Kierkegaard and the Refusal of Transcendence (Radical by Steven Shakespeare

By Steven Shakespeare

Kierkegaard and the Refusal of Transcendence demanding situations the traditional view that Kierkegaard's God is infinitely except the realm. It argues that his paintings immerses us within the paradoxical nature of life itself, and opposes any flight into one other global.

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Extra resources for Kierkegaard and the Refusal of Transcendence (Radical Theologies)

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A paradoxical effect of limitation is—in one carefully defined sense—to defy, or at least render inoperative, the limits of morality and finitude. Morality is not a matter of calculation, of “this far, and no further,” but an exercise of the boundless moral will, which no merely objective reality can determine. The limit here is never one; the limit of reason folds back upon itself and becomes a line running through reason itself, determining its legitimate and illegitimate uses as belonging to two different domains.

It is tempting to see in this approach a typical gesture of negative theology, or apophatics. Language, or reason, take us only so far. They take us to a limit, beyond which there is the transcendent unknowability and simplicity of the One. Here, language must fall silent and thought give way to something other: faith or ecstasy. In this interpretation, there is a complicity, an alliance between the frame (which contains a given territory) and the limit (which marks the advent of something other).

These questions of analogy were a live issue for pre- and post-Kantian philosophy of religion. In the seventeenth century debates over deism and mystery, it became apparent that a causal proof of God’s existence failed to give any conceptual content to the idea of God. What do we prove when we prove that there is a first cause? If we name it as God, is the assertion that God is the first cause any more than an empty tautology? Worse, from the point of view of the orthodox divines such as Tillotson, if skepticism about the ontological grounding of causality is introduced—if, that is, causal beliefs are psychologically grounded in custom and association, rather than in the nature of the real itself—then there is little to prevent a Hobbesian conclusion, in which the divine nature becomes sheer brute incomprehensibility and in which attribution to the divine has no cognitive content.

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