The Loss of the World in Kierkegaard's Ethics

Review of Metaphysics 15 (4):602 - 620 (1962)

Abstract
The effect intended by Kierkegaard's rhetoric is a certain self-relationship, which cannot be formulated and-given out as doctrine or information, but which the reader is required to achieve on his own. The books provide only the occasion, the impetus, and the demand. For example, the proposition, "Truth is subjectivity," is not a philosophical indicative, but a rhetorical imperative. Translated into the language of personal address, it says: "You reader! Whatever you believe, whatever you claim to know, remember in fear and trembling that you hold this faith and stake this claim solely on the strength of your own freedom to do so, with no guarantee more ultimate than your own decision, at your own risk, and on your own responsibility!" This charge to the reader, which is the real and indirect import of "Truth is subjectivity," is as far as it could be from the epistemological relativism which the proposition immediately suggests. What the reader is to get from "Truth is subjectivity" is not the comforting assurance that "it doesn't matter what you believe," but rather the existential terror--that glimpse of the abyss which is itself a confrontation with the Absolute--the terror that ensues when "the uncertainty of all things is thought infinitely."
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632  
DOI revmetaph196215471
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