914 Chapters
Medium 9780253008541

3 Communicating Capability

Mark A. Tietjen Indiana University Press ePub

3 Communicating Capability

IN CHAPTER 1 I considered Roger Poole’s claim that either one reads Kierkegaard with attentiveness to the indirect communication or one reads him earnestly, “on religious grounds,” as edifying. Kierkegaard seems to anticipate this approach to his work: “In pseudonymous books published by me the earnestness is more vigorous, particularly in those passages in which the presentation will appear to most people as nothing but jest. This, as far as I know, has not previously been understood at all” (JP, 1:301 [#656]). Later in the entry Kierkegaard gives content to the earnestness found in the pseudonymous writings: “Especially in the communication of ethical truth and partially in the communication of ethical-religious truth, the indirect method is the most rigorous form” (JP, 1:302 [#656]). Based on these and similar passages, there is good reason to be apprehensive about Poole’s phrasing of the issue: indirect communication as opposed to the serious, the religious, the edifying. Poole’s false dilemma rests on an undialectical understanding of Kierkegaard’s indirect communication and, in particular, the relationship among the pseudonyms and between Kierkegaard himself and the pseudonyms.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253211859

The Good of Activity from Human Nature and Conduct(1922)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

Conduct when distributed under heads like habit, impulse and intelligence gets artificially shredded. In discussing each of these topics we have run into the others. We conclude, then, with an attempt to gather together some outstanding considerations about conduct as a whole.

The foremost conclusion is that morals has to do with all activity into which alternative possibilities enter. For wherever they enter a difference between better and worse arises. Reflection upon action means uncertainty and consequent need of decision as to which course is better. The better is the good; the best is not better than the good but is simply the discovered good. Comparative and superlative degrees are only paths to the positive degree of action. The worse or evil is a rejected good. In deliberation and before choice no evil presents itself as evil. Until it is rejected, it is a competing good. After rejection, it figures not as a lesser good, but as the bad of that situation.

Actually then only deliberate action, conduct into which reflective choice enters, is distinctively moral, for only then does there enter the question of better and worse. Yet it is a perilous error to draw a hard and fast line between action into which deliberation and choice enter and activity due to impulse and matter-of-fact habit. One of the consequences of action is to involve us in predicaments where we have to reflect upon things formerly done as matter of course. One of the chief problems of our dealings with others is to induce them to reflect upon affairs which they usually perform from unreflective habit. On the other hand, every reflective choice tends to relegate some conscious issue into a deed or habit henceforth taken for granted and not thought upon. Potentially therefore every and any act is within the scope of morals, being a candidate for possible judgment with respect to its better-or-worse quality. It thus becomes one of the most perplexing problems of reflection to discover just how far to carry it, what to bring under examination and what to leave to unscrutinized habit. Because there is no final recipe by which to decide this question all moral judgment is experimental and subject to revision by its issue.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253356857

13. The Soft Weeping of Desire’s Loss: Recognition, Phenomenality, and the One Who Is Dead in Kierkegaard’s Works of Love

Indiana University Press ePub


We have only a little time to please the living,
But all eternity to love the dead.
There I shall lie for ever. Live, if you will;
Live, and defy the holiest laws of heaven.


Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.


In the ninth chapter of the second set of deliberations in Works of Love, Kierkegaard writes the following words: “I know of no better way to describe true recollection than by this soft weeping that does not burst into sobs at one moment—and soon subsides. No, we are to recollect the dead, weep softly, but weep long” (WL, 348/SKS 9, 342). Much of the work in the chapter you now read is spent setting up the problematic that aims at establishing a relation between grieving and the lack of recognition from those now absent from our experience of the physical world. I will argue that Kierkegaard’s account of “the work of love in recollecting one who is dead” (WL, 345–58/SKS 9, 339–52) can be read as an application of Hegel’s description of how human self-consciousness arises through mutual recognition. The work of “recollective love” is generally thought to serve as a test of sorts in which the agent learns something about his motivation for loving others. My major claim is that this work of charity is not just a test of the agent’s motivation, but also, and more importantly, a test of faith for the agent in question.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253211859

Democracy and America from Freedom and Culture (1939) (on Thomas Jefferson)

LARRY A HICKMAN Indiana University Press ePub

I make no apology for linking what is said in this chapter with the name of Thomas Jefferson. For he was the first modern to state in human terms the principles of democracy. Were I to make an apology, it would be that in the past I have concerned myself unduly, if a comparison has to be made, with the English writers who have attempted to state the ideals of self-governing communities and the methods appropriate to their realization. If I now prefer to refer to Jefferson it is not, I hope, because of American provincialism, even though I believe that only one who was attached to American soil and who took a consciously alert part in the struggles of the country to attain its independence, could possibly have stated as thoroughly and intimately as did Jefferson the aims embodied in the American tradition: “the definitions and axioms of a free government,” as Lincoln called them. Nor is the chief reason for going to him, rather than to Locke or Bentham or Mill, his greater sobriety of judgment due to that constant tempering of theory with practical experience which also kept his democratic doctrine within human bounds.

See All Chapters
Medium 9780253001788

14. Property and Impiety in Plato’s Laws Books 11 and 12

Edited by Gregory Recco and Eric Sanday Indiana University Press ePub

14  Property and Impiety in Plato’s Laws: Books 11 and 12

Eric Sanday

At the end of the project traced out in Plato’s Laws, the Athenian Stranger asks what it would take to arrive at an end of the lawgiving.1 In this essay I focus on the way in which the problem of ending relates to the ongoing incompleteness of political community in the so-called “second-best” city that is the subject of the dialogue. I propose in this chapter that the character of the city as second best implies that its very incompleteness is necessarily constitutive of its health, and that the success of the lawgiver will hinge on the city’s ability to live with and allow for the ongoing breakdown of its project. It is my contention that the problem of incompleteness governs the concluding books of the Laws, and that interpreting these books in light of this problem allows us to understand the function of the Assembly () introduced in Book 12, which the Athenian refers to as the “perfect and permanent safeguard” of the city they have generated. Key to the reading I will offer is the recognition that impiety extends beyond the limits of personal belief, as identified in the Book 10 reference to the young, and is rooted in the material foundations of life in the city, especially in property, contracts (), and other institutions first introduced in Book 11.

See All Chapters

See All Chapters