Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling is one of the most widely read works of Continental philosophy and the philosophy of religion. While several commentaries and critical editions exist, Jeffrey Hanson offers a distinctive approach to this crucial text. Hanson gives equal weight and attention to all three of Kierkegaard’s "problems," dealing with Fear and Trembling as part of the entire corpus of Kierkegaard's production and putting all parts into relation with each other. Additionally, he offers a distinctive analysis of the (...) Abraham story and other biblical texts, giving particular attention to questions of poetics, language, and philosophy, especially as each relates to the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. Presented in a thoughtful, well-informed, and fresh manner, Hanson’s claims are original and edifying. This new reading of Kierkegaard will stimulate fruitful dialogue on well-traveled philosophical ground. (shrink)
The question of meaning in life has enjoyed renewed attention in analytic discourse over the last few decades. Despite the apparently “existential” quality of this topic, existential philosophy has had little impact on this re-energized conversation. This paper draws on Kierkegaard’s _The Sickness unto Death_ in order to challenge the objectivist theory of meaning in life. According to that theory, a meaningful life is one replete with objective goods. Kierkegaard, however, exposits four forms of the spiritual sickness he calls despair (...) that are compatible with the possession of objective goods. If this account is convincing, it poses a challenge to the objectivist view, suggesting that a subjective contribution is also necessary to fully account for meaning in life. By a process of negative inference, this paper concludes by sketching out what this subjective contribution might look like and suggests the term “authenticity” in order to capture this subjective element of a meaningful life. (shrink)
Over the last decade or so, political scientists and legal academics have begun studying the linkages between ideologies, on one hand, and legal principles and policy outcomes on the other. This book is the first to bring many of the world's experts on those topics together to examine the sometimes unsettling interactions between psychology, ideology, and law.
Intuition is surely a theme of singular importance to phenomenology, and Henry writes sometimes as if intuition should receive extensive attention from phenomenologists. However, he devotes relatively little attention to the problem of intuition himself. Instead he off ers a complex critique of intuition and the central place it enjoys in phenomenological speculation. This article reconstructs Henry’s critique and raises some questions for his counterintuitive theory of intuition. While Henry cannot make a place for the traditional sort of intuition given (...) his commitment to the primacy of life as the natural and spontaneous habitation of consciousness, an abode entirely outside the world, there nevertheless with some modification to Henry’s thinking could be a role for intuition to play in discerning the traces of life in the world. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to establish a proper context for reading Jacques Derrida's The Gift of Death, which, I contend, can only be understood fully against the backdrop of "Violence and Metaphysics." The later work cannot be fully understood unless the reader appreciates the fact that Derrida returns to "a certain Abraham" not only in the name of Kierkegaard but also in the name of Levinas himself. The hypothesis of the reading that follows therefore would be that Derrida (...) writes The Gift of Death not as an attempt to re-present Kierkegaard's Abraham either rightly or wrongly but as an effort to do with Kierkegaard's Abraham what is possible with his thought in a broadly Levinasian/Derridean framework. That the reading he provides of the Abraham story would not be recognizable to Kierkegaard is not the principal point of Derrida's effort; his aim is to demonstrate that Levinas should not have been so hasty to dismiss Kierkegaard but could have recovered his interpretation of Abraham for purposes that Derrida and Levinas both share. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to establish a proper context for reading Jacques Derrida’s The Gift of Death, which, I contend, can only be understood fully against the backdrop of “Violence and Metaphysics.” The later work cannot be fully understood unless the reader appreciates the fact that Derrida returns to “a certain Abraham” not only in the name of Kierkegaard but also in the name of Levinas himself. The hypothesis of the reading that follows therefore would be that Derrida (...) writes The Gift of Death not as an attempt to re-present Kierkegaard’s Abraham either rightly or wrongly but as an effort to do with Kierkegaard’s Abraham what is possible with his thought in a broadly Levinasian/derridean framework. That the reading he provides of the Abraham story would not be recognizable to Kierkegaard is not the principal point of Derrida’s effort; his aim is to demonstrate that Levinas should not have been so hasty to dismiss Kierkegaard but could have recovered his interpretation of Abraham for purposes that Derrida and Levinas both share. (shrink)
