Kierkegaard Cofta | Søren Kierkegaard


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  Theory and History of Literature Edited by Wlad Godzich and Jochen Schulte-Sasse Volume 6 . Th e odor W. Adorno Kierkegaard: Construction of th e Aesthetic Volume 60. Kristin Ross The Emergence of Social Space: Rimbaud and the Paris Commune Volume 59. Edjted by Lindsay Wa ter s a nd Wl ad Godzich R ea ding De Man Reading Volume 58  W J   Sch elling The Philosophy of Ar t Volume 57. Louis Marin Portrait of th e Kin g Volume 56. Peter Sloterdijk Thinker on Stage: Nietzsche  s Materialism Volume 55. Paul Smith Discerning the Subject Volume 54. Re da Bensmai a he Barthes Effect Volume 53 . Edm o nd Cro s Theo ry a nd Pr actice of Sociocriticism Volume 52. Philippe Lejun e On Autobiograp hy Volume 5 . Thierr y de Du ve The Readymade: Marcel Duchamp  Pa inting and Modernity Volume 50. Luiz C os ta Lima The Control of the Imaginary Volume 49. Fredric Jameson Th e Ideologies of Th eor y: Essa ys 1971-1986 2 Volume 48. Fr edric Jameson The Id eo logies of Theory: Essays 1 9 1- 19 86 I Volume 47. Eugene Va nce Fr om Topic to Tale: Logic and Narrativity in th e Middle Ages Volume 46. e   n Fr a n ~ ois Lyotard The Differe nd Volume 45. Manfred Frank Wh at is Neostructuralism? Volume 44. Daniel Co ttom Social Fi gures: George Eliot Social Histor y, a nd Literary Re pr esentation Volume 43. Michael Nerlich The Ideology of Adventure Volume 2. Volume 42. Michael Nerlich Th e Ideology of Ad ve nture  Vo lume I. Volume 4 . Denis Hollier Th e Coll ege of Sociology Volume 40. Peter Sl oterdijk Critique of Cynical Reason Volume 39. G eza von Moln ar Romantic Vision Ethical Contex t: Nova/i s a nd Artist ic Autonomy Volume 38. Algird as Julien Gr eimas On Meanin g: Select ed Wr itings in Semiotic Theory Volume 37. Ni co las Abr aham and Maria Torok The Wo lf Man  s Ma gic Wo rd : A Cryptonymy Volume 36. Ali ce Y aege r Kaplan Reproductions of Banality: Fascism  Literature and Fr ench Intellectual Lif e Volume 35. Denis Hollier T he Politics of Prose Volume 34. G eo ffr ey Hartman The Unremarkable Wordsworth Volume 33. Paul de Man The Resistance to Theory For o th er books in th e series seep. 167. Kierkegaard Construction of th esthetic Theodor W dorno Translated, edited and with a foreword by Robert Hullot-Kentor Theory and History of Literature, Volume 6 University of Minnesota Pr es s, Minnea polis   hapter 2 Constitution of Inwardness Scripture Kierkegaard stipulates that the truth and untruth of thought be lietermined so lely by referen ce to the thinker's existence. That this requirement, however, consti tutes no epistemological a priori is made evident by the fundamental intention of Kierkegaard's own philosophy. For it aims not at the determination of subjectivity but of ontology, and subjectivity appears not as the content of ontology but as its stage. In A First and Last Declaration , the principal investigation into pseudonymity and candor, Kierkegaard states that the meaning of the P el_ .d- onyms-which indeed guarantee the radical subjectivity of com munication  - does not lie in making any new proposal, any unheard-of discovery, orin forming a new party, or wanting to go further, but, precisely on the contrary, consists in wanting to have no importanc e, in wanting (at a distance which is the remoteness of double reflection) to read solo the srcinal text of the individual, human existence-relationship, the old text, well known, handed down from the fathers to read it through once more, if possible in a more heartfelt way.'' 1 The archaic image of scripture, in which human existence is supposedly recorded, ex pres es more than the merely existing person. Kierkegaard's countless metaphors derived from the image of scripture refer to the writer of scripture; but this writer is a_so the reader of scripture, indeed including his own. Th e coquettishness of A F1rst and Last Declaration'' hides yet does not ultimately de troy it s earnestness: F rom the beginning I perceived very clearly and do still perceive that my per- sonal reality is an embarrassment which the pseudonyms with pathetic self-as- 24 CONSTITUTION OF INWARDNESS 0 5 sertion might wish to be rid of, the sooner the better, or to have reduced to the le ast possible significance, and yet again with ironic courtesy might wish to have in their company as a repellent contrast.' 2 In the theology of the Instant the ima ge of scripture is finally tom away from the subject: The New Testament therefore, regarded as a guide for Christians, becomes . .. a historical curiosity, pr etty much like a guidebook to a particular country when everything in that country has been totally changed. Such a guidebook no longer serves the serious purpose of being useful to travelers in that country, but at the most it is worth reading for amusement. While one is making the journey easily by railway, one reads in the guidebook, 'Here is Woolf's Gullet where one plunges 70,000 fathoms down under the earth'; while one sits and smokes one's cigar in the snug cafe, one reads in the guidebook, 'Here a band of robbers has its stronghold, from which it is sues to assault the travelers and maltreat them .' 