• Ibn Sina
    3
    What are the tenets of Kierkegaard's philosophy? How can he improve our lives?
  • Amity
    946
    I found this thread after searching for further views on Kierkegaard.
    I guess the original poster is no longer here...but it is still a worthwhile question to consider.

    This is part of my preparation for reading K's Concept of Anxiety. A book proposed by Valentinus here:
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/5676/next-book-for-reading/p1
    A useful starter thread which inspired thoughts on how best to read a philosophy book.
    Thanks to Wallows.

    To find the joy of the writer - Valentinus and others advise to read the book straight without secondary material which can 'fail to represent a joy Kierkegaard takes in representing his own experience.'

    Valentinus continues:
    'Some writers ask you to find them in your attempts to understand what is being said. Others confront you and call upon you to do stuff. Kierkegaard is writing in the second way.'

    ----------

    My purpose is not to start a book discussion, more a conversation which might lead to an improved understanding of any therapeutic value.
    I am not yet convinced of this, but then again I haven't read him. I am sure others have.

    So, what do you think ?

    How can he improve our lives?Ibn Sina

    According to Valentinus, the book 'explores the psychology of sin while looking at the limits of such an endeavor. On the way, he makes observations about adolescence and child rearing that are interesting in themselves, even if the reader rejects many of his premises.'

    In addition, Valentinus suggests that 'Kierkegaard is mostly interested in pushing people (including himself) to accept a responsibility for themselves that goes well beyond any narrative they or bystanders could produce. There are only clues or excuses. Explanations can only serve one purpose or the other. No one gets out alive...

    ...So, in thinking about contrasting points of view, there are a number of theorists of developmental psychology that look hard at what he observed.'

    I would be interested to hear more, if anyone else has a similar, or opposite, informed view then I would be glad to hear it.
    When I say 'informed', I mean views gleaned from reading the actual writings of Kierkegaard.
    To support any views, it would be helpful to reference and provide quotes.

    As someone else said:
    'Consulting the secondary literature can be helpful, but it can also be misleading, especially in cases like this where the text is being used as authoritative.'

    Also helpful would be any knowledge, or criticism, of any theorists of developmental psychology who might have used his work to develop therapeutic practice ? *

    *
    from:
    https://academyofideas.com/2018/02/soren-kierkegaard-psychology-anxiety/

    '...since possibility and freedom are only possible with anxiety present, we would be wise to heed Kierkegaard’s advice, and learn to be anxious in the right way. Or as the psychologist James Hollis explains:

    “Thus we are forced into a difficult choice: anxiety or depression. If we move forward, as our soul insists, we may be flooded with anxiety. If we do not move forward, we will suffer the depression, the pressing down of the soul’s purpose. In such a difficult choice one must choose anxiety, for anxiety is at least the path of personal growth; depression is a stagnation and defeat of life.” (James Hollis, Swamplands of the Soul )'
  • Wayfarer
    9.3k
    Newly published book on Kierkegaard here.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    The only "improvement" I expect from any philosophy is a more accurate view of what's the case.
  • Amity
    946
    The only "improvement" I expect from any philosophy is a more accurate view of what's the case.Terrapin Station

    Yes. I think you need to know what is the case before any progress can be made.
    A careful assessment is the base-line.
    This can formed from both a subjective ( feelings, tastes and opinions/thoughts ) and objective perspective ( impartial, not influenced by beliefs but on fact and observation ). The difficulties lie in the accuracy of the perceptions.

    Amongst other things, I am looking to understand how Kierkegaard's writings can be thought of as being therapeutic, as a way to improve self.
  • Amity
    946
    Newly published book on Kierkegaard here.Wayfarer

    Kierkegaard's Theological Sociology
    Prophetic Fire for the Present Age

    Hmmmm.
    My current impression:
    I think his writing appeals more to believers, people of faith. I would need to use the Principle of Charity to the nth degree.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k


    The point is that I'm looking at philosophy to try to "improve myself." In my view philosophy has nothing whatsoever to do with that . . . at least not aside from increasing knowledge.
  • Amity
    946
    The point is that I'm looking at philosophy to try to "improve myself." In my view philosophy has nothing whatsoever to do with that . . . at least not aside from increasing knowledge.Terrapin Station

    You mean you're not looking at philosophy for that purpose.
    Fair enough.
    So, what kind of knowledge are you looking to increase, and to what end ?
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    So, what kind of knowledge are you looking to increase, and to what end ?Amity

