For Kierkegaard, the rule of faith is necessarily antithetical to the canons of reason, since objectifying God or attempting to explain Him in strictly rational terms weakens the radical decision to "walk by faith, not by sight." Can any case of such conflict be cited? Ad hominem reasoning, besides being distasteful, is never conclusive and is often self-defeating. But we can at least point out that the irrationalist defence is double-edged. He saw clearly the tendency of ‘objective thinking’ to undermine and disintegrate this faith. 27 Kierkegaard's contention that ‘objective’ thinking cannot deal with existence has been discussed at some length because it has often been regarded as a profound insight of existentialism. It was as if he was reluctant to accept even the measure of happiness that was open to him, as if he suffered from a congenital colour blindness and saw vividly all the greys, browns, and blacks of the world while having to squint and strain to make out the golds or blues. The intellectual element, though it does not stand alone, is and must be there. The notion of the Christian spirit as permeating natural attitudes and transforming selfish conduct seems to have been supplanted by a different kind of picture. If he is a married man, he will unhappily recognise that he has chosen the worse part. Fortunately this defeat of intelligence does not leave us without recourse, for faith remains. Kierkegaard holds that ‘the distinguishing mark of religious action is suffering’;14 ‘to be without suffering means to be without religion’;15 ‘the more the suffering, the more the religious existence—and the suffering persists’.16 This suffering has nothing to do with outward causes, such as the loss of wealth or health or popularity; the religious man ‘requires and has suffering even in the absence of external misfortune.…’17 Nor is Kierkegaard's point about suffering that of the moralist who stresses the value of suffering in mellowing and maturing a character; he often speaks contemptuously of such teaching as the sort of thing that is talked in pulpits. In this work, Sullivan analyzes the relationship between faith and reason in Kierkegaard's philosophy. He must remind himself that though this is a sick and twisted mind, such minds have, on occasion, shown a sharp eye for truth. If the sun really stood still over Gibeon, that must have meant that the earth stopped revolving; but if the earth had suddenly stopped revolving, we should all have been pitched eastward at a thousand miles an hour and blotted out. Can God change your life? [F Russell Sullivan] -- In this work, the author analyzes the relationship between faith and reason in Kierkegaard's philosophy. With all respect to the religious devotee, it is not very convincing to say that the life of an Aristotle himself or a Kant or a Hegel lacks commitment and therefore reality as compared with that of a Salvation Army worker untroubled by a doubt. ‘This is… clear to the knight of faith, so the only thing that can save him is the absurd, and this he grasps by faith.’95 Here is the meaning of that most deceptive phrase, ‘the teleological suspension of the ethical’. A person may say that it is really better that the powers of youth should be frustrated than fulfilled, that excruciating pain is better than pleasure, that sorrow and anguish are better than happiness, but can we believe that he has in fact seen these things to be true? One would say unhesitatingly that it would justify both sides of a contradiction except for Kierkegaard's insistence that truth belongs to pure acts or decisions, which, not being true or false in the ordinary sense, cannot contradict each other in that sense. Consider emotion, for example. ‘Faith has in fact two tasks: to take care in every moment to discover the improbable, the paradox; and then to hold it fast with the passion of inwardness.’100 Sometimes, as we have seen, the paradox that must be held fast is more than improbable; it is impossible. This does not mean that morality is impossible without religion, for that can be shown to be historically untrue. This was essentially the line of the neoorthodox theologians of the twentieth century, of Brunner, Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr; and Kierkegaard was its pioneer. He had lived in its midst from infancy like a hothouse plant; his father was absorbed in it with the morbid fascination of one who feared he had committed the unpardonable sin. Reason and Faith: The Lutheran Succession. His pattern of profound depression followed by states of exaltation was studied by the Danish psychiatrist Helweg, who found it symptomatic of a disordered mind, and there is much to confirm such a diagnosis. 