Who was Kierkegaard? (Interview w/ Aaron Simmons)


We recently got Dr. Aaron Simmons onto the channel to discuss Kierkegaard, one of the greatest existentialist thinkers of all time. Here is the transcript for the video, if you want to watch the full video on my YouTube channel, go check it out here.

The video on my channel Philosophy for All


Joshua Yen 0:00
Hello and welcome to this video today we got Aaron onto the channel to discuss Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard of course, is an existentialist thinker. So we’re very glad to have Aaron onto the channel to discuss Kierkegaard. So, without further ado, how are you?

Aaron Simmons 0:13
I’m doing great, so good to be with you.

Joshua Yen 0:15
Thank you for coming on to the channel, really appreciate it. Without further ado, let’s get started and delve right into Kierkegaard and start off with the perhaps the most general question of well, who was Kierkegaard?

Aaron Simmons 0:26
Yeah, so Kierkegaard is a Danish thinker, born 1813, dies, 1855. So he died at 42. So live the young life a very vigorous life. So he in his early years, was the child of a man who was very, you might say, religiously intense. And this helped Kierkegaard develop in a way that allowed religion to be something that was overbearing in many ways, it was something that was really difficult for him to navigate, because it was something that was severe, it wasn’t a life more abundantly as people might say, it was actually a life with a lot of pressure, a lot of intensity. And so as Kirkegaard aged, he goes to college, he studies a bunch of different things, he sounds like any number of my students, maybe your your colleagues, they’re at Oxford, who, you know, they take a little bit of law, and they think now maybe I’ll go do some science, not going to med school. And then it’s like, oh, shoot, know who that philosophy class was cool, I’ll take some philosophy. So he bounces around, tries a bunch of things. And eventually, really gets to the point where he’s kind of a, you know, jack of all trades, master of none, he’s really struggling. And at, in his early 20s, he writes this journal entry where he says that he’s got to figure out this fundamental task. And he defines this task as figuring out what it is, that is true for him, a truth for which he’s willing to live and die a truth that actually is worthy of his life. And so when he’s wrestling with this, he also other things happen, his father passes away, he gets very serious about now kind of having to mature and grow up and stop being, you know, just this sort of dandy who’s running around doing everything and not actually having any purpose. So he gets very serious, and finishes his degrees, gets his our equivalent of a PhD, writes this amazing book called The concept of irony with continual reference to Socrates. And in a very short order, Kierkegaard begins a lifetime authorship that is actually inaugurated by again, these sort of personal encounters. So his relationship with his father, his mother died when he was very young. That of course, marked him and created this sort of angsty teen who was looking for himself, finally kind of has to live into this more mature awareness of things. But then he gets engaged, which makes tonnes of sense, right, he’s out dating meets this woman named Regina Olson. And then he makes a decision that will mark everything that follows, he breaks his engagement with Regina, because he comes to an awareness whether he was right about this, I will leave the others to decide. But he claims that he can only do one thing with all of his passionate existence, he can only be one thing he can only orient himself in one direction. And if he gets married, then his wife will have to be like this, you know, primary interest. And that makes tonnes of sense, right? The problem is, he feels like that this will pull him away from his calling, as a thinker who is invested in these questions of philosophical existence of faith, of meaning of human condition. So he breaks the engagement. He feels it’s almost like a religious calling, almost as if what he has to give up for, for God is this relationship to Regina, but it marks him so deeply. It’s traumatising to him. And so really the rest of his life he lives in love with this woman who now you know, he is no longer in relationship with. And so he devotes himself entirely to writing writes his first book that really gets some attention. He does some stuff in front of this, but is a book called either or. And in this book, he starts the habit of what he will continue to do for a very long time, which is writing under pseudonyms. So he writes under different names. And there’s reasons he does this, which is he’s trying to really understand what it is like first personally to exist with different sorts of commitments, different sorts of order. invitations. The way I would describe this is he’s trying to think through different existential directions by which we would narrate and navigate our lives. So, he introduces three such perspectives. One is called the aesthetic. One is called the ethical and then one is called the religious. And these three different modes, he refers to them as stages along life’s way. They are not meant to be sequential, though they often are, they are instead, what philosopher Jamie Ferreira refers to as paradigms by which we make sense of everything. And so we can shift our paradigms, right, we can go from Newtonian physics to quantum mechanics, in the same way that we might go from aesthetics to ethics. And so in very brief order, aesthetics is the mode where we are defined by external accomplishment, external achievement, and novelty, we have to keep finding something out in the world to give us purpose, we define ourselves via external circumstances. So this is the person you know, who needs the new iPhone every two years, only leases vehicles, because then they always are driving a new car, the person who can’t settle down with anyone in a relationship, because they’re always seeking the next relationship, that aesthetic mode is a way of living, that has a lot to recommend it. Because it’s immediate, we are immediately engaged in what we desire. And we then tried to live toward that desire obtain it. Problem is, then when we obtain it, well, we don’t desire it anymore. So we’ve got to throw it away and go keep desiring something else. So it’s about the immediacy in relation to external objects. The ethical is precisely the negation of that, it says, No, we have to be maximally mediated by some broader context, some more universal category. And in this case, the category is the good, so am I doing what I ought to do? Am I becoming who I am meant to be relative to what the good looks like. And so this if the aesthetic is the example the aesthetic is like the seducer, who’s always you know, going from relationship to relationship to relationship. The example of the ethical is the long married couple, right? It’s we are now defined by not these external attainments, we are defined by our role in some community of moral life. So the examples he gives are of a judge, who is the judge it is the instantiation of external authority, precisely because this is the person who then decides what the good will be in the context of social life. It’s the married person, it’s the person who becomes the pastor, right becomes the student, the son, the father, whatever it might be. Well, the problem with this is, it seems like now we’ve lost that immediacy, we had an aesthetics, right, it’s not now, you know, Joshua, or Aaron or Susie or bill being themselves in the world. It’s now I am the professor, I am the scholar, I am the husband, the father. And when we become the social roles, here, Kierkegaard is following Hegel, who defines morality as cyclic kite or a social morality, a social awareness of reducing your individualism in the name of some broader category, right, this broader fitting? Well, the problem is that I’ve lost my individuality, I’ve lost my subjectivity.