    I'm curious about what the world is like factually.
  • Amity
    946
    I'm curious about what the world is like factually.Terrapin Station
    And philosophy helps with this how ?
    I realise we are getting away from particular topic of Kierkegaard but this interests me...up to a point.
  • Terrapin Station
    13.8k
    And philosophy helps with this how ?Amity

    It's the whole nut of what philosophy is. What were you thinking philosophy is?
  • Amity
    946
    It's the whole nut of what philosophy is. What were you thinking philosophy is?Terrapin Station

    Curiosity and looking for increased knowledge about the facts of the world is fine. But it is too broad with regards to this particular topic I wish to follow.
    So, here it is about a certain aspect of humanity, i.e. anxiety, related to ideas and beliefs of Kierkegaard.

    Thanks for input.
    .
  • matt
    137
    Absurdity of faith
    Truth is subjective
    Leap of faith

    what comes to mind for me
  • Wallows
    10.1k
    As @Amity has said, there is considerable therapeutic value to be found in Kierkegaard's work. Although, the determination of the who, what, when and so on of therapy is not an individual process, and according to Kierkegaard's philosophy comes through the everlasting grace of God.

    His views contrive greatly with modern day postmodernist thought, I think, so there is that issue to deal with in the present day and time.
  • Amity
    946
    Absurdity of faith
    Truth is subjective
    Leap of faith

    what comes to mind for me
    matt

    Interesting trio of tenets which spring to your mind.

    Earlier I suggested that it would be helpful to have references or quotes to support any views.
    However, I realise that when we read and then been filled with enthusiasm, then this can simply be absorbed. Like a sponge we can take up inspirationsl ideas as beliefs to practise or be a part of everyday life. And we don't necessarily remember where or when...we don't all take notes.

    So, having looked up 'trio of tenets' ( just for fun), I found this:

    ----------

    https://owlcation.com/humanities/Kierkegaard

    3 key concepts:about how a person could lead their lives.

    1. Aesthetic
    2. Ethical
    3. Religious

    "The Knight of Faith” is perhaps the most discussed concept in Kierkegaard’s philosophy. It is best expressed in his book Fear and Trembling...
    ...This idea of Kierkegaard’s seems to be a fundamentally radical idea and a fundamentally practical idea all at the same time. He is urging readers away from “hard agnosticism” which would probably ultimately lead to a life in the Aesthetic Sphere and encouraging them to choose either dedication to God or the life of a rational non-believer in the Ethical Sphere. While Kierkegaard believes that the choice to follow God is the better one, he knows he has no real proof of this claim. The individual most make the choice while never knowing that he had chosen the right one.'

    ----------

    So, given your 3 tenets, do you think they can answer the second question as posed in OP:

    'How can he improve our lives ?'
  • Amity
    946
    As Amity has said, there is considerable therapeutic value to be found in Kierkegaard's work. Although, the determination of the who, what, when and so on of therapy is not an individual process, and according to Kierkegaard's philosophy comes through the everlasting grace of God.Wallows

    To clarify, I have not made this strong claim. I could only do this, after I have read K. This is the point of my current project as explained above.

    Amongst other things, I am looking to understand how Kierkegaard's writings can be thought of as being therapeutic, as a way to improve self.Amity

    My purpose is... [ to have ]... a conversation which might lead to an improved understanding of any therapeutic value.
    I am not yet convinced of this, but then again I haven't read him. I am sure others have.
    Amity

    Is this claim, bolded above, one you would make yourself ?

    If so, can you say what have you read or absorbed that might support it ?

    Re : ' the determination of the who, what, when and so on of therapy is not an individual process, and according to Kierkegaard's philosophy comes through the everlasting grace of God.'

    I think the excellent questions of 'who, what, where, who, when and how' provide a good basis for both general enquiry and also as a mind mapping tool for self development.
    For example, see: Terrence Melz article 'The 5 W's of Life' ( and an H ) on Selfgrowth.com.
  • Amity
    946
    Another question. Or 2 or 3.

    Even if we assume that anyone sees therapeutic value in philosophy, why would we even begin to point them in the direction of K ? Can we really say that K was working toward that end ?
    Why would he, if the emphasis is on faith, whatever that means for K ?
  • Wallows
    10.1k
    Is this claim, bolded above, one you would make yourself ?Amity

    Depends on the philosopher. Some find solace in Christianity and eternal salvation. I'm not much of a religious person, so I digress.

