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The question of 'stages'

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  • Don
    Will, in post 7002 JS wrote the following: By the way, I have been reading all of apoorear s posts for the first time, and I am wondering if his suggestion
    Message 1 of 7 , Dec 3, 2007
      Will, in post 7002 JS wrote the following:
      By the way, I have been reading all of apoorear's posts for the first
      time, and I am wondering if his suggestion that many readers of
      Kierkegaard unjustifiably attribute to K a "theory of stages" and then
      read all his works with this picture in mind, and, as a result, then
      come away with a false interpretation of the texts, is correct. I
      think both you and I may be guilty of this prejudice. If so, then one
      of the common presuppositions of our discussion is faulty, and we are
      both seriously misunderstand K.

      What do you think

      Donald
      PS Please thank JS for me. I would do so in person but I guess it is better when I don't.
    • Will Brown
      Well, Donald, I would then say that JS s following synopsis of SK, and my agreement with the structure of it, would go down the tubes. What would I think about
      Message 2 of 7 , Dec 3, 2007

        Well, Donald, I would then say that JS's following synopsis of SK, and my agreement with the structure of it, would go down the tubes. What would I think about that? Unfortunately, I can only speculate, and at the present time, my response would be a shrugging of my shoulders. Were it to actually come to pass, the going down the tubes bit, I would probably register another releasing of my past.    [wb]     

        <<Willy, Kierkegaard's central idea, which he attempts to communicate throughout his authorship, is this: Human being's today, particularly men and women of intelligence, education and culture, despite thinking of themselves as Christians, have forgotten what it means to exist as a Christian. I (Kierkegaard) aim to show what it means for an individual to exist as a Christian. In order to show this, I also have to show what it means for an individual to exist as a human being, because an individual must first exist as a human being before she can make the leap to exist as a Christian. Thus an individual must first become an ethical individual (she must gain the distinctively ethical inwardness) before she can become an individual of faith (as a Religiousness B individual with the distinctively Christian inwardness).>>


        --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "Don" <don@...> wrote:
        >
        > Will, in post 7002 JS wrote the following:
        > By the way, I have been reading all of apoorear's posts for the first
        > time, and I am wondering if his suggestion that many readers of
        > Kierkegaard unjustifiably attribute to K a "theory of stages" and then
        > read all his works with this picture in mind, and, as a result, then
        > come away with a false interpretation of the texts, is correct. I
        > think both you and I may be guilty of this prejudice. If so, then one
        > of the common presuppositions of our discussion is faulty, and we are
        > both seriously misunderstand K.
        >
        > What do you think
        >
        > Donald
        > PS Please thank JS for me. I would do so in person but I guess it is
        > better when I don't.
        >
      • Don
        I tend to agree with the others. K did not discuss a theory of stages. He used them as ideal types. But perhaps there are more important assumptions that
        Message 3 of 7 , Dec 3, 2007
          I tend to agree with the others. K  did not discuss a theory of stages. He used them as ideal types. But perhaps there are more important assumptions that takes one even further astray in interpreting K.
          One is to assume that every pseudonym speaks for K. K clearly has each pseudonym speak for a particular point-of-view, his own. In this way he covers all the various ideal types.
          Second is to assume that every term that K uses has the same meaning throughout his authorship. A good example of this latter is the term ethics. There are at least two very distinct and disparate meanings depending on which pseudonym uses the term and even in what context the same pseudonym uses the term.
          A third problem is not keeping ideality and actuality clearly separated in your discussions of what  you understand K to be saying.  Most of the time you seem to conflate the two, mushing them together in some kind of fantastic conglomeration. I vacillate between thinking that you do this as acute comic routine and thinking that you don't understand the difference.
          I will add that you are not the only one that tends to do this. We all do or have done so. You just seem extra set in your ways. I guess  it comes with  but if so why am I not that way? Hmmm.
          But what do I know?