However, Kierkegaard realises, well, rather than just going back to the aesthetic, where I get all of that, the problem is there, I’m not really getting my individuality either, because I’m losing myself always in relation to some objects that I’m trying to obtain. So both of these modes of existence actually fail to be genuinely invested in what we might call authentic selfhood. They are modes of living that have lots to recommend them. They are also modes of living that strip away our essential relationship to ourselves. And that’s what emerges in what he calls the religious and so famously, he publishes a book called fear and trembling, which is all about the religious category. And then later in his life, he actually abandoned pseudonyms and starts writing under his own name s Kierkegaard, in order to really think through what is this religious mode of existence, how does it work, what does it involve? And the religious he calls the second immediacy, because it is immediate, like the aesthetic, but now not in relation to external objects of desire, but in relation to God. So now I don’t relate to God via some universal category of social morality. I relate to God directly as what he calls an absolute relation to the absolute. And when I do, what happens is I now take myself up in that relationship, for the first time as fully deployed in the world, recognising who it is that I was made to be, I was made to be the person who rests in God who invites us to sell foot. So faith for Kierkegaard is not some weak knowledge that if I just had more evidence and data and did some scientific experiments, I could convert that faith to real knowledge. Faith, for him is a passionate investment toward who we are becoming. And when we are fully invested in that faithful living, we rest he says in God, because we are now able to become the selves we were designed to be. So Kierkegaard lays out these three options, moves forward in his life ends up having some interesting drama gets very, very, very angry at the Danish church, because he thinks that the Danish church is all about that ethical mode, about being respectable about just doing the right things. At the time, being baptised was also a mode of becoming a citizen. So it was this complicated states church relation. And curator wanted nothing to do with that he was a fan of the idea that Christianity was always going to be offensive, it was always going to be out of step with its time, it was never going to be sexy and relevant, right? There was always going to be something that challenges us and wrecks our pretensions to having God figured out. And so he engages in what’s called the attack on Christendom, where he says his task is to bring Christianity back to Christendom. Because the hardest place to actually stand in relation to God would be in the churches, because they’re what we do is really just stand in relation to social power and social status and other people who are being respectable in their adult lives. And he says, No, God is an absolute paradox, that ruptures all of that egos. So the church, of course, is not a big fan of his really causes some tension, which is a big problem for his brother, who is actually a pastor in the church. So at 42, he has exhausted his wealth, he’s exhausted his body, he collapses in the streets. And when this happens, dies, you know, very short time thereafter. And at his funeral, in fact, he’s buried in the church, funeral, the church graveyard because of his brother’s contacts, which is funny given that Kierkegaard and Danish just means churchyard, so he actually like, you know, lives into his name. But one of his nephews shows up and actually, like, more or less starts a riot at his funeral, because he’s so horrified uncle Soren would have hated this. You’re now like sanctioning him and baptising him back into the thing that he spent his life railing against. So his life was controversial and complicated and intense. His death was controversial and complicated and intense. And his reception has been similar. Some people read Kierkegaard as this great Christian thinker who is a defender of you know, kind of white evangelical complacency. Others have read him like Francis Schaeffer as being this horrifying, troubling, disastrous influence on Christianity because it strips faith away from reason. And we’ve got to get back to reason and do apologetics in this sort of forceful way. Kierkegaard wanted nothing to do with that. So Schaefer says that Kierkegaard is really dangerous to Christian life. Others have argued, we shouldn’t even think about his Christianity that much. She’s an existential thinker. That’s really the point of what he’s up to. Others have suggested that, but he’s actually doing really interesting political work, despite the fact that he was very non political. What he does is challenges any stable political order. And so he’s actually presenting us with these complicated radical democratic or even anarchic sort of models. So his reception is wide and broad. But he was loved and inherited by people as far afield as Heidegger, who in fact says that carefully guard is most philosophical when he is most religious, which is an interesting claim. Character guard was inherited in the 20th century very heavily by people like Derrida. In deconstruction, French phenomenology, Emmanuel Levin asked a lot about Kierkegaard as sort of doing things the wrong way because he wants to get over ethics rather than recognise ethics as the highest available for a human. So there’s been a lot of reception history that has different avenues, different angles. And where I come down is somebody who tries to read Kierkegaard in light of German idealism. So within his context, kind of what was he doing and who was he responding to, but also as somebody who specialises in phenomenology, I’m very interested in how in particular the French reception of Kierkegaard from John Vol through Emmanuel Lebanon to Derrida now to people even like John Luke Marcion, and others, how it is that phenomenologists separately appropriated Kierkegaard That, to me is a powerful set of debates. And then more personally, I also identify as a Pentecostal Christian. So I have drawn on Kirkegaard, recently, as a critical resource for what I think is the necessary critique of widespread complacency within in particular, American white evangelicalism, which I think is often not much more than a deeply problematic conservative politics. And so I draw on people like Kierkegaard and Bonhoeffer and Simone Vai, to really challenge what it is that Christianity is now allowed to look like, in the context of our own society, which I think maybe is in harmony with his own kind of attack on Christendom. That doesn’t mean that he was opposed to Christianity, he was actually saying Christianity calls us to more than that complacency than that privilege than that indifference towards the lives lived by others.

