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In refocusing our attention time and again upon the moment, first as a presupposition in contrast with Socratic recollection and ultimately as a postulate of faith, Climacus invites us to reflect upon time and eternity, the one and the many, the nature of good and evil, human nature and the divine.

By compressing eternity into a moment, the most ordinary and constant term of our presence in the world, he poses us a critical prompt for action, too, whether to learn or to teach, to listen or to respond, or, as he and his mysterious interlocutor say, to "stand here before the wonder" So I hope that's a little better. And we had a great conversation about Plato's Meno for reading group this month, after some confusion about where to meet ending up back at Bellwether on the patio and counting Liz and Yvonne and Charles among our number, wrestling with the distinction between judgment and faith when it comes to true opinion rather than knowledge, or naming the diagonal once you manage to see it and what it means, despite never being able to measure it rationally.

This summer will pick on the last, with Purgatorio! If you're around Spokane, let me know! Nov 27, Ali Reda rated it it was ok Shelves: philosophy. The Paradox Of Reason The supreme paradox of all thought is the attempt to discover something that thought cannot think. This passion is at bottom present in all thinking, even in the thinking of the individual, in so far as in thinking he participates in something transcending himself. But habit dulls our sensibilities, and prevents us from perceiving it. I cannot know it, for in order to know it I would have to know god, and the nature of the difference between god and man; and this I cannot kn The Paradox Of Reason The supreme paradox of all thought is the attempt to discover something that thought cannot think.

I cannot know it, for in order to know it I would have to know god, and the nature of the difference between god and man; and this I cannot know, because the Reason has reduced it to likeness with that from which it was unlike. Thus god becomes the most terrible of deceivers, because the Reason has deceived itself.

The Reason has brought god as near as possible, and yet he is as far away as ever. The idea of demonstrating that this unknown something the God exists, could scarcely suggest itself to the Reason. For if the God does not exist it would of course be impossible to prove it; and if he does exist it would be folly to attempt it.

The paradoxical passion of the Reason thus comes repeatedly into collision with this Unknown, which does indeed exist, but is unknown, and in so far does not exist. The Reason cannot advance beyond this point, and yet it cannot refrain in its paradoxicalness from arriving at this limit and occupying itself therewith.

It will not serve to dismiss its relation to it simply by asserting that the Unknown does not exist, since this itself involves a relationship. But what then is the Unknown, since the designation of it as the God merely signifies for us that it is unknown? To say that it is the Unknown because it cannot be known, and even if it were capable of being known, it could not be expressed, does not satisfy the demands of passion, though it correctly interprets the Unknown as a limit; but a limit is precisely a torment for passion, though it also serves as an incitement.

And yet the Reason can come no further. His existence does indeed explain his deeds, but the deeds do not prove his existence, unless I have already understood the word "his" so as thereby to have assumed his existence. But Napoleon is only an individual, and in so far there exists no absolute relationship between him and his deeds; some other person might have performed the same deeds.

Perhaps this is the reason why I cannot pass from the deeds to existence. The works of God are such that only God can perform them. Just so, but where then are the works of the God? The works from which I would deduce his existence are not directly and immediately given.

The wisdom in nature, the goodness, the wisdom in the governance of the world -- are all these manifest, perhaps, upon the very face of things? Are we not here confronted with the most terrible temptations to doubt, and is it not impossible finally to dispose of all these doubts? But from such an order of things I will surely not attempt to prove God's existence; and even if I began I would never finish, and would in addition have to live constantly in suspense, lest something so terrible should suddenly happen that my bit of proof would be demolished.

Reason for the Christian God's Manifestation in Human Form Will you deny the consistency of our exposition: that the Reason, in attempting to determine the Unknown as the unlike, at last goes astray, and confounds the unlike with the like? From this there would seem to follow the further consequence, that if man is to receive any true knowledge about the Unknown the God he must be made to know that it is unlike him, absolutely unlike him.