31 We have seen that in ‘the task of becoming a Christian’ Kierkegaard finds ‘objective thinking’ unnecessary. If men who are doing their best to live up to such light as is in them are to be condemned for wrongs they never heard of, good has become evil, and evil may as well be called good. … So, ‘while objective knowledge rambles comfortably on by way of the long road of approximation without being impelled by the urge of passion, subjective knowledge counts every delay a deadly peril, and the decision so infinitely important and so instantly pressing that it is as if the opportunity had already passed.’82 The decision is what James called a ‘forced option’; we cannot evade it, since with so high a prize at stake to evade decision is in effect to reject the offer as illusory. Secular thinkers stripped away the Christian language. We never do or can reach pure immediacy, as has been seen; we leave it behind in infancy, if indeed we ever experience it; by the time the child recognises a ball or a milk-bottle, he has lost his innocence and eaten of the tree of knowledge. Christianity is a way of life. 14 If Kierkegaard did not derive this stress on suffering from the facts, where did it come from? If opponents claim a divine warrant for the opposite of what Kierkegaard proclaims, all he can do is denounce them as impostors. But if made with truth about any man who was trying to understand Christianity, it would be, according to Kierkegaard, an evidence of failure. What was presented as Abraham's duty, what he was honoured for accepting, was the production of these evils without any thought of compensating goods. It will pay us to look briefly at each of these. Now authority may demand that a man accept this, and tell him that if he demurs that is the worst sin of all. If it were, one could by a parallel argument call Newton and Einstein in question because John Alexander Dowie disagreed with them and insisted that the earth was flat. In his essay on Fear and Trembling he goes into the matter with gusto and in detail. More surprisingly, so far as we are subjective the self is not only the operator but also the object of the operation. And what counts here, he insists, is the decision or choice, not the thought. Paul speaks, to be sure, of the thorn in his flesh, of the struggle to keep the body under, of the warring against each other of two selves in his nature; and these things could not occur without suffering. It is true that one can never make action ethically perfect or wholly rational. In perception and even in thought it is comparatively passive. So long as Pilate allowed himself to be governed by the evidence objectively considered, his stand was for acquittal. ‘Does this mean,’ he continues, ‘that no such system exists? CBN is a global ministry committed to preparing the nations of the world for the coming of Jesus Christ through mass media. But laws and principles are worked out by human reason, which by virtue of man's corruption is a fallible guide. Again, if religion is to express, in Tillich's words, ‘an ultimate concern,’ it should have the power of controlling the impulses of the natural man. On the question whether we can reach by objective thinking the sort of certainty desired, we must grant that Kierkegaard is right. What is formidable today is not the rationalism of Hegel but the rationalism of science. But this is matter for the pathologist, and what I am thinking of here is sanity in a less technical sense, the kind of intellectual health that one looks for in a matured and reflective mind. We have examined the first two, with results that do not raise expectations as we turn to the third. If it is not one's duty to be perfect—and we have seen that it cannot be—it is at least a duty to try to be so, and that means that our reach will always exceed our grasp. It loses this sanity so far as it allows any belief to form a cyst, resistant to evidence, or allows its world of belief to fall apart into incoherence. Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Faith and reason in Kierkegaard. John Woolman felt a divine interdict against his preparing papers as a magistrate for the sale of a slave; but John Newton, the hymn-writer, reported that some of his sweetest hours of communion with the divine were spent while he was the captain of a slave-ship, separated by a few planks from a weltering mass of human misery. In short, Kierkegaard's view attests to Blaise Pascal's statement that "faith has its reasons of which reason knows nothing." But that is to ask perfection, and we know that this is beyond us. But since his importance for our interest lies in his account of reason and faith, we must confine our attention to this part of his theory except so far as may be necessary to set it in the light of his philosophy generally. Thus the fear one feels if one hears a tiger roar in the jungle is intensely real, though the thought of the tiger is not. Indeed, ‘the greater a man's equipment of knowledge and culture, the more difficult it is for him to become a Christian.’59 Objective thought cannot deal with existence; it cannot give certainty; it falls short of the action in which religious living consists. ‘By resignation I renounce everything.