Joshua Yen 17:03
Perhaps I’m developing on this question, um, perhaps we could think a bit more about whether your card should be considered a Christian. Yeah,

Aaron Simmons 17:09
Nt’s a great question. So I do think that unless we take character guards, claims of Christianity seriously which there are some scholars who, for example, have said that we need to de Lutheran eyes, Kierkegaard and kind of strip away these Christian dimensions? I think that’s fundamentally the misunderstand. Kierkegaard is an author as a thinker and as a philosopher. However, what does it mean then to take him seriously as a Christian? Well, there’s a variety of options here. So A, we could get into a debate about the difference between philosophy and theology. And so some argue that Kierkegaard is really better understood as a Christian theologian. I think that’s a mistake, because his interlocutors were again sort of German idealism. He certainly was engaging with a lot of theological figures, Grundtvig and Martinsen, and others. So it was not that there was only Hegel in his mind. But it was the case that for Kierkegaard engaging in theological debate for him was something that required a kind of authority that he refused to claim. So he differentiates between the genius and the apostle. And he says that the apostle is somebody who fundamentally claims the authority of what we might call the prophetic, right. It’s somebody who says, Thus saith, the Lord, I speak on behalf of this mantle of ecclesial authority, and Kierkegaard refused to that. So he wrote a book called without authority, he speaks as somebody who is a thinker, who’s encouraging us to wrestle with ideas. And for me, that’s what makes him really philosophical. However, he’s also a Christian doing this work. And that makes tonnes of sense because as an existential thinker, he’s really interested in the lived perspectives that give rise to the views we hold, the ways we go about things, the beliefs that we think matter most. So when I think of Kierkegaard as a Christian thinker, I don’t understand him to be somebody who is engaged in trying to apologetically encourage others to be Christians. I think instead, he’s trying to more like the apologetics of a Justin Martyr. He’s trying to say, what is it that Christianity is about? What would it look like to He never says be a Christian but become a Christian? And, in fact, when asked, you know, are you a Christian? His response is basically No, but I’m trying to become one. Right? So part of this becoming instead of being emphasis is a real attempt to live into where we find ourselves asking particular philosophical questions. So So we don’t ever ask questions from zero. We don’t we don’t start with a blank slate. We always start from somewhere in a context with a history in bodies. This is why I’m a postmodernist for examples because I think post modernism is just that reminder, right? You are not a a disembodied rational brain in a vat, you are, in fact, a lived experience, embodied set of perspectives and beliefs that all wrap up together in order to make certain questions pop as questions. So for Kierkegaard to ask the questions he’s asking, he’s honest about, I’m trying to become a Christian, this matters deeply to me. And in fact, at the end of his life, he says he was never anything other than trying to think through what it means to become a Christian. And so when he talks about death, and anxiety, and despair, and all these things that become popular in existentialism, I don’t think that we should see this as him trying to, like overcome these things. They’re crucial to what does it mean to talk about Christianity as an embodied finite being who’s vulnerable and confused and perplexed and given two passions that I often regret. So that for me for Kierkegaard helps us whether we identify as Christian or not, he helps us recognise, wherever we are, idolatry is always a temptation. We can you believe our own hype. And so what Kierkegaard does, especially for those of us who do identify as Christian, Kierkegaard challenges us to always be more patient with the idea that we may not have it figured out. And this is why he is an enemy of what he calls objectivity in Christian life. And he says, we tend to think you know, the question, is there a God is the whole question, and he wants to say, No, it’s not, is there a god? The question is, Who am I in relation to God, right? You say, Well, God relation, he’s like, Yeah, but but those questions of ontology and metaphysics are always secondary to questions of lived intentionality, lived purpose. So that’s the thing for me that I find so compelling, because too much of Christianity today is reducible to whether on the right or the left a kind of social manifestation of particular community norms. Right? Are you pro life? Do you care for this social issue? Are you standing for that you vote this way or that way. And this is certainly distinctive in America. But I think it’s a global phenomenon as well. We confuse what it is to become a Christian with what it looks like to be identified with people who use God talk to justify their politics, right? That’s the thing Kierkegaard just wrecks. And I think we are rightly wrecked in those ways.

