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Re: [Kierkegaardians] Re: No Justifications

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  • James Rovira
    apoorear -- I think I understand your position much better now, thanks for the clarification. Let me get some quibbles out of the way before we proceed.
    Message 1 of 92 , Sep 3, 2007
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      apoorear --

      I think I understand your position much better now, thanks for the clarification.  Let me get some quibbles out of the way before we proceed.

      First, I think you're missing the point here in your responses.  It's not that the incarnation "cannot be thought" in a literal sense, as if no idea of an incarnation can enter our minds.  The point is that it cannot be understood or comprehended by the human rational capacity.  If we don't see why this is so, that is only because we are too familiar with the idea. 

      Climacus makes mention of different ideas of an incarnation of the god.  The first is the old Greek conceptions in which the gods walked around on earth "disguised" as humans, so to speak.  They weren't really and fully human, however -- it's more like they were wearing a "human suit" and a perceptive eye could pick them out.  This is an aesthetic form of belief.

      The next is pantheism, associated with RA (or the aesthetic sphere) in Climacus's thought, in which everything is essentially god and the appearance of difference is illusory, so we seek to annihilate appearances in order to see the eternal behind everything.

      The point of these two rival notions of the incarnation is that they involve no contradiction.  In the old Greek conception, the gods aren't really human, but appear human--so no contradiction.  In the pantheist conception, the appearance of human individuality is illusory, invalidated, so no contradiction. 

      However, in the Christian conception, we have the paradox of Christ being fully human and fully Divine simultaneously, even as an infant.  Yes, we can "understand" this idea -- but we cannot understand how this is possible.  From a point of view that demands rational consistency in language use, it's frankly ridiculous.  That's why only Christianity presents the paradox and why only Christianity can present the paradox, in Climacus's opinion.

      Now, as I understand your thesis, you believe that Climacus, yes, presents stages, but doesn't -rank- them, correct?  In that case, they're not really stages at all, but simply spheres of existence, and there's no point saying one is more advanced in any sense than another?  I think this represents one of two very different readings of Climacus (stages as progressive stages and stages as spheres), both valid, but I think the point here is not that we choose one or the other, but that both are simultaneously true.

      To see this we need to keep in mind what Climacus said on the very first page of CUP -- the question before him is what it means to become a Christian.  He understands this to be the most serious question imaginable, as it has to do not just with our temporal happiness but our -eternal happiness-, and is therefore -infinitely important-.  I don't think this is jest, nor is this element of his book a curious thought experiment to which he attaches no ultimate importance.  His thinking has a goal in mind -- so that means a trajectory has been set, and Christianity is the final stage of the trajectory.   To the extent that Climacus calls this activity a thought experiment, he means it in a self-effacing way: he is not qualified to definitively state what it is to be a Christian as he is not one, but an RA personality.

      So while we are within any one stage, the stages are spheres, but as move through them toward Christianity, the stages are stages.  

      The point is that the importance of the stages as stages, to us as readers, ultimately depends upon whether or not Christianity is ultimately true.  If it is not then these are all just equally valid options.  If it is, then there is a definite goal in view, and once we reach it everything beforehand were stages on life's way.

      I don't think there's any question where Kierkegaard sided in all this, as his signed works were religious and he considered entering the pastorate until late in life. 

      But that doesn't mean there's no question for his readers.

      Kierkegaard's point is that our reading of Kierkegaard involves a self-defining choice.  This is made possible by the pseudonymous nature of his works.

      Jim R
    • Bill
      Jim R., Thanks for your clarity. But, if I m not mistaken Kierkegaard writes that the self is exhausted from the experience of God entering time, and therefore
      Message 92 of 92 , Sep 7, 2007
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        Jim R., Thanks for your clarity.

        But, if I'm not mistaken Kierkegaard writes that the self is
        exhausted from the experience of God entering time, and therefore the
        outcome of God's 'necessity' occurs with freedom. But, I don't
        believe that Kierkegaard gives a positive account of freedom. If
        there is mediation then it would be by becoming a third term by which
        the self understands itself in terms of the power that constituted
        it. In other words, the addressing of the the Other (God) is
        inseperable to undertanding him, because we are given
        the "condition". In understanding one's relation with God one also
        is in a position to tell him my understanding. One does not refer to
        God against the "background" of one's freedom, or 'power' to
        determine him. I offer to God the expression of my understanding
        that is already the 'conditon' for understanding him.

        I'll let Levinas speak for himself, and welcome your interpretation.


        "The relation to the other is therefore not ontology. This bond with
        the other which is not reducible to the representation of the other,
        but to his invocation, and in which invocation is not preceded by an
        understanding, I call /religion/. (p. 7, Entre Nous, Levinas,E.,
        Smith & Harshav, trans.)." Bill
        --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "James Rovira"
        <jamesrovira@...> wrote:
        >
        > See, Bill, I think we're reading apoorear's posts differently.
        From my
        > point of view, I'm the one saying there's ultimately no single, set
        > interpretation, while he's saying there is (i.e., the theory of the
        stages
        > has "no justification" at all).
        >
        > I think Kierkegaard follows the methodology Plato described in his
        7th
        > letter--dialogic rather than direct description of the thing, so
        that the
        > writing provokes meditation upon the subject (God, etc.), without
        giving
        > definitive answers. When K did rely on definitive answers, they
        came from
        > Christian dogma, and they were used as the starting point for
        thought, not
        > the end point.
        >
        > Jim R
        >
        > On 9/7/07, Bill <billybob98103@...> wrote:
        > >
        > > Jim R., I know my remark about interpreting Kierkegaard based
        on a
        > > poll might be misinterpreted. But, thanks for your remarks.
        > >
        >
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