          Don
          --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "Don" <don@...> wrote:
          >
          > Will, in post 7002 JS wrote the following:
          > By the way, I have been reading all of apoorear's posts for the first
          > time, and I am wondering if his suggestion that many readers of
          > Kierkegaard unjustifiably attribute to K a "theory of stages" and then
          > read all his works with this picture in mind, and, as a result, then
          > come away with a false interpretation of the texts, is correct. I
          > think both you and I may be guilty of this prejudice. If so, then one
          > of the common presuppositions of our discussion is faulty, and we are
          > both seriously misunderstand K.
          >
          > What do you think
          >
          > Donald
          > PS Please thank JS for me. I would do so in person but I guess it is
          > better when I don't.
          >
        • Don
          James, you said in post 7120: I think it s an overstatement to say that K does not discuss a theory of the stages. _Stages on Life s Way_? Climacus in CUP?
          Message 4 of 7 , Dec 7, 2007

            James, you said in post 7120:


            I think it's an overstatement to say that K does not "discuss" a
            theory of the stages. _Stages on Life's Way_? Climacus in CUP? How
            we're supposed to understand this theory of the stages...that's
            another thing. The quotation Willy posted a while back about people
            treating the stages as if they were train stations or something like
            that isn't a denial of a theory of the stages, but a complaint about
            misunderstanding them. The image of a train station imagines -the
            same person- is moving from station to station; K's theory of the
            stages asserts that we become a different person at each stage.

            Jim R

            I am questioning the theory part of "the existence-spheres theory." I do not question the fact that K used existence-spheres to communicate certain things about life and as such indicates that there are certain developmental and psychological, even spiritual, states that can be referred to as existence-spheres. He and his pseudonyms use the terms esthetic, ethical, and religious often enough but there is no theory development.

             

            The theory development comes from readers of K's works who do not like his lack of theory or what they interpret as his theory and who then begin to develop theories on their own based on a selective reading of certain quotes taken very much out of context and taken by those who have a certain ax to grind rather than a more humble, careful and expectant reading that looks for new insights rather than confirmation of old prejudices or old stale ideas (systematic and doctrinal theologians?). Such theories become straightjackets, necessities rather than opportunities and they also become cottage industries that keep the author(s) of them and their disciples in business as they argue endlessly the fine points of their theories and point to `quotes' that prove these theories beyond a doubt(legal interpreters of the law?). Such discussion becomes a defensive game that remains on its own 20 yard line rather than a balanced game that moves up the field and into the opponent's territory, to use a rough analogy.


            Let me respond to your suggestion that 'Stages on Life's Way' is the setting forth of a theory. 'Stages on Life's Way' is by no means the setting forth of a theory. It is in my way of expressing it, a series of stories that illustrate persons at some point in the stages of physico-psychic development.

            To suggest that it in any way develops a theory is to reveal that one either has not read it or has read it very superficially or that one has let someone else define it for one. The only part that might conceivably be construed as a theory is no more than a page long (part of page 476 and part of page 477). These few remarks are made by Frater Taciturnus so they are his and not necessarily K's ideas and they are made by him in the context of discussing his view of repentance.

            In my view any talk and authoritative quoting of ideas about stages or spheres of existence must take into account what pseudonym is speaking. Some pseudonyms and perhaps all give their own skewed view. Not seeing that K is not advocating anything his pseudonyms say is the greatest problem I see in those who would interpret K and I have been as guilty as anyone in this respect.

             

            Finally if we just concentrate on the use of the words `stage(s) and sphere(s) in K's complete opus, we find they are used very rarely. Hong's cumulative index lists approximately 14 references to sphere(s) and all of these are not references to existence spheres but rather to other spheres such as the spheres of body, psyche, and spirit. The word stage(s) is also found 14 times and many of these also use the term in other contexts than existence. For example several refer to stage as in an actor on a stage, perhaps an analogy but not a theory.

          • KTP
            don, I see SK as saying : Stages on Life s Way are Obstacles on Life s Way ; which must be overcome by an off stage whisper . nn ... that ... reading ...
            Message 5 of 7 , Dec 7, 2007
              don,

              I see SK as saying : 'Stages on Life's Way' are 'Obstacles on Life's
              Way'; which must be overcome by an 'off stage whisper'.

