Kierkegaard's “Three Stages”

Faith and Philosophy 13 (3):352-367 (1996)
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to explore an hypothesis rather than draw any unassailable conclusions. I argue that there is a fundamental tension between the sub-Christian account of the “Three Stages” presented in the earlier pseudonymous writings and the explicitly Christian account presented in the Anti-Climacean and later acknowledged writings. The earlier version is that of a progress from spiritless “immediacy” toward more complete integrations of the self, culminating in authentic religious faith; while the later is that of a regress from lesser to ever greater forms of spiritual peril, culminating in a disordered religiosity that vainly seeks to overthrow the established ecclesiastical order. Tracing the conflict between these two perspectives also enhances our understanding of the purpose underlying Kierkegaard’s project by suggesting the possibility that the authorship constitutes a literary confession of Kierkegaard’s own spiritual regress
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