The Sickness unto Death is commonly regarded as one of Kierkegaard's most important works – but also as one of his most difficult texts to understand. It is a meditation on Christian existentialist themes including sin, despair, religious faith and its redemptive power, and the relation and difference between physical and spiritual death. This volume of new essays guides readers through the philosophical and theological significance of the work, while clarifying the complicated ideas that Kierkegaard develops. Some of the essays (...) focus closely on particular themes, others attempt to elucidate the text as a whole, and yet others examine it in relation to other philosophical views. Bringing together these diverse approaches, the volume offers a comprehensive understanding of this pivotal work. It will be of interest to those studying Kierkegaard as well as existentialism, religious philosophy, and moral psychology. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is twofold. First, it seeks to demonstrate how Kierkegaard’s deployment of the idea of earnestness can furnish a sort of tonal “unity” to a narrative understanding of the Kierkegaardian self, which gestures toward a solution to the problem of how a narrative self can be unified over time and over a multiplicity of projects and plans. Second, this paper aims to give further richness to the recent work of Patrick Stokes, who argues that the narrative (...) self needs to be supplemented by what he calls a naked self. This paper then argues that because there are these two dimensions to selfhood—the narrative person and the naked self—the Kierkegaardian individual is in a fundamental way not so much a matter of identity as of contradiction or internal tension. (shrink)
In a recent article Iddo Landau has defended his distinction between perspectives on and standards of meaning in life to support his rebuttal of a familiar pessimistic objection to the meaningfulness of human life. According to that complaint, human life is meaningless when viewed from a detached, cosmic, or sub specie aeternitatis [SSA] perspective. Landau argues that a cosmic perspective need not entail a comparably high standard of meaningfulness. What counts on his view then is not the perspective, which is (...) compatible with any number of possible standards for what constitutes an adequate amount of meaningfulness, but the standard that sets that threshold. In this article I argue that Landau has 1.a.) underestimated the severity of the pessimists’ critique of the availability of any standards for meaningfulness and has also 1.b.) misunderstood the pessimists to be saying that human lives are meaningless because they make an insufficient spatio-temporal impact. I argue further that 2.a.) Landau has left unexplained on what basis we would locate the standard of meaning, leaving a gap in his account. Finally, I maintain that 2.b.) by acknowledging that the ontological, normative, or theological content of the SSA perspective can influence the placing of that standard, Landau leaves himself open to the plausible alternative possibility that the meaning of a life is settled not by the standard itself but by the character attributed to the SSA perspective. (shrink)
On occasion, Theunissen admits that his method is at variance with Kierkegaard’s self-understanding. “Such an approach not only contradicts Kierkegaard’s self-conception. It also collides with the currently prevalent way of dealing with him,” which is more attentive to Kierkegaard’s form of communication. The second most significant departure is his refusal to deal with faith. Theunissen’s book must be judged in part by the extent to which it suffers because of its attempt to abstract the Kierkegaardian account of despair from its (...) theological context. (shrink)
_The usual approach in Buddhist-Western writings uses Buddhist perspectives to help answer Western philosophical-psychological questions. This paper reverses the process and uses the Western philosophical perspective of Nietzsche to answer questions of Buddhist-conceived nirvana. Nietzsche's philosophy of will, expounded primarily through the Zarathustra essays, provides an active and affirmative alternative for understanding and attaining nirvana. His ideas of free will and will to power have commonalities with Buddhist practice and thought, including nonattachment, nihilism, no-self, and meditation. Nietzschean will revises the (...) Buddhist notion of right effort to answer questions about coping with inner suffering and outer-world corruption. It shows nirvana to be less a state of passive being and more a state of active becoming. Why approach such important matters as transcendence, power, and God from the standpoint of the 'I'? First, I-centered analysis can clarify egological concepts such as the subject-I, object-self, and conceptualizing-ego and what these concepts contribute to an experience-based metaphysics, for even the most objective factual or mathematical expression must be stated and understood by an active subject-I. Second, I-centered analysis can advance the phenomenological study of the role of the I in the subjective realms of mind. Third, it can help resolve issues in both Western and Buddhist philosophy such as activism-passivism, subjectivity-objectivity, will and freedom, I and other, and secular/sacred presence in consciousness_. (shrink)
