>> Go to Current Issue

Res Philosophica

Volume 90
Kierkegaard on Rationality

Already a subscriber? - Login here
Not yet a subscriber? - Subscribe here

Displaying: 1-20 of 34 documents

winner of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
1. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Eleanor Helms The Objectivity of Faith: Kierkegaard's Critique of Fideism
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Perhaps Kierkegaard’s most notorious—though pseudonymous—claim is that truth is subjectivity. This claim is commonly elaborated to mean that faith is a “how” (an attitude or practice of believing) and not a “what” (a certain objective content). I show through a discussion of examples taken from throughout Kierkegaard’s writings that Kierkegaard accepts a basic insight of Kant’s philosophy: each experience implicitly includes an underlying unity—the object—that does not itself appear. Both Kant and Kierkegaard emphasize the importance of a “continuity of impressions,” which gives experience its unified structure beyond changing superficial appearances. I show that Kierkegaardian faith requires an object in just this Kantian sense: the object of faith (the Incarnation) does not directly appear but is implicitly present in all experience. For Kant, this type of object is not “beyond” experience but is posited by reason as the unity of experience as a whole. In this respect at least, Kierkegaard’s account of faith shows similarities not just with Kant’s practical philosophy (as suggested by C. Stephen Evans) but with his metaphysics as well.
runner up of the 2013 res philosophica essay prize
2. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Anna Strelis The Intimacy between Reason and Emotion: Kierkegaard's "Simultaneity of Factors"
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
This paper elucidates Kierkegaard’s notion of the “simultaneity of factors” in order to reveal the intimate connection between reason and emotion. I begin with the romantic vision of aesthetic education as embodied in Friedrich Schiller, which Kierkegaard himself inherited, though in a critical and nuanced manner. Next, I explore Kierkegaard’s pointed critique of the romantics, namely through his conviction that they had misrepresented the role of imagination to the detriment of harmony in the individual. Finally, I present Kierkegaard’s positive view of the simultaneity of factors, emphasizing his improvement on the romantics through the central category of “inwardness.” Throughout, I underline that Kierkegaard gave higher status neither to emotion nor reason, taking them as complimentary aspects of human existence and thereby inviting their reunion in the history of philosophy.
3. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective: Integrating Existence into Idealism
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be one of the most vocal critics of German idealism. The present paper analyzes the philosophical similarity between Friedrich Schelling’s early idealistic work and Kierkegaard’s existential writings, endeavoring to display Schelling’s epic 1809 publication Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom as a possible forerunner to Kierkegaard. This juxtaposition reveals concrete similarity that supports the thesis that Schelling’s work could have been of great inspirational value for Kierkegaard, especially Kierkegaard’s core concepts such as freedom, morality and God. However, Schelling’s early work is primarily appreciated as a philosophy of nature (metaphysics), and therefore fundamentally different from Kierkegaard’s theistic-psychological writings. The present paper tentatively opposes this distinction, concluding that if Schelling really is a forerunner to Kierkegaard, then we ought to appreciate Kierkegaard’s writings as conveying more than a theological message. The conclusion suggests that Kierkegaard’s writings should be interpreted in a broader philosophical context, closer to the metaphysical idealism he is often assumed to resist.
4. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jennifer Ryan Lockhart Kierkegaard's Indirect Communication of Kant's Existential Moment
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
This paper distinguishes between two rationalist readings of Either/Or: (1) the Rational Argument Interpretation, according to which the aim of the book is ultimately to offer a rational argument in favor of living ethically, and (2) the Rational Presupposition Interpretation, according to which the pseudonymous authors presuppose that it is rational to live ethically. The paper argues in favor of (2). In particular, it argues that the fundamental presuppositions of Either/Or are those of Kant’s moral philosophy and rational religion. At the heart of Kant’s arguments for the practical postulates lies an “existential moment”: Kant’s practical arguments are subjectively valid in virtue of the personal decision of the individual to do his duty. According to the Rational Presupposition Interpretation advanced here, Either/Or is best understood as an attempt to communicate indirectly and to confront the reader with the significance of personal choice for inhabiting a hopeful moral life-view.
5. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Walter Wietzke Practical Reason and the Imagination
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
I argue that Kierkegaard’s work is relevant to an issue currently being debated within Anglo-American ethical theory. Kierkegaard’s account of the transition between existence spheres maps onto discussions in the contemporary field that concern how an agent can acquire motivations for new normative obligations. Following Kierkegaard’s work, a deeper understanding of the conditions behind a transition between existence spheres suggests that an individual’s set of motivations can be revised to direct the individual towards new and different ends. From the contemporary perspective, this helps explain how agents can be led to appreciate different normative obligations (i.e., existence spheres) based on the self-conscious understanding they have of their own interests. To guide this analysis I discuss Jamie Ferreira’s work on the imagination and explain how it can illuminate Kierkegaard’s contribution to current debates in ethical theory.
6. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Robert Wyllie Kierkegaard's Eyes of Faith: The Paradoxical Voluntarism of Climacus's "Philosophical Fragments"
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Scholarly debate about Kierkegaard’s fideism focuses upon whether his voluntarism—the doctrine that religious faith can be simply willed—is practicable or credible. This paper proposes that a close reading of Philosophical Fragments and The Concept of Anxiety (1844) reveals that there is a role for both the will and the intellect in Kierkegaard’s concept of faith. Kierkegaard arrives at a compatibilism that emphasizes the roles of both the intellect and the will. The intellect perceives a “moment” that paradoxically intersects time and eternity and assents to a skeptical argument that one cannot understand how things and events come into existence. And beyond simply recognizing that belief is not unreasonable, the intellect perceives an internal logic to faith in a theological aesthetic—Johannes Climacus’s “poem” in Philosophical Fragments. Against the standard view of Kierkegaard’s voluntarism, this argument for compatibilism shows how the intellect combined with the will forms the “eyes of faith.”
7. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Ryan West Faith as a Passion and Virtue
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
The Christian tradition affirms that faith is a virtue. Faith is a multifaceted reality, though, encompassing such diverse aspects as belief, trust, obedience, and more. Given this complexity, it is no surprise that various thinkers emphasize different aspects of faith in accounting for faith’s status as a virtue. In this paper I join Søren Kierkegaard in arguing that faith is (in part) a passion, and that faith is a virtue (in part) because it disposes the person of faith to proper emotional responses. The paper has three sections. First, I lay the groundwork for understanding faith as a passion by explaining the relationship between passions and emotions. Drawing on the works of Kierkegaard, Merold Westphal, and Robert C. Roberts, I distinguish two senses of passion, and show how these senses are related to each other and to faith. The second section uses the account of faith developed in Concluding Unscientific Postscript to develop the idea that passional faith is a deep, identity-forming attachment to God. Finally, I explicate the idea that passional faith, so understood, functions as an emotion disposition. I do so by expounding part one of Kierkegaard’s Christian Discourses, which explores some of the ways in which faith disposes one away from certain emotions (what Kierkegaard calls “the cares of the pagans”) and toward other emotions.
8. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
Jason Kido Lopez Kierkegaard's View of Despair: Paradoxical Psychology and Spiritual Therapy
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Though many hold Søren Kierkegaard’s The Sickness unto Death contains psychological descriptions of those who suffer from despair, I will argue that this is not so. Kierkegaard makes three claims—the conjunction of which I call ‘the triple reduction’—that take contradictory stances on whether people in despair are aware of their despair and whether they want to be their true self. Indeed, if the triple reduction were true, people in despair would be both aware and unaware of their despair, and would both want and not want to be their true self. Unless we want to attribute to Kierkegaard this paradoxical psychological view of the despairer, then we must, I will argue, read Sickness not as a work that answers the question of what is happening in the mind of someone in despair. Instead, it is a therapeutic work meant to help its readers out of despair.
9. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 4
David Diener Kierkegaard on Authority, Obedience, and the Modern Approach to Religion
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Throughout his works Kierkegaard repeatedly claims that the modern age has subverted authentic Christianity. While interpretations of Kierkegaard’s critique of the modern approach to religion abound, they generally agree that the critique is based on various conceptual distinctions regarding the limits of human reason, the epistemological differences between subjective and objective truth, or the (irrational?) nature of religious faith. Very little attention, however, has been paid to the prominent role authority plays in the critique or to the fact that according to Kierkegaard it is disobedience to authority, and not any conceptual confusion, that is the primary fault of the flawed modern approach. This paper argues that Kierkegaard’s most fundamental indictment of the modern approach to religion is its disobedience to the authority of the Christian command. Given this, the paper then examines what, for Kierkegaard, is the basis on which a person should choose to submit to an alleged religious authority.
10. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Richard Kraut Human Diversity and the Nature of Well-Being: Reflections on Sumner’s Methodology
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
In Welfare, Happiness, and Ethics, L. W. Sumner argues that theories of well-being must not pick out some kinds of human lives as richer in prudential valuethan others. I argue that we should reject this methodological stricture, but should embrace his insight that many kinds of lives are good for people to live. I also reject his claim that a theory of well-being would fail if it took the form of a list of things that are good for us. Nonetheless, I argue, if we construct such a list in a way that caters to the diversity of good human lives, we will be led to the conclusion that they are united by their relationship to the flourishing of our natural capacities. I distinguish between bottom-up and top-down strategies for defending this Aristotelian conception of well-being, and argue in favor of a bottom-up approach.
11. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Tobias Hoffmann The Pleasure of Life and the Desire for Non-Existence: Some Medieval Theories
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Are there subjective or objective conditions under which human life is not worth living? Or does human life itself contain the conditions that make it worth living?To find answers to these questions, this paper explores Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Richard of Mediavilla, and John Duns Scotus, who discuss whether the damned in hell can, should, and do prefer non-existence over their existence in pain and moral evil. In light of Aristotle’s teaching that there is a certain pleasure inherent to life itself, I shall argue that even a life that is in important respects painful and unpleasant is still worth living.
12. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Valerie Tiberius Why Be Moral? Can the Psychological Literature on Well-Being Shed any Light?
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
In Plato’s dialogue the Republic, Glaucon challenges Socrates to prove that the just (or moral) life is better or more advantageous than the unjust one. Socrates’s answer to the challenge is notoriously unsatisfying. Could new research on well-being in philosophy and psychology allow us to do better? After distinguishing two different approaches to the question “why be moral?” I argue that while new research on well-being does not provide an answer that would satisfy Glaucon, it does shed light on the topic. Empirical research has different implications for our prudential reasons to be moral depending on which philosophical theory of well-being is accepted. Some well-being theories sustain stronger links to morality than others, but any theory of well-being can make use of empirical research to narrow the gap between prudence and morality to some extent.
13. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Erik Angner Is Empirical Research Relevant to Philosophical Conclusions?
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Much recent philosophical literature on happiness and satisfaction is based on the belief that empirical research is relevant to philosophical conclusions. In his2010 book What is This Thing Called Happiness? Fred Feldman begs to differ. He suggests (a) that there is no evidence that empirical research is relevant to long-standing philosophical questions; consequently, (b) that philosophers have little reason to pay attention to the work of psychologists or economists; and (c) that philosophers need not fear embarrassing themselves by being ignorant of important scientific findings that bear directly on their work. Relying on an example invoked by Feldman himself, this paper makes the case that all three theses are false. The argument suggests a picture according to which science and philosophy stand in a symbiotic relationship, with scientists and philosophers engaging in a mutually beneficial exchange of ideas for the advancement of thegeneral knowledge.
14. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Daniel M. Haybron The Proper Pursuit of Happiness
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
What are the norms governing the pursuit of happiness? Presumably not just anything goes. But are the rules any more interesting than platitudes like “do whatworks, as long as you don’t hurt anyone”? Such questions have become especially salient in light of the development of positive psychology. Yet so far these matters have received relatively little attention, most of it from skeptics who doubt that the pursuit of happiness is an important, or even legitimate, enterprise. This paper examines the normative issues in this realm, arguing that the pursuit of happiness is indeed a legitimate and important endeavor, contra recent criticisms by Aristotelian and other skeptics. Yet it is also subject to strong, nonobvious normative constraints that extend well beyond those typically posited by commonsense and consequentialist thought.
15. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 3
Nicole Hassoun Human Rights and the Minimally Good Life
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
All people have human rights and, intuitively, there is a close connection between human rights, needs, and autonomy. The two main theories about the natureand value of human rights often fail to account for this connection. Interest theories, on which rights protect individuals’ important interests, usually fail to capturethe close relationship between human rights and autonomy; autonomy is not constitutive of the interests human rights protect. Will theories, on which human rights protect individuals’ autonomy, cannot explain why the nonautonomous have a human right to meet their needs. This paper argues that it is possible to account for the close connection between human rights, needs, and autonomy if human rights at least protect individuals’ ability to live minimally good lives. It argues that people need whatever will enable them to live such lives and autonomy is partly constitutive of such a life. This argument also has importantimplications for some other key debates in the human rights literature.
16. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Trent Dougherty Introduction
view |  rights & permissions | cited by
17. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Robert Audi Knowledge, Justification, and the Normativity of Epistemology
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
Epistemology is sometimes said to be a normative discipline, but what this characterization means is often left unclear. This paper distinguishes two kindsof normativity and thereby provides a new way of understanding attributions of normativity. Associated with this distinction are two kinds of epistemological reflection. These are shown to be parallel to two kinds of ethical reflection. In the light of what emerges in showing these points, the paper clarifies the requirements for naturalizing epistemology, the place normativity might have, given certain kinds of naturalization, and the sense in which knowledge and justification may be viewed as normative.
18. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
E. J. Coffman, Matt Deaton Problems for Foley’s Accounts of Rational Belief and Responsible Belief
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
In this paper, we argue that Richard Foley’s account of rational belief faces an as yet undefeated objection, then try to repair one of Foley’s two failed repliesto that objection. In §§I-III, we explain Foley’s accounts of all-things-considered rational belief and responsible belief, along with his replies to two pressing objections to those accounts—what we call the Irrelevance Objection(to Foley’s account of rational belief) and the Insufficiency Objection (to his account of responsible belief). In §IV, we argue that both of Foley’s replies to the Irrelevance Objection fail as currently developed, and raise the question whether either of his replies can be salvaged. In §V, we invoke cases involving religious beliefs (broadly construed) to show that one of Foley’s failed replies to the Irrelevance Objection conflicts with his reply to the Insufficiency Objection; and we provide reason to think Foley should resolve this conflict in the latter’s favor. We conclude in §VI by suggesting a way to repair Foley’s other failed reply to the Irrelevance Objection, yielding an improved overall defense of Foley’s accounts of rationaland responsible belief. We look forward to discussing the important question to what extent this improved overall defense succeeds.
19. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
John Zeis Holding the Faith True
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
In this paper, I argue that the objections to both doxastic volitionism and doxastic voluntarism fail. Objections to doxastic volitionism and doxastic voluntarismassume a generic notion of belief, a notion which covers both beliefs about things which we know or think we know or are evident to us, as well as beliefs which have some degree of credence but are not clearly evident to the subject. The generic notion of belief includes both sorts of beliefs, but the position against doxastic volitionism is supported only by appeal to beliefs about things which are evident or that we think we know. However, by showing that beliefs which we think we know to be true are not voluntary, the objections leaves open the question whether belief as such is voluntary. Contrary to the opponents of doxastic volitionism, I will show that if what we are after is a generic notion of belief, it ought to be construed as holding true; and if this is what constitutes belief as such, the arguments against doxastic volitionism for faith beliefs fail. The strongest argument against doxastic voluntarism is an evidentialist argument concerning the ethics of belief. That argument is basically that even if choosing belief is psychologically possible, evidentialism rules it out as epistemically irresponsible. In the last section of this article, I will argue that if religious belief is constituted by true propositions of the faith, the evidentialist objection to doxastic voluntarism fails.
20. Res Philosophica: Volume > 90 > Issue: 2
Ali Hasan Internalist Foundationalism and the Sellarsian Dilemma
abstract | view |  rights & permissions | cited by
According to foundationalism, some beliefs are justified but do not depend for their justification on any other beliefs. According to access internalism, a subject isjustified in believing some proposition only if that subject is aware of or has access to some reason to think that the proposition is true or probable. In this paper I discusses a fundamental challenge to internalist foundationalism often referred to as the Sellarsian dilemma. I consider three attempts to respond to the dilemma—phenomenal conservatism, BonJour’s classical foundationalism, and Fumerton’s classical foundationalism. I argue that, of these three, only the last seems to avoid getting impaled on one or the other horn of the dilemma. I end by responding to some concerns with Fumerton’s account.