Heythrop Journal 57 (4):599-611 (2016)

Wojciech Kaftanski
Harvard University
This article reevaluates the origins of Kierkegaard’s concept of imitation. It challenges the general approach to the genealogy of the phenomenon in question, which privileges the influence of various religious traditions on the thinker and ignores his exposure to the non-Christian literature. I contend that a close reading of the Apology, the Sophist, the Republic, and the Phaedo alongside Kierkegaard’s texts from the so-called second authorship reveals in the dialogues of Plato the three crucial aspects of Kierkegaard’s concept of imitation, namely the phenomenon of following after, the existential, and the non-imitative character of imitation. Lastly, I show that, apart from striving to be a follower/an imitator of Christ, Kierkegaard perceives himself as a follower/an imitator of Socrates. This means that the life of the imitator of Christ is the examined life in the Socratic sense.
Keywords imitation  Kierkegaard  the imitation of Christ  the imitation of Socrates  Kierkegaard's imitation  existential mimesis  mimesis  Plato  Socrates
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DOI 10.1111/heyj.12330
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