More notably, however, Kierkegaard names the authors of both Fear and Trembling and Philosophical Fragments after two early medieval Christian saints: John Climacus and John the Silent Both these figures were monks in Middle-Eastern countries who spent significant amounts of time in silent contemplation. John Climacus spent forty years in silent prayer in Egypt, while John the Silent is similarly reputed to have lived alone in silence for seventy-six years in Syria.
In his Journals and elsewhere, Kierkegaard gives no formal clues as to why he chose these medieval monastic aliases for Philosophical Fragments and Fear and Trembling. The ladder begins with love, and ends with a process which through prayer and stillness arrives at love. Love for Climacus entails a desire for absolute equality with the beloved. For Climacus, that God in love seeks such equality with the learner is simply too incredible for human comprehension. He explains:. For if the god gave no indication, how could it occur to a man that the blessed god could need him?
This would indeed be the worst of thoughts or, rather, so bad a thought that it could not arise in him, even though, when the god has confided it to him, he adoringly [ tilbedende ] says: This thought did not arise in my heart…for do we not…stand here before the wonder [ Vidunderet ]…whose solemn silence cannot be disturbed by human wrangling over what is mine and what is yours PF 36; SKS 4, He who loved himself became great by virtue of himself, and he who loved other men became great by his devotedness, but he who loved God became greatest of all.
Westphal notes that four months after Fear and Trembling was published, Kierkegaard delivered a sermon on 1 Corinthians 2, in which he further underlines the tension between human and divine wisdom. Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom [ Viisdom ], although it is not a wisdom [ Viisdom ], of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.
But we impart a secret [ Hemmelighed ] and hidden [ Skjulte ] wisdom [ Viisdom ], of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glorification [1 Corinthians , emphasis added]. Commentators on Fear and Trembling have often overlooked this brief description of how Sarah became pregnant with Isaac. The passage is, however, arguably more significant than it first appears. A moment such as this is unique.
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To be sure, it is short and temporal, as the moment is; it is passing, as the moment is, past, as the moment is in the next moment, and yet it is decisive, and yet it is filled with the eternal. A moment such as this must have a special name. Let us call it: the fullness of time [ Tidens Flyde ]. PF 18 [emphasis original]; SKS 4, De Silentio here perhaps signals agreement with the longstanding tradition within Christian theology of viewing the conception of Isaac as prefiguring the immaculate conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Simply because, Kierkegaard observes, it is an advantage that human beings can talk, it does not follow that being silent is an inferior practice to speaking WA Non-human animals are naturally silent, whereas it belongs to human beings to converse. Kierkegaard here contradicts the common assumption that human superiority over animals lies in their exercise of speech cf.
Kierkegaard's Writings, XI, Volume 11 : Stages on Life's Way
EUD If it could talk, we would perhaps hear some rubbish about its being motivated by a sense of duty, that out of duty to society and the race it wants to propagate the species, plus the fact that it is performing the greatest service etc…Language, the gift of speech, engulfs the human race in such a cloud of drivel and twaddle that it becomes its ruination JP 3, For Kierkegaard, language too easily becomes a tool which facilitates human hypocrisy and selfishness. Whereas the ability to talk is a mark of superiority over non-human animals, Kierkegaard warns that this same ability can be harmful in the context of God.
This is because whereas God is love Kjerlighed , the human being is akin to a silly child who does not know what is in his or her best interests. Kierkegaard writes:. As such, it is the prelude to silence and genuine wisdom which appreciates the power of God. Kierkegaard further writes in Three Devotional Discourses that silence is the proper form of prayer.
Kierkegaard locates this silence within nature. As nature does not possess a will of its own, the noise which each creature makes is in perfect uniformity with every other. For Kierkegaard, these non-speaking creatures thereby teach human beings to be silent, which is constitutive of true prayer and seeking first the Kingdom of God.
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As Kierkegaard states:. Indeed, the misfortune in the lives of the great majority of human beings is this, that they were never aware of the moment, that in their lives the eternal and the temporal are exclusively separated. And why? God can imprint himself in [a person] only when he himself has become nothing. When the ocean is exerting all its power, that is precisely the time when it cannot reflect the image of heaven, and even the slightest motion blurs the image; but when it becomes still and deep, then the image of heaven sinks into its nothingness EUD In the story, a young girl Agnes is seduced by a merman, who drags her into the sea with him.
