Interpreting Kierkegaard's Pseudonymous Works

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Insty
 
Reply Sun 28 Feb, 2010 02:53 am
The views expressed in works like Fear and Trembling and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript are commonly taken to be Kierkegaard's own -- despite the fact that Kierkegaard wrote these works under pseudonyms and despite the fact that some of the writings are even retracted by their pseudonymous authors. Attributing to Kierkegaard the views expressed in these works also ignores Kierkegaard's own explanation of his authorship in the Point of View. But if Kierkegaard didn't want to be regarded as holding the positions advanced in these writings, how are we to understand his attitude toward them? Did he believe all of that stuff about making the leap of faith, about subjectivity and truth, the absurd, and so forth? Or did he intend to parody these notions? Or what?
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 28 Feb, 2010 04:16 am
@Insty,
Insty;133489 wrote:
Did he believe all of that stuff about making the leap of faith, about subjectivity and truth, the absurd, and so forth? Or did he intend to parody these notions? Or what?


I've only read a little of K, but here goes..

Was K the intersection of the sacred and the ironic? To describe what he described seems to require the distancing achieved though negation. Harold Bloom compared K to Hamlet. Both turned their backs on women, plumbed the depths of their subjectivities, and liked to enfold drama. "The play's the thing." To use a pseudonym means something, I think, in this case. He wouldn't commit to his lady, this K, and he wouldn't commit to God, or did he? Both men seemed tempted by radical freedom. Yet Hamlet becomes a sort of fatalist in Act V. Does God play this role for K?

If I'm way off, forgive me. Not much sleep of late.
 
Insty
 
Reply Sun 28 Feb, 2010 07:13 am
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;133506 wrote:
I've only read a little of K, but here goes..

Was K the intersection of the sacred and the ironic? To describe what he described seems to require the distancing achieved though negation. Harold Bloom compared K to Hamlet. Both turned their backs on women, plumbed the depths of their subjectivities, and liked to enfold drama. "The play's the thing." To use a pseudonym means something, I think, in this case. He wouldn't commit to his lady, this K, and he wouldn't commit to God, or did he? Both men seemed tempted by radical freedom. Yet Hamlet becomes a sort of fatalist in Act V. Does God play this role for K?

If I'm way off, forgive me. Not much sleep of late.


I think K did commit to God (even if the pseudonymous authors did not) but I am intrigued by the suggestion that K didn't. I know that some have interpreted K as an anti-realist about God, so that even though K wanted to save Christianity and "God talk," he didn't really believe that God existed apart from our discourse. Perhaps you mean K didn't commit to God in this sense? Or perhaps that there is some reason for thinking that he conceived of God in the traditional realist sense, but wasn't able to commit anyway? I would be curious to hear more.
 
Victor Eremita
 
Reply Sat 29 May, 2010 05:27 am
@Insty,
Insty;133489 wrote:
The views expressed in works like Fear and Trembling and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript are commonly taken to be Kierkegaard's own -- despite the fact that Kierkegaard wrote these works under pseudonyms and despite the fact that some of the writings are even retracted by their pseudonymous authors. Attributing to Kierkegaard the views expressed in these works also ignores Kierkegaard's own explanation of his authorship in the Point of View. But if Kierkegaard didn't want to be regarded as holding the positions advanced in these writings, how are we to understand his attitude toward them? Did he believe all of that stuff about making the leap of faith, about subjectivity and truth, the absurd, and so forth? Or did he intend to parody these notions? Or what?


Think of the pseudonyms as portraying and arguing for different viewpoints. In a philosophical essay, a writer ought to give and explain a thesis and consider possible responses and objections. That is what Kierkegaard is doing with his pseudonyms in a highly literary way. Take "A", the aesthetic, who argues for the thesis that pleasure is the guiding principle of life. Then an objection comes in the form of Judge "B" Vilhelm to the aesthetic life and responds with the ethical sphere of life.
 
 

 
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