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Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed (Guides for the Perplexed) Paperback – November 21, 2006
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"This book is clearly written, and provides the student with a rounded introduction to the multifaceted nature of Kierkegaard's thought in its philosophical, theological, and psychological aspects. It will, I should think, count along with C. Stephen Evans' Kierkegaard's Fragments and Postscript and John Lippitt's Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kierkegaard and Fear and Trembling—all texts that come highly recommended on the Kierkegaard reading list." —Jamie Turnbull, Philosophy in Review
“This book is clearly written, and provides the student with a rounded introduction to the multifaceted nature of Kierkegaard’s thought in its philosophical, theological, and psychological aspects. It will, I should think, count along with C. Stephen Evans’ Kierkegaard’s Fragments and Postscript and John Lippitt’s Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Kierkegaard and Fear and Trembling—all texts that come highly recommended on the Kierkegaard reading list.” –Jamie Turnbull, Philosophy in Review
About the Author
- Item Weight : 7.5 ounces
- Paperback : 176 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0826486118
- ISBN-13 : 978-0826486110
- Product Dimensions : 5.43 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : Continuum (November 21, 2006)
- Language: : English
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Given the usual space limitations, this volume only hints at the enormous scope of Kierkegaard's corpus. In particular it focuses on his major works: "Either/Or," "Concluding Unscientific Postscript," "The Concept of Anxiety," "The Sickness Unto Death," "Fear and Trembling" and "Philosophical Fragments." The book's seven chapters deal with themes touched on in these major works, including subjectivity, sin, faith and truth. Kierkegaard's work definitely speaks from a Christian perspective. According to this book, his main goal was outlining how best to live as a Christian. He criticized the Danish population of his time for thinking that being born into a Christian country automatically makes someone a Christian. To Kierkegaard, being a Christian involves painstaking work, most of which occurs from an internal or subjective perspective. This inverts the objective scientific view of the world. Kierkegaard did not think that objective knowledge subsumed all of reality. Far from it. He considered subjective knowledge more important for the "existing individual." Objectivity simply "is" and implies determinism. Freedom lies in our indeterminate subjective passions and faith. In other words, objectivity delineates the "what" of life and subjectivity the "how." So any philosophy that neglects this fundamental side of human nature seems horrifically incomplete to Kierkegaard. The lineage of such thought to thinkers such as Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre, and to the entire phenomenological tradition, seems unquestionable. Kierkegaard, by way of Christianity, influenced many secular and outright atheistic thinkers.
Hegel was also a target. Whether Kierkegaard actually read Hegel's monumental tomes such as "The Phemonology of Spirit" remains unknown. But he did take umbrage with Hegel's views of Christianity and history. Kierkegaard thought of life in terms of "becoming," contrary to his conception of Hegel's view of the endpoint to history. Truth is dynamic and historical, never decided for good. Also, Abraham's faith remains unexplainable in Hegelian terms. "Fear and Trembling" essentially argues that one must choose Abraham or Hegel, but not both. Here religious paradoxes emerge and Kierkegaard argues that faith and the Christian view remain beyond the realm of reason. "Philosophical Fragments" takes up these themes. The famous "ultimate paradox of thought" appears here: "to want to discover something that thought itself cannot think." Thought then strives for its own undoing, though this is inevitable. Religious faith ends in a paradox but nonetheless results in individual change, whereas Socratic knowledge ("anamnesis" a la "Meno") merely involves remembering without change (one may object that Kierkegaard utilizes a rather narrow view of knowledge here). In the end, only God can "bring the truth" to the learner. Any attempt to rationalize this "transformation" Kierkegaard sees as reason overreaching its bounds. Believers must choose to accept the inherent paradoxes of religion, including the problem of evil, to attain what he sees as "true Christianity."
The book covers other aspects of Kierkegaard's philosophy, such as his various pseudonyms and their uses. A brief biography opens the book which relates the tale of Kierkegaard's abortive, and infamous, engagement to Regine. The triad of aesthetic, ethical and religious also runs through the book. Each of these represents a different approach to life, but the religious holds the highest position in Kierkegaard's triumvirate. Lastly, a short conclusion sums up Kierkegaard's influence. This book manages to keep its imposing subject matter under control even when it seems ready to careen out of control by sheer volume. Always readable, never dull, the book's narrative never tires. Anyone interested in a detailed introduction to this difficult, influential and enigmatic thinker will find what they need here.