BOOM! An unscientific devotional excursus with Christian philosopher, Kierkegaard.

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When I first read Kierkegaard's "Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments," I was enlivened by his handling of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's epistemic "Ditch." This ditch of Lessing's essentially posits that "there is a 'ditch' between history and eternal truths that cannot be crossed," meaning that where the Christian faith is the consideration of utmost religious truth, documents from the past, such as the New Testament, weren't something Lessing could relate with enough and thereby have faith. Obviously, such an agnostic style statement is problematic to the having of real faith in Christ. To counter this, Kierkegaard in effect suggested that to deal with Lessing's ditch, we need to find a position of mind and heart wherein we relate to the truth of Christ as not merely a report of truth but as Kierkegaard suggests that it is: truth of supreme personal importance and, in that subjective relation to biblical truth, ... we can then LEAP in Faith toward Christ.

This little epistemic lesson of Kierkegaard's was all well and good, and I very much appreciated its rudiments, but what I found even more profound was Kierkegaard's humorous story/analogy of the "Crazy Don," a comic figure whose epistemic relation to truth on a technical level offered nothing more than ............... well, an assumed "BOOM!," ..... as is recounted and illustrated in this video I came across, one that I'm posting so some of you who may not be familiar with Kierkegaard can hear a short take on his views and then offer any comments you may have, whether pro or con. You don't have to agree with him. I know there are some things he said which I may not agree with, but I appreciate Kierkegaard's effort to open a bridge over a ditch, nonetheless.

First Person Philosophy - What Kierkegaard Doesn't Want You To Know?
 
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... and now for the upshot: I wonder how Kierkegaard dealt with "The Socratic Problem"? I wonder if it bothered him? I guess it didn't if he was able to think that the historical transmission of just two or three sentences about Jesus by His followers would have been enough to suffice as "evidence."

Was Kierkegaard right about his estimation regarding the minimal necessary amount of written historical content needed for belief and faith? His answer would be as applicable to Jesus as it is to Socrates, or to Hannibal of Carthage. And then, his [Subjective] response to this would depend on a number of things, I suppose ...

Personally, I'd just replace Kierkegaard's reliance upon Socrates with several contemporary authors on Epistemology, Critical Thinking, Formal and Informal Logic (and Fallacies) ... and then I'd run further down the rabbit hole of Historiography, the Philosophy of History and Hermeneutics with all of it. ^_^
 
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zippy2006

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... and now for the upshot: I wonder how Kierkegaard dealt with "The Socratic Problem"? I wonder if it bothered him?
I enjoy Kierkegaard, but I have not read a ton of his work. I do not have Concluding Unscientific Postscript. I am more familiar with Pascal, and with regard to these sorts of questions of rationalism, Johann Georg Hamann.

But I was reading the Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard on the question of your OP, and it would seem that Kierkegaard has much insight in this area. It's sort of interesting to me that both Lessing and Kierkegaard utilize Aristotle's metabasis eis allo genos to describe the leap.

Actually Kierkegaard sort of fits into the framework of Catholic apologetics, but he is putting a bit more flesh on the bone. According to that framework the act of faith is not irrational, arbitrary, demonstrable (tautological or necessary), a matter of fiat, unrelated to freedom, etc. It is an act of God, and much of our work lies in disposing ourselves to be moved in such a way. I would be curious to read the primary text.

So perhaps the Socratic Problem pertains to disposing oneself towards a certain existential demeanor. The historical text was perhaps never meant to be a sufficient motive of faith, but at the same time it is important and useful. I don't know... It's a bit hard to plumb such things or find an entry point...

I would say that faith is not a conclusion or an end-point. Instead, it is a decision that occurs constantly and throughout. I think the rationalists sometimes think of faith as the fruit of labor, in the sense that once I have done all of this study and all of this hard work, then the fruit of faith will finally be achieved. I don't think it works that way. Faith is more like the air one breathes than someone that is definitively nailed down after a great deal of hard work.

