Re: The Consortium and Sickness
- Dear Rick,
Let's revisit the first Kierkegaard quote from your May 1st posting:
"And what does all of this mean when the reader now gathers together the elements developed in the various sections? It means: this is an authorship of which the total thought is the task of becoming a Christian. But it is an authorship that from the beginning has understood, with dialectical consistency has pursued, what the implications of this are that the situation is Christendom, which is the category of reflection, and therefore has cast all the Christian relationships into reflection. In Christendom-to become a
Christian is either to become what one is (the inwardness of reflection or the reflection of inward deepening), or it is first of all to be wrested out of a delusion, which again is a category of reflection." (PV, Hong, pp. 55-56)
In your latest posting you claim that I see a "contradiction" in this quote, and that my own interpretation cannot make anything of the phrase "to be wrested out of a delusion".
I did not say that I saw any "contradiction" in this quote. I merely said that the quote was "a bit tricky". The reason I said this is that I think the following sentence is ambiguous:
"In Christendom-to become a Christian is either to become what one is (the inwardness of reflection or the reflection of inward deepening), or it is first of all to be wrested out of a delusion, which again is a category of reflection."
I think this sentence is ambiguous as it could mean either of the following:
1. According to the so-called Christians of Christendom: to become a Christian is either to become what one is (the inwardness of reflection or the reflection of inward deepening), or it is first of all to be wrested out of a delusion, which again is a category of reflection.
2. According to me (SK), for one of the so-called Christians of Christendom to become a true Christian is either to become what one is (the inwardness of reflection or the reflection of inward deepening), or it is first of all to be wrested out of a delusion, which again is a category of reflection.
Now I think both you and I interpret the problematic sentence in the second way. I certainly do, and I further take SK's negative remark that "the situation is Christendom, which is the category of reflection, and therefore has cast all the Christian relationships into reflection" to be not a condemnation of reflection per se, but a condemnation of the wrong sort of reflection. Outward reflection, reflection on things outside oneself is bad (i.e. is the wrong sort of reflection). Inward reflection, reflection on the state of one's own self is good (i.e. the right sort of reflection).
Having hopefully cleared that up, let me move on to the phrase "wrested out of a delusion". I'm not sure why you think this idea of SK's embarrasses me. I would say that for me, the delusion of the so-called Christian of Christendom is the person thinking he is a Christian when he is not. (Agreed he is an aesthetic individual, and he is deluded in his idea of his own self because of this, but here I think the delusion SK is referring to is the delusion that he thinks of himself as a Christian.
Now I agree with you that in making the transition from being an aesthetic person to an ethical person, the 'former' Christian of Christendom realizes that he has been deluding himself. He realizes something of the true nature of what is required to be a Christian (something of the nature of absolute right and wrong and duty), and he repents of his former failings. This repentance of the ethical individual, which is nicely illustrated by your second and third quotes in your 1st May posting, comes about because of the "sea change" in the individual's psychological state. As an aesthetic person, our individual suffered from complacency and was unable to recognise his own severe failings. After his transition, he sees himself as depraved and feels guilt and remorse for not only his depravity, but further for not recognising his depravity. He has now made the first, and arguably most important step on the road to becoming a Christian. I think what I say here gives an adequate account of SK's phrase "wrested out of a delusion".
Moving on to the challenge you put to me at the end of your posting. You ask where do I see SK saying that "The religious person's idea of her self is different again from the ethical person's idea of her self. Further, only the Christian can have a completely clear and true idea of her own self (according to SK)."
Well, Willy's quote from his 30th April posting is a good place to start. SK writes:
""All interpretations of existence take their rank in relation to the qualifications of the individual's dialectical inward deepening. .If
in himself the individual is undialectical and has dialectic outside himself, then we have the /esthetic interpretations/. If the individual is dialectically turned inward in self-assertion in such a way that the ultimate foundation does not itself become dialectical, since the underlying self is used to surmount and assert itself, then we have the /ethical interpretation/. If the individual is defined as
dialectically turned inward in self-annihilation before God, then we have /Religiousness A/. If the individual is paradoxical-dialectical,
every remnant of the original immanence is annihilated, and all connection is cut away, the individual is situated at the edge of existence, then we have the /paradoxical-religious/. ." (CUP, Hong, pp. 571-72; Lowrie, pp. 506-07)
Further, the last hundred or so pages of CUP is concerned with how the idea of the self develops from the ethical individual to the religiousness A individual, then to the religiousness B individual. It seems to me that on your interpretation of SK, the last hundred or so pages of CUP are superfluous, and SK would have done better to finish CUP at about page 400.