    If so, can you say what have you read or absorbed that might support it ?Amity

    As a Tractarian, I suppose the gist of the issue is finding one's place in a scary world. So, the all-important Who, What, When, Where, and How, is pertinent to the discussion. Ya?

    I think the excellent questions of 'who, what, where, who, when and how' provide a good basis for both general enquiry and also as a mind mapping tool for self development.Amity

    Yes...
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    Amongst other things, I am looking to understand how Kierkegaard's writings can be thought of as being therapeutic, as a way to improve self.
    — Amity

    My purpose is... [ to have ]... a conversation which might lead to an improved understanding of any therapeutic value.
    I am not yet convinced of this, but then again I haven't read him. I am sure others have.
    Amity

    If you haven't read him then you need to begin to do so. You will see the charge he puts on you as an existing subject. His perspective is, in many ways, insurmountable.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    @Amity

    Btw...probably the most underrated philosopher of all time, maybe after Diogenes.
  • Amity
    946
    If you haven't read him then you need to begin to do so. You will see the charge he puts on you as an existing subject. His perspective is, in many ways, insurmountable.Merkwurdichliebe

    I will be starting on 'The Concept of Anxiety' soon.
    I will generously share any difficulties or questions I may have with others.
    Be prepared to be so used :wink:

    In the meantime, I would be interested to hear your views on the questions posed in the OP.
    Also, what do you see as his perspective and why would it be insurmountable ?

    probably the most underrated philosopher of all time, maybe after Diogenes.Merkwurdichliebe

    Why do you think that is the case ? I am interested because I have a theory that many here have Wittgenstein or Nietzsche as their favourite. Kierkegaard is barely mentioned. I think due to the religious aspect.

    I am not entirely thrilled at the the subtitle ' A Simple Psychologically Orientated Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin'.
    However, it still intrigues me...

    Appreciate your input.
  • Amity
    946
    Depends on the philosopherWallows

    Well, here we are talking about Kierkegaard. The question concerned your misreading or misrepresentation of my words as a strong claim:

    As Amity has said, there is considerable therapeutic value to be found in Kierkegaard's work.Wallows

    You seemed to be in agreement with this.

    So I asked,
    If so, can you say what have you read or absorbed that might support it ?Amity

    I meant anything you have found in Kierkegaard's work where you have found therapeutic value, considerable or otherwise. [ edited ]
    This would be a minimal requirement to support such a claim.
    Perhaps this is asking too much.
  • Wallows
    10.1k
    I meant anything you have read by Kierkegaard in relation to therapeutic value.
    This would be a minimal requirement to support such a claim.
    Perhaps this is asking too much.
    Amity

    Yes, I suppose I haven't read enough Kierkegaard. My apologies.
  • Amity
    946
    Yes, I suppose I haven't read enough Kierkegaard. My apologies.Wallows

    Thanks, I like to be clear- all the better to see another's perspective. I find this interesting.
    What have you read so far ?
    Will you be reading ' The Concept of Anxiety ' ?

    [ edited to add ]
    Even if you haven't read enough Kierkegaard to support that strong claim, would I be right in saying that you think reading K might offer some therapeutic value ?

    BTW, no need to apologise if it's about not reading enough of K. Who has ?
    However, I appreciate an apology regarding misreading or misrepresentation - only if it is followed by a change. Do not let it happen again or I will have your head :100: :party: :naughty: :halo:
  • Amity
    946
    Seeking advice on approach to reading Kierkegaard if one has no religious beliefs.
    Can we still find value, or wisdom, as in e.g. the Serenity Prayer by bracketing out the 'God' word ?

    [God ] grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

    We can see the benefit of the advice without any reliance on a God figure.

    Or would we still want to think of what it means to have a certain kind of faith ?

    The abstract below tells us about K's insights into anxiety and despair which have influenced certain psychotherapists with some ignoring the 'religious stuff'.

    'What can therapists learn from Kierkegaard ?'
    - Lippitt, John

    The author argues against this ignoring.
    The final sentence might appeal to those reflecting on contentment and self-acceptance.

    https://uhra.herts.ac.uk/handle/2299/18081

    'Why should therapists read Søren Kierkegaard? In our largely secular age, in which the latest generation of religion’s “cultured despisers” often seem to speak for the cultural mainstream, what has psychotherapy to learn from an unorthodox nineteenth century Lutheran with an uncompromising view of the importance of a proper “God-relationship”?