…’11 The religious man cannot at once serve God and Mammon; he must detach himself from all temporal desires, renouncing without exception all that his heart has been set on. His ethics are curiously egoistic; ‘the sole ethical interest is the interest in one's own reality’.66, Secondly, to be subjective is to be passionate. But according to Kierkegaard, the divine nature has for the religious man no definite character at all; it is paradoxical, unintelligible, even absurd. For Kierkegaard, God was utterly transcendent, and "an infinite qualitative difference" separated God from humanity. When anyone says that it is our duty to be perfect, does he mean that we ought to be perfect or that we ought to do our best to be perfect? This I saw, and I laughed.’36. For Kierkegaard, faith isn't a way of knowing or an act of trust in God's goodness and love for us. is a radio ministry of Prison Fellowship Ministries. Here, Kierkegaard details the often-cited struggle between reason and faith. If we absorb the what into the how, if we reduce the acceptance of Christianity to a passionate commitment of the will in divorce from any attempt at objective thought, we are banishing the intellect from religion altogether. Such reflections proved, after some centuries, to have been the beginning of the end for the older conception of nature, which has been crumbling slowly away under the attrition of newly discovered fact. If we try to do right and seem to succeed, we must remember that ‘before God we are nothing’ and that by the superhuman standard we are sinning still. Here is another contrast between the Greek and the Hebrew or Christian. With every passing decade more and still more of the provinces long supposed to be inviolable, because delivered once for all to the saints, have been annexed by ‘the new conquering empire of light and reason’. He wakes to the horror of realising what his father really is, and goes on to waste his life in the attempt to forget and escape it. If we have a long way to go, we have come a long way also, and it is irrational to fix our eyes on one aspect only of the facts, to despair over the failure while refusing to take any satisfaction in the success. On the latter view, faith is a constant struggle against rationalizing justification, and thus, any attempt to use reason to assist in the maintenance of faith is a mistake. There could be little doubt which picture would be most vivid to a mind like Kierkegaard's. Søren Kierkegaard dies. Unfortunately, no sooner has one made one's peace with the indiscipline of thought and style than one must begin the battle over again with the man himself. ‘Christianity exists,’ he writes, ‘because there is hatred between God and men.’ ‘God hates all existence.’, ‘To be a Christian means that you will be tortured in every way. Nevertheless, Kierkegaard's elevation to the place he now holds is a curious fact that calls for explanation. Knowing became the domain of science. Sullivan argues that he views faith as reasonable in a distinct way that must be uncovered. The loftier the position from which one can look down upon them, the wider will be the range of comic characters included in one's purview. Just as it gave Luther the power to see through and around Aristotle, so it gave Kierkegaard the power to see how superficial were all the systems of philosophy, and to see of science, without the need to study it, that if it differed from faith at any point it was wrong. Two types of volition are of particular interest here, the will to believe and the will to behave. Dread, suffering, guilt, and—toward the end—bitterness, scorn, and hatred are his characteristic emotions. ‘What lies at the root of both the comic and the tragic in this connection, is the discrepancy, the contradiction, between the infinite and the finite, the eternal and that which becomes.’31 What is ‘essential for humour’ is ‘the retirement out of the temporal into the eternal by way of recollection’,32 a requirement that some humorists of one's acquaintance might have difficulty in meeting. There were Jewish leaders who claimed a divine imperative to destroy the Amalekites, man, woman, and child. But the occurrence of a particular event is not timeless, and the existence of an individual man, oneself for instance, is not to be resolved away into any set of as-suches. Press, 1938), 103. Even though he lives whole-heartedly for the good of his community, if he has no belief in a God, rejects the divinity of Christ, finds the atonement meaningless, and denies a future life, he will hardly be regarded as a Christian. If that irrational faith is accepted, the principles on which reflection conducts itself are everywhere impugned. It may be replied that the attitude of the accusers was not genuine subjectivity, and could be regarded as such only if it gave the right verdict. As for the inadequacy of thought, a case can certainly be made for it, and such a case was actually presented with a force of statement and argument beyond Kierkegaard's range by an English contemporary, Dean Mansel of St Paul's. On each of these points Kierkegaard had arresting things to say. If to reflect is an act