Kierkegaard Project Seminar: K. Brian Söderquist – Københavns Universitet

Søren Kierkegaard Forskningscenteret > Kalender > 2018 > Kierkegaard Project Se...

Kierkegaard Project Seminar: K. Brian Söderquist

Kierkegaard on Faith and Reason(s)

One of the most consistent themes in Søren Kierkegaard’s authorship is an insistence that religious life, especially the Christian version he was familiar with, is not to be understood. For him, it seems there is no conceptual analysis of Christianity that does not distort it and detract from how it ought to be viewed: namely, as an ardent, life-governing subjective commitment that the individual will never fully understand or be able to explain. For the most part, Kierkegaard revels in the existential tension this uncertainty gives rise to. But if faith is inconsistent with what one otherwise takes to be reasonable, defensible, and intellectually satisfying, upon what might a reflective, critically-educated person—like Kierkegaard himself—base his faith? Can one ever give good objective arguments for religious conviction? Can one even give good subjective reasons for it? If so, what sorts of reasons are they? It is with questions like these in mind that Kierkegaard’s reflections on religious conviction have offered most to philosophical debates about faith and reason. Like other skeptics of enlightenment reason, he challenges a tacit assumption that good arguments lead to personal conviction or, said differently, that convictions arise after a careful and deliberate search for sound reasons. Instead, he suggests that the arguments one marshals for one’s worldview follow in the wake of an already established conviction. Our convictions orient us in the world first, and we find reasons to defend that worldview when pressed to do so.