Essay On Kierkegaard Essay Research Paper Willed

Essay On Kierkegaard Essay, Research Paper Willed Faith and Belief An essay on Kierkegaard 1. Introduction Can we will to believe what we choose? Are there times when we should at least try to believe in something? If it were easy to manipulate our own beliefs, low self-esteem would vanish, the divorce rate would decline, and over-consumption would disappear with the reminder: “I already have enough stuff.”

Essay On Kierkegaard Essay, Research Paper

Willed Faith and Belief

An essay on Kierkegaard

1. Introduction

Can we will to believe what we choose? Are there times when we should at least try to believe in something? If it were easy to manipulate our own beliefs, low self-esteem would vanish, the divorce rate would decline, and over-consumption would disappear with the reminder: “I already have enough stuff.”

Yet there is something suspect about willed beliefs. Perhaps it is not ethically responsible to change beliefs without regard for the truth of the matter.1 And the epistemological coherence of the notion is questionable. Perhaps belief states are just not the kind of things that are under the influence of our will – analogous to the fact that we cannot decide to perceive blueness when looking at a red apple.

This is an issue that has attracted some interest in the course of the history of thought. In this paper I will be looking into the views of a contemporary author who sees the relationship of willing to belief as an issue recurring thoughout the history of philosophy.

In his book Religious Belief and the Will2, Louis Pojman identifies Soren Kierkegaard as a direct prescriptive volitionalist, i.e. a thinker who holds that beliefs can and ought to be (at least in some circumstances) directly willed.

C. Stephen Evans, in “Does Kierkegaard Think Beliefs Can Be Directly Willed?”3 responds to Pojman’s position, arguing that the attribution of direct volitionalism to Kierkegaard is too strong a claim. Evans does admit Kierkegaard as an indirect volitionalist, i.e. as holding that we can bring about belief states indirectly, as consequences of other actions that are themselves directly willed. (An example might be my taking up a winter sport, in order to produce a belief that winter is an enjoyable season.)

Additional articles4 have appeared in the literature recently, which respond to Pojman’s position in Religious Belief and the Will, as well as views presented in Pojman’s book entitled The Logic of Subjectivity5, and a paper Pojman recently contributed to the ongoing discussion, viz. “Kierkegaard on Faith and Freedom.”6 Various related issues are dealt with in these discussions, many of which would make interesting topics for another paper.

In this paper I will be examining Pojman’s analysis of Kierkegaard’s views, as articulated in Religious Belief and the Will, and Evans’s paper, as it relates specifically to arguments contained in Pojman’s book. For support of their varying positions, both authors rely primarily upon references to Philosophical Fragments7 and Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments8, by the pseudonymous author Johannes Climacus. These are the Kierkegaardian writings that I will be referring to as well. The question of the relationship between the views of Kierkegaard and the views attributed to the pseudonymous author will not be discussed here. I will refer to the author as Kierkegaard when responding to a discussion that refers to ‘Kierkegaard.’ When responding to a discussion which refers to ‘Climacus,’ and in my own analysis of the The Fragments and The Postscript, I prefer to refer to the author under the pseudonym.

In the first section of my paper, I will describe Pojman’s views concerning Kierkegaard, and I will paraphrase the definitions of volitionalism laid out by Pojman. I will explicate the proffered grounds for his analysis of Kierkegaard, and will consider the strength of his position. In the second part of this paper, I will examine the extent to which Evans successfully replies to Pojman. The issue of the strength of Evans’s own position will be addressed. I will offer an alternative to Evans’s critique.

In my final section I will investigate the relevance of the discussion of volitionalism to a general reading of the Postscript. Are there grounds for supposing that Climacus is advocating either direct, or indirect, or prescriptive volitionalism? Is there reason to suspect that he would oppose these positions?