Incidentally, I was recently listening to two theologians talk, in a tangent, about the need for a hermeneutic of tradition, and there was a dig at David Bentley Hart for being, "Busy talking himself out of Christianity, in a very intellectually interesting way" (link). This is a good example of the way that faith can begin to slip away from a scholar who has a large amount of objective knowledge. (In Hart's most recent book he ends up denying the idea of normative tradition, and this would ultimately apply even to things like the Bible. Without the eyes of faith any claim that history reflects a divine purpose can begin to look merely like a, "The winner writes history," scheme.)
 
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zippy2006

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From the introduction of Selections from the Writings of Soren Kierkegaard:

Besides, as Lessing had demonstrated conclusively: historic facts never can become the proof of eternal verities. Nor can the existence of the Church through the ages furnish any guarantee for faith—straight counter to the opinion, held by Kierkegaard's famous contemporary Grundtvig—any more than can mere contemporaneousness establish a guarantee for those living at the beginning. To sum up: "One who has an objective Christianity and nothing else, he is eo ipso a heathen." For the same reason, "philosophic speculation" is not the proper approach, since it seeks to understand Christianity objectively, as an historic phenomenon—which rules it out from the start.​
It is only by a decisive "leap," from objective thinking into subjective faith, with the consciousness of sin as the driving power, that the individual may realize (we would say, attain) Christianity. Nor is it gained once for all, but must ever be maintained by passionately assailing the paradox of faith, which is, that one's eternal salvation is based on an historic fact. The main thing always is the "how," not the "what." Kierkegaard goes so far as to say that he who with fervency and inwardness prays to some false god is to be preferred to him who worships the true god, but without the passion of devotion.​

This is interesting to me since I have been hearing about Ratzinger's article, "The Constantinian Heathenism of the Church," where he makes a similar point with regard to the Catholicism of the 1950's.
 
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I'm not sure that much discussion around a leap of faith is necessarily helpful, because in my view faith is the starting point rather than a destination. Everything we believe we know about the world is ultimatly built on things that we believe to be true that are beyond our ability to demonstrate to be true. The insurmountable gulch is when our faith begins with a self-existent universe and we try to work towards faith, since doing so in a consistent fashion destroys the possibility of a omnipresent, immanent, and transcendent creator. Faith, in this sense, is simply the ordinary acceptance of our basic experience. An experience which nearly universally recognizes the presence of design in the universe, to the point that teleology has to be trained out of the language of biologists. So Kierkegaard's leap of faith comes at a point in the process where faith has already been silently exercised, and is instead simply giving definition to something already present.
 
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Merrill

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I am not an expert in Kierkegaard, but one mistake that people make when assessing his philosophy is that they assume subjective truth means the primacy of subjectivity.

Truth still exists, it is "there", but how we embrace and relate to it is the question
 
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I enjoy Kierkegaard, but I have not read a ton of his work. I do not have Concluding Unscientific Postscript. I am more familiar with Pascal, and with regard to these sorts of questions of rationalism, Johann Georg Hamann.
That's ok. I haven't read a ton of Kierkegaard's work either, and like you, I'm more familiar with Pascal as well. What I have read of Kierkegaard has come out of Howard V. Hong's, The Essential Kierkegaard.

I haven't heard of Hamann, but I'll add him to my list of figures on which to become more briefly acquainted.
But I was reading the Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard on the question of your OP, and it would seem that Kierkegaard has much insight in this area. It's sort of interesting to me that both Lessing and Kierkegaard utilize Aristotle's metabasis eis allo genos to describe the leap.
I wasn't familiar with the conceptual term Lessing and Kierkegaard referred to from [Aristotle's Greek?], but that's interesting to know. It almost sounds like the term 'born again' alludes to this in an indirect way. Of course, being that the Gospel of John seems to me to have a more Greek philosophical influence within its overall composition, it might be that "John" borrowed the notion from Greek conceptual influences of the time, such by Aristotle.