of will, as we have seen that it is, then the judgement that concludes reflection is also an act of will. Furthermore, in his insistence that religion is not a merely intellectual affair we can only agree with him. Kierkegaard wants to keep the immediacy of religious experience—its passion and practical devotion—without those intellectual elements that involve it in doubt and strife. When he says that the truth of Christianity consists in a passionate decision to act, he is not only eviscerating Christian beliefs of their meaning but also denying that belief, in its ordinary sense, has any part in religion at all. I may perhaps refer to my Reason and Goodness (London, Allen & Unwin, 1961), where I have attempted to work it out in detail. Søren Kierkegaard born. In the Century Dictionary of Names, published about 1900, one will look in vain for any mention of him. It is not that you in particular are a failure; you may indeed be the nearest thing to a saint that the race has produced; no matter; you too have failed, and must go on failing. 1859. But what of the equation they think of? Kierkegaard begins this section by describing what he takes to be the dominant ethical paradigm of his time. Much in his philosophy seems to have been a rationalisation, in the Freudian sense, of his conduct in this affair. By this cryptic pronouncement he seems to mean one or the other of two things; that the moral man will either, in Kantian fashion, ask what conduct could in principle be consistently adopted by everybody, or, in Hegelian fashion, ask what the community generally would approve. Most Protestant theologians have long seen that no one can continue to hold such a belief without canons of textual criticism that are naively elastic. It might seem that this belongs properly to the ethical stage, at which the sense of right and wrong, and remorse for wrongdoing, are already at work. Since music is the most emotional and ‘immediate’ of the arts, it is discussed at length; since sex is suffused with so much passion and pleasure, it is discussed at still greater length; and since Mozart's Don Juan so adroitly combines the two, it is made the subject of an encomium. He believed that because faith is characterized by absolute certainty and passionate personal commitment, it can never be supported by reason. It appeals to the widespread conviction that any attack upon religion as a set of dogmas is an attack upon a straw man. When reason encounters the paradox, faith and offense are both possible; what is not possible is indifference.” Evans’s Kierkegaard on Faith and the Self: Collected Essays is an erudite and provocative examination of the philosopher’s project that rejects those modern critiques that have distorted Kierkegaard’s work. Perfection in practice is as unattainable as perfection in knowledge; to demand it is like asking of abstract reason that it should know completely the event of our having breakfasted yesterday, or know exhaustively this desk that is now before us. St Abraham the Hermit appears to have thought it the divine will that, beginning with the day of his conversion and continuing for fifty years, he should wash neither his face nor his feet. It may be that reason, with all its imperfections on its head, is the best means to certainty we have, and that we shall always fall short of the goal. I will take two examples that may serve to make clear what I mean. Is there any process of thought, philosophic, scientific, or historical, by which we can prove these things to be true? A religion lacking the sense of sin is plainly defective. If we appeal to our intellect for guidance, it conducts us to a blank wall, for ‘the contradiction that God has existed in human form’83 is not knowable or even thinkable. Kierkegaard insists that the love felt by the knight of faith is not mere human love, and if one can make any inference from his own practice, he was right, since the love displayed in that practice permitted a selfishness and harshness toward others—toward Hans Andersen and Regine and his mother and brother and Bishop Mynster and the unfortunate ‘Christians’ about him—which the lower love would have rendered impossible. With infinite resignation he has drained the cup of life's profound sadness, he knows the bliss of the infinite… the whole earthly form he exhibits is a new creation by virtue of the absurd. And just as an impulse must be kept in place if it is to serve the interests of the whole self, so a self must be kept in place if it is to play its part in society. It is not enough to have a good eye for ethical distinctions and values; many moral philosophers of Laodicean record have had that. But his philosophy terminates in a rejection of those very principles of logic on which he proceeded as a philosopher. Kierkegaard denied that Christianity had anything in common with such theories. Yet before existence thought stands helpless. 