2. Pojman’s view that Kierkegaard is a volitionalist

In Religious Belief and the Will, Pojman offers an overview of how the relation of willing to faith and belief varies throughout the history of western thought. He provides descriptions of various well-known thinkers in order to illustrate types of volitionalism, and he presents arguments intended to undermine the validity and coherence of direct and prescriptive volitionalism. I am taking issue only with Pojman’s characterization of Kierkegaard as a direct prescriptive volitionalist.

Pojman defines volitionalism as the view that believing is an act that is under our control. Direct volitionalism is the position that one can acquire beliefs directly, simply by willing to believe certain propositions. Indirect volitionalism is the view some beliefs arise indirectly, from basic acts of the will. Pojman identifies an additional set of distinctions. Some volitionalists are prescriptive, some are only descriptive. The latter is the psychological position that the “voliting” of beliefs is possible. The former goes a step further, and asserts a normative element, holding that it is permissible or obligatory to take the necessary steps to acquire beliefs based on nonepistemic considerations (Pojman, 143-144).

It appears that it is the position of prescriptive volitionalism that Pojman finds particularly perplexing. Rejection of the value of this position is a major impetus behind the writing of his book, as evidenced by certain remarks made by Pojman in the introduction to Religious Belief and the Will:

This work arose from two experiences in my life. As a child I found myself doubting religious statements, and being told that there was something disloyal or apostate about such attitudes. I often found it impossible to make leaps of faith into orthodoxy, as I was supposed to do.

The second experience that led to working out these ideas was studying the work of Soren Kierkegaard, the Danish Christian Existentialist. Kierkegaard, as the reader will see, was a consummate volitionalist, apparently believing that every belief was a product of the will in some way. It was trying to come to grips with his thought in graduate school that convinced me there was something wrong with, at least, some types of volitionalism(Pojman, xii).

We can sympathize with Pojman here, as he rebels against the notion that he is somehow morally in the wrong if he does not produce faith at will. But is this Kierkegaard’s position? Does Kierkegaard maintain that we can and ought to will belief? Is the “leap of faith” constituted by a decision to believe in God – despite lack of evidence, or even evidence to the contrary?

Pojman does not make an explicit identification of the “leap of faith” with the willing of faith. However, this identification does seem to be one that is implicitly assumed, as evidenced by remarks made in his introduction, quoted above. Pojman is not alone in this popular interpretation of Kierkegaard’s concept of leap. But in my own reading of the Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript, I failed to find a strong indication that Kierkegaard intends the expression “leap” to be understood in this sense.

I will review some discussions of “leap” found in the Postscript, in this paper’s final section, below. The point I want to make here is that Pojman seems to have a particular axe to grind with Kierkegaard. Pojman is reacting to the prescriptive direct volitionalism he initially saw in Kierkegaard during his days as a graduate student.

Pojman offers references to the writings of Kierkegaard as support for the claim that Kierkegaard is a prescriptive, direct volitionalist.

Pojman points out that, according to Kierkegaard, “Even if we had direct proofs for theism or Christianity, we would not want them; for they would take the venture out of the religious experience… For him [Kierkegaard] faith is the highest virtue precisely because it is objectively uncertain, for personal growth into selfhood depends on uncertainty, risk…”(Pojman, 71). Pojman’s source for these remarks is the chapter ‘The Historical Point of View’ in the Postscript.

As I read Pojman, these, and similar references, are intended to show that Kierkegaard reasoned:

1) The truth of Christianity cannot be objectively demonstrated therefore,

2) faith develops not as a consequence of evidence, but can only result from a decision to believe–regardless of the lack of evidence, and regardless of the absurdity of what is believed.

The former of these claims is an accurate description of Kierkegaard’s views as represented in the Postscript. The existence of God, and the truth of Christianity, cannot be known with certainty. Furthermore, it is not simply a matter of adequate evidence not yet having been accumulated. The seeker of objective evidence for Christianity commits a kind of category mistake, “[a shifting of one genus to another]“(Postscript, 136). Proof of God’s existence is not to be found in the objective realm. “An objective acceptance is Paganism or thoughtlessness.”(Postscript, 130). It is paganism, because it regards God as immanent, or as within the objective realm. The conviction that God’s existence is demonstrable assumes His immanence, rather than His transcendence beyond the knowable objective realm.

