Kierkegaard Dictionary

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Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 08:27 pm
Mini-Kierkegaard Dictionary
Victor Eremita (2008)

I was almost inclined not to write this, as a full fledeged Kierkegaard Dictionary by Steven Emmanuel is due out in 2011 (oh so long!) Kierkegaard Dictionary (Blackwell Philosopher Dictionaries)
Nevertheless, here is my attempt at one. More entries forthcoming.

Subject Dictionary

Absolute Paradox: For Kierkegaard, this is the idea that an eternal, non-changing, perfect God can exist in historical time as an imperfect man. Christianity takes this to be Christ. Kierkegaard spends a substantial amount of time on this paradox discussing Christianity's acceptance of this paradox. Christianity, therefore, is inherently non-rational and offensive because it accepts this paradox.

Absurd [Virtue of the Absurd]: a view which suggests life is meaningless, inconsistent, or lacking structure. Kierkegaard's phrase, "by virtue of the absurd", denotes that a belief in something is powered because of and in spite of life's meaninglessness or structurelessness.

Agnosticism: belief that humans cannot have knowledge of God and that it is impossible to prove God does or does not exist. Kierkegaard did not know of the term, as it was coined after his death. However, his philosophy supports an agnostic interpretation in the form of his "objective uncertainty" principle: "If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe."

Anxiety [angest]: The state of existence where one is aware of the dreadful freedom and the choices that come from it. In the Concept of Anxiety, Kierkegaard uses the story of Adam being told not to eat from the apple tree of knowledge. This realization creates anxiety as one recognizes he has the freedom to eat it or not. Thus, anxiety precedes sin.

Apostle: A person who speaks with authority, vested by God or the Eternal. Contrast with Genius.

Boredom: The aesthetic's worst state of existence. For the aesthetic, it is the root of all evil, as it is the opposite of enjoyment. To avoid boredom, "crop rotation", that is, keeping the aesthetic busy with continual varied enjoyment, is required.

Christendom: The political and social face of Christianity. Kierkegaard rallied against Christendom because it not only perverted Christianity's individualistic emphasis on self-realization, but it also enforced a distorted morality of Christian behaviour emphasizing weakness and comfort instead of strength and personal struggle. "Christendom has done away with Christianity, without being quite aware of it".

Crowd: A depersonalized mass of people who believe in the superiority of the many versus the individual. Kierkegaard accused such masses as being mere numbers with narrow-minded values. Being an individual with control of one's selfhood is the only way to revolt against and overcome the traditional values of the masses.

Despair: Describes the inherent conflict of the human condition. Despair, broadly construed, is the unwillingness to live and achieve true selfhood. Most despair forms include self-deception as a cover to shield oneself from the failures of achieving selfhood, but one despair form readily embraces this unwillingness (later known as the nihilist). The solution to despair is to will to achieve selfhood, to embrace a new meaning for one's life.

Genius: A brilliant and charming person whose gifts and recognition are provided by earthly matters, but has no authority from God. Contrast with Apostle.

Infinite qualitative distinction [unendliche qualitative Unterschied]. Kierkegaard's theological idea, which was later utilized by the theologian Karl Barth, which states that God is the wholly Other, that God is infinitely different from humanity, sort of like an anti-anthropomorphize idea. Similiar notions have been discussed by Ludwig Feuerbach, whom Kierkegaard read.

knight of faith: A term used to describe a theoretical person with the ability to overcome great personal doubt with purity of heart and strength of will. Kierkegaard argues Abraham and the Virgin Mary are possibly two such examples.

leap to faith (leap of faith) See

Objectivity/subjectivity. Basically, there is objective truth, truth that exists separate from an individual viewer, and subjective truth, truth that has been appropriated by an individual. Kierkegaard did not deny the existence of objective truth, but argued that subjective truth is the only truth accessible for individuals. Objective truth is static and never changing; it is the "what". Every person becomes, they continue to grow and change, they have different perspectives and adopt values and beliefs appropriately: this is their subjective truth, it is their "how".

preface [forord] Kierkegaard was amused at the idea that Hegel's Preface to the Phenomenology of Spirit was more popular than the book itself. In droll, Kierkegaard had wrote a book called Prefaces which contained nothing but prefaces.

