Kierkegaards Notions Of Risk Faith Passion

Kierkegaard?s Notions Of Risk, Faith, Passion, & Truth Essay, Research Paper

???? Soren

Kierkegaard puts forth a unique form of existentialism. He chooses to use the

questions of subjectivity, objectivity, and the search for truth, in

existentialist thought as a means for the justification of his faith. Through

this he comes up with one of the purest definitions of what faith really is.

The question is then; can he through his discussion of ?the paradox of truth?

be susceptible to Nietzschian relativism, given this conception? The conclusion

is that it is not; Kierkegaard?s definition requires a passionate belief in

something. One cannot believe that everything is relative, in true Nietzschian

style, and hold a passionate belief in a specific something at the same time. ???? ?The

Paradox of Truth? is one of the base conceptions in Kierkegaard?s theoretical

framework and is core to his conceptions of faith and risk. ?A paradox results

from the relationship between the eternal (the essential truth) and the

existing individual.?[1]

This is expanded to ?The Ultimate paradox is: That the eternal truth has come

into being in time, (the infinite has become finite). To believe this paradox

(the Absurd) is to be in the highest state of truth. Christianity has declared

itself to be the eternal essential truth which has come onto being in time; it

has proclaimed itself as the paradox, and it has required of the individual the

inwardness of faith with respect to the absurd.?[2] To further

understand what Kierkegaard is saying when it comes to his ?paradox of truth?

one must understand Kierkegaard?s beliefs, when it comes to the notion of

truth. Kierkegaard seems to believe at the base of things that Truth equals

Passion, or that truth requires passion. For if you are to believe that

something is the truth, you must have passion in that belief to truly believe

it. Otherwise you do not truly believe, you simply believe because the choice

has already been made for you and you believe because you should. Which is not

true belief. True belief comes about when you have made a decision for

yourself, and believe out of your own violation, choosing to have faith even in

the face of uncertainty. ?Passionate inwardness is the mark of truth even if,

or rather when, the truth is objectively uncertain.?[3]

Kierkegaard believes that subjectivity, inwardness, and faith are synonymous

and that their definitions are an expression for truth. ?the objective

uncertainty, held fast in an appropriation process of the most passionate

inwardness is the truth.?[4] ???? The

type of uncertainty that Kierkegaard talks about my be less obvious when

considering, day to day truths, but we must remember that Kierkegaard is most

concerned with his definitions of truth and faith as they relate to him and his

relationship with God. Kierkegaard asserts that we should most concern our

selves and our hunt for truth with questions that are close to us, and so he is

concerned with the nature and basis of his faith. This preoccupation with his

faith must be taken into account as the main paradox when one reads the

following passage about the eternal truth. When the eternal

truth is related to an existing individual, truth becomes a paradox. The

paradox repels the individual because of the objective uncertainty and

ignorance towards inwardness. But since this paradox in itself is not

paradoxical, it does not push the spirit far enough. For without risk there is

no faith, and the greater the risk the greater the faith, and the more

objective reliability, the less inwardness (for inwardness is precisely

subjectivity). Indeed, the less objective reliability, the deeper becomes the

possible inwardness. When the paradox is in itself paradoxical, it repels the

individual by the power of the absurd, and the corresponding passion, which is

produced in the process, is faith.[5]???? It

is through this understanding of the paradoxical and its effect on the

individual that we come to understand Kierkegaard?s conception of faith. For

Kierkegaard one of the base truths of faith is that it requires risk. If there

is no risk that what you believe is untrue, that is that it has been proven to

you objectively, through objective evidence then you have no need of faith for

you know it is true. ?By its very nature, faith involves risk, the risk that

what you are believing is not objectively true. In fact, it is only after one

recognizes the death of God, the intellectual recognition that God does not

exist, that on is free to become genuinely ethical and existentially self


That is that when we have admitted to ourselves that based on purely

intellectual grounds there is no objective evidence to say that God exists,

only once we have come fully to the belief that there is absolutely no reason

for us to have faith in God, it is then when we take the risk of having faith

in spite of all the reasons to the contrary that we truly become self aware.

For it is when we look inward and through our inwardness choose to believe and

have faith in god in spite of the risks that we truly achieve passionate truth.

?Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of

inwardness and objective uncertainty. If I can grasp God objectively, I do not

believe, but because I cannot know God objectively, I must have faith, and if I

will preserve myself in faith, I must constantly hold fast to the objective

uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the ocean?s deep? and still believe.?[7]

Thus faith by its very nature requires a lack of objective security. To bring

his concept of faith to even clearer, let?s consider the movie analogy of faith

presented in Indiana Jones. When Indiana is moving through all the tests of a

true believer on his way to find the Holy Grail he reaches a seemingly uncross

able chasm and is simply given the instruction that with faith he will be able

to step out and cross the gap. A leap of faith is required. Now if Indiana

objectively knew when he first got to the chasm that there was a bridge there

which blended in with the chasm walls, that he could easily step across on,

then no faith would be required. He does not however find out the objective

reason for his faith, until he has taken the risk and exercised it. Faith only

exists when there is no objective evidence. The greatest uncertainty produces

the greatest faith. Thus Kierkegaard states that the Christian faith is the

purest faith, for there is no way to ever prove it objectively and thus it

gives ?rise to the greatest degree of inwardness because it is based upon the greatest

degree of uncertainty.?[8] ???? From

here we must now face the question as to whether or not Kierkegaard?s notions

give rise to Nietzschian relativism, given this conception of truth? Nietzsche

states that ?we should be open to all views, not just our own.?[9]

So Nietzsche leaves room for Kierkegaard?s theory and allows for him to hold

it, so the two views are not exclusive from Nietzsche?s point of view. The

decision to have faith is relative to ones own choice and free will, something

that Nietzsche tells us to exercise at every opportunity. For according to

Nietzsche ?the moral earth too, is round?[10]

Does Kierkegaard?s view however, prevent relativism? The conception would be

yes. Kierkegaard?s views by their very basis in faith and passion require one

to pick a view and then have faith in it, in this case specifically, the view

that God exists, as truth. Nietzsche?s views require that one come to the

conception that there is no fixed truth, where as Kierkegaard?s beliefs in the

paradox of truth and the conceptions of faith, require that we pick something

to passionately believe in, even if it is not the true faith in God, but the

pagan wisdom that Socrates held. One way or another the framework requires that

one hold passionate belief and make decisions ?ultimately based on passion and

not on reason.?[11]? If Nietzschian relativism is to become a

problem, then one does not have a passionate belief, and thus has not

subscribed to the notions of faith, risk, and truth as Kierkegaard has outlined

them. For when you are a relativist, then you no longer have passionate faith,

and if you no longer have passionate faith then you no longer have truth, for

?passionate inwardness is the mark of truth.?[12] ???? Kierkegaard?s

philosophy has a quality to it that makes it very appealing to a believer,

whether one is a believer in God or something else, it allows someone to

justify their faith in whatever it is they choose to have faith in, be it God,

Allah, or pagan systems of faith. For according to Kierkegaard one only has to

truly and passionately believe in something. An ability to believe, given by

few if any other existentialist theoretical frameworks. Kierkegaard?s theory

thus, gives power to the human mind and the potential for finding truth of some

kind, in a universe that most of his colleges were offering no truth for, and

nothing to believe in. It is this latent understanding of the power of passion,

and the given ability to allow one to believe in something, or someone as a

means for finding truth, which prevents Kierkegaard from falling into the trap

of Nietzschian relativism given his conception of truth. References Oaklander, Nathan. ?Existentialist

Philosophy? 2nd Ed. Prentice Hall Inc, NJ, USA. 1996. Wilks, Anna. Handout #4 Kierkegaard,

?Either/Or.?Wilks, Anna. Handout #9 Kierkegaard,

?Concluding Unscientific Postscript.?Wilks, Anna. Handout #7 Nietzsche,

?Selections.? [1]Kierkegaard Handout, ?Concluding

unscientific postscript? [2] Ibid. [3] Oaklander

P.17. [4] Oaklander

P.18. [5] Ibid. P20. [6] Oaklander

P.18. [7] Oaklander. P

18. [8] Ibid. P.19. [9] Handout, #1

on Nietzche. [10] Ibid. [11] Oaklander.

P 19. [12] Oaklander.



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