This book challenges the widespread view of Kierkegaard’s idiosyncratic and predominantly religious position on mimesis. -/- Taking mimesis as a crucial conceptual point of reference in reading Kierkegaard, this book offers a nuanced understanding of the relation between aesthetics and religion in his thought. Kaftanski shows how Kierkegaard's dialectical-existential reading of mimesis interlaces aesthetic and religious themes, including the familiar core concepts of imitation, repetition, and admiration as well as the newly arisen notions of affectivity, contagion, and crowd behavior. Kierkegaard’s (...) enduring relevance to the malaises of our own day is firmly established by his classic concern for the meaning of human life informed by reflective meditation on the mimeticorigins of the contemporary age. -/- Kierkegaard, Mimesis, and Modernity will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working on Kierkegaard, Continental philosophy, the history of aesthetics, and critical and religious studies. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
This essay demonstrates the prominence of imitation in Kierkegaard’s ethics. I move beyond his idea of authentic existence modeled on Christ and explore the secular dimension of Kierkegaard’s insights about human nature and imitation. I start with presenting imitation as key to understanding the ethical dimension of the relationship between the universal and individual aspects of the human self in Kierkegaard. I then show that Kierkegaard’s moral concepts of “primitivity” and “comparison” are a response to his sociological and psychological observations (...) about imitation from an ethical point of view. In the final section of this paper, I briefly engage Friedrich Schleiermacher’s “ethics of individuality” and Gabriel Tarde’s “laws of imitation” to explore Kierkegaard’s consideration of ethics and imitation as situated within the context of a broader conversation on imitation. (shrink)
Through an analysis of Kierkegaard’s and Dostoevsky’s approaches to the theme of the death of Christ – one of the major leitmotifs in the debate of their contemporaries conveyed through theological and philosophical considerations, but also expressed in novels and in art – I show how the thinkers comprehended and articulated in their works the religious challenges awaiting the modern man.
This article engages the considerations of imagination in Kierkegaard and Ricoeur to argue for a moral dimension of the imagination and its objects. Imaginary objects are taken to be mental representations in images and narratives of people or courses of action that are not real in the sense that they are not actual, or have not yet happened. Three claims are made in the article. First, by drawing on the category of possibility, a conceptual distinction is established between imagination and (...) fantasy, I claim that imagination has a moral dimension because it is engaged in considering real-life possibilities. Second, drawing on Kierkegaard and Ricoeur, it is argued that mental representations of selfhood in imagination have a moral dimension because they essentially allow people to understand the development of agency in human selfhood by means of representations of would-be selves and narrative figurations of the self. Third, mental representations of human selves have a moral dimension because they form important points of reference for moral orientations in the field of human praxis. (shrink)
By spelling out the affective dimension of admiration, this paper challenges the view of admiration as a trustworthy means of detecting morally desirable qualities in exemplars. Such a view of admiration, foundational for the current debate on exemplars in moral education, holds that admiration is a self-motivating emotion essentially oriented toward the good and the excellent. I demonstrate that this view ignores the affective aspects of admiration explored widely in the history of philosophy on which the debate on moral exemplars (...) substantially draws. Focusing on Spinoza, Smith, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, I bring to light their largely skeptical views of the moral value of admiration. These thinkers indicate that admiration can be influenced by, and is often conflated with, other emotions, and can arise in us through behavioral mimicry; moreover, admiration is often oriented toward the mediocre and corrupt, is contagious, self-referential, collective, and has limited motivational power. Their remarks on the affective dimension of admiration call into question admiration’s applicability and usefulness in moral exemplarity. (shrink)
This paper challenges the general approach to Kierkegaard ’ s engagement with imitation, which privileges a strictly religious reading. Heretofore imitation has been apprehended as a coherent concept shaped within the context of imitatio Christi in the devotio moderna. I locate Kierkegaard ’ s writings in the broader context of mimesis. Analysing particular mimetic structures woven into the text, I show that a plurality of imitative models that are different fromChrist occurs therein. Addressing the distinction between the religious and the (...) aesthetic in Kierkegaard, I inquire into the status of these imitative models. Referring to the term “ Mellembestemmelserne ” and “ ekphrasis ”— the rhetorical de- vice of aesthetics — I show that the other models of imitation exhibit supportive roles to the highest type of prototype (Christ) and therefore question the solely religious rendering of mimesis and the aesthetic confines of Kierkegaard ’ s concept of aesthetics. (shrink)
This essay discusses the role of mimesis in bringing about the images of the crucified Christ, the self, and the martyr as overlooked parts of Kierkegaard!s pseudonymous texts. With respect to mimesis I focus on imitation, representation and resemblance.3 With regard to Kierkegaard!s “Does a Human Being Have the Right to Let Himself Be Put to Death for the Truth?” I argue that its author H.H. introduces the mimetic concept of self and its textual process of formation. I claim that (...) H.H.'s concept of martyr is deeply mimetic and represents Kierkegaard's own vision of himself. In my exposition I employ Rene Girard's theory of “mimetic desire” and Paul Ricoeur's concept of “mimetic arc.”. (shrink)