Press, the. Kierkegaard was something of an infamous celebrity in Denmark, who frequently made the pages of the Corsair in the mid-1840s. Kierkegaard criticizes the press because they made people readily accept their ideas without question. It creates a crowd mentality, lacking individual selfhood, which leads individuals into mediocrity with stagnant values. See also Crowd.

Pseudonyms. As part of Kierkegaard's authorial method, pseudonyms provide a buffer between the author and the ideas. See

Recollection: The recall of a past event that no longer is. A hallmark of the aesthetic life; for example, a lothario recollects the memories of his past affairs, and he is continually finding new and other loves without the intention of continuing past their novelty. Contrast with Repetition.

Repetition: The idea that one must continually re-affirm an event. A hallmark of the ethical life; for example, in marriage, one re-affirms their commitment and love to their spouse. Contrast with Recollection.

Stages on Life's Way (three stages): the aesthetic, the ethical, the religious. The aesthetic person lives a purely hedonistic life, unencumbered by the need to express things in terms of good and evil. The ethical person lives a life of commitment and duty, in terms of good and evil. The religious is sensitive to both aesthetic and ethical life, recognizes the importance of good and evil, but must also go beyond good and evil, in order to become a fully realized and self-determined individual.
Victor Eremita
Reply Thu 2 Oct, 2008 09:16 pm
@Victor Eremita,
Name Dictionary

Hamann, Johann Georg. Because the Danish people were at war with the British people during the Napoleonic Wars, British philosophers and thinkers were not readily accessible to Danish readers, including Kierkegaard. The philosophy of David Hume percolated into Kierkegaard's authorship via the work and writings of the Humean scholar Johann Georg Hamann. Richard Popkin argues that the connection between Hume and Kierkegaard is more nuanced and subtle than the well known influences of Kant and Hegel: Hume and Kierkegaard

Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich. The writings of the Jena philosopher Hegel are usually seen as the butt of Kierkegaard's jokes and works. Kierkegaard read the German thinker throughout his university career, but found him full of hot air. The numerous references to "Hegel" that appears in Kierkegaard's writings not only means the actual philosopher, but sometimes his Hegelian followers both in Germany and Denmark, such as Johan Ludvig Heiberg.

Hume, David. See Hamann, Johann Georg.

Kant, Immanuel. Kierkegaard's hidden influence, recently uncovered by thinkers like Alasdair MacIntyre, it was initially assumed that, because Kantian philosophy fell into unpopularity during Kierkegaard's study in university, he made little use of the writings of Konigsberg thinker. Ronald M. Green's book "Kierkegaard and Kant: The Hidden Debt" suggests Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling is a response to Kant's Conflict of the Faculties.

Lessing, Gotthold Ephraim. One of Kierkegaard's lesser known influences, but one of the most important. Kierkegaard does dedicate a section of Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Lessing, but his influence extends beyond this. In fact, Lessing's On the Proof of the Spirit and of Power, mentions the leap in terms of qualitative transitioning, but without the religious references Kierkegaard applies to the leap.

Luther, Martin. Kierkegaard was raised in a Lutheran family and studied Protestant theology, so Martin Luther plays a significant influence in Kierkegaard's theological writings. Jaroslav Pelikan's book "From Luther to Kierkegaard" suggests that with Kierkegaard, Luther's theology finally has a firm philosophical basis.

Olsen, Regine. Schelling, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph.

Socrates. Kierkegaard's favourite philosopher Socrates was heralded by Kierkegaard as the finest, most honest thinker who ever lived. He strove to reduplicate the method and life of Socrates in his works. See

Victor Eremita
Reply Fri 3 Oct, 2008 03:55 pm
@Victor Eremita,
** For Future Entries **
Reply Thu 19 Aug, 2010 07:42 pm
sir, i like this dictionary very much. however, can you please also post the references you used? thaks:)

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