How did you like that little allusion to the movie, Inception, in the OP video? I think that plays into this metabasis eis allo genos idea.
Actually Kierkegaard sort of fits into the framework of Catholic apologetics, but he is putting a bit more flesh on the bone. According to that framework the act of faith is not irrational, arbitrary, demonstrable (tautological or necessary), a matter of fiat, unrelated to freedom, etc. It is an act of God, and much of our work lies in disposing ourselves to be moved in such a way. I would be curious to read the primary text.
Oh, I don't know that Kierkegaard is putting more flesh on the theological explanation than Catholic brethren do. He does take the process of salvation in a different epistemic direction than do Catholics or, apparently, Danish Protestants of his time. From what I can tell, the sum of Kierkegaard's assessment on the nature of the existential leap toward Christ involves his 2nd Order notion of Subjectivity, which plays a sort of cognitive liaison role between dealing with the historical and ecclesial aspects of faith (like Tradition, The Scriptures, etc.) and then, as if catapulting from a springboard, moving toward the Divine Spirit, but in Biblical terms (not Hegelian terms).

I could be misreading him, but this is what I've more or less taken from the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Some of it sounds to me like a more convoluted elaboration of the sorts of things Pascal has said. The difference between them being that Pascal seems to have been more attuned to allaying Skeptical thinking toward the Christian faith, while Kierkegaard was more attuned to spurring on those who thought they were Christian but had a misconceived appropriation of the Christian faith.

Reading the primary text may or may not help where Kierkegaard is the focus. His writing is positively convoluted and overly creative at times, unlike Pascal's more sensible, direct and almost aphoristically presented thoughts.
So perhaps the Socratic Problem pertains to disposing oneself towards a certain existential demeanor. The historical text was perhaps never meant to be a sufficient motive of faith, but at the same time it is important and useful. I don't know... It's a bit hard to plumb such things or find an entry point...
Oh, I don't know. I think the New Testament writers (such as Paul or John) seem to have thought that their writings imparted something at least toward motivating faith in Christ, even if the finishing work had to be done by the Holy Spirit.

As for the Socratic Problem, I'm also interested in the way that this problem plays into countering the "Mythicist Error" regarding Jesus since a historical analogy can be made between Socrates and Jesus in that neither ever wrote anything themselves as far as we know, but they each had followers who apparently heard them and represented their respective teachings in those writings.

I.E. ... if we can believe in the historicity of Socrates, or of Hannibal of Carthage, or of a number of ancient historical events that we have no primary sources for, then surely we can assess historical credibility to Jesus of Nazareth, and we can reasonably think that the New Testament writings on some level offer relevant representations and details of His person, teaching, and life (and death, and resurrection). And (here's the rub)................we can do this without having to also assume biblical infallibility or innerrancy to get a Non-Mythicist view of Jesus off the ground and by which to believe and, even in Pascalian or Kierkegaardian fashion if needed, find faith.
I would say that faith is not a conclusion or an end-point. Instead, it is a decision that occurs constantly and throughout. I think the rationalists sometimes think of faith as the fruit of labor, in the sense that once I have done all of this study and all of this hard work, then the fruit of faith will finally be achieved. I don't think it works that way. Faith is more like the air one breathes than someone that is definitively nailed down after a great deal of hard work.
True. I would concede to that on some level. But nailing down that something is the 'happening of God's Grace through the Church or the direct influence of the Holy Spirit even from without the Church isn't always easy to do. Some of us need to sense some sort of substance historically to the Gospel Message in addition to the Grace that comes by interacting with other Christians in the Church. But this is me speaking, not necessarily Kierkegaard or Pascal precisely, so I think what you're saying is in line with what these older gentlemen would say.
Incidentally, I was recently listening to two theologians talk, in a tangent, about the need for a hermeneutic of tradition, and there was a dig at David Bentley Hart for being, "Busy talking himself out of Christianity, in a very intellectually interesting way" (link). This is a good example of the way that faith can begin to slip away from a scholar who has a large amount of objective knowledge. (In Hart's most recent book he ends up denying the idea of normative tradition, and this would ultimately apply even to things like the Bible. Without the eyes of faith any claim that history reflects a divine purpose can begin to look merely like a, "The winner writes history," scheme.)

