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Re: JOHANNES DE SILENTIO

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  • iain3232000
    Yes, the pseudonym: Johannes de silentio is meaningful. I m quoting from Kierkegaard s fear and trembling (Penguin classics)- We notice that Kierkegaard
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 27, 2003
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      Yes, the pseudonym: 'Johannes de silentio' is meaningful. I'm quoting
      from Kierkegaard's 'fear and trembling' (Penguin classics)- "We
      notice that Kierkegaard has given his author the name 'Johannes de
      silentio', which is allegedly borrowed from one of the Grimms' fairy-
      tales, 'The Faithful Servant'. (The claim for this origin is made by
      E.Hirsch in 'Teologisk Tidsskrift for den danske Folkekirke' <1931>.
      pp.214) Kierkegaard's John of silence is not, however, at all a
      silent person. If he was he wouldn't be an author. Nor was the
      faithful servant in the fairy-tale. He told his master, the young
      king, of three dangers threatening him, though realizing that in
      doing so he would be turned to stone. (To anticipate a further
      connection with 'fear and trembling', when the royal couple later got
      two sons they gave the lives of these in sacrifice in order to bring
      Johannes back to life.) Johannes, the author, is no slouch with
      words; and yet he finds it difficult to say anything about faith
      except that it is something which, if you have it, you will not be
      able to explain to anyone else. Instead of seeing faith from some
      elevated point of view likw that of Hegel's 'system' (Hegel's own
      word for complete account of ascent to the Absolute Mind's
      transparency), Kierkegaard's author conveys to us the hard fact that
      faith, if it is anything, simply has no place in a system of thought,
      that 'faith begins precisely where thinking leaves off'. Faith, for
      Johannes de silentio, is an expression rather of the limit of what
      can be thought. A person who has it cannot say what it is he has; or
      at least he cannot say what faith is from any 'systematic' or
      scientific point of view. But having read Fear and Trembling we might
      even suppose that Kierkegaard has wanted he pseudonym to tell us that
      if someone genuinely has faith, as Abraham the father of Issac is
      said to have proved by his willingness to sacrifice Issac, then that
      person has in that respect exiled himself from the realm of human
      discourse. His faith is an affront to humanity as we generally
      understand this, that is as a more or less well-defined set of
      dispositions that we expect or recognize in each other and value."

      I think a good comparison of trying to communicate 'faith' and trying
      to communicate any unique (personal) experience is interesting. In
      language we must make generalizations, whether they be conceptual or
      objective, we make them in order to understand one another. Both
      people (parties) must have some kind of an understanding of what's
      meant or signified by the conversation. For example, I may say to
      you, 'I'm happy today' or 'I'm sad', this has relational meaning and
      is easily communicated because we all have these feelings and have
      experienced them: we understand them. These statements can be
      understood immediately because of their relational value to other
      individuals who have had the same experiences. But let's say that the
      experience was unique and individual, well how then would it be
      expressed? (defining 'unique' as unlike anything else)
      You may be able to attempt to describe the unique experience with
      analogy or comparison, but that will never capture its precise
      meaning. So in a way certain unique experiences can be said to fall
      out of the reach of language, since language is predicated on this
      notion of generalizations. (that's the basic idea) But maybe this
      leads us to clue about another medium: art. What can't be spoken in
      words is often sung.
      thanks,Iain
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