This knowledge the Reason cannot possibly obtain of itself; we have already seen that this would be a self-contradiction. It will therefore have to obtain this knowledge from the God. But even if it obtains such knowledge it cannot understand it, and thus is quite unable to possess such knowledge.

For how should the Reason be able to understand what is absolutely different from itself? If this is not immediately evident, it will become clearer in the light of the consequences; for if the God is absolutely unlike man, then man is absolutely unlike the God; but how could the Reason be expected to understand this? Here we seem to be confronted with a paradox. Thus our paradox is rendered still more appalling, or the same paradox has the double aspect which proclaims it as the Absolute Paradox; negatively by revealing the absolute unlikeness of sin, positively by proposing to do away with the absolute unlikeness in absolute likeness.

Faith is a miracle from God However, the outward figure is not important in the sense that he would cease to be a believer if he happened to meet the Teacher some day on the street and did not at once recognize him or even walked some distance with him on the way without realizing that it was he. The God gave to the disciple the condition that enables him to see him, opening for him the eyes of Faith. But it was a terrible thing to see this outward figure, to have converse with him as with one of us, and every moment that Faith was not present to see only the servant-form.

When the Teacher is gone from the disciple in death, memory may bring his figure before him; but it is not on this account that the disciple believes, but because he received the condition from the God, and hence is enabled again to see, in memory s trustworthy mage, the person of the God. So it is with the disciple, who knows that he would have seen nothing without the condition, since the first thing he learned to understand was that he was in Error. But in that case is not Faith as paradoxical as the Paradox? Precisely so; how else could it have the Paradox for its object, and be happy in its relation to the Paradox?

Faith is itself a miracle, and all that holds true of the Paradox also holds true of Faith. The disciple at second hand problem Let us assume that it is otherwise, that the contemporary generation of disciples had received the condition from the God, and that the subsequent generations were to receive it from these contemporaries -- what would follow?

[Philosophical fragments of a doctor's ethos (author's transl)].

We shall not distract the attention by reflecting upon the historical pusillanimity with which the contemporary accounts would presumably be sought after, as if everything depended on that, thus introducing a new contradiction and a new confusion for if we once begin in this manner, the confusions will be inexhaustible. No, if the contemporary disciple gives the condition to the successor, the latter will come to believe in him. He receives the condition from him, and thus the contemporary becomes the object of Faith for the successor; for whoever gives the individual this condition is eo ipso cf.

What then can a contemporary do for a successor? For when I say that this or that has happened, I make an historical communication; but when I say: "I believe and have believed that so-and-so has taken place, although it is a folly to the understanding and an offense to the human heart," then I have simultaneously done everything in my power to prevent anyone else from determining his own attitude in immediate continuity with mine, asking to be excused from all companionship, since every individual is compelled to make up his own mind in precisely the same manner.

But this content exists only for Faith, in the same sense that colors exist only for sight and sounds for hearing. In this form, then, the content can be related; in any other form he merely indulges in empty words, perhaps misleading the successor to determine himself in continuity with the inanity. Only one who receives the condition from the God is a believer. This corresponds exactly to the requirement that man must renounce his reason, and on the other hand discloses the only form of authority that corresponds to Faith.

If anyone proposes to believe, i. If the credibility of a contemporary is to have any interest for him -- and alas! But what historical fact? The historical fact which can become an object only for Faith, and which one human being cannot communicate to another. If we wish to express the relation subsisting between a contemporary and his successor in the briefest possible compass, but without sacrificing accuracy to brevity, we may say: The successor believes by means of this expresses the occasional the testimony of the contemporary, and in virtue of the condition he himself receives from the God.

Jan 19, Dylan Grant rated it liked it. This particular volume is actually two works, one a biography of Kierkegard's pseudonymous persona Johannes Climacus, the other a work by that persona called Philosophical Fragments on the topic of learning. Specifically, do we learn through recollection of the eternal forms experienced in a pre-existence as Socrates says we do or do we learn through the assistance of a being who is radically different from us, as the Christian account of Jesus is?

