Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Clippings from Kierkegaard

On modern times:

In contrast to the age of revolution, which took action, the present age is an age of publicity, the age of miscellaneous announcements: nothing happens but still there is instant publicity. An insurrection in this day and age is utterly unimaginable, such a manifestation of power would seem ridiculous to the calculating sensibleness of the age.

(Two ages: The age of revolution and the present age: A literary review, 1846!!)

On loving your neighbour as yourself:

When it is said, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," this contains what is presupposed, that every person loves himself. Thus, Christianity, which by no means begins, as do those high-flying thinkers, without presuppositions, nor with a flattering presupposition, presupposes this...Is it possible for anyone to misunderstand this, as if it were Christianity's intention to proclaim self-love as a prescriptive right? Indeed, on the contrary, it is Christianity's intention to wrest self-love away from human beings.

(Works of Love)

On finding your identity (as we say now):

the lowly Christian does not fall into the snare of this optical illusion. He sees with the eyes of faith; with the speed of faith that seeks God, he is at the beginning, is himself before God, is contented with being himself...From ‘the others’ a person of course actually finds out only what the others are — it is in this way that the world wants to deceive a person out of becoming himself. ‘The others’ in turn do not know what they themselves are either but continually know only what ‘the others’ are. There is only one who completely knows himself, who in himself knows what he himself is — that is God. And he also knows what each human being is in himself, because he is that only by being before God. The person who is not before God is not himself either, which one can be only by being in the one who is in himself.”

(Christian Discourses)

Three random observations from my recent reading of Kierkegaard:

  1. He sees how radical Jesus is and the radical nature of the call to follow him. He understands people and sees through rubbish Philosophy. However, he suffers from his Pietism which means he massively underplays the objective gift of Jesus and his righteousness. He is a bit legalistic at the end of the day.
  2. In passages like the last one I've quoted I have seen very clearly that a lot of the epistemology of Karl Barth is heavily influenced by Kierkegaard...for good and bad.
  3. Kierkegaard and Barth are some of the few pure geniuses I have read and both continue to teach me a lot. Karl Barth is much better person and theologian than Kierkegaard, but in a way I trust him less because the blind alleys he leads you on are much more difficult to spot than Mr K's which shine like neon lights.

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