Review: David R. Law, “The ‘Ultimatum’ of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, Part Two, and the Two Upbuilding Discourses of 16 May 1843

David R. Law, “The ‘Ultimatum’ of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, Part Two, and the Two Upbuilding Discourses of 16 May 1843;” in The International Kierkegaard Commentary, vol. 4:   Either/Or, Part II, pp. 259-90



Law compares the general message of the “Ultimatum” and the two upbuilding discourses that “accompanied” it.  Law argues that while the three discourses may use different language, all three treat the ethical as “the Law” in Pauline/Lutheran theology, the “disciplinarian” that educates the individual up to the state of being ready to move from the ethical to the religious, and even to prompt the individual to move to the religious by presenting the breakdown of the ethical project.  At the same time, Law argues that all three discourses do not move completely beyond the ethical, either, since all three grant the self some self-sufficiency since it does have the power to surrender to God, to accept that as against God we are always in the wrong, that every thing that comes to us from God is a good gift, etc.  instead of conceding that even the will itself may be corrupted by sin and in need of grace.

In the discussion of the second discourse, Law points out that doubt about the future is concern over nothing; compare this to The Concept of Anxiety.  Are these discourses the beginnings of discussion of anxiety?  But anxiety is “the dizziness of freedom,” a fear of responsibility; concern about the future does not necessarily involve one’s own freedom, but only one’s stance in relation to the possibilities of the future.  Finally, Law argues that both these discourses and the “Ultimatum” present a Kierkegaardian theodicy, based on the book of Job’s argument that human reason is simply too limited to judge God or to complain about “evil” so we should have faith that what God wills is in fact good.


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19 Responses to “Review: David R. Law, “The ‘Ultimatum’ of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or, Part Two, and the Two Upbuilding Discourses of 16 May 1843”

  1. Nemo Says:

    If human reason is “too limited to judge God”, then it can’t say what God wills is good either, because the latter implies judgment.

    Could you elaborate on the “concern about the future”? I didn’t get your point.

    • philosophicalscraps Says:

      1. That is actually the lesson of Job, as far as anyone can tell the lesson (it’s a very confusing book). Kierkegaard would compare it to love: if you love someone, you will interpret what he or she does in the best possible light and assume that there must be some reason why the loved one has done something that seemed mean etc. That assumes that you have some past experience that convinced you that the other loved you in the first place, but the believer believes he or she has had that experience with God. Job trusted God, even when everything fell apart, and even though it seemed inexplicable.

      2. “Concern for the future” isn’t anything particularly mysterious. Right now, for example, I have concern for my future. My wife’s job is ending, and I don’t make enough money as an adjunct to pay our bills. But while any number of things could happen in the future, there is nothing definite for me to worry about; so I am anxious over nothing concrete, but merely the possibility that something bad might happen.

      • Nemo Says:

        1. Job maintained his own innocence and integrity, and even after God had appeared to him, he didn’t say what God willed was good, he kept his mouth shut instead. The most intriguing part of the story.

        If faith is based on some past experience, Job had both positive and negative experiences, did his faith wax and wane accordingly? On the other hand, if you always look at your loved one in a most favorable light, is having faith the same as being an optimist?

        2. I’m having trouble understanding “the dizziness of freedom”. I guess it depends on Kierkegaard’s definition of “freedom”. To me, dizziness is a sign of loss of freedom, as someone who feels dizzy when he loses supply of blood to his brain.

        The possibility of something bad (as well as good) happening always exists, but we’re not always concerned. In your case, it is something concrete that you’re worried about. I don’t see this as fear of responsibility though.