3 The passage polemicizes not so much against the text, against the guidebook itself, as against its historical deterioration. This is what makes the text a cipher. Implicit in Ki e rk egaard's metaphor of scripture is: the unalterable giyenness of the text itself as well as its unreadableness as that of a cryptogram cwposed of ~beTS ' Wl'iose ongm Is htstonca.r=The invariable givenness of the uat is founded on hi s theolo Goo 'S u~hangeablene ss and that of truth is a theme of tous discourses. Hence in the Training, where edifying and philosophical contents interweave, one reads: Now this 'something higher' may be something very various; but if it is to be truly capable of drawing the person towards it , and at every instant, it must not itself be subject to 'variableness or the shadow of turning ,' but must have passed triumphantly through every change and become transfigured like the transfigured life of a dead man. 4 As for the cre ator, so for the created: Whatever one generation learns from another, no gen eration learns the essentially human from a previous one.' 5- The invariable tneaning of the invariable text is , however, in Kierkegaard, incomprehensible: the fullness of divine truth is hidden from the creature. Kierkegaard speaks of this in parables comparable to tho se perfected by his st udent of a much later gen eration, Kafka: If one were to offer me ten dollars I would not undertake to explain the riddle of existence. And why should q_ f life is a riddle, in the_ Wd ~ auth or ~ess explain it I have not mvented the temporal ~fe but I have noticed that in the periodicals which make a custom of printing riddles, the solution is generally offered in the next number. To be sure, it does happen that some old maid or pensioner is mentioned with honor as having IOived the riddle, i.e. has known the solution a day in advance-that difference ·~~ainly not very considerabl~. 6 Kierkegaard is more closely allied with the Clpin1on of such a hu(Tlorist than he would like to admit in the Postscript. The ~s for the '' moralist'' of the second volume of Either/Or: '' The man who Ves ethically may do exactly the same things as the man who lives aesthetically, 10 that for a time this may create a deception, but finally there comes an instant  26 0 CONSTITUTION OF INWARDNESS when it is evident that he who lives ethically has a limit which the other does not recognize. This is the only way in which t~thical can becQme manifest; according to its positive meaning it remains hidden in the deepest layer of the soul. 7- Paradoxically, the absolutely hidden is communicated by tlte cipher. It is, as is all allegory according to Benjamin, not merely a sign but expression. 8 The cipher no more belongs to ontological archetypes than it co uld be reduced to immanently human determinations. It is rather a middle realm that presents itself in the affects, which Kierkegaard treated under the heading of psychology, particularly in The Concept o Anxiety and The Sickness unto Death. Haecker is right to separate sharply Kierkegaard's psychology from traditional scientific psychology. Yet it is also not to be equated-as Haecker in his early work still thought possible 9 -with current phenomenological philosophy. For phenomenology attempts to constitute ontology directly, on the basis of the autonomous ratio. Kierkegaard's psychology, however, is aware that ontology is blocked by the ratio. lt attempts only to gain the reflections of ontology in the affects. This p; ychology depends on theology; it is not a self-sufficient anthropology. n e Concept o Anxiety Kierkegaard does not simply use the relation of anxiety and sin to imply that the affects are ciphers of a positive-theological object; he expressly defines them as such: The mood of psychology is that of a discover ing anxiety, and in its anxiety psychology portrays sin, while it worries and tor ments itself over the portrayal that it itself develops. 10 In The Sickness unto Death despair is likewise a cipher of damnation: By the aid of conscience things are so arranged that the judicial report follows at once upon every fault, and that the gui lt y one himself must write it. But it is written in sympathetic hues and therefore only becomes thoroughly clear when in eternity it is he ld up to the light, while eternity holds audit over the consciences. 11 -Obstructed ontology and cipher, however, are n ot simply conditions of the natural individual. They are not even adequately accounted for as a prehistorical result of the Fall. J;IistQ;:y engraved the fissure between the unreadable cipher and truth. What William asserts of the exception, and therefore of Kierkegaard's per ~ at t e same time fragments of Kierkegaard's conception of the histocy _ Qf Riri.t Y' For in the face of the desolateness into which he has ventured and where there is more to lose than merely one's life, every person, who is still a humanly responsive person, recoils. He is quit with everything fundamental to human existence and thus these fundaments, which should have been his support through life, have become for him hostile powers. 