The inquiry helps to clarify differences betwee This particular volume is actually two works, one a biography of Kierkegard's pseudonymous persona Johannes Climacus, the other a work by that persona called Philosophical Fragments on the topic of learning.


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The inquiry helps to clarify differences between Greek philosophy and Christianity. We end up getting an awesome critique of that vile monster known as Hegel as well. What struck me about this book is Kierkegaard's essential protestant-ness. You will hear him talk at length about how absolutely essential Christ is for salvation and learning, how man cannot learn the extent of his ignorance all on his own, both of which recall Lutheran doctrines of Salvation Through Grace Alone and Total Depravity. Kierkegaard is really the ultimate Protestant Christian philosopher.

But my god, this book has a huge problem with being overly pedantic. I would often read a page several times to try and understand the meaning, and then when I figured it out I would think "Surely this is too simple, this cannot be what it means" and then after reading it again, or even looking it up in some instances, I would discover that it actually is that simple.

Tony Kim: “The Reasonableness of Faith in Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Fragments”

Continental philosophers are often criticized for being "obscurantist", and while I usually just think that that is a criticism made by fools who have no understanding, I think it could definitely apply to Kierkegaard. The thing is, what insights he does have are so fresh and strike so much at the core of what Christianity is like that they are deceptively simple, but he is always writing in this overly technical and verbose way. There are moments when he writes poetically, and these are the best moments in the book.

The opening bits of the biography of Johannes Climacus prove that Kierkegaard is capable of writing without sounding like an insecure student trying to make themselves sound like a genius. So why doesn't he just write like that all the time?

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If he did this book would be much better Personally, I would take Nietzsche or Plato over Kierkegaard. Recommended for those who like reading philosophy, especially of the Christian kind. May 21, John Yelverton rated it liked it. I have mixed feelings about this work. Kierkegaard tries to explain God and Christianity through philosophical reasoning and there are portions of this book which are absolutely brilliant, but he also misses the boat completely when it comes to faith, and explaining why some people have it and other people do not have it.

May 10, Donald rated it it was amazing Shelves: sjc. No book has ever made me consider Christianity like this one did. Socrates or Christ - pick one!

From Philosophical Fragments through the Two Ages

Those are the only two choices! I'm not sure what to make of the final biographical sketch of "Climacus," but I enjoyed the description of his dad. Nov 23, Tinytim Timea rated it it was ok. Since one cannot divide Man and his Philosophy there is no wonder Kierky is sooo down. I wonder if 19th had any happiness in it Apr 02, Karim Omar rated it really liked it. Keirkegaard is with no doubt one of the few, who can actually argue about god in a very acceptable way.

Kierkegaard in 19 Minutes

The paradox he presumes in the book is just genius, a light philosophical book, I loved it. Feb 24, Albert Yeh rated it it was amazing Shelves: kierkegaard , philosophy. Probably one of Kierkegaard's less appreciated books, nonetheless it's a great work if one keeps in mind Kierkegaard's sometimes ironic relationship with philosophy and philosophic study.

Many people who discount this work and his other works should probably read the introduction the biography of Johannes Climacus as a Kierkegaard's own tongue-in-cheek way of discounting the philosophy of his pseudonyms or maybe not I shouldn't impose my own thoughts about Kierkegaard's intentions onto th Probably one of Kierkegaard's less appreciated books, nonetheless it's a great work if one keeps in mind Kierkegaard's sometimes ironic relationship with philosophy and philosophic study.

I shouldn't impose my own thoughts about Kierkegaard's intentions onto the work. In this book, the issue of contemporaneity is put in context of "the god", and in a broader perspective, in the context of faith. For any Christian, this is a question of paramount importance -- how is it that God existed on a temporal plane at one point Jesus Christ?