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        I’ll take (2) first, because it is probably easier. The first chapter of Concept of Anxiety lays that out as much as anything does, and I think Law is thinking not only about the books he is directly considering but also CA. The “dizziness” is the feeling of being overwhelmed by the possibilities. The individual knows he (or she) is free, that s/he must choose, and that the choice matters—if all choices were arbitrary or trivial there would be no anxiety. Kierkegaard’s model in CA is Adam, and his question is, why did Adam sin? And his answer is that there can be no “why;” if there were a real cause then it was not a free choice, and even predestinarians like Augustine concede that Adam was absolutely free. He wasn’t tempted by the prospect of doing “evil,” since according to the story in Genesis he had no knowledge of good and evil; he was a complete innocent. All he had was a possibility, the possibility of freedom, to do something that he knew he shouldn’t. Really, it was simply the knowledge that he could do something, even though he shouldn’t. That was his first real experience of freedom: a significant choice, a free choice, and could either choose this possibility or not. Kierkegaard (or the pseudonym Vigilius Haufniensis) compares the realization of freedom here to looking over a cliff and realizing the possibilities—-to jump, to fall, to close one’s eyes, to keep climbing. That is the “dizziness” or “vertigo of freedom.” There can be no “why” to explain why one sins; the closest one can come to an explanation is that one is free, facing the possibilities of one’s life, and like a climber who suddenly is overcome with vertigo one is overcome with the dizziness of freedom, and falls. And Adam chose, in that dizziness, and after he had chosen he knew for the first time what “good” and “evil” where, in the only way anyone can ever know—-by recognizing that he had done evil. Haufniensis analyzes the Genesis story of the Fall, both accepting it as literal truth but also saying that unless it is a story about how each of us falls, it has no importance; so he treats Adam’s fall as a depiction of how each of us comes to recognize our freedom first when we have already lost it through sin. The rest of the chapters are not so much about Adam as they are about anxiety in general, describing how our attempts to work our own way out of anxiety only work us deeper into it, until the only two options are to throw our freedom away completely (if no freedom then no anxiety) or to rely on faith. Haufniensis doesn’t say much about faith, since the book is written from a psychological point of view rather than a theological one; so the book ends there.

        1. Job is a very complex book, perhaps more complex than Kierkegaard realized although he does a good job of dealing with the duality of the book. Really, there are two Jobs, and some scholars believe there were at least two authors, the second reworking the story. The first Job is the one in the prose sections, who experiences all the torments Satan can throw at him and still keeps his faith. When New Testament writers mention Job, that is the part they usually reference, and that is the part Kierkegaard usually discusses in his direct writings like the upbuilding discourses. The second Job is the Job of the poetic section, chapters 3-42:6, where Job seems anything but “patient.” This is the Job that Kierkegaard’s pseudonym discusses in Repetition. Kierkegaard discusses the “patient” Job who says, “Shall I accept good from the LORD and not also accept evil?” in discourses, and the angry Job who rails at the injustice of his life and calls on God to appear and explain himself in Repetition; I don’t know anyplace where he tries to discuss both sides of the book together.

        So I don’t know if I can answer your question as asked, because when Kierkegaard writes about the patience of Job he doesn’t seem to think about the part that you are discussing (42:1-6). But to return to the sermon in Either/Or and the two discourses, they all agree that faith ought not to wax and wane any more than love ought to. Maybe it does, but that is due to human weakness, not love itself. The whole point of the sermon, “On the Upbuilding Thought That As Against God We are Always in the Wrong” is that if your experience at the moment causes you to think that either you are in the wrong or that God is treating you unjustly, you ought to assume that the fault lies with you, not with God. Frankly, I don’t see that the Job who demands that God appear and explain himself has any place here; the Job who suffers loss, mourns, and yet still says “Blessed be the name of the LORD” is the one who shows this kind of faith. I think that too much attention to the actual book of Job can block us here from understanding the use that Kierkegaard is putting Job to in this particular instance. But to answer your final question: in Greek, the word “faith” and “trust” are the same, and Kierkegaard knew this; so to have faith in God means to trust God. It may mean more than that, but it means that much certainly. And if you love and trust someone, you look for a favorable explanation of that person’s actions. The Parson in E/O points out that when you do this with a human, you may end up being forced to admit that perhaps there is no true explanation because even the best person occasionally does wrong; but God is perfect and we can therefore keep the faith that as against God we are always in the wrong.

        Does that help?

      • Nemo Says:

        I understand your exposition of the freedom of choice. What bothers me is the association of freedom with sin, as if one cannot experience freedom without sinning. The dizziness of freedom happens before the Fall, when Adam was indeed free. However, when Adam has made the choice and fallen, he is no longer dizzy but also no longer free. IOW, sin only exists in relation to freedom as a potentiality, not as a cause or a limiting factor. It is possible for Adam to remain free and never sin, just as it is possible for a man to remain healthy all his life and never become sick.

        Kierkegaard’s Concept of Anxiety seems to agree with Augustine’s doctrine of Original Sin. But I need to read more of both before commenting further.