12 The fissure stands not only between individual and text. If in his theology the two do not confront each other directly, but reciprocally refer to one another, decay necessarily attacks the text itself. Whereas according to every undiminished theological doctrine the signi fying and the signified are unified in the symbo li c word, in Kierkegaard the mea nin g separates from the cipher in the text. The affects, as ciphers, draw the fullness of immanence into themselves; the meaning remains frozen as an CONSTITUTION OF INWARDNESS 0 27 abstract desideratum: ''I do it in the interest of its idea, its meaning; for I cannot live exclusive of the idea;,I cannot endure that my life should have no meaning at a I. he~does after all give a little meaniii&Jo it .:  13 For Kierk;. gaard, meaning was not always estranged from man, but became so historically: The individuals of the contemporary generation are fearful of existence, because it is God-forsaken; only in great masses do they dare to live, and they cluster together en masse in order to feel that they amount to something. 14 Hen ce the retrograde direction of his philosophy: '' n one word the direction of my writings is, 'Back ' And although it is all done without 'authority,' there is, nevertheless, something in the accent which recalls a policeman when he faces a riot and says, 'Back ' 15 Kierkegaard's psychology of emotion wants to use the eternall y, authentically human to conjure up historically lost meaning. Objectless Inwardness What Kierkegaard describes as being quit with everything fundamental to hum an existence'' was called, in the philosophical language of hi s age, the alien at~on ~f su~ject a~d objec~. Any_ ritical interpretati_on of Kierkegaard must take' th1s ahenat1on as 1ts startmg pomt. Not that such mterpretation would want to conceive the structure of existence as one of s ubject and object within the framework of an ontological project . The ca~ories of subject and Qbject themselves srcinate historically, But it is precisely in these categories that interpretation is able to secure Kierkegaard's hi storical figure, a figure that dissolves into general anthropological considerations when the question becomes that of a project of xist~nce. &subject and oQi..ecLare historical concepts. they con~ti   _tute at the same time the concrete conditLons of Kierkeg£tard's description of Jwman existence ._ This description conceals an antinomy in his thought mat becomes evident in the subject/object relation, to which his being quit may be ~ced .. hi,~ is. an anti .Q t in . the conception o~ the relatio~ to. ontological _ lleamng. K1erkegaard cofi < eives of such meanmg, contrad1ctof y, as_radi- cillydevolved upon the *I, a~ty lmmancnt to the subject an' the..same _ me ~ renounced and unreacnabfe tra~endenc   Free   active s_ tie~i v ity is ~r K1erk eg2Jrd tb ~ bearer of all reality. ln his youth he accepted Fichte's criti cism of Kant, and although he scarcely ever again formulated the problems that are the legacy of the history of idealism from its srcins to Hegel, there is still no dou~t that the dissertation expresses what is silently presupposed by all exis-l ~n~1al commun_ication = ·e; ~e the ego ~e-abserbed-irrscruti Jllzmg the ego m the C , the more emaciated the ego became, Until it ended by becQming__a s~ctor:} S 1mmortal as _ e ifSbano of Aurora. The ego wa s like the crow, which, qce1ved by the fox's praise of its person, lost the cheese. Thought had gone astray in that reflection continually reflected upon  28 0 CONSTITUT ION OF INWARDNESS reflection, and every step forward naturally led further and further away fr~m aJI content. Here it became apparent, and it will ever be so, that when one begms to specu l t ~t is essential to be pointed in the right direction. It failed to no~ce that what it sought for was in the search itself, and since it refused to look for tt th ere, it was not in all eternity to be found ~osophy was like a man who has his spectacles on but goes on searching for them; he searches for what is right in front of his nose, but he never looks there and so never finds them. Now th at which is external to experience, that which co llided with the experiencing subject like a solid body, after which each recoiled from the force of he impact In its own direction; the thing-in-itself, which constantly persisted in tempting the experi encing subject (as a certain school in the middle ages believed the Yisiple emblems in the Eucharist were present in order to tempt the believer); this e~r- nality, this thing in itself was what constituted the weakness in Kant's system. It even became a problem whether the ego itself was not a thing in itself. ThisProb l em was raised and resolved by Fichte. He removed the difficulty connected with this 'in-itse lf ' by placing it within thought, that is, ~rendered the ego infinite as I = T The producing ego is the same as the produced ego ; I = I is the ab stract identity. With this he infinitely emancipated thought.' 