              nn

              --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "Don" <don@...> wrote:
              >
              >
              > James, you said in post 7120:
              >
              >
              > I think it's an overstatement to say that K does not "discuss" a
              > theory of the stages. _Stages on Life's Way_? Climacus in CUP? How
              > we're supposed to understand this theory of the stages...that's
              > another thing. The quotation Willy posted a while back about people
              > treating the stages as if they were train stations or something like
              > that isn't a denial of a theory of the stages, but a complaint about
              > misunderstanding them. The image of a train station imagines -the
              > same person- is moving from station to station; K's theory of the
              > stages asserts that we become a different person at each stage.
              >
              > Jim R
              >
              >
              >
              > I am questioning the theory part of "the existence-spheres
              > theory." I do not question the fact that K used existence-spheres to
              > communicate certain things about life and as such indicates that there
              > are certain developmental and psychological, even spiritual, states
              that
              > can be referred to as existence-spheres. He and his pseudonyms use the
              > terms esthetic, ethical, and religious often enough but there is no
              > theory development.
              >
              >
              >
              > The theory development comes from readers of K's works who do not
              > like his lack of theory or what they interpret as his theory and who
              > then begin to develop theories on their own based on a selective
              reading
              > of certain quotes taken very much out of context and taken by those
              who
              > have a certain ax to grind rather than a more humble, careful and
              > expectant reading that looks for new insights rather than confirmation
              > of old prejudices or old stale ideas (systematic and doctrinal
              > theologians?). Such theories become straightjackets, necessities
              rather
              > than opportunities and they also become cottage industries that keep
              the
              > author(s) of them and their disciples in business as they argue
              > endlessly the fine points of their theories and point to
              > `quotes' that prove these theories beyond a doubt(legal
              > interpreters of the law?). Such discussion becomes a defensive game
              that
              > remains on its own 20 yard line rather than a balanced game that moves
              > up the field and into the opponent's territory, to use a rough
              > analogy.
              >
              >
              > Let me respond to your suggestion that 'Stages on Life's Way' is the
              > setting forth of a theory. 'Stages on Life's Way' is by no means the
              > setting forth of a theory. It is in my way of expressing it, a series
              of
              > stories that illustrate persons at some point in the stages of
              > physico-psychic development.
              >
              > To suggest that it in any way develops a theory is to reveal that one
              > either has not read it or has read it very superficially or that one
              has
              > let someone else define it for one. The only part that might
              conceivably
              > be construed as a theory is no more than a page long (part of page 476
              > and part of page 477). These few remarks are made by Frater Taciturnus
              > so they are his and not necessarily K's ideas and they are made by
              > him in the context of discussing his view of repentance.
              >
              > In my view any talk and authoritative quoting of ideas about stages or
              > spheres of existence must take into account what pseudonym is
              speaking.
              > Some pseudonyms and perhaps all give their own skewed view. Not seeing
              > that K is not advocating anything his pseudonyms say is the greatest
              > problem I see in those who would interpret K and I have been as guilty
              > as anyone in this respect.
              >
              >
              >
              > Finally if we just concentrate on the use of the words `stage(s) and
              > sphere(s) in K's complete opus, we find they are used very rarely.
              > Hong's cumulative index lists approximately 14 references to
              > sphere(s) and all of these are not references to existence spheres but
              > rather to other spheres such as the spheres of body, psyche, and
              spirit.
              > The word stage(s) is also found 14 times and many of these also use
              the
              > term in other contexts than existence. For example several refer to
              > stage as in an actor on a stage, perhaps an analogy but not a theory.
              >
            • Don
              KTP, Perhaps you are old enough to remember Pogo. He once said We have seen the enemy and they is us. All of the obstacles on life s way is us. No whisper
              Message 6 of 7 , Dec 7, 2007
                KTP,
                Perhaps you are old enough to remember Pogo. He once said "We have seen
                the enemy and they is us." All of the obstacles on life's way is us. No
                whisper will straighten us out according to K. We need radical surgery
                or, to put it more clearly, resign and trust that which we do not see.
                Don
                --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "KTP" <nnn88388@...> wrote:
                >
                >
                > don,
                >
                > I see SK as saying : 'Stages on Life's Way' are 'Obstacles on Life's
                > Way'; which must be overcome by an 'off stage whisper'.
                >
                > nn
                >
                > --- In kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com, "Don" don@ wrote:
