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An answer to Kenneth's question

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  • jimstuart46
    Kenneth, Welcome to the group. You write: If I were to start a discussion it would be this: Although I ve attempted to digest 20-30 works of SK, I m
    Message 1 of 85 , Dec 4, 2009

      Welcome to the group.

      You write:

      "If I were to start a discussion it would be this:

      Although I've attempted to digest 20-30 works of SK, I'm embarrassed for my deficient grasp of "dialectic", "dialectical", "dialectician". My education never included these words in any way similar to SK's usage... which seems to rest on a very explicit concept and is bound to have been published somewhere. I spent some time searching on-line but without satisfaction. Where might one discover the school for the dialectically challenged?"

      I have been thinking about your question here, and reflecting on the quotations you typed up from "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" in which you focus on the contrasting expressions "qualitative dialectic" and "quantitative dialectic".

      I gather, from talking to my partner, that the three terms "dialectic", "dialectical", "dialectician" figure quite heavily on the continent (i.e. in Europe, but not the UK), and those educated in France or Germany would be more at home with them than a person educated in Great Britain. Perhaps like me, you had a British education?

      However, I shall largely ignore standard usage of these terms and consider how Kierkegaard (and his pseudonyms) use(s) the terms, with particular reference to the quotations you helpfully typed up for us.

      Dialectic, as Jim R has pointed out is philosophical argument (in the wide sense of `philosophical'), particularly argument involve a too and fro between two alternatives.

      This suggests to me the idea of movement, and perhaps K uses the term to indicate a movement of thought, or, perhaps better, a movement (or movements) of thinking.

      The quantitative suggests continuity to me, and the idea of relative differences. The qualitative suggests discontinuity and an absolute difference.

      As I wrote to Don, I associate quantitative dialectic with the typical movement(s) of thinking of the aesthetic personality. He compares between relative quantities. Perhaps he compares himself to his contemporaries in a relative way. He is more fortunate than A, but not as fortunate as B.

      I associate qualitative dialectic with the movements of thinking of the ethical or religious individual. He thinks in absolute categories, and has no use for relative comparison with his peers. He compares himself to some idea of perfection, to some absolute standard.

      In the quoted passages, Climacus talks of an "ethical dialectic" which is clearly a qualitative dialectic, being grounded in "the absolute distinction between good and evil". The ethical individual "will[s] the good with all his strength", he judges himself absolutely guilty in comparison to the absolute, the perfect.

      "But Ethics regards as unethical the transition by which an individual renounces the ethical quality in order to try his fortune, longingly, wishingly, and so forth, in the quantitative and non-ethical"

      The aesthetic sphere is the sphere of the quantitative, the continuous, the relative, and the quantitative dialectic is a movement of thinking involving no discontinuity, no leap, but a continuous movement along a spectrum of relative values.

      The ethical sphere (and more so the religious sphere) is the sphere of the qualitative, the discontinuous, the leap, and the qualitative dialectic is a movement of thinking involving a discontinuity, a movement from one absolute to its opposite absolute, a leap into the unknown.

      At the limit, there is the qualitative dialectic of the absolute paradox, but I will leave discussion of that to the religious individuals at the forum.

      I fear I have been Euthyphro to your Socrates, Kenneth. But perhaps my naïve, no doubt superficial, thoughts are useful to yourself, Jim R and Don.

      Jim S
    • James Rovira
      I agree, Don. What I would say now, to clarify my previous post, is that the author of E/O I is himself essentially a German Romantic but is employing
      Message 85 of 85 , Dec 9, 2009
        I agree, Don.  What I would say now, to clarify my previous post, is that the author of E/O I is himself essentially a German Romantic but is employing Hegelian models of thought to explicate his views of an aesthetic personality.  

        But once I've said it this way, the aesthete's reflective thought verges on self-reflective thought.  

        I think that both the authors of E/O I and II follow Hegelian models to frame their thought, the good Judge arguing that the ethical is a synthesis proceeding from the contradictions inherent in the aesthetic -- so he argues for the aesthetic validity of marriage, something the aesthete hasn't considered and probably won't, regardless of what the Judge says.       

        Jim R

        On Wed, Dec 9, 2009 at 6:57 PM, Don Anderson <don@...> wrote:

        JimR, you said:


        I'm not sure Don is wrong about seeing Hegel, but I do certainly agree with him that E/O II presents a limited outlook, one that K would not agree with himself.  E/O I is strongly Hegelian.  E/O II may be more Kantian.  It is not yet Kierkegaardian, though, in my opinion.


        Thank you for this.  I would just comment that I think E/O I is  not so much Hegelian (or German idealist) as it is the representation romanticism. As Lillian Swenson remarks in her “forward by the Reviser”, volume 1 is written by a “young romanticist” and volume 2 is written by a “mature ethical idealist.” Both have elements of Hegelianism as well as Kant, Fichte, The Greeks, and others. They rather stand alone as a representative of their position toward existence.



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