Yeah, I can understand very well what you're warning against here, and you have a very valid point: The thing is, I'd counter Hart by implying that sometimes, when Philosophy is applied in equitable terms, there can be a sort of rebound effect, and one doesn't have to become a Universalist in order to try to mend and smooth out the paradoxical wrinkles in Theology that most bother us.

Instead, I'd say that one can refer to and use the latest in Literary Criticism and Higher and Lower Criticism, but even through all of that, begin to see the fault lines and limiting ideas that permeate the presence of Critical Theory itself, as well as hard-core Skepticism. For me, it's that sort of Semantically inlaid presence of a 2nd order level set of realizations that, like a mystic hammer, causes our critical thoughts to be framed [ala Frege? or Searle?--- I can't remember specifically which of these at the moment] by our own critical thoughts and, thereby, fracture them, leaving conceptual and epistemic "room" for faith to springboard forth anyway.
 
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From the introduction of Selections from the Writings of Soren Kierkegaard:

Besides, as Lessing had demonstrated conclusively: historic facts never can become the proof of eternal verities. Nor can the existence of the Church through the ages furnish any guarantee for faith—straight counter to the opinion, held by Kierkegaard's famous contemporary Grundtvig—any more than can mere contemporaneousness establish a guarantee for those living at the beginning. To sum up: "One who has an objective Christianity and nothing else, he is eo ipso a heathen." For the same reason, "philosophic speculation" is not the proper approach, since it seeks to understand Christianity objectively, as an historic phenomenon—which rules it out from the start.​
It is only by a decisive "leap," from objective thinking into subjective faith, with the consciousness of sin as the driving power, that the individual may realize (we would say, attain) Christianity. Nor is it gained once for all, but must ever be maintained by passionately assailing the paradox of faith, which is, that one's eternal salvation is based on an historic fact. The main thing always is the "how," not the "what." Kierkegaard goes so far as to say that he who with fervency and inwardness prays to some false god is to be preferred to him who worships the true god, but without the passion of devotion.​

This is interesting to me since I have been hearing about Ratzinger's article, "The Constantinian Heathenism of the Church," where he makes a similar point with regard to the Catholicism of the 1950's.

That's an interesting comparison between Kierkegaard and Ratzinger. I'd have to think further on it. I'm glad you brought it up. This might be a point on which I'd differ just a little with Kierkegaard ...

I also wonder if I'll find any interesting and related comments from Ratzinger in my copy of his book, The Nature and Mission of Theology? I'll have to look.
 
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I'm not sure that much discussion around a leap of faith is necessarily helpful, because in my view faith is the starting point rather than a destination. Everything we believe we know about the world is ultimatly built on things that we believe to be true that are beyond our ability to demonstrate to be true. The insurmountable gulch is when our faith begins with a self-existent universe and we try to work towards faith, since doing so in a consistent fashion destroys the possibility of a omnipresent, immanent, and transcendent creator. Faith, in this sense, is simply the ordinary acceptance of our basic experience. An experience which nearly universally recognizes the presence of design in the universe, to the point that teleology has to be trained out of the language of biologists. So Kierkegaard's leap of faith comes at a point in the process where faith has already been silently exercised, and is instead simply giving definition to something already present.

Understood. I think you have a point, and I'm not actually one who promotes the 'leap of faith' concept itself. My existentialism isn't quite of the sort that involves a "Leap of Faith," especially of the sort that so often gets pushed into a corner and lampooned by sarcastic Skeptics. I don't think Kierkegaard really intended to be understood in this way either. What he was presenting as a Leap of Faith wasn't meant to refer to a freelance, haphazardly epistemic fashioned fideism; hence the reason for his reference to being mindful to resist any semblance in his arguments to a mere parroting of the story of Baron Munchausen ... no, Kierkegaard's adapted leap had more to do with aligning one's self with the Truth, specifically the Truth of Christ.

