Essay On Concluding Unscientific Postscript By Soren Kiierkegaard

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The inherent complexity of Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophical writing leaves much room for interpretive issues regarding its content. For example, one of the most common criticisms of his work in Concluding Unscientific Postscript is the interpretation that, fundamentally, Kierkegaard is an irrationalist. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript, he argues that objective truth may only be grasped and appropriated subjectively, focusing specifically on the relationship between man and God in Christianity. Critics- noting Kierkegaard’s emphasis on the foundational paradox within Christianity- assert that Kierkegaard denies that that reality operates according to objective, rational principles. For many, this signifies an apparent destruction of reason in favor of arbitrary, irrationalist faith. However, looking specifically to Concluding Unscientific Postscript, I will argue that Kierkegaard never denies that truth is rational but instead argues that as finite beings, humans lack the capacity to perceive eternal truth. Thus, if Kierkegaard may be considered an irrationalist at all, it is an epistemological claim rather than an ontological one.
To truly be considered an irrationalist, Kierkegaard must argue against reason either as a standard, a faculty, or both. He must either deny that rational standards apply to truth or think that the faculty inherently cannot access all truth. Those who read Kierkegaard as an irrationalist in the strongest sense believe he argues that reason cannot function as an adequate standard of truth in general. If Kierkegaard argues purely against reason as a human faculty, however, then the failure of reason lies not in reason itself but in the ability of finite beings. Upon first reading of Concluding Uns...

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...egelians, he offers a subjective approach to essential truth that, by virtue of the absurd, grants an individual a passionate relationship with Christ rather than simply a dogmatic adherence to Christian doctrine. His points are incredibly helpful in outlining what it means to be a Christian within an existentialist framework. Kierkegaard never denies that objective truth exits, but in opposition to his predecessors, he simply argues that objective truth must always be appropriated by the individual and that traditional means of knowledge cannot resolve the doubt inherent between finite beings and God. Though the validity of Kierkegaard’s argument itself may be debated, it does not represent an irrationalist position on any sort of fundamental ontology but rather an epistemological view that the human faculty of reason may never truly grasp a relationship with God.
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