Kierkegaard’s Socrates: a Venture in Evolutionary Theory

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Abstract

This essay explores the shifts in Kierkegaard’s conceptions of Socrates, looking to produce a more nuanced reading of Kierkegaardian indirect communication, faith, and subjectivity. Entirely bound up with his increasingly troubled view of Hegel and Hegelianism, Kierkegaard’s relationship to Socrates can be traced through three of his major texts: The Concept of Irony, Philosophical Fragments, and The Concluding Unscientific Postscript. By examining these three works, this essay charts a path from a critique of the Socratic as un-speculative, through a deep resentment of the Socratic as proto-speculative, to admiration and imitation of the Socratic as anti-speculative. Ultimately, it is argued, Kierkegaard and the pseudonyms rely upon Socrates to rehabilitate subjectivity out of the undifferentiated totality of nineteenth century idealism.

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