Agnes is here presented by de Silentio as the consummate Christian lover. To conjure up the past for oneself is not as difficult as to conjure away the present for the sake of recollection. This is the essential art of recollection and is reflection to the second power. The ultimate in the reflective relationship between memory and recollections is to use memory against recollection.
Stages on Life's Way , Hong p. The second section of the book begins with the party's interruption by the nearby passing, and stopping, of a carriage containing one William Afham and his wife. He's experience speaking to possibility.
Afham wants to stop A from "moving restlessly from possibility to possibility [because it] will ultimately end in despair. But he found meaning in life that was not associated with the married state. Faith is all that is required, and faith compensates for everything. Just let understanding and sagacity and sophistication reckon, figure out, and describe how a married man ought to be: there is only one attribute that makes him lovable, and that is faith, absolute faith in marriage.
Howard Hong said the three sections of Stages on Life's Way were meant to compliment the Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions published only one day earlier. The discourse on marriage corresponds to On the Occasion of a Wedding. In the preface he buys a writing desk in which there is a secret compartment containing the papers of A and B. Literatus, and parts one and two of Stages On Life's Way are found there. A repetition occurs in this third book. He's out fishing with a naturalist. He was there for the sake of science, and the author for the sake of friendship and curiosity.
The manuscript proves to be the diary of a young man written much in the style of Night Thoughts by Edward Young. Later, in he wrote once more about this problem of guilt as he had earlier in He believes "God sanctions intrigues " but that it would do no good for a leper to find a way to move his sores to the inside of his body.
He would still be found guilty by someone. He writes about what could be interpreted as accusations against himself regarding Regine Olsen. And admits he's "really no religious individuality; I am just a regular and perfectly constructed possibility of such a person. With a sword hanging over my head, in peril of my life, I discover the religious crisis with a primitivity such as if I had not known of them before, with such a primitivity that if they had not been I would have to discover them.
Yet in some way he is them all.
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This unending guilt leads him to ask, "What similarity is there between her sorrow and mine, what solidarity is there between guilt and innocence, what kinship is there between repentance and an esthetic sorrow over life, when that which awakens repentance is that which awakens her sorrow? I can sorrow in my way; if she must sorrow, she must also do it on her own account. A girl may submit to a man in many things, but not in the ethical; and it is unethical for her and for me to sorrow jointly in this way. Taking this path, how will she ever come to sorrow religiously when she must leave undecided an ethical issue such as my behavior toward her, when it is indeed over its result that she wishes to sorrow.
Would that I might be a woman for half a year so that I could learn how she is dissimilar to man. Marie Beaumarchais says of Goethe 's Clavigo , "Yes, he was a deceiver. Otherwise, how could he stop loving me? What snatched him away, I do not know; I do not know that dark power, but it pained him personally, pained him deeply. He repeated the discussion again in the same book between Johannes the Seducer and Cordelia. He begins with analogies :. The esthetic hero must have his opposition outside himself, not in himself.
That this is not the case in Hamlet is the anomaly. Petrarch sees Laura joined to another. Romeo does not feel the family hatred as that which separates, because it also moves in him through filial piety toward his father; it is the family feud that actually separates him from Juliet; Axel has no conscientious scruples about the close relationship, and Valborg understands only that they love each other; it is the Church with its external power that separates them. Take the obstacles away, and those unhappy people are happiest of lovers.
In our day, unhappy love does not make a good show. He states it was his task to present "an unhappy love affair in which love is dialectical in itself and in the crisis of infinite reflection acquires a religious aspect. Kierkegaard wrote the following in his Journals in relation to this external episode in his life as an author.
In my opinion an editor is literally responsible when there is no author.
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The editor of The Corsair is Mr. Goldschmidt, university student, a bright fellow, without an idea, without scholarship, without a point of view, without self-control, but not without a certain talent and a desperate esthetic power. At a critical moment in his life he approached me. I tried indirectly to help him negatively. I praise him for his self-assurance in getting himself established.