Project seminar: Elizabeth Li

Telegraph Messages and an Acoustical Illusion: Kierkegaard’s Separation of Philosophy and Christianity.

This paper seeks to trace and explicate Kierkegaard’s view of the relationship between philosophy and Christianity as it develops from his early student writings to his later pseudonymous works. Already in 1835, Kierkegaard states in the AA:13 Journal that “Philosophy and Christianity can never be united”, and Jon Stewart has suggested that this position continues to inform Kierkegaard’s mature pseudonymous authorship.

I therefore wish to explore the nature of Kierkegaard’s separation of philosophy and Christianity in his 1838 text “Telegraph Messages from a Mousvoyant to a Clairvoyant on the Relationship between Christianity and Philosophy” and the continuity of this position in his later Climacus works. It has been shown by the SKS Commentators that in drafting Philosophical Fragments, in particular what became the Appendix “Offense at the Paradox (An Acoustical Illusion)”, Kierkegaard explicitly drew on the strange and rather fragmentary “Telegraph Messages” text. By examining the relationship between these texts I hope to offer nuances to understanding Kierkegaard’s view of the relationship between philosophy and Christianity. In particular, it will be argued that Kierkegaard’s development of his position in both these texts is in certain respects shaped by his rejection of Hans Lassen Martensen’s attempted unification of theology and philosophy as epistemological categories. It will be explored how Kierkegaard’s criticisms levelled at Martensen’s approach to the philosophy and theology debate in “Telegraph Messages” inform Kierkegaard’s later pseudonymous works, in particular the Climacus works, in which the relationship between philosophy and Christianity continue to form a central underlying theme.