The Concept of Freedom: The Platonic-Augustinian-Lutheran-Kierkegaardian Tradition

University Press of America (2002)
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The theme of this dissertation is to trace a development of defining freedom in the western tradition. It projects to have Luther and Kierkegaard as the central figures to delineate an understanding of freedom, called the Platonic-Augustinean-Lutheran-Kierkegaadian concept of freedom. The author penetrates into these two fundamental elements in this tradition: man by nature pursues good and good must be attributed to God's grace . Logically, these two elements by appearance are not compatible. However, historically, in Augustine's thought, they entered into and then are able to coexist in one system. Their incompatibility and coexistence created a dynamic underlying the development of defining freedom. Influenced by Augustine, Luther followed this dynamic and found that he must deny human freedom . He then resorted to God's grace in promise and claimed that faith endorses righteousness and that a Christian is possessed of freedom in grace. Propelled by this same dynamic, Kierkegaard challenged the modern concept of freedom as self-determination in rationality and provided a profound analysis of human existence in the light of redemption. Kierkegaard's analysis reveals an existential paradox in which man freely chooses unfreedom. Logically, his existential analysis starts with the concept of eternal possibility and infers that freedom is to hold fast to possibility through possibility's giving out itself . The dynamic constituted of the Platonic principle and the concept of redemption allows Kierkegaard to define a powerful concept of freedom and to deconstruct the modern concept of freedom. ;There are two tasks in this dissertation. The first one is to offer a historical and philosophical demonstration of the dynamic, in which the Platonic principle and the concept of redemption proceed from the confrontation, through the combination and the separation, and at last to the unification. The other task is to defend a position that freedom understood in terms of possibility requires possibility's giving out itself In this defense, the essay treats the concept of redemption as a philosophical meditation, rather than a theological reflection



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