At issue here is the inference to the second claim. I maintain that Kierkegaard does not hold the latter view, nor is he obliged to hold it; it does not follow from the first claim. The fact that a belief does not result from objective evidence, does not imply that that belief results from simply willing it into existence. Alternative explanations are possible.

Pojman interprets Kierkegaard as not only a direct, but a prescriptive volitionalist as well. But nothing in these references justifies this interpretation. In fact, there is much in the Postscript which would support an opposite conclusion, i.e that Kierkegaard rejects the whole notion of one individual prescribing values to another individual. Though Kierkegaard often describes the subjectively existing thinker as ethical, (which, presumably, we all “ought” to be,) and he speaks of faith as the highest virtue, he adamantly avoids directly prescribing anything to the individual reader. A major tenet held by Kierkegaard is that an individual must find his or her own way. Kiekegaard admires Gotthold Ephraim Lessing for understanding this: “[Lessing] understood and knew how to maintain, that the religious pertained to Lessing and Lessing alone, just as it pertains to any human being in the same way…” (Postscript, 65). Prescribing a way of life to another would be to make an ethical judgment regarding how that individual ought to be living. But this is precisely what Kierkegaard says we cannot do. “One person cannot ethically judge another because the one can understand the other only as a possibility.” (Postscript, 322).

There are additional references proposed by Pojman as implying a direct volitionalist position in Kierkegaard. Pojman remarks that according to Kierkegaard, the self believes by virtue of the absurd. He quotes from the Postscript. “Faith is the objective uncertainty due to the repulsion of the absurd held fast by the passion of inwardness…”(Postscript, 611). Pojman continues with an elaboration on this quote: “The will is not able to believe what is fundamentally absurd. Grace enables us to subvert principles of the understanding” (Pojman, 73).

This argument is not different in kind from the inferences based on the previous references. It is the case, according to Kierkegaard, that Christianity is absurd, and involves a paradox. But the ineffability of Christianity is not grounds to conclude that faith can only be attained as a result of a direct act of the will.

Pojman’s argument does not suffice to imply that Kierkegaard thought we can, or should, will faith. The most that his references support is the contention that it is possible to believe something that is contrary to reason. Grant, for the sake of argument, that we can believe something that we simultaneously acknowledge appears to be logically inconsistent. There can be explanations for a belief in something that is apparently absurd. We cannot infer that the only explanation for such a belief is that one has simply forced oneself to believe it.

Pojman also cites the ‘Interlude’ of the Philosophical Fragments. Pojman points out that Kierkegaard is discussing a type of belief that is “the organ for apprehending history,” i.e. a type of ordinary belief, as opposed to faith. Though Pojman is primarily concerned with religious belief, he finds in Kierkegaard’s writing, remarks concerning both types of belief. Pojman interprets the ‘Interlude’ as indicating that Kierkegaard regards ordinary beliefs as directly willed. He says that according to Kierkegaard: “In believing what happened in the past, the will is active in recreating the scene or proposition. It takes testimony and reworks it, transforming the ‘what’ of the past into an active ‘how’ of the present, making the history contemporary”. (Pojman, 73). A close reading of the ‘Interlude’ gives no indication that this is the kind of thing Kierkegaard is saying. Rather, he is occupied with the concept of necessity, and how the concept of necessity cannot apply to anything that has “come into existence” ((Philosophical Fragments

Pojman places great emphasis on a few lines from the ‘Interlude’: “Belief is not so much a conclusion, as a resolution…Belief is not a form of knowledge, but a free act, an expression of the will”Philosophical Fragments, 83).