        The “poetic” Job objected to the idea that “against God we are always in the wrong”. His three friends accused him of being in the wrong, a sinner. Why else did he suffer so much torment? But he maintained his own righteousness till the end. One of my favorite characters in the OT. It seems to me a bit disingenuous that anyone whose “heart does not condemn” himself would admit to being in the wrong. It’s like apologizing to somebody without saying what for.

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        Have you read Repetition? If not, I think you might like it. The second half of the book is made up of the letters of a character known only as a “Young Man,” who is suffering but does not feel he is guilty. He turns to Job, and specifically to the Job who demands God explain this to him. As to the idea of apologizing for whatever you did wrong without knowing what for, I take it you’re not married 😉 The Parson’s point (and Kierkegaard’s) is that to be in love is to prefer to think that you need to apologize rather than to think that the other person needs to apologize to you. In our relations to one another, this is not always the case and may not always be healthy; sometimes the other really has done wrong and needs to own up to that, and to deny that may be to help that person miss an opportunity to grow as an individual. But in relation to God it happens to be the truth since what God does is truly good.

        Kierkegaard’s understanding of “original” or “hereditary” sin has some affinities with Augustine’s account. On the other hand, Kierkegaard rejects the notion of a biological inheritance, or indeed of any direct causal inheritance. For Kierkegaard, each person who sins, sins freely; each one starts in a sense as innocent as Adam. The problem we face that Adam didn’t is that for Adam, sin was nothing but a possibility, an unknown with unknown results. Each of us is born into a world where sin exists, and is an actuality for just about everyone around us. To return to the vertigo metaphor, imagine you are climbing up a cliff; the thought of the distance below could be pretty daunting if you stopped to think about it. Now suppose people around you started slipping and falling. Maybe some even jumped. If you weren’t doubting your ability to keep climbing before, you certainly will now. Adam was the first climber and didn’t have to deal with the negative examples of others. For him, falling was a possibility, but he didn’t know what it would mean to fall, how far it would go or anything like that. He didn’t even know what “falling” meant, since no one had ever done it before. Each of us is born into a world where every climber before us (except Christ) fell and went hurtling down past our ears; this increases our anxiety.

        As to the association of freedom and sin: I seem to have stated that badly. Adam was free, he was created free, otherwise he could not have had anxiety. Anxiety is the sign of freedom, and the more anxiety the more freedom. The person who is without anxiety is the one who has given up freedom, given up individuality and become spiritless. In Kierkegaard’s day, he was thinking of the people who submerge themselves in mass society; in the 20th Century writers like Tillich used this idea to explain the attraction of collectivist politicians like Hitler and Stalin. They offer relief from anxiety, since they agree to think for you, to see for you, to choose for you and all you have to do is obey and be like everybody else.

        You are right; sin is a potentiality for Adam. If he had never sinned, he could have gone through life only doing what God commanded, and he would have been free since he always had the potential to disobey but chose not to actualize that potential. Thank you for reminding me. But at the same time, that would mean he would never have known what good and evil were. He would have remained a complete innocent. That is why the Hegelian philosophy says that Adam’s fall was necessary; it is the first step towards full selfhood and individuality. To be come a “mature” person, it is necessary to sin, repent and establish a new relationship with the divine that recognizes the separation while overcoming it. Haufniensis acknowledges that sin might appear to us to be necessary, since otherwise Adam would have remained essentially a child in immediate union with God (not with faith as we understand it); however, Haufniensis (and Kierkegaard in his own discourse on Adam) denies that this was in any sense necessary or desirable; only that it is an historical fact that all sin and all need to overcome anxiety.

      • Nemo Says:

        If Kierkegaard really believes that everyone is as innocent and free as Adam, the vertigo metaphor would be a mistake. In the metaphor, there is a “why” to everyone’s fall: the law of gravity, whether we choose to or not. This is actually reminiscent of original sin.

        The idea that sin is necessary for selfhood sounds totally absurd. I suspect if all the people in the world were blind, someone would come up with the idea that being blind is necessary for selfhood. Is Jesus not a mature individual because he never sinned? I tend to think that Adam was immature before the Fall because he never was tempted by sin and overcame it. The trial is necessary, but not the Fall.

