Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Volume 1 (Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol 12.1)
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In Philosophical Fragments the pseudonymous author Johannes Climacus explored the question: What is required in order to go beyond Socratic recollection of eternal ideas already possessed by the learner? Written as an afterword to this work, Concluding Unscientific Postscript is on one level a philosophical jest, yet on another it is Climacus's characterization of the subjective thinker's relation to the truth of Christianity. At once ironic, humorous, and polemical, this work takes on the "unscientific" form of a mimical-pathetical-dialectical compilation of ideas. Whereas the movement in the earlier pseudonymous writings is away from the aesthetic, the movement in Postscript is away from speculative thought. Kierkegaard intended Postscript to be his concluding work as an author. The subsequent "second authorship" after The Corsair Affair made Postscript the turning point in the entire authorship. Part One of the text volume examines the truth of Christianity as an objective issue, Part Two the subjective issue of what is involved for the individual in becoming a Christian, and the volume ends with an addendum in which Kierkegaard acknowledges and explains his relation to the pseudonymous authors and their writings. The second volume contains the scholarly apparatus, including a key to references and selected entries from Kierkegaard's journals and papers.
possess the truth and that for eighteen centuries those countless generations and millions upon millions upon millions have lived on and on in error? Do you dare, you miserable solitary fellow, do you dare to want, as it were, to plunge [styrte] all those millions upon millions upon millions, indeed all humankind, into perdition? See, they rise from their graves. See, they parade, as it were, past my thought, generation after generation of all those believers who found repose in the truth of
almost be afraid for myself in a church! That is, if I am a good listener, then I hear in such a way that the pastor continually seems to be preaching about me,667 because what otherwise is vanity and perhaps very ordinary in the world is exactly what is laudable and perhaps very rare in a church. And why do I become almost afraid for myself? Is it because the pastor describes us human beings (that is, me, if I am a good listener who assumes that it is I about whom he is preaching) as so
because the person who in absolute inwardness wants to be conscious of being a chosen one eo ipso lacks inwardness, since his life is comparative. It is this comparing and relativizing that, often unconsciously, deceptively seeks an alleviating indulgence in the form of mutual heartfelt effusions. Someone who is absolutely in love has nothing to do with any third party; he willingly assumes that everyone else is just as much in love.[VII 444] He considers no person ludicrous in the role of a
of a hundred sovereigns, which, for anything it matters to the notion, are the same hundred whether they are real or only possible, though the difference of the two cases is very perceptible in their effect on a man’s purse. Nothing can be more obvious than that anything we only think or conceive is not on that account actual; that mental representation, and even notional comprehension, always falls short of being. Still it may not unfairly be styled a barbarism in language, when the name of
wise person’s knowledge of the simple, that the difference is a meaningless trifle, that the wise person knows that he knows or knows that he does not know what the simple person knows—speculative thought does not respect this formula at all. Nor does it respect the equality implicit in the difference between the wise person and the simple person—that they know the same thing. That is, the speculator and the simple person in no way know the same thing when the simple person believes the paradox