Daniel Brinkerhoff Young
New York University
In Practice in Christianity, Kierkegaard claims that the imaginative planning of projects that require ongoing effort over time always fails to represent them accurately. This paper explores one particular reason Kierkegaard gives for thinking this—that the imagination is incapable of capturing the temporality of such endeavors, and it is this temporality that constitutes their greatest difficulty. This is significant for Kierkegaard because he believes that the tasks of the moral life and the religious life belong to this class of endeavors. But if true, his claim raises questions for all self-determinative projects that use imaginative planning. This paper explores Kierkegaard’s texts on the matter and argues that his claim centers on the fact that in one’s imagination, one cannot face ongoing resistance that is entirely outside one’s control as one does in the actual world. This contributes to a picture of Kierkegaard’s moral psychology that presents having a powerful imagination alone as quite insufficient for practical striving, and that places practice and willful endurance in whatever task one is attempting as central to learning it. One cannot learn how to do such tasks from another or from one’s imagination, according to Kierkegaard—the only teacher is experience, and, crucially, time.
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DOI 10.1111/phpr.12193
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References found in this work BETA

Critique of Pure Reason.Immanuel Kant - 1991 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Philosophy and Phenomenological Research. Blackwell. pp. 449-451.
The Puzzle of Imaginative Resistance.Tamar Szabo Gendler - 2000 - Journal of Philosophy 97 (2):55-81.
Philosophical Fragments.Søren Kierkegaard - 1962 - Princeton: Princeton University Press.
The Concept of Irony.Søren Kierkegaard - 1965 - New York: Harper & Row.

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