Kierkegaard And Postmodernism Essay

5151 words - 21 pages

Kierkegaard and Postmodernism Aparté: Conceptions and Deaths of Søren Kierkegaard by Sylviane Agacinski; Kevin Newmark; A Question of Eros: Irony in Sterne, Kierkegaard, &Barthes by John Vignaux Smyth; Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project by John D. Caputo Review by: Sylvia Walsh International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Apr., 1991), pp. 113-122 Published by: Springer Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40036655 . Accessed: 04/09/2014 06:52
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Kierkegaard has had his troubles being taken seriously as a philosopher - not that he ever asked to be granted that esteemed status anyway, but a few philosophy professors have sought, mostly futilely, to include him in the academy, at least as an honorary teacher or professor emeritus in the Socratic tradition, by virtue of his having been, they claim, the father of existentialism. Now at the behest of some postmodern philosophers he has been invited in, stylishly seduced (or is it he who has even more artfully seduced them?), and even given a chair (perhaps a writing desk too), in which, however, they will sit and do the writing, that is, rewrite his books to say what they want him to say and to establish that he did not mean what he previously (originally?) said or what we thought he said in his many ironic books (or "unbooks," as the case may be). But I ask you, is
* Sylviane Agacinski, Aparte: Conceptions and Deaths of S0ren Kierkegaard, trans. Kevin Newmark. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1988. xi and 266 pages. $25.50; John Vignaux Smyth, A Question of Eros: Irony in Sterne, Kierkegaard, & Barthes. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1986. xvi and 415 pages. $31.50; and John D. Caputo, Radical Hermeneutics: Repetition, Deconstruction, and the Hermeneutic Project. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1987. ix and 319 pages. $17.50.
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this any way to gain acceptance in this austere and time honored associa- tion? Some people will do anything to get married. But unlike Socrates, Kierkegaard did not marry, and he desired no progeny but his writings. So how did this marriage take place? Is it the result of a natural attraction or was it a shotgun wedding? Even more crucially, can this marriage last? And if this is the only way into the academy for Kierkegaard, is it worth the price? Like a premonition, the motto from Philosophical Fragments keeps running through my mind: "Better well hanged than ill wed." Perhaps the whole matter is undecidable. Let us see.
Kierkegaard has been assimilated into postmodernism in two ways. First, a new cadre of Kierkegaard scholars together with some older, well- established ones recently influenced by Derrida and others in the French postmodernist camp have begun to subject his writings to deconstructive analysis and to construe his thought in terms of a philosophy of difference. Of the three authors to be considered in the present discussion, Sylviane Agacinski and John Smyth belong to this group, which also includes, among others, Louis Mackey and, to some extent, Mark C. Taylor. Second. Kierkegaard's thought and writings, at least selected features of them, have been probed and appropriated as a forerunner and point of departure for the deconstructive project itself, especially the overthrow of metaphysics and any form of foundationalism....

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