Pojman concludes: “The idea is that the imagination (of which nothing human is more free) takes over in belief attainment.” He continues, “This is as radical a volitionalism as Descartes’s. We are free to believe whatever we please” (Pojman, 73).

3. Evans Replies to Pojman

It is this argument of Pojman’s, based on the Fragments, that Stephen Evans responds to in his paper “Does Kierkegaard Think Beliefs Can Be Directly Willed?” Evans remarks: “The grounds for this reading [of Kierkegaard as a direct volitionalist] are probably most strong in the Interlude” (Evans, 175).

Evans accepts Pojman’s arguments against the validity of the direct volitionalist’s position. But Evans challenges Pojman’s reading of Kierkegaard as a direct volitionalist.

Allowing that Kierkegaard’s views on ordinary belief have implications for his views concerning faith (faith is a type of belief,) Evans proceeds to consideration of Pojman’s argument based on these passages from the ‘Interlude’.

Evans explains that in this discussion, Kierkegaard is responding to religious Hegelians, who claim that historical truths can be understood as necessary truths; Christianity thus could rest on a solid foundation (Evans, 175). Evans points out that Kiekegaard is holding the position that historical assertions are contingent, that the historical realm cannot involve necessity. Historical truths are therefore susceptible to the arguments of the skeptics, and cannot ground Christianity. For assistance on this point, Kierkegaard recalls that the classical skeptics:

…doubted, not by virtue of knowledge, but by virtue of the will… [the skeptics held that] doubt can be terminated only in freedom, by an act of the will (Philosophical Fragments,82).

We can acknowledge, with the skeptics as well as Kierkegaard, that what is not known with certainty can be doubted. We are free to doubt what is contingent. Nothing coerces the conclusion; the rules of logic do not necessitate our acceptance of a contingent fact.

It is only if a few lines from the ‘Interlude’, such as those quoted above, are taken out of context that it appears that Kierkegaard is arguing (in the words of Pojman) that we are free to believe whatever we please.

But like Pojman, Evans (though he presented a lucid summary of the theme of the ‘Interlude’) seems to read these passages without adequate attention to context. He analyses–without regard to overall message of the Interlude–the description of the skeptics’ reasoning that was quoted by Pojman, in order to strengthen his claim that Kierkegaard’s remarks concerning the skeptics do not imply direct volitionalism. Evans recalls a significant line that Pojman quotes, and emphasizes Kierkegaard’s concluding phrase: “… doubt can be terminated only in freedom, … something every Greek skeptic would understand, inasmuch as he understood himself”(Philosophical Fragments,82). Evans regards this remark about self-awareness as evidence that Kierkegaard is not a direct volitionalist. Evans points out that that direct volitionalism assumes self-awareness. If an individual doesn’t fully understand what he is willing, he can’t be said to be capable of directly controlling his beliefs.

Evans says:

In tracing belief to will, Climacus by no means necessarily implies that beliefs are consciously chosen. If anything is evident about Kierkegaard as a psychologist, it is that he is a depth psychologist. While Kierkegaard certainly assigns will a central place in the human personality, he thinks that human beings hardly ever make choices with full consciousness of what they are doing. (Evans, 178).

Evans is saying that the reason this relationship to the will doesn’t entail direct volitionalism, is because the skeptic may not be completely cognizant of the fact that he is doubting as a result of his willing the doubting.

It may be that human beings and skeptics do not fully understand all their own actions. But this point of Evans’s does not effectively undermine Pojman’s view that Kierkegaard is a direct volitionalist. It may still be that in some cases, cases when we fully understand what we are doing, we are aware that beliefs and doubts are acts of the will. If direct volitionalism presupposes self-awareness, then the willed belief can still occur, but only when the individual has understood him or herself. Therefore, Evans’s argument does not completely discredit the thesis that Kierkegaard is a direct volitionalist; it does, however, undermine the strength of Pojman’s argument, as based on the ‘Interlude.’