Going back to Willy's quote above, it is interesting to note that SK says that "self-annihilation" occurs at the transition from the ethical sphere to the sphere of religiousness A. This also counts against the Brown/Maloyan interpretation of SK which makes the transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere the crucial transition. For Willy, self-annihilation is an essential part of his "disjunctive view", however if you want to insist that the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere is the essential transition, then your account of the transition must manage without the "self-annihilation" component.
Now to the more positive content of your posting. I notice that you drop in the phrase "ethico-religious sphere". I take it that given the content of your recent postings that you mean this phrase as an umbrella term to cover all three subjective spheres of existence (the ethical sphere, the sphere of religiousness A, and the sphere of religiousness B). Note, by the way, that Willy accepted my suggestion of identifying the ethico-religious sphere with the sphere of religiousness A in our February exchange - but perhaps he was just "adopting my view in order to question it from the inside".
Another thing you mention is that you refer to the transition from the aesthetic sphere to the religious sphere as involving a "leap". Willy in his posting of 2nd May also does this. Now SK certainly talks in general of a transition as involving a leap, but my general impression was that SK primarily thought a leap as a "leap of faith", and for SK faith only comes in with the transitions involving the religious spheres. My understanding is that the ethical individual does not have faith, so he has not made a "leap of faith". Now it might be that SK thought of the transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere as involving a leap of some sort, but given that faith does not result, it is unclear to me the nature of this leap.
Finally, I do acknowledge the quantitative/qualitative distinction, and I also acknowledge that the qualitative distinction between the aesthetic sphere and the ethical sphere does involve a discontinuity for SK. The crucial question is the nature of this discontinuity. Given that the ethical individual repents of his former ways as an aesthetic individual, there must be at least this much continuity: the ethical individual is responsible for the actions of his former self (as an aesthetic individual), so personal identity is preserved through this transition.
Perhaps the leap-talk doesn't favour my interpretation of SK over yours, however I think the issues of self-annihilation and the last hundred pages of CUP do favour my interpretation.
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- Dear Rick,
I think our conversation under the title "The Consortium and Sickness" has just about run its course now. I feel that it has been a good discussion with both of us gaining a better understanding of the other's views and some increased understanding of Kierkegaardian themes. That we are clearer about each other's views can only be a good thing.
Thank you for pointing to M. Jamie Ferreira's views on Kierkegaard's notion of a leap. I agree it is better to think of Kierkegaard as advocating "a leap to faith", rather than "a leap of faith", in the transition from the ethical sphere to the sphere of religiousness A, and the transition from the sphere of religiousness A to the sphere of religiousness B.
I have gone back and re-read Ferreira's excellent article in the Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard. She has a lot of informative and thought-provoking things to say about the natures of the three transitions between the four spheres.
In general I think that the Cambridge Companion is an excellent book for anybody who has read Kierkegaard and wants to be challenged in his or her own views, and find out what the top Kierkegaardian scholars think about Kierkegaard's central themes.
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Thursday, May 05, 2005 5:50 AM
Subject: [Kierkegaardian] Re: The Consortium and Sickness
I have decided to answer your post in general.
For example, your first salient point is one that I see as being
controlled by what "wrested out of delusion" means. I do think that
your view of it is perfectly compatible with your view of it. The
sense in which we see it is the sense in which we take it. The
difference again resides in our disparate views. In my view we are not
only interpreting the same words used by Kierkegaard differently but
that difference puts us in a different universe of meaning. Maybe more
prosaic is to say that the difference is apples and oranges. You see
continuity where I see discontinuity.
Other words that that you have just used that fit the same difference
are guilt, remorse, and repentance. I am sure I can find quotes in
which Kierkegaard points to a meaning of those terms that corresponds
to a reading of a discontinuity. Another point and that has to do with
the "leap of faith".