                > >
                > >
                > > James, you said in post 7120:
                > >
                > >
                > > I think it's an overstatement to say that K does not "discuss" a
                > > theory of the stages. _Stages on Life's Way_? Climacus in CUP? How
                > > we're supposed to understand this theory of the stages...that's
                > > another thing. The quotation Willy posted a while back about people
                > > treating the stages as if they were train stations or something like
                > > that isn't a denial of a theory of the stages, but a complaint about
                > > misunderstanding them. The image of a train station imagines -the
                > > same person- is moving from station to station; K's theory of the
                > > stages asserts that we become a different person at each stage.
                > >
                > > Jim R
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > I am questioning the theory part of "the existence-spheres
                > > theory." I do not question the fact that K used existence-spheres to
                > > communicate certain things about life and as such indicates that
                there
                > > are certain developmental and psychological, even spiritual, states
                > that
                > > can be referred to as existence-spheres. He and his pseudonyms use
                the
                > > terms esthetic, ethical, and religious often enough but there is no
                > > theory development.
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > The theory development comes from readers of K's works who do not
                > > like his lack of theory or what they interpret as his theory and who
                > > then begin to develop theories on their own based on a selective
                > reading
                > > of certain quotes taken very much out of context and taken by those
                > who
                > > have a certain ax to grind rather than a more humble, careful and
                > > expectant reading that looks for new insights rather than
                confirmation
                > > of old prejudices or old stale ideas (systematic and doctrinal
                > > theologians?). Such theories become straightjackets, necessities
                > rather
                > > than opportunities and they also become cottage industries that keep
                > the
                > > author(s) of them and their disciples in business as they argue
                > > endlessly the fine points of their theories and point to
                > > `quotes' that prove these theories beyond a doubt(legal
                > > interpreters of the law?). Such discussion becomes a defensive game
                > that
                > > remains on its own 20 yard line rather than a balanced game that
                moves
                > > up the field and into the opponent's territory, to use a rough
                > > analogy.
                > >
                > >
                > > Let me respond to your suggestion that 'Stages on Life's Way' is the
                > > setting forth of a theory. 'Stages on Life's Way' is by no means the
                > > setting forth of a theory. It is in my way of expressing it, a
                series
                > of
                > > stories that illustrate persons at some point in the stages of
                > > physico-psychic development.
                > >
                > > To suggest that it in any way develops a theory is to reveal that
                one
                > > either has not read it or has read it very superficially or that one
                > has
                > > let someone else define it for one. The only part that might
                > conceivably
                > > be construed as a theory is no more than a page long (part of page
                476
                > > and part of page 477). These few remarks are made by Frater
                Taciturnus
                > > so they are his and not necessarily K's ideas and they are made by
                > > him in the context of discussing his view of repentance.
                > >
                > > In my view any talk and authoritative quoting of ideas about stages
                or
                > > spheres of existence must take into account what pseudonym is
                > speaking.
                > > Some pseudonyms and perhaps all give their own skewed view. Not
                seeing
                > > that K is not advocating anything his pseudonyms say is the greatest
                > > problem I see in those who would interpret K and I have been as
                guilty
                > > as anyone in this respect.
                > >
                > >
                > >
                > > Finally if we just concentrate on the use of the words `stage(s) and
                > > sphere(s) in K's complete opus, we find they are used very rarely.
                > > Hong's cumulative index lists approximately 14 references to
                > > sphere(s) and all of these are not references to existence spheres
                but
                > > rather to other spheres such as the spheres of body, psyche, and
                > spirit.
                > > The word stage(s) is also found 14 times and many of these also use
                > the
                > > term in other contexts than existence. For example several refer to
                > > stage as in an actor on a stage, perhaps an analogy but not a
                theory.
                > >
                >
              • James Rovira
                I m not sure how you re using the word theory in your post, Don. I will say that in my own thinking when I use the phrase theory of the stages my emphasis
                Message 7 of 7 , Dec 8, 2007
                  I'm not sure how you're using the word "theory" in your post, Don. I
                  will say that in my own thinking when I use the phrase "theory of the
                  stages" my emphasis is on the word "stages," not "theory," so in my
                  prior response I thought you were disagreeing with the idea of stages
                  in K (thus my reference to the title Stage on Life's Way).

