Neither Irrationalist Nor Apologist: Revisiting Faith and Reason in Kierkegaard



One of the most hotly contested debates in Kierkegaard studies concerns his sense of the relationship between faith and reason. Often caricatured as a proponent of irrational fideism, scholarship in recent decades has tried to present a more nuanced account of Kierkegaard’s position. Two likely interpretive options have emerged: supra-rationalism and anti-rationalism. On the former view, Kierkegaard believes that while the achievement of faith is beyond the capabilities of reason, there are still ways that reason can aid the maintenance of faith once reason’s limits are recognized. On the latter view, faith is a constant struggle against rationalizing justification, and thus, any attempt to use reason to assist in the maintenance of faith is a mistake. Interestingly, a comparison with Pascal can help one arbitrate between these two responses to the dubious irrationalist reading of Kierkegaard.