Evans is not opposed to the idea of Kierkegaard as an indirect volitionalist. He points out that the passages from the ‘Interlude’, though not an indication of direct volitionalism, do indicate indirect volitionalism. Indirect volitionalism, Evans points out, (and Pojman agrees,) is not an objectionable thesis.

Evans explains the passages quoted from the ‘Interlude’: “Kierkegaard may have in mind the well-known fact that beliefs can be modified indirectly, in the course of doing other things” (Evans, 178-179). Evans points out that Kierkegaard emphasizes that the skeptics are exercising their power of will. The skeptic wills to refrain from drawing conclusions. Evans quotes Kiekegaard.

Insofar as he (the skeptic) uses dialectics in continually making the opposite equally probable, he does not erect his skepticism on dialectical arguments, which are nothing more than outer fortifications, human accommodations…By the power of the will he decides to restrain himself and hold himself back from any conclusion. (Philosophical Fragments, 84-85).

As Evans claims, there is indirect volitionalism occurring within the skeptical reasoning described by Kierkegaard. The skeptics utilized indirect volitionalism to achieve a state of suspenced judgement, by considering the opposite equally probable. But any reading of an issue of volitionalism, of any type, into these passages, is missing Kierkegaard’s point. Kierkegaard is not discussing control of mental states. He is discussing the concept of necessity and our freedom to deny contingent facts.

It might be said that the skeptic wills to doubt the reality of a state-of- affairs, or that he wills not to doubt, i.e. he wills to believe that a state-of- affairs is the case. But these expressions are not precise formulations of what is actually occurring. The skeptic does not literally decide not to believe in something. Strictly speaking, he decides that a specific conclusion does not follow from evidence that is given. The skeptic doesn’t have the power to believe or disbelieve whatever suits him (whether he fully understands himself or not.) But he does have control over his inferential reasoning. He can regard as insufficient, evidence that is generally accepted. This does not amount to possession of control over belief states. Rather, this control shows possession of an ability to exercise discretion concerning the validity of certain types of inferencing and the strength of evidence.

The skeptics were concerned with the process of reasoning. They did not want to risk false conclusions. Kierkegaard explains their project: “I am deceived only when I conclude something about that stick [that looks broken in the water]…this is why the skeptic keeps himself in suspenso, and this state was what he willed…([the skeptics say that the end in view is a mind suspended, which brings with it a tranquility like its shadow.])” (Philosophical Fragments, 83).

If they are willing a state of mind at all, that state of mind is in suspenso. The skeptics are not willing doubt, any more than the gullible are willing belief.

The contention that passages in the ‘Interlude’ imply that Kierkegaard thought we can will beliefs probably results from a blurring of the willing of belief with the acceptance of a conclusion. The appearance of such an implication is a consequence of an ambiguity in Kierkegaard’s language. If I decide to withhold judgement until I’m better informed, I’m not consciously willing a state of doubt. If I accept evidence, I’m not willing a belief. The belief is a consequence of my act of accepting evidence. It can be said that I am free to accept or reject evidence, except in certain cases, for example, cases of logical entailment, or perhaps in cases of self-evidence. But in the case of matters-of- fact, doubt is by virtue of the will, i.e. no type of necessity coerces assent.

4. Consider a broader reading of the Postscript

Direct volitionalism, the view that we can decide what to believe, is a doctrine that would to be most appropriately held by a metaphysical idealist, a solipsist, or perhaps a New Age convert–thinkers that deny, in some sense, the hard reality of the objective world. Pojman views willed belief and faith as problematic because he sees it as forcing ourselves to believe something, even though objective evidence would guide us in the opposite direction. If Christianity is without objective evidence, faith must just be created, in a way analogous to a solipsist’s concepts which are unconstrained by the realities of the external world. Pojman reasons, if we are to believe it, we must somehow just force ourselves to believe it.