6 A phrase from the sciemific Postscript corresponds to this thesis where Fichte is played off theologically against Hegel at the same time that the relocation of all meaning in pure subjectivity is affirmed: Instead of conceding the contention of idea li sm, but in such a manner as to dismiss as a temptation the entire problem of a reality in the sense of a thing-in-itself eluding thought, which like o th er temptations cannot be vanquished by giving way to it; instead of putting an end to Kant's misleading reflection which brings reality into co nnection with thought; instead of relegating reality to the ethical -_ :kge l scored a veritable advance; fQ .... I: became fantastic and vanquished ideali tic scepticism by means of pure thought, which is merely an hypQthesis, and even if it does not so declare itself, a fantastic hy12<>thesis 17 Here, however, the countervaling tenden~y is already a~pare~t The question of the thing-in-itself is no longer answered tn the affirmattve wtth the postulate of identity and absolute subjectivity; instead it is repulsed as temp tation and held in abeyance. For the absolute I , the reality of the thing-initse lf mu t become problematical along with the reality of the mea ning th at is indeed to be situated in the spontaneity of he I. This in sight can also be traced to the dissertation: But this infinity of thought in Fichte is like every other Fichtian infinity (hi ethical infinity is incessant striving for striving's own sake, his aesthetic infinity is perpetual production for production's own sake, God's infin ity is continual development for development's own sake), that is, a negative infinity, an infinity without finitude, an infinity void of all content. Hence when Fichte rendered the ego infinite he asserted an idealism in relation to which all actuality became pale, an acosmism in relation to which his idealism became actuality, notwithstanding the fact that it was docetism. With Fichte thought was CONSTITUTION OF INWARDNESS 0 29 rendered infinite, and .subjectivity became infinite absolute negativity, infinite tension and longing. Fichte hereby acquired a significance for knowing. His Theory o Science rendered knowledge infinite. But that which he rendered infi nite was the negative, h~mCe in place of truth he acquired certainty, not positive but negative infinity in the infinite identity of the ego with itself. Jnstead of positive endeavor, i.e. happiness, he obtained negative endeavor, i.e. an ought.  8 Absolute subjectivity is denied meaning al ong with happiness. The idealist who conceived of relegating reality to the ethical , that is, to subjectivity, is at the same time the archenemy of any as sertion of the identity of the external and the internal. The pathos of his philosophy is directed against this assertion from the very first sent ence of his pseudonymous works: Dear Reader: I wonder if you may not sometimes have felt inclined to doubt a little the correctness of the familiar philosophic maxim that the external is the int~rnal ~ and the inter~ the l external. Perhaps you have cherish ed in your heart a secret which you felt in aQ its jo y or pain was too precious for you to share with another . .. Perhaps neither of these presuppositions applies to you and your life, and yet you arc not a strang er to this doubt; it flits across y our mind now and then like a passing shado w. 9 Every line of Kierkegaard's work makes this presupposition   The contradictory elements in Kicrkegaard's formulation of meaning, subject, and object are not sim_ely d~arate They are interwoven with one another Tbe.U:- .figurc js called lnwaroness. ln The Sickness unJO Death inwardness is deduced ..} _the substan ti ali. Y. ofJhe subject directly from its disproportionateness to the outer world: Well , there is no 'corresponding' external mark, for in fact an out ward expression corresponding to close reserve is a contradiction in terms; for if it is corresponding, it is then of course revealing. On the contrary, her e in the moment of despair- outwardness is the entirely indifferent factor in this case Where in troversion, or what one might call,inwardness wi1b a jammed lock ~ s so much the predominant factor. 20 Where Fichte's idealism springs and develops o e center of subjective spontaneity, in Kierkegaard the I is thrown back onto it self by the superior power of otherness. He is not a philosopher of identity; nor does he recognize any positive being that transcends consciousness. The ~o things is for him neither part of the sub·ect nor inde ndent of it Rather, thjs war(d is oiliiiti t supp tes t e subject with the mere occasion for the deed, with mere resistance to the act of faith. In itself, this world remains random and t~t ll y indeterminate. Participation in meaning is not one of its potentials. In K1er · · I of a sub·ect/ob·ect in 'the He elian sense as there  ~v n objects; there is only an isolated su · tivit' a dar I Indeed, on y b crossm~over this ~ nld-subjectivity be able to ~ te in ''meaning ' that otherwise denies itself to suBjectivity's solitude. In ;euon to achieve a transcendental ontology, lnwardnes takes up the struggle With itself, on which Kierkegaard the psycho lo gist reports. Yet no psychol oay is required to explain this struggle; not even the supposition-in whi ch
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