Joshua Yen 23:04
Indeed, I suppose. I mean, you’ve raised some really phenomenal issues so far, then there’s so much to dissect. What would you say was true about relationship to like a Lutheran or Luther because in some sense, his emphasis on faith does feel very Lutheran, and of course, Nietzsche then criticises Lutheran on that emphasis on faith. But at the same time, you also almost have this idea that perhaps Kierkegaard proclamation about objectivity doesn’t seem to or subjectivity instead doesn’t go as far as that Lutheran proper information of faith. So almost in some sense, he is a Lutheran, and he’s not a Lutheran at the same time.

Aaron Simmons 23:39
Yeah. So I think part of what you’re asking, we could narrate as a sort of hermeneutics, right? So how are we going to read Kierkegaard in light of a relation to Luther, but that’s also in light of a relation to Lutheranism, as displayed in Denmark in the early 19th century, right. And so, I side with Jamie Ferreira here who says that we should always assume Kierkegaard is closer to Luther, unless he says otherwise. Oh, I really do read Kierkegaard as a Lutheran thinker. This does not mean however, that this is a limiting function, right? This isn’t something that should worry those of us who are not Lutheran again, as a Pentecostal, I’ve written essays on what would it look like to read Kierkegaard kind of leaning toward Pentecostalism? And how might we get some stuff out there that’s really compelling as philosophers. And you know, some of the reviewers responded and said, This is ridiculous. He’s not a Pentecostal, he’s Lutheran. And I was like, Yeah, I did that. But we can we read Kierkegaard also towards Catholicism like my buddy was doing and amazing. So Jack moulder, wrote a great book on it as well. I mean, so there’s, it’s not saying we read Kierkegaard as leaning Lutheran and always and less See, specifies otherwise, we should instead say, getting clear about where Kierkegaard stood doesn’t mean that Kierkegaard can’t help us stand where we are different. So, in relation to Luther, I think the big things are Kierkegaard is certainly following Luther in, you might say the kind of grand gestures sold the foetus right? It is not about works that salvation or soteriology gets cashed out, it’s in terms of faith. And yet, Kierkegaard does and, of course, quick point on that. That’s why Kierkegaard says that in order to interface we have to overcome a purely ethical mindset, because ethics fundamentally about what AI to do what is acceptable, what is understood as the right works, you can’t work your way as it were into the relation to God, this is what he calls a highest passion, we have to be entirely you might say, given over to the invitation of Christ, which he later will talk about, as you know, come all who are heavy burdened. And his response to this is, that’s everybody, right? So there are moments and Kierkegaard To be honest, that I would even say sound kind of Universalist, when he talks about the all you know, this come all there is no precondition, there is no limit. But when he talks about soteriology, he doesn’t talk a lot about atonement in technical ways. Instead, he talks about faith as a decision. But it’s a decision we make at every minute, at every instance of life. Faith is he says, the moment of decision, and the moment of decision is all of existence, right? So we’re all always faithful. But we might be faithful to those aesthetic desires, or those ethical commands and universals, we might be faithful to this becoming a Christian task, which probably puts us at odds with being a Christian in our social spaces. Right? So faithfulness is bigger than religion for Kierkegaard in this sense, right? That said, you know, it’s not about doing stuff, it’s about becoming, it’s about investing ourselves. But then he does write a book called works of love, which Sure looks an awful lot like, here’s what then you do in your Christianity relative to love your neighbour as yourself. And he says, I’m not going to give a treatise on love, I’m giving a treatise on what it means to put this in practice. But I don’t think your guard sees that as some sort of works based salvation. I think he sees this as, when you are in relation with somebody, you will do everything you can to be invested in the flourishing of that relation, and loving that person. The same is true with God. So if we’re in relation to God, and we’re trying to ever deeper be in that relation, and God says, Hey, love your neighbour as yourself? All right, am I doing that? Am I living that out and putting that in practice? So when you’re here talks about works when he talks about actions when he talks about practices? I don’t think this is at odds with Luthers conception of solar fieldays. I think it’s instead a mode of like, again, we are embodied beings. So how do we care about each other? How do we how do we live out what it is that we’ve decided will be the orientation of our faith, the orientation of our of our lived existence?

Joshua Yen 28:34
That’s very beautiful. And as I’ve noted before, there seems to be a connection between some of the things you’ve said and also the things the thoughts of Nietzsche and one thing which struck me very strongly is when you’re talking about how he was talking about becoming a Christian and wasn’t a Christian, necessarily a Christian, it kind of reminds me almost in, in a kind of a detached way to nature’s kind of criticism of Christianity. And the Antichrist says, well, there is no Christian the only Christian was died on the cross. And there’s the idea of one of them is one of them says there are no more Christians in this more than other one almost seems to say, Well, I’m not a Christian as well. So how would you combine those two ideas? And how would you find those wrestling together?