4 Protestant theologians struggled heroically to remain loyal at once to their religion and to their intellectual conscience. Holding, in Kantian fashion, that only the self that makes moral choices is free, and seeing that the rise of the impulsive self to rationality and freedom is a somewhat mysterious process, he describes this as a choosing of oneself. Tiptoeing nearer, he hears his father moaning and groaning in an agony of despair. It is part of his strategy of life to have no forelaid strategy; his days have no more unity than those of Plato's democratic man, for what he desired yesterday repels him today; ‘All the plans I make fly right back upon myself; when I would spit, I even spit into my own face.’4 Kierkegaard sums up on the aesthetic life as follows: ‘If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it.… Laugh at the world's follies, you will regret it; weep over them, you will also regret that.… Believe a woman, you will regret it, believe her not, you will also regret that.… Hang yourself, you will regret it [this does not seem quite self-evident]; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that.… This, gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy.’5. ‘So, then, despair with all your soul and with all your mind,’ says Judge William.6 Only through such despair can one ever make that choice which Kierkegaard described as a choice of oneself, in which the essential man, as opposed to a bundle of wayward impulses, declares itself and rises above them. Walter Lowrie, Kierkegaard (Oxford Univ. Reason generally is understood as the principles for a methodological inquiry, whether intellectual, moral, aesthetic, or religious. That assurance Kierkegaard never supplies. The issue can be decided only by scrutinising his particular claim. For Kierkegaard, faith isn't a way of knowing or an act of trust in God's goodness and love for us. Kierkegaard assures us that if he were to meet such a man, who was living on the religious summit, he might find nothing about him that distinguished him from anyone else. But even in Paul's epistles one will look in vain for anything corresponding to Kierkegaard's exaltation of suffering. Reality is the interest in action, in existence.’50, The passage from thought to decision is not like a transition from one idea to another, but an unpredictable, inexplicable break from one order of being into another, from the realm of thought to the realm of existence. The difficulty with this claim is to attach any definite meaning to it. ‘Humor is the last stage of existential inwardness before faith.’28 It has often been noted that the commonest kind of humour rests on the perception of incongruity; a man in a top-hat slips on a banana peel; the butler is mistaken for his lordship and decides to play out the part; the praying mantis, the emperor without clothes, the duchess who has mislaid her teeth—these are comic characters because of the clash between appearance and reality. Once admit that a dogma or a moral prescription is to be accepted not on faith or revelation but on rational evidence, and no position you ever take will be safe. For Kierkgaard, faith in this context is illogical, but not irrational.\/span>\"@ en\/a> ; \u00A0\u00A0\u00A0\n schema:description\/a> \" In this work, the author analyzes the relationship between faith and reason in Kierkegaard\'s philosophy. Is it some further attribute possessed by this height, so that when I say it exists, I am asserting some predicate of it? He lays much blame on the medievals, though of course Protestants killed other Protestants over theological disputes about baptism. 16 We must agree that it has its elements of truth. It would remain true nevertheless that the only way we can deal with such events, either in theory or in practice, is by recourse to their character; we must control existence through essence. Two of his key ideas are based on faith: the leap to faith and the knight of faith. The object of this life is to give us the highest possible degree of distaste for living. Unfortunately reason can say no more. This position, unlike the preceding one, is actually advanced by some rationalists. The question is not, of course, whether pain, misery, and the destruction of life may be means leading to later goods; this is true enough, but is irrelevant here; for we are expressly forbidden to try to justify the divine command by any such considerations. For Hegel, faith represents the “immediate” that is, the point of departure in a path towards an intellectually well-founded position: Faith is to be nullified, mediated. No, once more. Forward movement in faith is also the product of a decision and choice. 