In line with what you've said, I think Kierkegaard was attempting to address a sort of prudish cultural cynicism that he perceived existed even among those who attached themselves to the Christian Faith in his own Danish time and place.

At this point, I'd have to admit that my existentialism, being a product of the 20th century and not that of the 19th, starts at an even more epistemically fractured state than what Kierkegaard was likely to have begun with. Mine is more of the skeptical sort reflective of Carl Sagan's thought, with a large mix of Sartrean nausea mixed in. However, my existentialism doesn't preclude the notions of Pascal or Kierkegaard as helpful reminders in my epistemic journey. They give be credible pause to self-reflect and realize that I may be doing myself a huge disservice by stridently asserting that I "absolutely can't" appreciate the historical aspects of the Christian Faith because it's so easy and fashionable (and sometimes pleasureable as a part of that cultural fashionability) to turn away from the whole of faith in Christ due to pain or trauma or the ongoing questioning of life. ... there's that, and the fact that I don't think the musings of Gotthold Lessing with his epistemic 'Ditch' were fully objective in nature. No, I think I agree with Kierkegaard on some level that Lessing was, shall we say, Subjectively Witholding for some personal reasons due to being emotionally dissatisfied with what has been historically "given" in the Scriptures.
 
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I am not an expert in Kierkegaard, but one mistake that people make when assessing his philosophy is that they assume subjective truth means the primacy of subjectivity.

Truth still exists, it is "there", but how we embrace and relate to it is the question

Yes, I think you're correct there, Merrill. :cool:
 
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Fervent

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Understood. I think you have a point, and I'm not actually one who promotes the 'leap of faith' concept itself. My existentialism isn't quite of the sort that involves a "Leap of Faith," especially of the sort that so often gets pushed into a corner and lampooned by sarcastic Skeptics. I don't think Kierkegaard really intended to be understood in this way either. What he was presenting as a Leap of Faith wasn't meant to refer to a freelance, haphazardly epistemic fashioned fideism; hence the reason for his reference to being mindful to resist any semblance in his arguments to a mere parroting of the story of Baron Munchausen ... no, Kierkegaard's adapted leap had more to do with aligning one's self with the Truth, specifically the Truth of Christ.

In line with what you've said, I think Kierkegaard was attempting to address a sort of prudish cultural cynicism that he perceived existed even among those who attached themselves to the Christian Faith in his own Danish time and place.

At this point, I'd have to admit that my existentialism, being a product of the 20th century and not that of the 19th, starts at an even more epistemically fractured state than what Kierkegaard was likely to have begun with. Mine is more of the skeptical sort reflective of Carl Sagan's thought, with a large mix of Sartrean nausea mixed in. However, my existentialism doesn't preclude the notions of Pascal or Kierkegaard as a helpful reminders in my epistemic journey. They give be credible pause to self-reflect and realize that I may be doing myself a huge disservice by stridently asserting that I "absolutely can't" appreciate the historical aspects of the Christian Faith because it's so easy and fashionable (and sometimes pleasureable as a part of that cutlural fashionability) to turn away from the whole of faith in Christ due to pain or trauma or the ongoing questioning of life. ... there's that, and the fact that I don't think the musings of Gotthold Lessing with his epistemic 'Ditch' were fully objective in nature. No, I think I agree with Kierkegaard on some level that Lessing was, shall we say, Subjectively Witholding for some personal reasons due to being emotionally dissatisfied with what has been historically "given" in the Scriptures.
I think I understand where you're coming from on this, and I think there's a peculiar shame among intellectual Christians as if faith is some kind of dirty trick or a necessary evil they'd rather not depend on. Baron Munchausen can be quite an ally in apologetics, in that I hear notes of Ecclesiastes from him. What such unrelenting skepticism reveals is that at the end of the day, we all adopt core truths on a non-evidentiary basis. Ultimately, faith is going to look silly if we begin with an ontological picture that has eternal matter or some other eternal object within creation and build an epistemic framework on that foundation. If, instead, we begin with a personal, omnipresent, transcendent, omnipotent Creator then a lot of the things that are hard to swallow about the Christian religion appear far less silly and their historic foundation can be accepted. Ultimately, the only historic fact that is essential to Christianity is the death and resurrection, and it seems to me that there's a fairly potent case to be made for each of those within conventionally established history.
 