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        To the first paragraph: we don’t “fall” into sin, even though we use that language. We jump; at least that is the way it is described in The Concept of Anxiety. We know we are free because we can be tempted; we know we have lost our freedom when we sin, but then we can’t get it back on our own. I think we would be free, but we wouldn’t really know what that freedom was. Adam didn’t know what his freedom really was, because he was without the knowledge of good and evil. He only gained that knowledge when he had experienced evil. But by then he was tainted.

        To the second paragraph: That is the Hegelian understanding of sin, as Kierkegaard presents it in several writings. We only come to absolute knowledge by first separating and then reconnecting, so that the distinctions are made and then the higher unity understood. So Adam did not have full understanding of God because he had never been separated from God; it was necessary for him to sin, distinguishing his will from God’s, in order for the human race to eventually work out the problem of how the divine, the human and the natural all relate in a higher unity. From the Hegelian perspective, Christ represents the unity after sin in that sin has come into the world and Christ is human, and yet also divine, showing that the two different things are related in a higher unity; but Christ never wrote it down so it took another 1800 years for history to give birth to Hegel who could make the logical connections explicit. So sin, in the Hegelian understanding of history, was a necessary moment in human development. Kierkegaard’s various guises all attack this notion that sin or evil is in any sense “necessary;” he is trying to argue that it was because of human free will and that every new sin is a new act of freedom. At the same time, he is enough of an Augustinian that he wants to avoid full-blown Pelagianism.

        I’m not entirely sure what to do with Christ here since the temptation to Eve was that if she disobeyed, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Christ was already like God, so obviously Christ didn’t need to sin to know good and evil; but it seems that Adam did. But as you say, Adam was free before he sinned, or he could not have sinned. And as Philosophical Fragments argues, after one sins one is not free, or one would not need the Incarnation.

      • Nemo Says:

        We know freedom by exercising it. Isn’t this Kant’s conception of freedom, the freedom to act? What need is there of sin for us to know freedom? After Adam had sinned, he lost freedom, but he only “knew” it relatively, by comparing it to his sinful state, but he could not know freedom absolutely in a state of sin.

        “Christ represents the unity after sin in that sin has come into the world and Christ is human, and yet also divine”

        Juxtaposition is not unity. Did Hegel prove a logical unity apart from the fact that both sin and Christ were in the world? Christ represent unity, yet, but sin has nothing in Him. Being divine didn’t exempt Him from being tempted, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…”

        BTW, were you being sarcastic about “1800 years for history to give birth to Hegel”?

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        In reverse: Only a little sarcastic. Hegel really does seem to say that history concludes with his philosophy, which is Absolute Spirit made explicit. That is also what Kierkegaard understood Hegel to be claiming: that Christianity was the truth of the relationship of God and Man as Absolute Spirit, but it hadn’t been made explicit yet. It took the next 1800 years of the historical development of Christianity to bring it to full expression. With the appearance of The System, that development was fulfilled. (Kierkegaard’s tutor, Martensen, claimed to have even “gone beyond” Hegel, but I doubt Hegel would have agreed, and I don’t think Kierkegaard thought Martensen had made any significant changes except to add a level of pretension.)

        I can’t say whether Hegel was able to “prove a logical unity.” You would have to read The Phenomenology of Spirit and decide if he made his point. I can only say that Hegel thought he had proven the logical unity, and Kierkegaard thought he had not, partly because they have different ideas of what constitutes “logic.” What I meant by that sentence is just to say that Jesus is not Adam, since Jesus appeared after sin was already in the world. Since Hegel is looking at the world consciousness, it was not necessary for him to ask whether Christ himself had sinned; Christ came into the world when the human race had experienced sin, which makes him different from Adam (assuming Adam was an historical person, which Hegel probably would not concede but Kierkegaard accepts) who lived before anyone had “the knowledge of good and evil.” For Hegel, Adam represents human spirit in immediate unity with the divine, which cannot know itself as a self different than the divine until it sins. Hegel’s logic claims that every position implies its opposite (or generates it) so the simple unity of God and human leads necessarily to the position that they are not united; this logical separation had to become an historical reality, so it is right to say that Adam’s sin was necessary. The proposition that God and humanity are opposed, however, implies its opposite, that they are united in a higher unity which encompasses both; this became an historical reality in Christ, whose spirit was one with the divine. Christianity is the historical attempt to think that unity and to make it real in a society. That conceptual development culminates in The System (Hegel’s philosophy) and historically/socially culminates in Christendom, when the truth of Christianity is finally and fully expressed in Protestant Christian social institutions and culture.

