Kierkegaard,” Journal Of Religion, 37 (1957) 10–19, hereafter referred to as “FRK”;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 3e.
    M. J. Heinecken, “Kierkegaard As Christian,” Journal Of Religion, 37 (1957) 20–30;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 3f.
    R. Herbert, “Two Of Kierkegaard’s Uses Of ‘Paradox’,” The Philosophical Review, 70 (1961) 44–55;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 3g.
    P. L. Holmer, “Kierkegaard And Religious Propositions,” Journal Of Religion, 35 (1955) 135–146, hereafter referred to as “KRP”;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 3h.
    P. Holmer, “Kierkegaard And Kinds Of Discourse,” Meddelser fra S. K. Selskapet, January, 1954, hereafter referred to as “KKD;”Google Scholar
  12. 3i.
    P. L. Holmer, “James Collins And Kierkegaard,” Meddeleser fra S. K. Selskapet, August, 1954, hereafter referred to as “JCK”;Google Scholar
  13. 3j.
    P. L. Holmer, “Kierkegaard And Ethical Theory,” Ethics, 63 (1953) 157–170, hereafter referred to as “KET”;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 3k.
    P. L. Holmer, “Kierkegaard And Theology,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review, 12 (1957) 23–31;Google Scholar
  15. 3l.
    R. E. Larsen, “Kierkegaard’s Absolute Paradox,” Journal Of Religion, 42 (1962) 34–43;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 3m.
    L. Mackey, “Kierkegaard And The Problem Of Existential Philosophy,” The Review Of Metaphysics, 9 (1956) 404–419, 569–588, hereafter referred to as “KPEP”;Google Scholar
  17. 3o.
    W. E. Nagley, “Kierkegaard On Liberation,” Ethics, 70 (1959) 47–58;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 3p.
    W. W. Paul, “Faith And Reason In Kierkegaard And Modern Existentialism,” Review Of Religion, 20 (1956) 149–163, hereafter referred to as “FRKME”;Google Scholar
  19. 3q.
    P. Ramsey, “Existenz And The Existence of God: A Study Of Kierkegaard And Hegel,” Journal Of Religion, 28 (1948) 157–176;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 3r.
    J. H. Thomas, “Kierkegaard And The Existence Of God,” Review Of Religion, 18 (1953) 18–30, hereafter referred to as “KEG”;Google Scholar
  21. 3s.
    J. Wild, “Kierkegaard And Classical Philosophy,” The Philosophical Review, 49 (1940) 536–551, hereafter referred to as “KCP”.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 4.
    For a consideration of will as a central metaphor in Kierkegaard’s philosophy see W. E. Nagley, “Kierkegaard On Liberation,” Ethics, 70 (1959) 47–58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 6.
    Collins, “FRK,” pp. 15–17; Wild, “KCP,” pp. 537, 551.Google Scholar
  24. 7.
    C. O. Schrag, Existence And Freedom, p. 4.Google Scholar
  25. 8.
    Ibid., p. 5.Google Scholar
  26. 9.
    Ibid., p. 52.Google Scholar
  27. 10a.
    W. Barrett, H. D. Aiken, Philosophy In The Twentieth Century (New York: Random House, 1962) I, pp. 3–43;Google Scholar
  28. 10b.
    W. Barrett, H. D. Aiken, Philosophy In The Twentieth Century (New York: Random House, 1962) II, pp. 125–169.Google Scholar
  29. 10c.
    Schrag, op. cit., p. 192.Google Scholar
  30. 11a.
    Holmer, “JCK,” pp. 3–5; Holmer, “KRP,” p. 138;Google Scholar
  31. 11b.
    M. Wyschogrod, Kierkegaard And Heideger (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954), p. 26.Google Scholar
  32. 12a.
    Holmer, “JCK,” pp. 6–7; Holmer, “KRP,” p. 141;Google Scholar
  33. 12b.
    Wyschogrod, op. cit., p. 44.Google Scholar
  34. 12c.
    For an analysis of the place of emotions in Kierkegaard’s thought see Wyschogrod, ibid., p. 79.Google Scholar
  35. 14.
    Thomas, “KEG,” pp. 24–27; Holmer, “JCK,” p. 8. At various points Holmer and Thomas both indicate the relevance of Kierkegaardian literature to current linguistic analysis. Holmer also notes frequently that even with the Kierkegaardian emphasis upon passion the philosopher will still have “plenty to do,” but the precise role of the philosopher qua philospher is never clarified.Google Scholar
  36. 15a.
    Holmer, “KKD,” p. 7; Holmer, “KET,” p. 164; Holmer, “KRP,” pp. 135, 142;Google Scholar
  37. 15b.
    J. Wild, The Challenge Of Existentialism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1955) p. 53.Google Scholar
  38. 16.
    Holmer, “KKD,” p. 5; Holmer, “KET,” p. 158; Wyschogrod, op. cit., p. 136.Google Scholar
  39. 17.
    Wyschogrod, op. cit., p. 44, see especially chapters 2, 4, 6. Note especially the Kierkegaardian critique of the Platonic-Spinozistic thesis regarding the “chain of Being.”Google Scholar
  40. 18.
    C. O. Schrag, Existence And Freedom.Google Scholar
  41. 19.
    Holmer, “JCK,” pp. 5–7; Holmer, “KRP,” pp. 139, 141; A Holmer, “Kierkegaard And Theology,” Union Seminary Quarterly Review., 12 (1957) pp. 22, 27, 28.Google Scholar
  42. 20.
