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By Howard A. And Niels Thulstrup Johnson

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Extra info for A Kierkegaard Critique: An International Selection of Essays Interpreting Kierkegaard

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It is interesting to note in this connection that Kierkegaard did not believe that the languages used to describe possibles, cognitive or ethical, had to be significantly different one from another. The imperative mood roots finally, if Kierkegaard is right, in the passions of the person, not in the sentence. Therefore, all sentences in which possibles are defined are properly in the indicative mood. The obligatoriness and imperativeness of ethical and religious language are misunderstood if they are assumed to be qualities of the sentences, of the possibles; instead they are actually qualities of the person who passionately wills a possible to be paradigmatic for his historical actuality.

In addition, however, to all of these there is also a kind of possible which is not of cognitive significance. It, like all possibles, exists in an immediate relation to the thinker who thinks it. But if one asks to what such a possible can be referred, the answer is that it can be referred neither to the past nor to the present, at least not in the way that sensations are referred or as are, let us say, the ingredients of historical knowledge. This other kind of possible is not cognitive in function at all.

But all of this raises the question of what it means to understand an author's works, and especially one who wrote what Kierkegaard did. This question is distressingly elementary. It is perhaps the sign of maturity not to question any longer one's presuppositions but rather to act upon them. And whole battalions of scholars, not questioning the propriety of what they are doing, are again at work-they have now discovered Kierkegaard. Flattering as all this is to Denmark and to the faithful corps in Denmark who knew all the time that he was really worth it, nonetheless, and at the risk of evincing dreadful immaturity, I am here going to question the presuppositions of historical scholarship with respect to Kierkegaard's writings and, using Kierkegaard's own categories, ask where it is all going and why.

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A Kierkegaard Critique: An International Selection of Essays Interpreting Kierkegaard by Howard A. And Niels Thulstrup Johnson


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