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zippy2006

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A quick preliminary post:
I haven't heard of Hamann, but I'll add him to my list of figures on which to become more briefly acquainted.
I randomly came across something in my reading:

As we have seen, following Lessing, Mendelssohn had sharply distinguished​
between the “eternal truths of reason” and the “accidental facts of history.” Hamann,​
however, as we have also seen, completely rejects any such strict and dubious separa-​
tion, and now it is fully clear why. For here, in and among the facts of the history of​
Israel, the eternal Logos and archetype of all reason is revealed. Thus, against​
Mendelssohn, who would transform Judaism into an abstract religion of reason, and​
contemporary Aufklärungstheologen, who would do the same with Christianity, he​
says: “These temporal and eternal truths of history concerning the king of the Jews,​
the angel of their covenant, the firstborn and head of his church, are the A and Ω,​
the ground and summit of the wings of our faith …” Conversely, unbelief, he says,​
following Luther, “is the only sin against the spirit of the true religion, whose heart​
is in heaven, and whose heaven is in the heart” (After Enlightenment: Hamann as Post-Secular Visionary, by John R. Betz, p. 287).​

There are interesting similarities and differences between Hamann and Kierkegaard, and I know Kierkegaard was somewhat influenced by Hamann. But I'll leave that for another day.
 
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zippy2006

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I haven't heard of Hamann, but I'll add him to my list of figures on which to become more briefly acquainted.
Here is an excerpt regarding Kierkegaard's high view of Hamann:

And then there is Kierkegaard, his last great admirer, who not only “rejoices” in​
Hamann, but suggests that Hamann, together with Socrates was one of the “perhaps​
most brilliant minds of all time.”[The Concept of Anxiety] In sum, to judge from their testimony, it would​
seem that it was ironically Hamann, by all accounts the darkest author in the history​
of German letters, who was truly enlightened. How preposterous, then, that today​
so few, even in the modern academy, have heard of him. As Kierkegaard poignantly​
put it regarding Hamann’s fate:​

the originality of his genius is there in his brief statements, and the pithiness of form​
corresponds completely to the desultory hurling forth of a thought. With heart and​
soul, down to his last drop of blood, he is concentrated in a single word, a highly gifted​
genius’s passionate protest against a system of existence. Poor Hamann, you have been​
reduced to a subsection by Michelet. Whether your grave has ever been marked, I do​
not know; but I do know that by hook or by crook you have been stuck into the subsec-​
tion uniform and thrust into the ranks.[Conclusion Unscientific Postscript]​
(After Enlightenment: Hamann as Post-Secular Visionary, by John R. Betz, pp. 2-3)​

I wasn't familiar with the conceptual term Lessing and Kierkegaard referred to from [Aristotle's Greek?], but that's interesting to know. It almost sounds like the term 'born again' alludes to this in an indirect way. Of course, being that the Gospel of John seems to me to have a more Greek philosophical influence within its overall composition, it might be that "John" borrowed the notion from Greek conceptual influences of the time, such by Aristotle.
The term refers to something like a logical "leap," and although some might think of it as impermissible leap, Aristotle doesn't quite use it in that manner.