        I’m not sure I’m summing up Concept of Anxiety very well; it is pretty dense and quite dialectical. Yes, Adam was free and would have remained free if he had never sinned. He never would have “become as God, knowing good and evil” had he not disobeyed God. He would not have really known himself as a separate being; in the most important sense, he would not have been a separate self. He would have had a low-level anxiety, since there is no freedom without some anxiety; but it would have remained a vague attraction-repulsion concerning the possibility of disobedience, without a real conception of what that would mean if actualized. I hope that helps and I hope that’s closer to Kierkegaard’s position.

      • Nemo Says:

        I might has asked this question before: why did the synthesis stop with Hegel’s System, and not carry on ad infinitum? If it can be complete at any time, why not in the time of Adam or Christ?

        Concept of Anxiety is on my to-read list this year, though I want to finish Augustine’s writings on Original Sin first. From what I’ve read so far, Kierkegaard seems much more an Augustinian than many people realized.

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        I agree that Kierkegaard is within the Augustinian tradition. When I was starting my dissertation work, my adviser pointed me towards Alasdair MacIntyre’s treatment of Kierkegaard in his After Virtue, which she described as a “hatchet job.” MacIntyre gave the stereotypical view of Kierkegaard as an nihilistic existentialist who doesn’t care what you choose as long as you choose “with passion,” which is usually taken to mean either with emotion, with strenuousness or both. MacIntyre, like most commentators through the 1970’s and a fair number beyond, ignored the signed discourses and only read the pseudonymous works. I have found that when you pay attention to the signed works and read his pseudonymous works together with the discourses that “accompany” them, you get a totally different (and much more Augustinian) picture of Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard on Ethics and Religion and Kierkegaard on Sin and Salvation give examples of this; the second one is in paperback.

        As to Hegel, I’m not a real Hegelian so I might express this sloppily, but I think there are two senses in which it is said that history finishes with The System. The first is that Hegel has simply done it all. Human history has been a progression from simple immediate unities (such as primitive animism, where everything is alive and the divine is everywhere) to distinctions and separations (as in Judaism, where the divine is so completely other that to look upon God is to die) to bringing those distinctions back together in a “higher unity.” The unity is “higher” in that it is explicit, conscious and rational. If I can use a metaphor, a newborn infant doesn’t have a sense of self distinct from those around it, particularly its mother. As it grows, it develops more sophisticated understandings of the rest of the world and its independent nature, and of his or her own independence as a self apart from the mother, family and the rest of the world. For most people, the maximum separation is somewhere around late adolescence and early adulthood, the “rebellion” of teens leading to moving out and starting one’s own life. However, in a healthy family, the grown child can establish a new relationship to his or her parents, adult to adult, two independent yet inextricably joined selves who would not be what they are without both the separation between them and the essential connection of previous literal oneness, and the social connections of family that are the institutional expressions of that biological unity. In much the same way, all humans were in an easy immediate relationship with one another and with Nature before reflection began. As humans began to reflect, they began to discover (or create) distinctions between human and nature, God and human, male and female and so on. But as reflection continued, they also found the essential connections between these different concepts (and the social institutions that are the expressions of those concepts, etc.). In Protestant Christendom, those distinctions have been fully understood, fully expressed, and fully reunited conceptually in Hegel’s philosophy, and socially the political, ecclesiastical and other social structures of modern society.

        The other sense in which the notion of philosophy stopping with Hegel can be understood is that Hegelianism is the philosophy that incorporates change into the System. Hegel said that all presuppositions are expressions of historical realities just as much as historical social realities are expressions of concepts and logical connections. Therefore, The System includes the need for constant re-examination of all theses, to explore what antitheses they imply and how those might be related back to each other in a higher unity that incorporates the truth of both. So the System is not a static set of propositions; it is itself the process of development and growth of truth through history. But since it is Hegel’s System that explains this, the change itself verifies the System rather than refuting it.

        I’m not sure which of these two explanations is the truest to Hegel; I think they both have their points and I have seen both offered by commentators. And most likely the first, more static-sounding version and the second, more relativistic and dynamic version can themselves be united in a higher unity that encompasses both.

      • Nemo Says:

        Your first paragraph brings up a question that I’ve had for some time: how do people in the filed of philosophy evaluate the quality of their work?