    There can be no denying the influence of Kierkegaard on important psychotherapeutic figures as diverse as Ludwig Binswanger, Rollo May, Carl Rogers and Ernest Becker. His insightful diagnoses of anxiety and despair have been a significant influence on existential psychotherapy. As one therapist recently told me, Kierkegaard is a source of great insight provided we “ignore the religious stuff”.

    Yet therapists who insist on taking their Kierkegaard safely secularised are missing a trick. In this article, I shall argue that it is in some of his less well-known, explicitly “religious” writings, that Kierkegaard offers some of his most important insights for therapeutic practice. I have argued elsewhere (in my Kierkegaard and the Problem of Self-Love) that Kierkegaard offers a rich conception of “proper self-love” that I believe has important implications for therapy.

    Central to this account is the application to ourselves of the trust, hope and forgiveness that are central to his accounts of love of God and neighbour. But here I shall concentrate primarily on a perhaps surprising theme from this famous diagnostician of anxiety and despair: what the reflections on “the lilies and the birds” in Kierkegaard’s Upbuilding Discourses can teach us about contentment and self-acceptance and their relation to gratitude and patience.'
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    In the meantime, I would be interested to hear your views on the questions posed in the OP.
    Also, what do you see as his perspective and why would it be insurmountable ?
    Amity

    One of my favorite quotes from K is: "it is the misfortune of our age to have acquired too much
    knowledge and to have forgotten what it is to exist."

    Historically, K's philosophy represents the cry of the individual against collectivism and speculative system building, particularly as it was presented in Hegelianism.

    For K, 'existence' is finality, it is never reducible to an idea. Moreover, It is the subject that does the actual existing. K's entire philosophy seeks to focus his reader from existence as an abstraction, and back into himself as the existing subject - what he calls inwardness.

    He is known for using pseudonymous authorship to indirectly communicate the paradoxical nature of the existing subject. And of course, he is most well known for the stages of life: aesthetic/ethical/religious (as we all know).

    By placing all importance on the decisiveness of the existing subject, he calls on the reader to realize, to become, himself as a unique individual. In this sense, K's philosophy is insurmountable because to reject it essentially amounts to a denial of one's own existence. While it is reasonable to argue that other subjects have no existence, to deny one's own existence as subject seems to be a crucial error.
  • Wallows
    10.1k
    K's entire philosophy seeks to focus his reader from existence as an abstraction, and back into himself as the existing subject - what he calls inwardness.Merkwurdichliebe

    OK, now I can see what he means to address (by proxy) anxiety, dread, sin, and other labile emotions through explication of this concept of inwardness. Every other religion tends to address the issue through a pseudo-positive affirmation of the existence of God in a collective and organized manner. His method seems to be inverted. Do you agree with this assessment?
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    His method seems to be inverted. Do you agree with this assessment?Wallows

    Absolutely. The subject is the dialectical middle term. It is the negative, and to speak about it directly, positively, is a negation.
  • Wallows
    10.1k
    Absolutely. The subject is dialectical middle term. It is the negative, and to speak about it directly, positively, is a negation.Merkwurdichliebe

    I can't but feel as though Kierkegaard is drawing out the subject/object divide here between God and the individual. In of itself, this can cause anxiety by highlighting our distance from God, as if he/she/it didn't exist in everything around us including ourselves, which are modeled in the image of God him/her/itself. It's almost as if he's denying the existence of the Holy Spirit.
  • Merkwurdichliebe
    1.3k
    I can't but feel as though Kierkegaard is drawing out the subject/object divide here between God and the individual. In of itself, this can cause anxiety by highlighting our distance from God, as if he/she/it didn't exist in everything around us including ourselves, which are modeled in the image of God him/her/itself. It's almost as if he's denying the existence of the Holy Spirit.Wallows

    Kierkegaard says that "God is subject". And he also says that objective or direct evidence of God is pagan idolatry. He does draw out the divide dialectically, to show that the more objective one is, the farther they are from God, that is why he torches modern speculation.

    He does not cause the anxiety, but points to the cause of it - viz. existing sin (a separation from self, and self from God), and he seeks to intensify the reader's awareness of his own anxiety and sin. The greater the intensity of one's anxiety, the deeper one's inwardness, and the closer one is moving toward faith.
  • Valentinus
    663


    In the language used in the Philosophical Fragments, the Teacher changes the condition of the student. This is presented as the alternative to Socrates appealing to Recollection as why one can learn what is true.

    So, if the way to understanding is dependent upon changing because the quality that makes it possible is outside of oneself, that agency that can change a person better be around or the person is up the proverbial creek without a paddle.
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