Kierkegaard, Paraphrase, and the Unity of Form and Content

Philosophy Today 57 (4):376-387 (2013)
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On one standard view, paraphrasing Kierkegaard requires no special literary talent. It demands no particular flair for the poetic. However, Kierkegaard himself rejects this view. He says we cannot paraphrase in a straightforward fashion some of the ideas he expresses in a literary format. To use the words of Johannes Climacus, these ideas defy direct communication. In this paper, I piece together and defend the justification Kierkegaard offers for this position. I trace its origins to concerns raised by Lessing and Mendelssohn about the relationship between form and content in works of art. I maintain that Kierkegaard follows early German Romantic thinkers in applying these aesthetic concerns to philosophical writing. By way of conclusion, I discuss the implications of Kierkegaard’s position for contemporary scholarship.

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Antony Aumann
Northern Michigan University

References found in this work

Logic and Conversation.H. Paul Grice - 1975 - In Maite Ezcurdia & Robert J. Stainton (eds.), The Semantics-Pragmatics Boundary in Philosophy. Broadview Press. pp. 47.
Style and personality in the literary work.Jenefer M. Robinson - 1985 - Philosophical Review 94 (2):227-247.
Kierkegaard on Faith.Brand Blanshard - 1968 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 49 (1):5.
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