~~"Another thing you mention is that you refer to the transition from
the aesthetic sphere to the religious sphere as involving a "leap".
Willy in his posting of 2nd May also does this. Now SK certainly talks
in general of a transition as involving a leap, but my general
impression was that SK primarily thought a leap as a "leap of faith",
and for SK faith only comes in with the transitions involving the
religious spheres. My understanding is that the ethical individual
does not have faith, so he has not made a "leap of faith". Now it
might be that SK thought of the transition from the aesthetic sphere
to the ethical sphere as involving a leap of some sort, but given that
faith does not result, it is unclear to me the nature of this leap."
The statement from the following site, with a quote taken from the
Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard is offered as a clarifying point.
When the 'leap of faith' is removed from your statement your point
"First of all, as Kierkegaardian scholar M. Jamie Ferrera, Professor
of Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Virginia, has
pointed out (p. 207): The popular association of the leap with
Kierkegaard is often couched in terms of the leap *of* faith. It is
worthwhile to be reminded, and interesting to note, that Kierkegaard
never uses any Danish equivalent of the English phrase "leap of
faith," a phrase that involves a circularity insofar as it seems to
imply that the leap is made *by* faith. He does, however, clearly and
often refer to the concept of a leap (Spring) and to the concept of a
transition (Overgang) that is qualitative (qvalitativ) or,
alternatively, a meta-basis eis allo genos (transition from one genus
to another); moreover, he clearly and often refers to such a
qualitative state transition to religiousness and to faith in an
eminent sense, namely, a Christian religiousness. Thus, even if the
concept of a leap of (made by) faith is foreign to the terminology of
Kierkegaard, the concept of a leap *to* faith remains central to his
writings. (emphasis original)
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Hello Rickets, now that you and Jim understand each other, which is to
say that you agree that you disagree with each other on how to
interpret SK, let me suggest a way for us to have some fun. If you do
not have the CCTK, where the essay by the Professor is to be found,
pick one up. In your area a second-hand book should be easy to find.
When you do, let's do a critical read of the essay and see where we
agree or disagree with it or with each other. I'll reproduce the first
paragraph from the essay. It will warm the cockles of your heart, I
"In a journal entry from 1842-3 Kierkegaard asks rhetorically, "Can
there be a transition form quantitative qualification to a qualitative
one without a leap? And does not the whole of life rest in that" (JP I
110)? He thus strikingly and unambiguously sets the leap in
perspective the leap, the form of the qualitative
lies at the heart of all life. Later in his journals this master of
polemic against the theoretical makes two intriguing references to
what he calls "my theory of the leap" (JP III 20). Whether or not he
has a theory as such, the concept of a leap is appropriately
associated with the name of Kierkegaard, since the leap is a
structural element that winds its way throughout his whole authorship:
it informs his various accounts of the peculiar character of
transitions between radically different ways of life as well as his
challenge to the philosophical and romantic accounts of such
transitions that were influential in his day." (CCTK, p. 207)
If that is not enough for you, here is the kicker.
"Climacus unambiguously see the leap to Christian faith as a
transition that is 'qualitative' and a 'break in immanence (CUP 12,
95, 103, 381). What is at stake is that the transition not be an
experience of simple continuity, whether as a necessary unfolding or
otherwise merely cumulative result. This rejection of continuity is
the rejection of rational necessity or compulsion what is at
is that the transition be a free act. (Ibid. p.216)"
In response to Jim's omission of the transition from the esthetic and
the ethical in his reference to the essay, toss this in his lap as a
going away present, and if you are listening with your irony meter on,
I have left a message for you in that quote (place one large chuckle
"The subjective thinker is a dialectician oriented to the existential;
he has the intellectual passion to hold firm the qualitative
disjunction. But, on the other hand, if the qualitative disjunction is
used flatly and simply, if it is applied altogether abstractly it the
individual human being, then one can run the ludicrous risk of saying
something infinitely decisive, and of being right in what one says,
and still not say the least thing." (CUP, Hong, p. 350; Lowrie, p.
PS: Rick, why not leave the group and come in again with the same ID?