Ironically, a very similar description of the leap, but intended as a caricature, can be found in Kierkegaard’s discussion of Lessing. Kierkegaard relates how Lessing sees an attempted leap: “One closes one’s eyes, grabs oneself by the neck, a la Munchhausen, and then–then one stands on the other side, on that other side of sound common sense in the promised land of the system” (Postscript, 99).

In this reference to a leap, the metaphor does not depict how we might come to accept the paradox. On the contrary, it is an exaggerated description of what systematicians mistakenly believe is possible, viz. that contingent historical truths could demonstrate eternal truths. Climacus maintains that a quantitative transition does not lead to a qualitative conclusion, i.e. decisions about matters pertaining to the eternal cannot be based on matters of fact, as if the inference were from one thing to another of the same kind.

In the words of Lessing, quoted by Climacus, “That [transition,] that is the ugly broad ditch that I cannot cross, however often and however earnestly I have tried to make the leap”(Postscript, 98). Climacus enjoys Lessing’s humour, when Lessing talks of earnestly wanting to make the leap. It is humourous, precisely because this leap can’t happen simply by wanting it (no matter how earnestly.) Climacus then, would similarly respond to Pojman; this leap doesn’t happen simply by wanting it (or willing it.) If a leap is possible, it is not like a decision made within the realm of historical matters-of-fact; it cannot happen by lifting oneself up by the neck. To become a Christian, and somehow cross this divide, an absolute decision is involved, a qualitative leap.

This point about historical truths being inadequate to ground Christianity is of major importance in the Postscript. Climacus regards the Hegelians as self- deceivers when they believe that they can ground Christianity in a system of existence. Climacus maintains that a system of existence cannot be given: “In order to think existence, systematic thought must think it as annulled and consequently not as existing” (Postscript, 118). This is because a system is by definition complete and all-inclusive. The systematic thinker, himself existing, cannot be part of his concluded system. Climacus says: “Who is supposed to write, or finish such a system?” (Postscript, 120). It is only a transcendent god that can have this bird’s eye view. But the Hegelians want to be able to include Christianity within the system.

In articulating the sense in which the truth of Christianity is unknowable, Climacus makes use of the concept ‘paradox.’ Christianity involves the absolute paradox of the godhead existing in time; it is the thesis that God has existed in human form. Climacus says “The only possible understanding of the absolute paradox is that it cannot be understood” (Postscript, 217-218).

Pojman might ask, if Climacus is not claiming that we can will faith, how then is he suggesting that we arrive at faith (given the lack of rational evidence to support faith?) I would respond, it is not clear that Climacus intends to guide us to faith at all. He discusses at length the importance of individuality and subjective thinking. He speaks of the transformation to inwardness and a reorientation away from objectivity. Rather than suggesting that we develop faith, Climacus describes a growing subjectivity through which the absolute paradox can be realized.

Though Climacus does not show an interest in volitionalism, he does put much effort into a discussion of willing the absolute telos (willing in the highest sense). Recall the discussions of the Pathos section (Postscript, 387-431). Climacus speaks of the individual whose existence is transformed because he has renounced everything but the highest good, which is willed for its own sake.

Absolute willing does not preclude relative willing, but the absolute relation can require renunciation of all relative end.Postscript, 405). The subjectively existing individual experiences continual temptation to relate absolutely to the world- historical, and must continually renew resolve. The subjective individual, relating to the absolute, acts, but not for fame, money, love, etc., not even for the good of humanity. These are relative ends, and are not willed absolutely. Only one thing is willed absolutely, viz. the absolute.

In these pages, Climacus is not only not supposing that we can or should will faith, but, on the contrary, is emphasizing that the transformed person absolutely wills only the absolute, to the exclusion of all else. Clearly this kind of absolute relationship precludes actions that control or transform one’s own belief state, for the purpose of becoming a Christian.