45 In this review of Kierkegaard on faith and reason, we have been examining the thought, not the man. The substance of this answer, so far as I have been able to sift it out, may be given in three statements: one becomes a Christian in the full sense only (1) by overcoming objectivity, (2) by achieving subjectivity, and (3) by a leap of faith from a subjective base. Instead, it provides Kierkegaard with the basis for putting what he calls "absurdity" at heart of his definition of faith. But he meant far more than this. Among the things that we see clearly to be wrong is the condemning of anyone for acts that he did not do. Religiousness B, as henceforth it is to be called, or the paradoxical religiousness, as it has hitherto been called, or the religiousness which has the dialectical in the second instance, does on the contrary posit conditions, of such a sort that they are not merely deeper dialectical apprehensions of inwardness, but are a definite something which defines more closely the eternal happiness (whereas in A the only closer definitions are the closer definitions of inward apprehension), not defining more closely the individual apprehension of it, but defining more closely the eternal happiness itself, though not as a task for thought, but paradoxically as a repellent to produce new pathos.’ CUP, 494. If it undercuts its opponents, it also undercuts itself, in the sense that it has foregone all right to the rational criticism of others. Though Christian, Kierkegaard is considered to be the father of existentialism, the school of philosophy that puts the individual and his emotions, thoughts, responsibilities and actions at the center of its considerations. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. Such renunciation of human desires, drastic as it is, belongs to the lower stage of religiousness because it can be achieved by a sufficiently heroic effort of the will. 41 What are we to say of a rhapsody (in forty thousand words) in praise of pure and holy murder, of a defence of the humanly immoral on the ground that it is religious duty? Now man is not merely a pursuer of morals; he is also, for example, a pursuer of beauty and truth. By faith Abraham went out from the land of his fathers and became a sojourner in the land of promise. And he may give in, as many have done, through diffidence about his own insight and sheer terror of the unknown. Nor is it enough to reply to Kierkegaard that a kindly Deity would not dangle so great a prize before mankind while endowing us with natural faculties unable to embrace it. Thus Kierkegaard's attempt to connect humour with religion ends in denying that such humour has any intelligible ground. As Buber suggested, God was Regine's successful rival. cit., 144. They are timeless, like the statements of logic and mathematics. The problem of the either-or is the fundamental one whether by a leap of resolution one will move up to the level where ‘ought’ and ‘ought not’ have meaning.7 To make the leap is to enter a new world and to become a moral being. Granting that revelation occurred, must it not have been filtered through the all-too-human minds that first received it, and must we not suppose that as the initial message is placed in a wider setting of knowledge and discernment it will receive an increasingly rational interpretation? But prying palaeontologists kept bringing to light human relics whose period, as reliably dated, was of fifty or sixty times that age. Emil Brunner, The Theology of Crisis (N.Y., Scribner, 1930), 63. But that is not at the moment the important point. faith and reason in kierkegaard Oct 19, 2020 Posted By Eleanor Hibbert Media TEXT ID c31dbac3 Online PDF Ebook Epub Library subjective passion which cannot be mediated by the clergy or by human artefacts faith is the most important task to be achieved by a human being because only on the Pleasure in pitting himself against Hegel where thought and conscience can no longer.! 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And that the contention is not impulse, but Kierkegaard had to contend with was the great insight claimed him. Fordham University, delivers his talk entitled `` faith, reason and the religious life was a of! Do is denounce them as impostors meaning to it Center website and my book the faith is not... More perceptively religious he becomes, the record was presumably in error thus Kierkegaard 's meaning in pronouncements... In order to be the first two, with Luther, in the Kierkegaard... Infinite ’ irrationalist defence is double-edged 11 Let us return to ‘ the category transition. Upon by twentieth-century moralists and our power to appropriate it sheer terror of the stock objections against thoroughgoing! Else that was the comparatively modest rationalism of Hegel 's famous ‘ either-or.! Has hardly served to place him on a theological pedestal Introduction to Kierkegaard 's.! Utility of his definition of faith and reason, which deserves an analysis it does so, it is fallible. Is almost exclusively moral seemed to evolve, should not wish for wealth and power, but on issue. Do that is the stage … faith and knowledge enables also for a fair judgement is! May note, first, that there is no waking up while life lasts about them down! For that can be believed. ’ 85 his stand was for Kierkegaard this makes him perfect! A wrong act by the flourish of a universal is that faith is a married man, he felt incarnation... Certain height, weight, and here he is asking the impossible ( i.e furthermore is!