        I’ll revisit the subject of “higher unity” when I get to Hegel…

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        How do we evaluate anything?

        Academically speaking, you are evaluated by your peers, whether in philosophy or any other field. How much of what you write actually is accepted for publication, and it is by reputable presses or vanity shops? How many other scholars write favorable reviews, or cite your work in theirs and acknowledge you as influential? How many conferences are you invited to speak at, and how large and important are they? and so on.

        Professionally, most of us are teachers, which means we are evaluated by our department chairs, who look at student evaluations, do their own personal observations, and things of that sort.

        The paradox is that little of this is relevant to judging who is a “good philosopher.” Socrates got great student evaluations and was influential on others, but he also died in poverty. Nietzsche was a lousy teacher. Schopenhauer was almost unknown in his lifetime, eclipsed by Hegel. Kierkegaard was virtually forgotten after his death, to be remembered in the 20th Century. As Hegel said, “the owl of Minerva flies at dusk;” that is, we generally only understand in retrospect, who was great, not who is great. Again, that is not so unusual; Mozart died in poverty and Saleri was the official Court Musician, but today we only remember Saleri because he is a character in the movie about Mozart. It is probably safe to say that just as a prophet is never welcomed in his own home town, a genius is unlikely to be recognized in his or her own time. On the other hand, there are exceptions to that rule, too. Maybe the best thing to do is just look to see what philosophers speak to you. Test their arguments, look for any logical or other weaknesses, to see if your affection is warranted or if your inspiration needs more work.

        And then the last problem: how do you evaluate your own work? You can look at how you are seen by others, but that is untrue to philosophy (if you are an existentialist, or Socratic, etc. but perhaps there are relativists who would accept the judgment of the mob). But starting with the criticism of others, even an individualist can embark on self-criticism, checking oneself to see if one has in fact made an error of logic, or fact, or value. Beyond that, I think there are similarities to art. Artists start out imitating others, then eventually some discover their own styles, which usually combines the influence of those they have been imitating with their own unique creativity. Philosophers start out reading the past masters, and in academia they write papers and take tests to show their understanding of those others; but eventually they have to start trying to offer their own answers to the questions of the world. Largely at that point it is just a matter of one’s confidence in one’s own work and one’s own ability to self-criticize, and seeing if one’s own work speaks to others. But every true artist works for himself or herself, and ultimately I think a philosopher must evaluate his or her own work by seeing if he or she finds that it answers the important questions. Like Zefram Cochrane said, “Don’t try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment.”

        Thank you for asking. I enjoy your questions and learn from your observations.

  2. Rastko Koschka Says:

    The concern for the future should be a teleological way of conceiving oneself as whole. What is being said is that it may not simply be our freedom that frightens us, it may be the way we take to it: that we can only make one (sometimes a few) choice(s) of the infinite number before us.

    • Nemo Says:

      Being an existing human being, we do make choices that limit the number of possibilities, from infinite to finite. But we make choices in the present, not the future. Why is it called “concern of the future”?

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        We choose among the present possibilities and decide which ones to actualize in the future. We don’t really know in the present how they will turn out,or what sort of future we are making in the process of choosing. We choose now also partly in anticipation of the future—we save for retirement because we expect to live until old age, we take a job in a neighborhood with good schools because we expect to be able to conceive children, and so on (my examples obviously, not Kierkegaard’s). Our concern is always for what is coming, and we act towards the future. As SK is often summarized, life is understood backwards but has to be lived forwards.

      • Nemo Says:

        I suppose our concern of the future is based on the assumption that there is a direct causal relation between what we do now and what happens to us in the future. Not unlike the assumption of Job’s friends: he suffered because he had sinned. But I thought Kierkegaard subscribed to Kant’s deontological ethics.

      • philosophicalscraps Says:

        Ron Green’s Kierkegaard and Kant: the hidden debt explains the relationship between them far better than I could. But being concerned for the future does not require that we believe we are in control of it or that what happens in the future flows directly from what we do now. In fact, much of the concern comes from the opposite: our knowledge that we are not in control. Kierkegaard’s clearest statement of this is in the Four Upbuilding Discourses (1843) in the first one of the text “Every Good and Perfect Gift is From Above.” It starts on page 125 of the Hong translation of the Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses.

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