Kierkegaard Investigations Revision

Who was Soren Kierkegaard?
Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a well known Danish philosopher who wrote in the Danish 'Golden Age' of intellect and art. Fathered by a devout Lutheran who valued order above other values, he was born into a time where the church controlled the classes.
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What happened personally to Kierkegaard during his early life?
Kierkegaard lived a life of personal suffering, and was often punished by his father for his sins. Due to this, he lost five of his six siblings by the time he was 21.
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How does early Kierkegaard link with the Church and the Hegelian System?
Although baptized at birth, he was to become one of the 19th centuries most influential rebels against the church, rejecting the Hegelian system which the church still largely followed at this time.
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What was the Hegelian System?
It argued that religion was a result of logical reasoning, and emphasized abstract metaphysical ideas above the individual.
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How did Kierkegaard come to counter the Hegelian system?
He countered that, as the individual was created in the image of God, the individual was therefore more important than the species as a whole.
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What is Existentialism?
Existentialism focused on being individual- 'Every man is born as many men and dies as a single one' (Heidegger). It suggests that throughout out lives we strive to be individual, and it was based in the here and now, focusing on total freedom.
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How was Kierkegaard an Existentialist?
He believed that faith starts where reasoning finished, and that a 'leap of faith' was needed to overcome the paradoxes caused by the Christian Church.
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Who was Hegel?
Hegel was a German philosopher who was greatly influenced by Kant and his distinctions between 'a priori' and 'a posteriori' propositions.
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What did Hegel believe with regards to reason?
He believed that reason is what we need in all aspects of life, including religion- 'Reason governs the world... reaches its own perfection in an all through this existence'. This acceptance by the church forced them to focus more on the 'rituals'.
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What was Hegel's dialectics?
There is a thesis (the door is blue), against which an antithesis argues (the door is green). The synthesis synthesizes the best of both (the door is lilac or the door is colorful). This is Hegel's Dialectics.
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What is Kierkegaard's main book, and what is the background to it?
'Fear and Trembling', written under the pseudonym of 'Johannes De Silentio', or 'The Knight of Faith' due to him previously receiving negative feedback, and wanting wide circulation of his new text.
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What are Kierkegaard's 'Levels/Spheres of faith'?
He described three spheres into which every one of us can be categorised. They were key to understanding why some people are drawn to religion whilst others are not.
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What is Kierkegaard's first level/sphere of faith?
The Aesthete, with an appreciation for beauty, striving for happiness but never fully satisfied. This is where most of humanity lies.
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What is Kierkegaard's second level/sphere of faith?
The Ethical, characterised by a sense of right and wrong, living to help others and consequentially having a far more rewarding sense of happiness. They are still not satisfied, as they have an awareness to act outside themselves whilst not know why.
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What is Kierkegaard's third level/sphere of faith?
The Religious, leading a moral and aesthetic life whilst attributing these factors to God. The 'Ethical' must go through a 'leap of faith' in order to become religious and to attribute these factors to the transcendent being of God.
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What did Kierkegaard further claim about the Religious?
That they 'die to the world'. They aim to transcend some earthly problems, and give up their lives for God whilst continuing to better themselves and get to salvation. He saw that this was reflective of the paradoxes of the Christian church.
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What is an example of a paradox relating to the Christian Church?
As Kierkegaard claims it is a flawed religion of paradoxes, the biggest one present is the transcendent God being embodied in the imminent human form of Jesus.
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What does G.E.Lessing claim about Kierkegaard's views surrounding religious beliefs and Christian paradoxes?
He agreed that empirical truths are a different kind of fact to those of religious belief, supporting the view that is cannot be proved by reasoning. However, the contradictory core Christian beliefs, such as the trinity, are a barrier to faith.
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What Biblical story does Kierkegaard use to illustrate his 'levels/spheres of faith'? What does it entail?
He uses the story of Abraham,in its fourth variation, who is told by God to sacrifice/kill his son Isaac. It shows Abraham believes in God, living in the Religious sphere, rejecting the 'Ethical' and dismissing the precept of 'Thou shalt not murder'.
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What does Kierkegaard claim about truth for the Scriptures?
He rejects all ideas of scientific objectivity, claiming that even if the most persuasive evidence for the truth of the scriptures were available, it would not alter personal belief, similarly for scientists.
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What is Kierkegaard's 'Leap of Faith'?
He dismisses all scientific proofs and bodies of objective doctrine, an argues that belief comes from a deep and personal commitment to religion, and a leap of faith is required on an individual level.
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What is a quote regarding the 'leap of faith' from Kierkegaard's 'Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments'?
'Faith does not result simply from a scientific enquiry... [but from] the infinite personal interestedness in passion which is the condition of faith.' - Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments
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Why did Hegel counter Kierkegaard's work?
Although much of his philosophising came before that of Kierkegaard’s, Hegel believed that reason is what we need in all aspects of life- ‘Reason governs the world… reaches its own perfection in and all through this existence’.
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What criticism for Kierkegaard can be found in Sartre's work?
He believed that life was meaningless as there is no God: ‘You are—your life, and nothing else.’ Sartre criticised his use of Abraham, and believed that the bible portrayed Abraham to have no hesitation and perhaps he wanted to kill out of anguish?
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In what ways does Heidegger provide support for Kierkegaard?
He claims that by saying we are inclined to drift along with the crowds reduces our ability to individual and find truth, similar to how Kierkegaard believes in being individual. Heidegger however rejects religion on all grounds.
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What is Levinas' opinion regarding Kierkegaard's 'leap of faith' and his work surrounding it?
He criticised the need for a 'leap of faith' as ethical values should be upheld above faith to ensure atrocities such as the murder of Isaac wouldn't committed. If he was told to kill Isaac by God, then the angelic command wouldn't have stopped it.
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Who is Jaspers?
He was a 20th Century philosopher. He was a religious man (although not in the traditional sense), and combined much of Kierkegaard's work with that of Sartre's Atheistic prospective to create a modern form of existentialism.
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How does Jaspers support Kierkegaard?
Rejecting the formality and complex nature of organised religion and recognising that his own with lacked any basic logic, he felt that Kierkegaard's 'leap of faith' represented a free choice to believe in an existence beyond that of science.
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How does Anselm and Pascal support the important nature of faith?
The stress on the important nature of faith links with scholars within the tradition of religious thought such as Anselm, who coined the slogan ‘I believe in order to understand’ and Pascal who denied proof of faith from rationality.
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How does Schleiermacher defend Kierkegaard against Hegel?
He believed that religion was not befit or knowledge, but a reliance on God.
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How can we link Joseph Fletcher into Kierkegaard's work?
Fletcher largely agreed with Kierkegaard’s ‘leap of faith’, saying that no one can be taught love, and that they must make the final leap themselves, not through evidence, but through experience. Much of these can be applied to Kierkegaard's work.
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Why have Kierkegaard's views been attractive to many people?
Kierkegaard’s ideas have received many mixed critiques over time, but they have been attractive to many since they talk of freedom and individuality above society, and allows us all to make independent choices that will define our existence.
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Card 2


What happened personally to Kierkegaard during his early life?


Kierkegaard lived a life of personal suffering, and was often punished by his father for his sins. Due to this, he lost five of his six siblings by the time he was 21.

Card 3


How does early Kierkegaard link with the Church and the Hegelian System?


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Card 4


What was the Hegelian System?


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Card 5


How did Kierkegaard come to counter the Hegelian system?


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