- Hi Willy,
I thought I'd pre-empt any posting from Rick by replying directly to your challenge. Here is the part of your posting that applies to me:
""Climacus unambiguously sees the leap to Christian faith as a transition that is 'qualitative' and a 'break in immanence (CUP 12,
95, 103, 381). What is at stake is that the transition not be an experience of simple continuity, whether as a necessary unfolding or
otherwise merely cumulative result. This rejection of continuity is the rejection of rational necessity or compulsion - what is at stake is that the transition be a free act. (Ibid. p.216)"
In response to Jim's omission of the transition from the esthetic and the ethical in his reference to the essay, toss this in his lap as a going away present, ..."
I'm not quite sure what my "omission" was supposed to be, but I take it you were referring to this sentence from my posting to Rick:
"Thank you for pointing to M. Jamie Ferreira's views on Kierkegaard's notion of a leap. I agree it is better to think of Kierkegaard as advocating "a leap to faith", rather than "a leap of faith", in the transition from the ethical sphere to the sphere of religiousness A, and the transition from the sphere of religiousness A to the sphere of religiousness B."
Is the "omission" that I did not refer to the transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere? I did not refer to the transition from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere in this sentence because, as I see it, that while the transition involves a "leap" (Ferreira has convinced me on this point), it does not involve a "leap to faith". As I have said, as I see it, the ethical individual does not have faith. Both the religiousness A individual and the religiousness B individual have faith, although the nature of their faiths is different - the religiousness A has a general faith in God, while the religiousness B has a specific faith in Jesus Christ as the divine in human form. (Ferreira makes this point at the top of page 229.)
In my last posting to Rick, I nearly quoted the two paragraphs of Ferreira's essay from the bottom of page 229 to the bottom of page 230, as these show clearly that Ferreira interprets SK as advocating three transitions. In the end, I didn't quote them, as Ferreira is making a number of different points at the same time, and I thought the quote might confuse matters.
Let me make two points with regard to the quote of Ferreira's from page 216 which you suggest Rick should give me as a going away present.
First, I agree with everything Ferreira says in the quote. As I said in my 3rd May posting to Rick, I do acknowledge that the transitions all involve an element of discontinuity. The crucial question is the nature of the discontinuity - the discontinuity as you describe it is more radical in nature than the discontinuity I read into SK's words. In our previous discussions, we have agreed that the transitions involve something like "Gestalt switches", and these involve a clear case of a discontinuity between the before and the after. (By the way, Ferreira at page 218, talks of "how continuity can be incorporated and accommodated in a model of qualitative shift", which fits my way of seeing transitions as involving both elements of discontinuity and elements of continuity.)
Second, Ferreira's page 216 quote is specifically about the transition from the sphere of religiousness A to the sphere of religiousness B - "the leap to Christian faith", and it is with this transition that "every element of the original immanence is annihilated" (see you quote from your 30th April posting).
The three transitions involve a progressive detachment from immanence, with complete detatchment only achieved with the third and final transition. As I have said before, I don't think your "disjunctive" account of the nature of a Kierkegaardian transition fits well with the three-transition view. If you accept the three-transition view then, on your "transferred-language" account, you are committed to the four-way ambiguity of certain words. Also "self-annihilation" which, on your account is essential to the nature of a a Kierkegaardian transition, can only occur in at most one of the three transitions - something can only be annihilated once. Rick takes the bold step of claiming that Kierkegaard only argued for one transition - that from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere. ("Kierkegaard does consistently talk of one transition, that being the one from the aesthetic sphere to the ethical sphere" May 1st posting) However, I don't think the one-transition view stands up in the light of what SK writes in Concluding Unscientific Postscript.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Hi Jim, Professor Ferreira was one of the authors in the book that I
wrote to; I offered a reading contrary to hers; never received a
reply from her; don't understand why. I have long since despaired of
setting the scholarly sort on the right path so I troll the SK groups
spreading my brand of havoc, the dasterdly disjunction, along the way.
In my dotage I have sort of settled in here. The people are nice,
well, I don't know about meddy, and Ron is the perfect host.
I can see why the professor's take on SK would appeal to you. The
disjunction is admitted, but it is couched in such a way that a
continuity is maintained. In fact, that continuity is sought. If all
goes as I have set it up, Rick and I will, in our critical look at
what she has to say definitely impinge upon your views in this matter.
