Empathy and divine union in Kierkegaard: solving the faith/history problem in Philosophical Fragments

Religious Studies 51 (4):455-476 (2015)
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Søren Kierkegaard 's account of faith in Philosophical Fragments claims that the historical Incarnation is necessary for faith, but that historical evidence for the Incarnation is neither necessary nor sufficient for faith. It has been argued that the defence of these two claims gives rise to a faith /history problem for Kierkegaard and that it is incoherent to defend an account of faith which affirms both the necessity of the historical Incarnation and rejects the necessity and sufficiency of the historical evidence for the Incarnation. I argue that this problem can be solved by applying Eleonore Stump's account of divine–human union. I argue that the Incarnation is necessary because it allows us to enjoy a kind of mutual empathy with Christ which is the basis of divine–human union and that the historical evidence is neither necessary nor sufficient since faith is grounded in a second-person experience of Christ. I claim that this solves the faith /history problem and offers a way of defending Kierkegaard 's account of faith as coherent.



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Joshua Cockayne
University of St. Andrews

Citations of this work

Contemporaneity and communion: Kierkegaard on the personal presence of Christ.Joshua Cockayne - 2017 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (1):41-62.

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Phenomenology of Perception.Aron Gurwitsch, M. Merleau-Ponty & Colin Smith - 1964 - Philosophical Review 73 (3):417.
I and thou.Martin Buber - 1970 - New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons 57.
The 'shared manifold' hypothesis: From mirror neurons to empathy.Vittorio Gallese - 2001 - Journal of Consciousness Studies 8 (5-7):33-50.
On Seeing That Someone is Angry.William McNeill - 2012 - European Journal of Philosophy 20 (4):575-597.

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