From what I can tell, the sum of Kierkegaard's assessment on the nature of the existential leap toward Christ involves his 2nd Order notion of Subjectivity, which plays a sort of cognitive liaison role between dealing with the historical and ecclesial aspects of faith (like Tradition, The Scriptures, etc.) and then, as if catapulting from a springboard, moving toward the Divine Spirit, but in Biblical terms (not Hegelian terms).
Yes, that seems right. The key for Hamann, and perhaps also for Kierkegaard, is that Lessing's Enlightenment presuppositions are not granted, particularly materialism. The notion that material realities cannot convey eternal truths is really just Enlightenment parochialism, a two-dimensional corner these "rational" men have painted themselves into. It is true that as far as syllogisms are concerned, there is not a strict logical entailment to be found, but the same holds for induction and that doesn't stop science from arriving at conclusions that have no strict logical grounds.

As for the Socratic Problem,...
As such, the Socratic problem that seems more pertinent to me is the idea that material realities do not mediate the Forms, rather than questions of historicity. Questions of historicity are but a subset of these problems.

As for the Socratic Problem, I'm also interested in the way that this problem plays into countering the "Mythicist Error" regarding Jesus since a historical analogy can be made between Socrates and Jesus in that neither ever wrote anything themselves as far as we know, but they each had followers who apparently heard them and represented their respective teachings in those writings.

I.E. ... if we can believe in the historicity of Socrates, or of Hannibal of Carthage, or of a number of ancient historical events that we have no primary sources for, then surely we can assess historical credibility to Jesus of Nazareth, and we can reasonably think that the New Testament writings on some level offer relevant representations and details of His person, teaching, and life (and death, and resurrection). And (here's the rub)................we can do this without having to also assume biblical infallibility or innerrancy to get a Non-Mythicist view of Jesus off the ground and by which to believe and, even in Pascalian or Kierkegaardian fashion if needed, find faith.
I think this is a good point: if we hold Jesus to the same level of historical scrutiny to which we hold Socrates or Hannibal, then we are off and running, and I think even most atheistic historians acknowledge this fact.

True. I would concede to that on some level. But nailing down that something is the 'happening of God's Grace through the Church or the direct influence of the Holy Spirit even from without the Church isn't always easy to do. Some of us need to sense some sort of substance historically to the Gospel Message in addition to the Grace that comes by interacting with other Christians in the Church. But this is me speaking, not necessarily Kierkegaard or Pascal precisely, so I think what you're saying is in line with what these older gentlemen would say.
Yes, and I would say that if the historical ground for the existence of a religious founder is dubious, then the religion itself is dubious, at least insofar as it relies upon that figure. In the case of Christianity there is obviously the heaviest reliance upon the original figure of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet once this historical data is in place, there is still no automatic syllogism with which to arrive at saving faith.

Yeah, I can understand very well what you're warning against here, and you have a very valid point: The thing is, I'd counter Hart by implying that sometimes, when Philosophy is applied in equitable terms, there can be a sort of rebound effect, and one doesn't have to become a Universalist in order to try to mend and smooth out the paradoxical wrinkles in Theology that most bother us.
Yes, or perhaps we could say that philosophy has its limits. For a philosopher like Hart to try to smooth out the paradoxical "wrinkles" of Christianity is to undermine Christianity by accident. Granted, this recent book I spoke about (Tradition and Apocalypse) is not about Universalism.

Instead, I'd say that one can refer to and use the latest in Literary Criticism and Higher and Lower Criticism, but even through all of that, begin to see the fault lines and limiting ideas that permeate the presence of Critical Theory itself, as well as hard-core Skepticism. For me, it's that sort of Semantically inlaid presence of a 2nd order level set of realizations that, like a mystic hammer, causes our critical thoughts to be framed [ala Frege? or Searle?--- I can't remember specifically which of these at the moment] by our own critical thoughts and, thereby, fracture them, leaving conceptual and epistemic "room" for faith to springboard forth anyway.
Yes, and in the end I think the critical traditions will be found to be immensely time-bound, and not as sure as their originators had imagined.

I also wonder if I'll find any interesting and related comments from Ratzinger in my copy of his book, The Nature and Mission of Theology? I'll have to look.
I'm not sure - I have not read that one!