You are invited to straighten us out whenever you see fit.
And yes, my response was aimed at the omission you saw it being aimed
at. Figured, I did, that it would rate a response from you. I am still
finding your characterization of my view of things worth a chuckle.
Thanks. I have just looked back through my archives of our prior
discussions and I have found the last group of our back and forth on
transitions to be interesting. They are Posts 454, 457. 459, 464, and
466. I have made a note to go through them and makes notes for a post
on what I saw going on between us. It might be an interesting
exercise to compare notes, to go behind the words to the intent.
- Hi Willy,
Yes, it sounds a good idea to continue our conversation of February concerning the nature of Kierkegaardian transitions and spheres of existence. I'll re-read the posts you list, in preparation for a further posting from you.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- J.A. Hookah; I see where you want to revisit the tranny train as does
Jim and that you have offered the tracks for choo-choo, mastication to
the second power. There is one thing I would like to revisit in the
professor's essay, that being her use of the duck/rabbit analogy in
connection with a /Gestalt/ shift. Here is her argument as I see it.
Check it out and let me know your view. I'll need to set the table
A /Gestalt/ shift fits the requirements of a disjunctive leap, a
change in quality from a duck to a rabbit. The form is the same, yet
the content of the form has changed. The analogy is as perfect as it
can get. If the form is one's sense of self, the /Gestalt/ shift
represents the leap. Reflection upon that shift finds an old self, and
by inference, a new self. Naturally, the ability to reflect upon the
shift is necessary for the inference to take hold, which means that
the shift must be registered as an occurrence, as a happening, or, by
inference, something that happened to the one to whom it happened.
The analogy of a /Gestalt/ shift also allows for the creation of a
paradox for the one who is reflecting upon it. If the form is one's
sense of self, and one's sense of self is given in reflection, then
the act of reflection itself now contains a paradox. Turn it around.
One comes across a happening that in reflection can be described as
something happening to the 'me' to whom things happen. In this reverse
look, the analogy is created to explain the happening. In this way,
the analogy becomes a metaphor for the happening and anyone who
'knows' the happening, where to know means having the capability of
applying the analogy to their own condition.
The fact that the analogy operates as a metaphor and allows for the
communication of an 'inward' event, where the event itself now defines
another meaning of 'inward,' one that can only be known by knowing it,
and here is where your anti-appropriation comes a cropper, more of
which later, then a transferred language comes into being; one can now
speak of inwardness to the second power and have that point to the
event itself. One who has never been rained on does not know what it
means to get rained on. The point is pointed at.
Ok, the table is set. On to her argument as I see it. The /Gestalt/
shift represents the qualitative transformation. The universe of
discourse is the form that changes in an absolute sense. It capture
the leap. But the leap cannot be just something that happens, like a
stroke of fate, else there would be no sense in talking about it in
any other sense than as something that happened to one (and I am
practicing the art of Een here; paraphrasing to my heart's content).
So, it must be conditional. There must be a setting of the condition
for it to occur. This setting of the condition is seen as the
necessary connection that allows the professor to get a logical handle
on the discontinuity. The abstract has been tamed to a degree that the
discontinuity has been properly caged. The question for her now shifts
to the substance of the leap and the problem of the /Gestalt/ shift as
the substance of the leap is circumvented.
That's it, Ricky, what say you, or anyone else who cares to say?
--- In firstname.lastname@example.org, "hakoohaj" <hakoohaj@y...>
> WB Esq.,professor
> Isn't chumming illegal? I acquired the CCTK yesterday at bargain
> basement prices and have just read the JF essay. I can see why you
> have invited me to a critical read through of the piece. The
> has changed nothing by trading 'leap of faith' for 'leap to faith'.
> My general impression is of a writer trying despairingly to bring
> continuity to what Kierkegaard has made discontinuous. I will cease
> playing anti-willyb long enough to explore this with you. Sounds
> I will send this to you directly. You can use it to get a head start
> on our critical read. I am posting this Saturday morning. I may try
> your suggestion. But what if Ron will not let me back in?
> J. A. Hookah