And now that Jesus' physical form is nowhere to be found on Earth, how does a believer relate to the historical Jesus, as well as the spiritual Jesus? The question of religious faith is inextricably linked to Kierkegaard's authorship, but I think some general questions proto-existentialist can be drawn out from his discussion.

The big question, to me, is: how does existence relate to time or more technically, temporality? To make this more focused: how do I relate to temporality? This question can be asked a myriad of different ways. My general point I'm trying to convey is that this consciousness of time is of prime importance to being unto-itself aka Being and, in the grand scope of things, a good question that helps keeps all our subjective experiences in perspective.

The second major topic that I was provoked by was the question of truth. What is truth? How do we know truth from untruth? Obviously, this a perennial question and I don't presume to believe that Kierkegaard even came close to answering this question in fact, after reading much of his authorship, I feel that he has put us farther away from answering it. One question I think that Climacus masterfully deals with is "What is the form of truth?

In particular, I think that Kierkegaard introduces a subjective element to truth that a lot of philosophers prior to Kierkegaard do not. A weak version of this argument would go: There is always a subjective slant to how truth is presented before each person. However, this probably has been known since the beginning of time.


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  • A stronger version of this argument which I believe to be a better interpretation of Philosophical Fragments goes: Truth is Subjectivity. In other words, one person's truth is incommensurable with another person's, even if the two of them use the same words, evoke the same feelings, etc. An even stronger version would essentially be solipsism: there are no other truths, only mine. Although I don't subscribe personally to solipsism, I do think that this interpretation of Philosophical Fragments wouldn't be a huge stretch.

    Either way, Philosophical Fragments opens a new horizon in the study of truth -- the subject's relation to truth. I think Climacus' incredible insight is the philosophical idea that truth is somehow apart from us as subjects and in some higher plane i. Instead, truth if it can still be called truth has a very real, unique, deep-set meaning to each and every us as subjects.

    I believe that this book as with the majority of Kierkegaard's works , is gibberish on the surface, but poses some incredible questions upon further contemplation. Sep 11, Paige rated it liked it. This was tougher read than "Fear and Trembling" but still interesting. Climacus takes a more self-described "algebraic" approach to the discussion of faith in this book. He emphasizes the god's relationship to humanity and the utter necessity of the god's condescension. Prominently displayed in this book are discussions of "the absolute," living truth versus untruth, and the conditions for faith.

    Overall, I found reading this particular Kierkegaardian piece informative and quite different from This was tougher read than "Fear and Trembling" but still interesting. Overall, I found reading this particular Kierkegaardian piece informative and quite different from any other philosophy I've read. I appreciate his concern for a theological anthropology and his unwillingness to just accept trending ideas. Although his conclusions may not always sit well with me, I can appreciate Kierkegaard's hopes and methods in this book.

    It had been over two decades since I last read this book and, if anything, it was even more dazzling and inspiring this time. What does Athens have to do with Jerusalem? For Kierkegaard, the answer is absolutely nothing. Socrates leads us to find the truth that lies within. Once it has been discovered, we no longer need the teacher. Christ, however, is the Teacher with whom we can live without.

    He doesn't 'awaken' anything but leads us instead to the New Life. It is a powerful argument and what It had been over two decades since I last read this book and, if anything, it was even more dazzling and inspiring this time. It is a powerful argument and what Kierkegaard achieves in such a short book is nothing short of remarkable. Sep 12, Gretchen added it. I had to read Kierkegaard in college, chose to pick it up again - just to make sure I didn't miss anything.

    How did this guy ever become known as a philospher? There is nothing logical in his arguments My aim is to re-read all of the philosophy books I still have from college.

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    I remember putting the ancients in perspective for the 80's, now I'd like to read them from a millenium perspective If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. No cover image. Read preview. Excerpt The little book which here for the first time appears in English dress, presents its own thought with all needed completeness.

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