Kierkegaard’s thought is characteristic of what we might term the ‘indirect response’ to scepticism. Kierkegaard was a Danish 19th Century philosopher, writer and theologian. His thought is difficult to engage with, partly because he was an unconventional writer who employed irony, contradiction and pseudonymous authorship because he did not want his though to be interpreted as a philosophical system with a systematic structure. Indeed, he was highly critical of ‘systematic’ philosophers, such as Hegel. Kierkegaard is often considered the first ‘existentialist’.
Kierkegaard maintained that skeptical objections to religion were misplaced. For Kierkegaard, we do not find truth through a detached ‘objectivity’ but through a deep engagement with the world. He suggests that truth is found in subjectivity, through our individual, unique apprehension of things.
“What every religion in which there is any truth aims at, and what Christianity aims at decisively, is a total transformation in a man, to wrest from him through renunciation and self-denial all that, and precisely that, to which he immediately clings, in which he immediately wants his life. This sort of religion, as ‘man’ understands it, is not what he wants.” – Attack Up Christendom
“As soon as subjectivity is taken away, and passion from subjectivity, and infinite interest from passion, there is no decision whatsoever. All decision, all essential decision, is rooted in subjectivity.” – Concluding Unscientific Postscript
“And how does God’s existence emerge from the proof? Does it follow straightway, without any breach of continuity? […] As long as I keep my hold on the proof, i.e., continue to demonstrate, the existence does not come out, if for no other reason that that I am engaged in proving it; but when I let the proof go, the existence is there. But this act of letting go is surely also something; it is indeed a contribution of mine. Must not this also be taken into account, this little moment, brief as it may be, it need not be long, for it is a leap.” – Philosophical Fragments
“The paradox in Christian truth is invariably due to the fact that it is the truth that exists for God. The standard of measure and the end is superhuman; and there is only one relationship possible: faith.” – Journals
“Faith is precisely the paradox that the single individual as the single individual is higher than the universal, is justified before it, not as inferior to it but superior… This position cannot be mediated, for all mediation takes place only by virtue of the universal; it is and remains for all eternity a paradox, impervious to thought. And yet faith is this paradox.” – Fear and Trembling
Filed under: Indirect Responses, Kierkegaard, Philosophy, Religion | 1 Comment