This sort of attempt to control one’s own belief state for the purpose of producing faith is analogous to the situation of the monks of the Middle Ages to which Climacus refers. In the monasteries much effort was put into creating a life and a frame of mind which, to all appearances, was close to God. Climacus declares: “True inwardness does not demand any sign at all in externals” (Postscript, 414). The absolute relation to the highest good does not follow from external actions. Cultivation of the outward appearance of Godliness can become the end in itself, resulting in the loss of the absoluteness of the relation to the absolute telos. Climacus remarks “renunciation of everything is nothing, if it is supposed to merit the highest good.”Postscript, 408).

A criterion of the absolute relationship to the absolute is the absence of any ulterior purpose, or any expectation of consequence or reward. “The specific sign that one relates oneself to the absolute is there is no reward expected.”Postscript, 402).

Willing to believe, directly or indirectly, is a relative willing, and hence a movement away from inwardness and the absolute relationship. To will a belief state, in order to achieve faith or eternal happiness, is willing something for consequences. Self-manipulation can only serve to separate the individual from the absolute. The absolute relationhship is not something gained by willing to achieve it. The act of willing anything other than the absolute undermines the absolute relationship.

The willing of the absolute good is the absolute decision, the qualitative leap. The will is involved in the process of becoming a Christian. But one doesn’t attempt to will the absolute in order to become a Christian, for then the absolute isn’t being willed for its own sake. However, Pojman’s position might be rephrased so as to allow a related objection to develop. Rather than arguing that there is no objective evidence to support belief, one might argue that there is nothing that would occasion willing the absolute. Since there can be no objective evidence to convince an individual to will the absolute, willing the absolute telos can only be something you must just force yourself to do. However, as in the case of the objectively unsubstantiated belief, there can be explanations for the absolute decision.

Evans suggests: “The believer might be convinced that the paradoxical nature of the god-man is a reality by a first-person encounter with the god-man. The belief is the result of the encounter with reality, not of some arbitrary act of the will” (Evans, 183). This encounter could not be considered rational objective evidence, but it could result in a transformation of an individual’s existence. Climacus hints at the occurrence of such encounters with phrases like ‘the moment the eternal touches,’ and ‘co-knowledge,’ and various other expressions which connote an experience of unity.

Investigation into possible explanations for the absolute decision–explanations that are alternatives to rational and objective evidence, and the notion that it is arbitrary–is a project that is suggested by the conclusion of this paper. In his book Transforming Vision9, M. Jamie Ferreira emphasizes the role that the imagination plays in the writings of Kiekegaard. The solution to the question of the explanation of the absolute decision may lie along these lines. A believer leaps, not as a rational being, but by virtue of the power of imagination.


This concern relates to the question of whether we ought to discover and/or acknowledge “objective truth.”

Pojman, Louis P., Religious Belief and the Will. (London and New York: Routledge & Kegen Paul, 1986) Subsequent references to this work will give the author’s name and the page number.

Evans, Stephen C. “Does Kierkegaard Think Beliefs can be Directly Willed?” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 26 (1989): 173-184. Subsequent references to this work will give the author’s name and the page number.

See David Wisdo, “Kierkegaard on Belief, Faith, and Explanation,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 21 (1987):95-114. See also M. Jaimie Ferreira, “Kierkegaardian Faith: ‘The Condition’ and the Response,” International Journal of Religion 28 (1990):63-79.

Louis P. Pojman, The Logic of Subjectivity: Kierkegaard’s Philosophy of Religion (Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1984).

Louis P. Pojman, “Kierkegaard on Faith and Freedom,” International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 27 (1990):41-61.

References in this paper are to the following edition: Soren Kierkegaard [Johannes Climacus], Philosophical Fragments, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992).

References in this paper are to the following edition: Soren Kierkegaard [Johannes Climacus], Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragmemts, trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1985).

M. Jamie Ferreira, Transforming Vision: Imagination and Will in Kierkegaardian Faith (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991).