Sorry it took me so long to respond to this! :sorry:
 
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2PhiloVoid

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Here is an excerpt regarding Kierkegaard's high view of Hamann:

And then there is Kierkegaard, his last great admirer, who not only “rejoices” in​
Hamann, but suggests that Hamann, together with Socrates was one of the “perhaps​
most brilliant minds of all time.”[The Concept of Anxiety] In sum, to judge from their testimony, it would​
seem that it was ironically Hamann, by all accounts the darkest author in the history​
of German letters, who was truly enlightened. How preposterous, then, that today​
so few, even in the modern academy, have heard of him. As Kierkegaard poignantly​
put it regarding Hamann’s fate:​

the originality of his genius is there in his brief statements, and the pithiness of form​
corresponds completely to the desultory hurling forth of a thought. With heart and​
soul, down to his last drop of blood, he is concentrated in a single word, a highly gifted​
genius’s passionate protest against a system of existence. Poor Hamann, you have been​
reduced to a subsection by Michelet. Whether your grave has ever been marked, I do​
not know; but I do know that by hook or by crook you have been stuck into the subsec-​
tion uniform and thrust into the ranks.[Conclusion Unscientific Postscript]​
(After Enlightenment: Hamann as Post-Secular Visionary, by John R. Betz, pp. 2-3)​
That's a nice bit of a quotation. I like it! Good choice. :oldthumbsup:
The term refers to something like a logical "leap," and although some might think of it as impermissible leap, Aristotle doesn't quite use it in that manner.
And it's too bad, then, that a number of people seem to interpret Keirkegaard as implying that there is not intelligence loaded into the Leap that he, himself, has revisited and then presented.


Yes, that seems right. The key for Hamann, and perhaps also for Kierkegaard, is that Lessing's Enlightenment presuppositions are not granted, particularly materialism. The notion that material realities cannot convey eternal truths is really just Enlightenment parochialism, a two-dimensional corner these "rational" men have painted themselves into. It is true that as far as syllogisms are concerned, there is not a strict logical entailment to be found, but the same holds for induction and that doesn't stop science from arriving at conclusions that have no strict logical grounds.
Those are good points for me to ponder. And while I do 'feel' the weight of Lessing's disappointments with God and His seeming metaphysical Hiddenness in a hard reality, I also think he protests too much, historically speaking. It seems Kierkegaard thought so too, apparently with the help of Socrates on one hand, and as you've pointed out, with a thinker like Hamann on the other. My leap would rely much less, if at all, on Socrates' input, and much more on being battered in the head repeatedly with something like a copy of Mark Day's, The Philosophy of History.
As such, the Socratic problem that seems more pertinent to me is the idea that material realities do not mediate the Forms, rather than questions of historicity. Questions of historicity are but a subset of these problems.
That's something to think about.
I think this is a good point: if we hold Jesus to the same level of historical scrutiny to which we hold Socrates or Hannibal, then we are off and running, and I think even most atheistic historians acknowledge this fact.


Yes, and I would say that if the historical ground for the existence of a religious founder is dubious, then the religion itself is dubious, at least insofar as it relies upon that figure. In the case of Christianity there is obviously the heaviest reliance upon the original figure of Jesus of Nazareth. Yet once this historical data is in place, there is still no automatic syllogism with which to arrive at saving faith.
True. That's why we also need the leading of the Holy Spirit? ... and somewhere, tucked in there somewhere, ideally, would be the active participation of the Church in the acclimation of that leading?
Sorry it took me so long to respond to this! :sorry:

No problem. I realize that you have your own family and life to live. I hope your holidays were good. ;)
 
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It seems a question is if history and the church are reliable for having faith.

History can be fabricated in order to promote the sort of faith that someone is promoting, usually a group of beliefs held by a cultural church group.

And what faith is supposed to be can vary from one group to another. And there can be what is called "blind faith", which keeps God distant and a belief.

But Biblical faith is a gift of God. It has us in personal connection with God Himself proving Himself to us, in my opinion.
 
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