Aaron Simmons 29:18
Such a cool, cool connection? So yeah, niches problem with Christianity broadly construed up he has lots of critiques. But I think his biggest critique of Christianity is ultimately a critique of the idea that Christianity requires us to evacuate our self will, in the name of some external authority structure, right that our epistemic authorities our existential authorities are now abdicated as a personal responsibility as a task of selfhood and thrown on to something we call God. And this is why the day If God for Nietzsche, is, I argue, way bigger and way more compelling than any facile debate about theism and atheism, Nietzsche personally, seems rightly described as an atheist. And yet what he’s describing in the death of God is any thing to which our allegiance is oriented by which we get now clear direction that excuses the existential task of living well. So at some someplace in his authorship, he actually says that God has not fully died so long as we believe in grammar, right. So whenever we think there is this external structure by which we must live, we must orient ourselves, we must constrain our behaviour, our will our actions, we are now necessarily refusing the real task of existence. So if we reading that way, I think he and Kierkegaard would both affirm the death of God, which is a weird thing to say, right? But Kierkegaard also wants to abandon any idea that God could be this external universalized objective algorithm for right living. That’s why he’s so opposed to Christendom. He wages war on what he calls the established church. And what he’s so annoyed by is this church who basically just kind of sit on its high horse and proclaim, here’s what Christianity is about. And he’s like, nah. Are you living this out? Are you realising how offensive how difficult how grotesque this stuff is, when we try to make it respectable? It’s gonna fail. He talks about Abraham sacrificing Isaac, and he’s like, how many pastors have you heard, give this talk, and everybody cheers. He’s like this should render a sleepless, like we, we should not be able to go to bed, in fear of the fact that our kid may have heard that sermon today. And now think we’re going to kill them in the name of God. Right? Like, he wants the weight of this stuff to rupture us to wreck our complacency. And so similar, excuse me, similarly, when Nietzsche says, God is dead, we have killed God, we are Gods murderers. what possibly could that mean? If not, we’ve got to recognise that the task of existence is something placed on us that mantle that responsibility is not something we get to just call the pastor and say, Hey, how should I live? Right? Nor do we get to ask the therapist or ask the politician or ask the professor. When John Paul Sartre is describing moral life, he says, he has a student come and say, Should I go off and fight with the French Resistance? Or should I stay home and care for my ailing mother? And search responses? Well, what do you think? Right? But he refuses the authority of somebody who can decide that question for another. So when Nietzsche stresses the importance of the Will the power, we can bracket for a minute, the rather disastrous appropriation that that gave rise to and instead say, Well, what he’s doing is saying, Do you have the will to actually take on the real task of deciding the world? Right? We live in a society now you probably hear this at Oxford and other places as well, where universities pitch themselves as giving students real world experiences. Have you heard this kind of thing? Right? In all the marketing, my existential background, Nietzsche, and Kierkegaard and others, makes me say, Oh, that’s a horrible idea. Because what they need to do is give us experiences to decide what world we will will to become real. Right? That’s the real task. What will you do? How will you then live? What will be important? What will you declare as meaningful? So when Nietzsche says, The Death Of God wipes away the horizon? What he means is we now No, no longer have a direction set for us in advance. We’ve got to decide faithfully, what’s worthy of our directional intention? Kierkegaard says the exact same thing, but internal to the decision to live in relation to what he understands to be Christianity. So the best way to see how the death of God is essential to both of them. Is Kierkegaard ‘s account of Christianity is something that is not handed to us from another, but he says must be essential. We learned for every generation on its own. Nietzsche is saying the same thing. And they are both inviting us as the philosopher Marilyn Westfall puts it to realise that the debate is not between capital T truth and no capital T truth. Right? The debate is what lowercase t Truth will we will as our capital teacher, he wills, radical, atheistic, non providential conceptions of existing in the world as the capital T truth that he will will as his lowercase direction, Kierkegaard wills, a rather traditional Lutheran model of an incarnate God in the narrative and Person of Christ as the capital T truth worthy of his lowercase t commitment. So for both of them, they are existential, they are postmodern, they are a death of God, in that they are emphasising the lowercase t truth that we must decide and live toward on our own. And then that opens on two different directions. But yet the real debate is not which direction the real debate for me is, are we owning up to the importance of recognising we get to decide what world will become real? Right. And most Christians today, this is why I’m not a big fan of contemporary apologetics. They’re still fighting now, the capital T or non capital T stuff. Yeah. And for me, it’s like, man, that, okay, but it fundamentally makes it such that, you know, now the high school kid gets out of the apologetics class in their youth group. And what they’ve learned is not to wrestle with the anxiety inducing weight of having to live in light of the problem of evil despite believing in a loving God. What they do is, somebody hits you with the problem of evil power freewill, defence, somebody comes at you as an atheist, boom, ontological argument, right? So we basically wall ourselves in with these external structures. That is excuse our ability and our necessity of actually being existentially interrogated by what we think is worthy of our finitude.

Joshua Yen 37:27
So perhaps developing upon this, this is a question that one of the people in the audience did send in on a few days ago, he asked, well, Kierkegaard talks about this a lot about the Knights of faith. Is the Knights of faith more achievable, or preferable as a role model than in each and Ubermensch? Or are they actually closer in some sense than, than meets the eye?