                  It looks like we agree that K discussed existence spheres, that he
                  used them to talk about various psychological and spiritual states,
                  and that they were developmental (so we can use the word "stages").
                  We also agree that different pseudonyms have different views of the
                  stages and have said that much myself recently. I say we agree on
                  these points from these sentences in your post below:

                  <<I do not question the fact that K used existence-spheres to
                  communicate certain things about life and as such indicates that there
                  are certain developmental and psychological, even spiritual, states
                  that can be referred to as existence-spheres. [...] In my view any
                  talk and authoritative quoting of ideas about stages or spheres of
                  existence must take into account what pseudonym is speaking.>>

                  I call all this a "theory" of the stages because I don't believe K
                  makes a dogmatic assertion about the existence spheres -- that
                  everything you describe in the sentence I quoted above is a "theory,"
                  or an act of reflection. If you don't believe this is a theory, what
                  do you believe it is? What would you call it?

                  I do believe that K asserted the validity of Christian dogma for the
                  Christian, and that the Christian appropriates Christian dogma by
                  faith, but I don't think any of this has anything to do with his
                  "theory" of the stages. In fact, he seems to be deliberately avoiding
                  orthodoxy when he discusses the existence-spheres, except for his
                  basic view of the human being as a synthesis of body/soul/spirit. K
                  drew from standard Lutheran creeds for his dogmatic assertions or from
                  the older Christian traditions in circulation before the rise of
                  Hegelian philosophical models in Denmark.

                  What I'm calling his "theory" of the stages is a very, very common
                  psycho-spiritual developmental model among German philosophers since
                  at least Schelling. Everyone seemed to have their own version of it.
                  K wasn't unique in proposing a "theory" of the stages and I don't
                  think that was the main point of his authorship.

                  At any rate, I don't know where to go from here in this discussion,
                  except to ask you what word you'd suggest in place of "theory," or
                  what you thought I in particular meant by "theory."

                  Jim R

                  On Dec 7, 2007 5:58 PM, Don <don@...> wrote:
                  > James, you said in post 7120:
                  >
                  > I think it's an overstatement to say that K does not "discuss" a
                  > theory of the stages. _Stages on Life's Way_? Climacus in CUP? How
                  > we're supposed to understand this theory of the stages...that's
                  > another thing. The quotation Willy posted a while back about people
                  > treating the stages as if they were train stations or something like
                  > that isn't a denial of a theory of the stages, but a complaint about
                  > misunderstanding them. The image of a train station imagines -the
                  > same person- is moving from station to station; K's theory of the
                  > stages asserts that we become a different person at each stage.
                  >
                  > Jim R
                  >
                  > I am questioning the theory part of "the existence-spheres theory." I do not
                  > question the fact that K used existence-spheres to communicate certain
                  > things about life and as such indicates that there are certain developmental
                  > and psychological, even spiritual, states that can be referred to as
                  > existence-spheres. He and his pseudonyms use the terms esthetic, ethical,
                  > and religious often enough but there is no theory development.
                  >
                  > The theory development comes from readers of K's works who do not like his
                  > lack of theory or what they interpret as his theory and who then begin to
                  > develop theories on their own based on a selective reading of certain quotes
                  > taken very much out of context and taken by those who have a certain ax to
                  > grind rather than a more humble, careful and expectant reading that looks
                  > for new insights rather than confirmation of old prejudices or old stale
                  > ideas (systematic and doctrinal theologians?). Such theories become
                  > straightjackets, necessities rather than opportunities and they also become
                  > cottage industries that keep the author(s) of them and their disciples in
                  > business as they argue endlessly the fine points of their theories and point
                  > to `quotes' that prove these theories beyond a doubt(legal interpreters of
                  > the law?). Such discussion becomes a defensive game that remains on its own
                  > 20 yard line rather than a balanced game that moves up the field and into
                  > the opponent's territory, to use a rough analogy.
                  >
                  > Let me respond to your suggestion that 'Stages on Life's Way' is the setting
                  > forth of a theory. 'Stages on Life's Way' is by no means the setting forth
                  > of a theory. It is in my way of expressing it, a series of stories that
                  > illustrate persons at some point in the stages of physico-psychic
                  > development.
                  >
                  > To suggest that it in any way develops a theory is to reveal that one either
                  > has not read it or has read it very superficially or that one has let
                  > someone else define it for one. The only part that might conceivably be
                  > construed as a theory is no more than a page long (part of page 476 and part
                  > of page 477). These few remarks are made by Frater Taciturnus so they are
                  > his and not necessarily K's ideas and they are made by him in the context of
                  > discussing his view of repentance.
                  >
                  > In my view any talk and authoritative quoting of ideas about stages or
                  > spheres of existence must take into account what pseudonym is speaking. Some
                  > pseudonyms and perhaps all give their own skewed view. Not seeing that K is
                  > not advocating anything his pseudonyms say is the greatest problem I see in
                  > those who would interpret K and I have been as guilty as anyone in this
                  > respect.
                  >
                  > Finally if we just concentrate on the use of the words `stage(s) and
                  > sphere(s) in K's complete opus, we find they are used very rarely. Hong's
                  > cumulative index lists approximately 14 references to sphere(s) and all of
                  > these are not references to existence spheres but rather to other spheres
                  > such as the spheres of body, psyche, and spirit. The word stage(s) is also
                  > found 14 times and many of these also use the term in other contexts than
                  > existence. For example several refer to stage as in an actor on a stage,
                  > perhaps an analogy but not a theory.
                  >
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