1.1 Taking a critical-hermeneutic position
1.1.1 A critical stance
- Some will argue that the issues raised by existential philosophy can safely be viewed as “solved” and thus no longer in need of attention. Another reason might be in my opinion that the texts of Kierkegaard are often excluded from the concept of existential philosophy of more practical reasons; his writings are just too difficult and abstract for many readers (Westphal and Matustík 1995).
- Some will argue that Kierkegaard is a religious thinker and not really a philosopher. Kierkegaard also called himself first and foremost a religious thinker. The fact that secular thinkers like Heidegger, Sartre, Habermas and Derrida all have engaged themselves in Kierkegaard thoughts, resists the claims that he is not a philosophical thinker (Westphal and Matustík 1995). In my opinion, reading his texts philosophically, without consideration to his religious aspects, can be done only to a certain extent. In my opinion, reference only to his theological goals would still not be sufficient, since both theology and philosophy “degrades Kierkegaard to a handmaiden” (Theunissen 2005: viii). Some philosophers are sympathetic to his religious interests, while others are not. In my opinion, Kierkegaard is both a religious and a philosophical thinker.
- Kierkegaard has been understood as being irrational, meaning that he seems to deny that the world can be comprehended by conceptual thought, and often see the human mind as determined by unconscious forces (Evans 1995). In my opinion, Kierkegaard’s irrationalism can be seen as a protest against a contingent interpretation of reason’s necessity (Westphal and Matustík 1995).
- There is a perception that Kierkegaard represents an anti-social, apolitical individualism that is worse than useless in the search for community, communication, and cooperation in a world where violence, abuse, hatred, and neglect signify on a daily basis not only their absence but the cost of their absence. In my opinion, Kierkegaard’s individualism can be seen as a protest against a particular mode of human togetherness that he calls by such names as Christendom, the public, the present age, and even the herd. This individualism can also in my opinion be seen as the flip side of a thoroughly relational conception of the self, and is beginning to be seen as having interesting ramifications for social theory and practice (Marsh 1995).