Aaron Simmons 37:49
Yeah, it’s such a great question and to whoever the Audience Member Is that posted it, thank you, for forcing me in the deep end of the pool. So I think it’s important when we make these sorts of comparisons and contrasts and we read thinkers together, which I’m trying to do, right, I’m trying to maximally show the ways in which someone like Nietzsche, and someone like Kierkegaard, ostensibly radically opposed, it might turn out that their opposition is nested in a underlying agreement that is, in many ways more compelling. And I think this is important to do as a hermeneutic, or an interpretive task. Because we live in a society now, whether America or the UK, or wherever, where radical division, polarisation extremism becomes the mode in which we are normally engaging each other. So I understand myself as not those guys, right. And that distinction is one that I think is detrimental to philosophical work. And I think it’s also detrimental to any kind of faithful existence regardless of the object of our faith. So I think it’s important to say, Kierkegaard, the Christian, Nietzsche, the atheist, maybe their Christianity, and atheism is at some level, the less interesting dynamic than their existential orientation to what it looks like to understand perspective and investment and selfhood as this constant task, right. Again, doesn’t mean that we ignore then the specifics of their directional existence. It’s just that we don’t have to immediately see opposition where there might be underlying agreement in really compelling ways. So when it comes to their idea, specifically of the Uber Munch or the night of faith, it’s tricky because I think for both of them, these are ideas that work structurally in similar ways, where they are the name given to what it would look like to pull off the task they have described. Right, so for Nietzche the task Here’s how do I reevaluate and trans value all values? How do I overcome this history that I bear, he says, As a Campbell, rage against as a lion, and then no longer live in resentment of as a child creating their own values, right? So for Nietzsche, the Uberman, which is the name for what it would look like to have an ideal towards which we strive, if we somehow pulled it off. For Kierkegaard, the night of faith is similarly, the account given of what it would look like to idealise that towards which we strive in our task of becoming a Christian. The goal is to become a knight of faith in some sense. What’s also interesting is not only are these structural targets of fulfilment for both of them, they are also importantly idealised in ways that they each resist self identifying with. And what I mean by that is, Nietzsche does not really describe himself as the Uberman she has to invent Zarathustra to do something, right? Kierkegaard does not describe himself as the Knight of faith, he has to narrate these ideas behind layers and layers and layers of pseudonyms, and the most important one in this regard is anti Clinicas. So when towards the end of his pseudonymous authorship, Kierkegaard is writing stuff about So what then does it look like to really be a Christian not trying to become one but be a Christian, he actually says, I had to create a Christian pseudonym, somebody who could actually claim to have achieved what I only am still trying to figure out. So for both of these thinkers, they effectively create pseudonymous identities to narrate what it means to become the thing in history. Now, why does that matter? Because I think both of them if they in their moments of honesty, both of them recognise that actually being this thing, is really disastrous. And we see these hints in different ways. So I think Kierkegaard is more honest about this than Nietzsche. Because Kierkegaard does say, repeatedly, even that part of what faith is, is a constant movement. It’s something that we are always making, right? So being the night of Faith is not something that you do and now you’ve achieved faith and you walk away or you get to retire, right? It’s not like on Thursday at 3pm. In, you know, Oxfordshire, I became the knight of faith. Right. And he even frames his discussion of another faith in Fear and Trembling with a little preface that says this, just the Greeks understood that faith was a task for a lifetime. Well, If faith is a task for a lifetime, what does it really mean to be a knight of faith? It means that you are constantly and ever more so invested in living faithfully, right? Not having achieved, being the Knight of faith, it’s about am I invested in faithfulness? And if so, then yeah, there’s really good reasons to think that no one could ever say of themselves, I am the Knight of faith, I pulled this off. And if we did, as Kierkegaard says, under the pseudonym Johann is Clinicas, he says, this would be so on human a way of living, he could never recommend it to an existing individual, because we would stop being existing individuals. Right. So what does it look like to become a Christian? It looks like an awareness that the night of faith is not this thing that’s impossible. And faithfulness is always too hard. And we’ll never know the truth and God’s always beyond us. It’s not that that’s, that’s just sort of knee wholistic resignation. It’s instead in awareness that think about all relationships that are defined by love. I’ve been married to my wife, 22 years. Well, it turns out that every day what it looks like to love her is to constantly want to love her more. Plato understood this in the symposium where love is defined as in fact, something that never allows for full possession. That’s why a philosopher is a lover of wisdom, not a hammer of wisdom, right? That philosopher constantly seeks after constantly desires, the beloved, rather than having it and being done. So Kierkegaard I think, honest and owns up to the fact that the night to faith names this ideal and what it looks like to live in light of that ideal is to live constantly into faithfulness. But it’s not to somehow pull this off and be done. Right? Nietzsche it’s a little bit squirrely or in Nietzsche, because the Uberman has to pull off something in order to live in to it. Right? You can only be the Ubermensch, when you understand that the death of God means that we have trans valued values, we are no longer bound by these structures, and we have lived into something else. And again, as a kind of hermeneutic epistemological issue, like I’ve described it, I think that makes tonnes of sense, as an actually sort of practical historical thing, which Nietzsche sometimes kind of sounds like the Uber, Mitch is right, you know, there will be this day, 100 years from now, he suggests where the readers will emerge that can understand what he meant, and then we will move into this great day. In some ways, it’s those moments which we don’t have to read as this like historical prediction of some sort of Uber mich society. But it’s, it’s the fact that he leaves that open that I think, again, makes it just so agonisingly hard to read Nietzsche in light of the history of National Socialism, right? Effectively, they understood themselves as doing the thing he called for.

