News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Kierkegaard Carnival II - December 31, 2006

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Kierkegaard Carnival II - December 31, 2006

Welcome to the December 31, 2006 edition of Kierkegaard Carnival.

This New Year's edition of the Kierkegaard Carnival includes a congeries of blog postings that cover ethical, philosophical, religious, and biographical aspects of Kierkegaard's work. The pieces provided here are interesting for their diversity of viewpoint on the themes and ideas generated by that amazing writing machine we have come to love and admire.

What strikes any first-time reader of Kierkegaard, of course, is the number of pseudonyms that he writes under. The number of pseudonyms, along with the diverging and often conflicting viewpoints they divulge accounts, perhaps, for the many interpretations of Kierkegaard's work that we find in academia, as well as in the humble pages of this little carnival.

For many people, the idea of a pseudonym means that someone is trying to hide their real name behind a fake one. The reasons for why someone might want to do this can be multifarious--ranging from the con man's alias to the lover afraid to show their true name lest they be hurt by rejection. ...

Kierkegaard acknowledged and embraced the ambivalence of the pseudonym. It allowed him to explore the wide-ranging emotional and spiritual spectrum that exhibits human being. He was wily enough to see that people will hold to their beliefs and precious prejudices no matter what data or facts appear. They must be tricked out of their mind-set to embrace the open-ended reality that is the transcendent.

Using pseudonyms also allowed Kierkegaard to experiment with different views and ways of looking at life that he did not necessarily embrace, feel equal to, or had surpassed. For example, he says that the pseudonym anti-Climacus is a writer whose version of Christianity is much far higher than Kierkegaard himself could live in his own life.

What these comments point to is a cautionary tale about seeking the real Kierkegaard. That may not be possible--and it is perhaps best so, since he the individual would have found it abhorrent to believe that any words of system could capture the uniqueness that is each and every human being.

This is not to say that the works published under his own name--especially the religious discourses--do not represent his personal beliefs and views. Yet, even here there's a progression and evolution in his ideas that often defies categorization and that is often pigeon-holed into preconceived patterns and notions.

With this said, it seems only fair to expect to find in the work of those who are inspired by Kierkegaard's work the same types of diversity that his writings display. This edition of the Kierkegaard Carnival bears out some of these remarks.

(h/t to Without Authority for the link to the Kierkegaard finger puppet that appears above)


Richard presents Philosophy and Literature posted at Castrovalva.

Richard explores the relationship between writing, reality, and self-transformation. Exploring the meaning of irony--a concept dear to Kierkegaard's heart--Richard links up Kierkegaard's views with those of American philosopher Richard Rorty. Especially important for Richard is the notion of self-transformation and how literature--rather than philosophy--enables that activity. In this regard, he sees Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling as lacking in that value.

William presents Soren Kierkegaard - Existentialism, Nominalism, and the Three Spheres of Existence posted at Fidei Defensor.

William provides a historical introduction to Kierkegaard's role as an existentialist in European philosophy. After providing this background, William discusses how Kierkegaard's notion of the Three Spheres of Existence provide a useful heuristic and conceptual framework in understanding the stages in the spiritual and religious life.


Thomas at Without Authority presents
Thomas explores four aspects of one of Kierkegaard's greatest works. Works of Loveis the one writing that puts to rest the notion that Kierkegaard was an isolated, brooding man who cared naught for anything save his eternal soul. In this work he explores the meaning of human and divine love, opening up along the way the dimensions of sociality that put into practice that divine commandment to love the neighbor and the enemy as yourself.


Allan presents Soren Kierkegaard: Postmodern Prophet: #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 at Allan R. Bevere.

Allan gives the background and context for what has been called Kierkegaard's attack on Christendom. Observing the corruption of Christianity as he saw it, at the end of his life Kierkegaard took to the streets to disseminate his biting satire on the ways that the Danish Lutheran Church--the official state church--and its leaders had betrayed original Christianity. After exploring some of this history, Allan explains how this attack by Kierkegaard has meaning for today's faithful in a postmodern world.

Anna presents Does God take leaps of faith? posted at Grace Freewill.

If there's a single set of words that most people who have heard of Kierkegaard associate with him, it is the phrase, "leap of faith," which itself is often extended to include a "blind" leap of faith. Strangely enough, none of these words appear in Kierkegaard's writings. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript, where he does talk about a leap, the meaning is that one leaps to faith, not from it. Also, the leap is quite self-conscious and not blind. Its understanding of the realities of the situation--that faith can't be proven objectively, for example--are quite apparent to the leaper. Anna provides an excellent personal review of faith, as seen from her reading of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. Who indeed can understand Abraham?

Hakim presents Reasonable Criticisms of the Unconditional posted at Wa Salaam.

Although not directly mentioning Kierkegaard, this short piece investigates in skeptical manner a subject that Kierkegaard wrestled with every day of his life: Is there an unconditional reality that provides the basis for discovering who and what we are?

Arts and Literature

Augustus Young presents A Gloss on Soren Kierkegaard posted at Augustus Young: Poetry and Prose a regular webzine.

Augustus devotes an entire issue of his online webzine to Kierkegaard. Inside we find scenes from a movie about Kierkegaard, as well as a small fantasia examining the correspondences (in the sense Baudelaire meant it) between Kierkegaard and PT Barnum. Did Kierkegaard really see his age as a freak show? It is difficult to say, but it is certainly true that many saw him as a freak and laughed him off the streets he so much loved to roam after nights and days of writing what he later came to say was an enterprise undertaken in the name of the common people.

Popular Culture

Charles presents Confessing America: The TV as Confessional posted at the cynic librarian.

Charles remarks on a side of detective shows like CSI, Law and Order, Monk, and The Closer that he thinks deserves mention: confession of guilt. Not of the characters in these shows but the guilt of the audience who watches the shows. He closes his remarks by citing Kierkegaard on sin and envy and speculates on how these intersect with the type of social confession he thinks this genre of TV show exploits.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to Kierkegaard Carnival III using our carnival submission form.

Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...


You really should have shared this with us at Spenglers Stammtish. It's delightful. Why don't you drop by and post a link to it?