The imperfect metaphor of passion in Kierkegaard's philosophical fragments

Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 69 (3):475 - 507 (2007)

Javier Enrique Carreño
Franciscan University of Steubenville
This paper revisits the charges of fideism and irrationalism oftentimes leveled against Kierkegaard's consideration of the relation of ratio to fides. To this avail the author engages one of the key texts in this polemic, namely the first three chapters of Philosophical Fragments. His reading centers on the rather subtle suggestion that eroticlove, as a surrendering of oneself to another, plays the role of a metaphor or image for the downfall of the understanding characteristic of religious conversion. By considering the possibilities and limitations of this metaphoric relation, he suggests that thedownfall of the understanding required in religious conversion occurs, surprisingly, not without an understanding, however limited, of the downfall. Because the experience oferotic love reveals where our true passion lies, we gain access to an alternative account of religious conversion according to Kierkegaard, one where ratio is not necessarilyput on the verge of disappearing by fides. Moreover, thanks to this metaphoric relation, not only does erotic love itself acquire a novel meaning—under the religious command of loving one's neighbor — but also one grasps in advance the risk of becoming dispassionate in a religious sense
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