    Wyschogrod, op. cit., p. 30.Google Scholar
  43. 21.
    Ibid., p. 129.Google Scholar
  44. 22.
    See Wyschogrod, Ibid., p. 130, for an analysis of the difficulties of Kierkegaard in attempting to do metaphysics and to introduce the category of Pure Being on a truly existential basis. Wyschogrod takes this to be the central problem of a Kierkegaardian existential philosophy.Google Scholar
  45. 23.
    Holmer, “KET,” p. 169.Google Scholar
  46. 24.
    Mackey, “KPEP,” pp. 404–407; 413–414; 416–417; 575.Google Scholar
  47. 25.
    For an analysis of the intimate relationship between subjectivity and existence on the one hand and objectvty and Being on the other, see Wyschogrod, op. cit., p. 30.Google Scholar
  48. 26.
    Schrag does not present any strong tension between Kierkegaardian subjectivity and the phenomenological program.Google Scholar
  49. 27.
    Wyschogrod notes the difficulties here and also the metaphysical problems it would raise for Kierkegaard if science were given an ontology which is not subject to the dominance of existential categories. Op. cit., pp. 142–143.Google Scholar
  50. 28.
    Schrag would obviously object to any such analysis. Schrag, op. cit., pp. 154–155.Google Scholar
  51. 29a.
    For a discussion of the relationship of realism to similar issues in contemporary existentialism see Chapter X. For an analysis of the antirealistic aspects of Kierkegaard see Wyschogrod, op. cit., pp. 37–39;Google Scholar
  52. 29b.
    Schrag, op. cit., pp. 176–177.Google Scholar
  53. 30.
    It is at just this point that Holmer is most critical of Collin’s interpretation of Kierkegaard. See Collins, The Mind Of Kierkegaard (Chicago: Regnery, 1953) and Holmer, “JCK”.Google Scholar
  54. 31.
    Holmer, “KKD,” p. 3; Holmer, “KET,” p. 165; Mackey, “KPEP,” pp. 404–407; 413–417; 575.Google Scholar
  55. 33a.
    Holmer writes, “The source of obligation is in the subject.” “KRP,” p. 143. See also Holmer, “KET,” p. 166. For an analysis of a Kierkegaardian norm see Wyschogrod, op. cit., pp. 31–32; 45–46.Google Scholar
  56. 33b.
    For an analysis of choice and Being, or subjectvism and realism, in Kierkegaard’s ethics, see Wyschogrod, Ibid. p. 33, Note 1.Google Scholar
  57. 34a.
    For a discussion of freedom and Being or freedom and realism in Kierkegaard, see Wyschogrod, Ibid., pp. 38–39. Kierkegaard’s emphasis upon appropriation rather than cognition in ethics leads Collins to propose that we now need much more emphasis upon the “what” of faith rather than the “how.” See Collins, “FRK,” p. 19.Google Scholar
  58. 34b.
    See also Schrag, op. cit., p. 179.Google Scholar
  59. 35.
    Paul, “FRKME,” p. 154. Collins alo tends to identify ethical faith at the ethical stage in Kierkegaard’s thought with a kind of insight. “FRK,” p. 13.Google Scholar
  60. 36.
    M. J. Heinecken, “Kierkegaard As Christian,” Journal Of Religion, 37 (1957) 20–30.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. 37.
    Ibid., p. 28.Google Scholar
  62. 38a.
    Larsen maintains that the ultimate paradox for Kierkegaard is not a self-contradiction but a limit for thought, and Herbert argues that there is no “logical impossibility” in either religionness A or B. R. E. Larsen, “Kierkegaard’s Absolute Paradox,” Journal Of Religion, 42 (1962) 34–43;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. 38b.
    R. Herbert, “Two Of Kierkegaard’s Uses Of ‘Paradox’,” Philosophical Review, 70 (1961) 41–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. 39.
    Paul, “FRKME,” pp. 152–153, 161; Thomas, “KEG,” p. 20; Ramsey, “Existenz And The Existence Of God: A Study Of kierkegaard And Hegel,” Journal Of Religion, 28 (1948) 162–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. 40.
    Wyschogrod, op. cit., pp. 94–95. Incidently, a strange historical disagreement has appeared regarding the extent to which Kierkegaard was acquainted with Aristotle. Wild suggested that if Kierkegaard had studies Aristotle more thoroughly he would have dropped his proposals about the “leap.” “KCP,” p. 46. Later, However, he speaks of Kierkegaard as “thoroughly acquainted with the… Aristotelian writings.” Thomas, on the other hand, argues that a study of Kierkegaard’s library indicates that he had made a profound study of Aristotle and that the origin of the idea of the “leap” was partly found in Aristotle. “KEG,” p. 25.Google Scholar
  66. 41.
    Collins proposes that for Kierkegaard both faith and reason play an appropriate role at each level of existence. At the religious stage, however, what is the precise role which reason plays? Collins suggests that one meets God in “belief,” which would appear to be a strange combination of freedom and knowledge; this would seem to minimize the radical role of conviction and decision for Kierkegaard. “FRK,” pp. 11–14, 18. Collins also presents a helpful elucidation of the meaning of the term “faith” in the idealism of Kierkegaard’s day.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, Dordrecht 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The American UniversityUSA

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