It didn’t work out so well. I mean, it’s it’s horrifying what it looks like to think you’ve pulled that off. So if we read Nietzsche instead more kind of toward his middle period, rather than his later period, you know, what you see is books for none at all. Right? Which again, sounds like Kierkegaard saying, come all who are heavy burden, you see that the Uber Mensch has nothing to do with overcoming someone else. It’s always about dying to my own ego in a very particular way, in order to allow my ego to emerge in a new way. Well, that sounds similar without the egoism, sounds similar to Kierkegaard is account of dying to oneself. So yes, I think we can read these in connection to each other in really compelling, complicated ways. And yet, I think, to collapse them into each other, sadly, could make the night of faith start looking like Nietzsche and egoism, which would be a disaster. And similarly, if we collapse them into each other, the Uberman, which would lose I think, some of the complexity of the fact that Nietzsche did kind of act like this was something we could pull off. Now, I think his own life proves, maybe not right, like maybe he set himself a task that was structurally impossible. Kierkegaard I think, understands the impossibility of being the night of faith. And that’s where when I say I think Kierkegaard is more honest about this. That doesn’t mean that Nietzsche is still not tragically complicated, right? I think Nietzsche is telling himself that he could somehow make this happen to overcome his own physical weakness, his own exhaustion, with life, his own frustration with loose Alamy. Like, he was able, I think, to sell himself a bill of goods, that inevitably led to the necessity of no longer being able to function as a human. And Nietzsche himself kind of says this though, the task of the Ubermensch right is to see how far we can go as a human, from a beast to a god. Kierkegaard never wants us to be a god. Right? That difference is a difference that really matters. And again, I think we don’t have to read it to those complicated extremes. But it’s important that we not forget that they exist,

Joshua Yen 49:01
Hey lads, mid edit Joshua, and here I’m gonna give Aaron Simmons a bit of time to talk a bit about some of the projects. He’s working on some of the places where you can find him so you can keep up to date with all the crazy and amazing stuff that he’s doing. So make sure you go check these out. I’ll play the clip right now.

Aaron Simmons 49:16
And I’m a professor of philosophy at Furman University in South Carolina and work primarily in 19th and 20th century European philosophy specialises in existentialism and phenomenology in particular, but also do a lot of philosophy of religion. And so kind of how those intersect is really where most of my work has played out over the years. In particular, I have done a lot of research, a lot of speaking a lot of writing on Soren Kierkegaard and so in doing that, you know, lots of books and edited volumes and different things, but the one that I’m currently finishing and really excited about and hope it will be available to your audience soon. It’s just called camping with Kierkegaard essays on faithfulness. As a way of life, and this is a book of popular audience essays, trying to take care of your guard and sort of put him in the conversation with outdoor activities like mountain biking and trout fishing and backpacking. And trying to invite us all to ask what I think is the most fundamental and essential question in existential philosophy, which is simply what’s worthy of our finitude. And so when we think about what’s worthy of our finitude, we’re now implicated in all of the things that Kierkegaard and Nietzsche and Sartre and Beauvoir and all the way up through Derrida, all of them, were asking us this question, how do we live on purpose make the most of our time given that we don’t have an unlimited amount of time to live? How do we do this? Well, and so I’m trying increasingly to think about these questions, not just as a specialist in existential philosophy, but as somebody who’s 45 years old, has a 13 year old son, I’ve been married for 22 years. And I love fishing, and I love mountain biking, and what does it look like for more of us to start investing ourselves in what really does bring us joy, not in an egoistic way. But in a way of trying to cultivate for everyone the world in which we live is a shared world. How do we start fostering for us all the opportunities to prioritise a life narrative that we will be happy to have lived and people who are interested, if they want to follow up on this work that want to get announcements about it, please check out my website. And on there, I’ve got a monthly newsletter that I send out, it’s got exclusive content just for email subscribers. And then they can also check out my YouTube channel philosophy for where we find ourselves, which is where I do weekly videos, kind of thinking about philosophy and philosophical lessons in really mundane ways, as Kierkegaard said, that we should find the sublime in the pedestrian. And so that’s what I tried to do is think about just everyday stuff, but how is it that philosophy can kind of help us live more effectively and live more compellingly live more joyfully?

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Joshua Yen 52:07
That’s a very beautiful description of both what you’re doing right now. And also, the philosophy that you’re wrestling with in the end of the existentialism is really that kind of wrestling with who we are and how we where we find ourselves in this world and wrestling with these big questions, ideas practice developing on this kind of discussion about, about, about Kierkegaard. What were your cards views on repetition? Because of course, that’s quite similar or not similar, but it definitely ties into the idea of eternal recurrence. I did get another question about kind of the two ideas. What how would you firstly you how would you summarise what Kierkegaard viewed on repetition?