Early life adversity, such as child maltreatment or child poverty, engenders problems with emotional and behavioral regulation. In the quest to understand the neurobiological sequelae and mechanisms of risk, the amygdala has been of major focus. While the basic functions of this region make it a strong candidate for understanding the multiple mental health issues common after ELA, extant literature is marked by profound inconsistencies, with reports of larger, smaller, and no differences in regional volumes of this area. We believe (...) integrative models of stress neurodevelopment, grounded in “allostatic load,” will help resolve inconsistencies in the impact of ELA on the amygdala. In this review, we attempt to connect past research studies to new findings with animal models of cellular and neurotransmitter mediators of stress buffering to extreme fear generalization onto testable research and clinical concepts. Drawing on the greater impact of inescapability over unpredictability in animal models, we propose a mechanism by which ELA aggravates an exhaustive cycle of amygdala expansion and subsequent toxic-metabolic damage. We connect this neurobiological sequela to psychosocial mal/adaptation after ELA, bridging to behavioral studies of attachment, emotion processing, and social functioning. Lastly, we conclude this review by proposing a multitude of future directions in preclinical work and studies of humans that suffered ELA. (shrink)
For Henry the question ?Can the truth be learned?? is as much an aporia as it was for Kierkegaard, and both thinkers ask this question not in order to solve some abstract or pedantic epistemological issue but because the truth they seek is the one that is appropriate to human beings and their salvation. This paper examines Henry?s and Kierkegaard?s answers to the question of how the truth is learned, and in the course of this examination will necessarily have occasion (...) to compare the two thinkers? accounts of paradox and the phenomenality of Christ, two themes that bring into focus the nature of truth in both thinkers. The paper begins with an analysis of Henry?s theory of two truths, one of the world and the other of life. These two truths collide in the crucial eleventh chapter of I Am the Truth, which elucidates Henry?s understanding of paradox and the role it plays in his phenomenology. Finally, the paper entertains some questions for his theory that a Kierkegaardian might raise. Throughout it can be seen that despite his appreciation of Kierkegaard, Henry?s account of paradox and the specific mode of revelation that is appropriate to the Christ deviates from the Dane?s theory. Furthermore, it would seem that in a similar fashion their understandings of what counts as a paradox ultimately differ in such a way that Henry?s supposed paradoxes turn out to be by his own admission merely apparent, whereas for Kierkegaard (and perhaps in this respect his theory is a bit closer to ordinary intuitions about what it means for a truth to be paradoxical), paradox is an ineradicable feature of the highest kind of truth as reason confronts it. The thesis then that for Henry paradox and the tension between two kinds of truth are merely apparent whereas for Kierkegaard they are intensified is not merely of interest in establishing a proper reading of each respective thinker; it affects our understanding of the phenomenological notions of world, truth, and the absolute as well as establishing divergences of considerable theological interest. What is at stake is the exact status of the kind of truth phenomenology will privilege and the bearing that this question has upon the nature of the world and phenomenality. (shrink)
Sebbah’s noteworthy book is perhaps the first sustained inquiry into the relationship between three thinkers in the French phenomenological tradition, two of whom are well known in the Anglophone world (Levinas, Derrida) and one of whom (Henry) is gradually better understood by English-speaking audiences. That all three are arrayed together in this study makes it a pioneering enterprise and one that allows the English reader to apprise the worthiness of Henry’s association with his better-known compatriots.The strongest and most extensive portions (...) of the text focus on the three named figures in its subtitle, and in Part I Sebbah justifies his focus on these three in terms of a “family resemblance” (6–7) that they bear: Each in his own way practices phenomenology in the mode of excess, an excess that not only emerges in the style of each man’s writing but more fundamentally betrays a testing “of the limit, the limit through whose transgression alone excess can be what it is” (4). Rather. (shrink)
We show that the exterior algebra bundle over a curved spacetime can be used as framework in which both the Dirac and the Einstein equations can be obtained. These equations and their coupling follow from the variational principle applied to a Lagrangian constructed from natural geometric invariants. We also briefly indicate how other forces can potentially be incorporated within this geometric framework.
In this paper I argue -- pace J. L. Schellenberg -- that it remains the case for Kierkegaard that infinite striving, properly understood, is essential to the relationship with God, who remains the Infinite Subject, one necessarily hidden for defensible logical, ontological, and existential reasons. Thus Kierkegaard’s arguments for the hiddenness of God as a logically required ingredient in the relationship that human beings are called to undertake with God can withstand Schellenberg’s criticisms.
ABSTRACT This article engages Frater Taciturnus’s ‘Letter to the Reader’ to argue for a religious aesthetics in Kierkegaard. This religious aesthetics is designed to purify the passions and help the believer ‘see’ the religious ideal, but also to confront the aesthetic spectator with the religious reality of her own situation. My claim for this revised reading of religious poetics in Kierkegaard derives from Taciturnus’s view of a superior form of religious ideality that comes ‘after actuality’. This ideality is not an (...) envisioned ideal that is untested by actuality and thus ‘illusory’ but an ideal that is graspable only after the self has acknowledged the actuality of their sinful condition, rather than any specific actual sin. To appreciate this form of ideality, Frater Taciturnus repeatedly resorts to visual metaphors and the power of imagination, suggesting that the religious ideal must be ‘seen’ with a sort of synoptic vision capable of looking past both comedy and tragedy and resulting in the purification of our typical affective responses to aesthetic objects. Seeing in this way, the individual imaginatively engages in religious aesthetics and grasps the religious ideality by affirming the actuality of their own sinfulness and receiving forgiveness for that sinfulness. (shrink)
This paper questions the nature and existence of the ego and I from a Western and Eastern viewpoint, which has been a question for 2,500 years when the Buddha rejected the Brahman idea of ātman. The answer for an ego depends partly on the state of consciousness; the existence of the Western objectifying ego is undeniable in ordinary consciousness, but not in extraordinary consciousness with no objectifying. The subtle question remains about the existence of an I that is distinct from (...) the ego and that is best represented by most meditative or contemplative states. Here a subjectified, witnessing, consciousness-maintaining I still seems to exist. This may be called the "High-I," which appears to provide for all states of consciousness a constancy and awareness not provided by the ego. This finding has implications for psychology and religion as well as philosophy. (shrink)
This article offers speculative analyses on embodiment and corporeality, with particular reference made to drag kinging as an embodied performance of female masculinity to both initiate and highlight these. In particular I explore and employ Karen Barad's post-humanist elaboration of performativity, and Warwick and Cavallaro's provocative discussions on the dress/body relationship to do this. This lends itself to thinking and theorizing corporeality and the socially produced body in terms not reducible to easy dualisms; for example, material/immaterial, mind/body and nature/culture divides. (...) By maintaining a ‘tension’ between such dualisms, I hope to highlight, through personal drag king narratives and my own speculative writing, that drag kinging is much more than just a ‘performance’, but is in fact a powerful corporeal experience that I have come to term ‘drag king embodiment’. (shrink)