Aaron Simmons 52:51
Yeah, so repetition is an idea that really only appears technically in one book, published 1843 alongside fear and trembling, written by a pseudonym, Constantine, Constantine, Aeneas, and you know, of course, his names are always compelling, and they’re intentional, you know, so, repetition is written by a guy whose name is constancy. Right? The perpetual constancy. In this book, what Kierkegaard is doing is trying to think about the inevitable tragedy that we face when we realise our lives are always only lived in the present that disappears. So he’s really kind of engaging a complicated question in, we might say, sort of analytic philosophy of time. How is it we exist, when the moment in which we exist is always ever receding into the past, and yet that towards which we strive is always never yet here, right? This is a kind of tragic awareness of the existence of what temporality means to meaning making. So in this text, what we find Kierkegaard do, is tells this story about a young man who is taking a trip back to you know, a place he had been going back to Germany, back to Berlin, etc. And in doing this, Kierkegaard is inviting us into the realisation that there is a temptation remember, with the aesthetic, there’s this temptation to avoid boredom by always having a new thing, right. The problem is, what did we see was the problem with that mode of living? It’s what he calls the despair, of losing our selfhood in relation to always trying to get our selfhood via some other thing. So the image he gives here is of crop rotation in So I’m actually right now. A UK reference I’m watching the Amazon Prime series Clarkson’s farm second, second round, which cracks me up my son and I watch it together and it’s absolutely hilarious. But it’s so interesting when you watch this, everything that Jeremy Clarkson is doing, being a farmer is constantly having to basically do again, the thing that he’s already done, right, you planted barley, well, now you harvest the barley and you got to tilled the soil to lay the fertiliser to plant the barley so that you can harvest the barley so that you can tell the soil and the rhythm of this is sort of you know, pretty presents, right? We can see how God What a miserable existence is what David Foster Wallace talks about in his amazing book, this is water, where he says adult existence something that you college students will never understand. He says until you’re an adult like until you’re really in it. It’s absolutely horrifyingly exhaustingly mundane and dull. And the reason is, we get out of bed to do a thing so that we can do a different thing. So we can come home and eat dinner to go to bed to get up and do the same thing again the next day. And if we’re really lucky, we get to keep doing that for about 40 years, so we can retire and maybe do something different. Like welcome to you know, capitalistic adulthood, right? So when we understand that the aesthetic Despair is a despair of constantly having to change things up to make us forget how bored we are. That’s why it’s called crop rotation. Hey, planted barley. Now let’s do wheat. Hey, now let’s do corn. Now let’s do something right now. It’s not just the same thing. I’m doing all these different things every time. The problem is, if we are always engaged in that rotation process, we are also now constantly losing ourselves because there is no constancy to our selfhood, right I am influencer culture models this right? I just am. Whatever I get enough likes to say about myself. And you know, you maybe have done this, I don’t know where you’re like post something on social media, and it doesn’t get enough likes and like the first half hour and you start second guessing yourself. And so you take it back down, like oh, shoot, maybe that was a bad thing to say maybe I don’t really mean that. That idea is crop rotation. It’s where we are actively trying to figure out who we are in relationship to what others are saying of us, since we’ve got to have the new phone, the new car, the new thing. Alright, so we see that as the problem, well, then we now can understand what constantan is wrestling with character is wrestling with, they’re in repetition, which is, it seems like the way I get out of the boring realities of repetition is just doing something different, always looking for the new always looking for the novel. The problem with that is if I’m always looking for the novel, looking for the new, who is it that I am, except as the self who’s never actually myself, right? I’m only myself by wanting something else wanting to be different. And so this is the tension. On the one hand, we have boring misery of monotony doing the same thing. On the other hand, we have the constancy of the new that actually leads to the despair of losing myself in the process. How are we to make sense of and Kierkegaard says, well, there are several good options that have been suggested in the history of philosophy, the most prominent of which is what Plato described as recollection. And recollection is where we basically live into the presence right, this fleeting razor’s edge of a present, we live into the present by constantly remembering, bringing back to consciousness, the stuff that we’ve done in the past. The problem here, of course, is, then it’s not clear how we are actually living into the task of selfhood. We’re only ever remembering the self we were. So he says, Have recollection that it makes tonnes of sense to kind of get our bearings relative to our past, but it doesn’t do a very good job of orienting us towards where we’re moving in the direction, you know, are striving. But how can we go forward, if not now to fall back into the aesthetic theory of despair, right, this is the issue. And he offers Repetition as the way to make this work. Repetition, he says, is recollection forwards. So the way to think about this is, how is it that we are now able to anchor ourselves in what we’ve done in who we’ve been in our narrow Give, how do we anchor ourselves there in such a way that it is constantly a new opportunity to become who we want to have been? That’s a complicated grammatical phrase. And I’ll say it again, repetition allows us to think intentionally about how we become who we will have want to have been.

So the example, Maryland piety gives is, she talks about loving, really, really nice fountain pens. And she says, You know, when I love the fountain pens that I’ve collected, it makes me want to go buy a new fountain pen, right? If you’ve probably all had that experience, you know, you love fishing. So you always want to go get the new rod, get the new reel, get, why the new whatever. And the problem is, she says, If I’m always wanting the new, then I’m actually never the person who is celebrating and living into the joy of what it is that I have been like the pen that I bought five years ago, actually, really still matters. But the problem is I’m ignoring its significance by trying to get a new pen all the time. And so she says, instead, repetition is not just recollecting, sitting there admiring my old pin, nor is it abandoning a concern for who I’ve been, and just getting the new aesthetic crop rotation. It’s instead in attempt to take seriously, how can I not go buy the new pen? But in my desire of the new pen, actually be even more impressed with the beauty of the one I’ve already got? How can I be more invested in the past precisely now as the active occurrence of joy in my present, that orients me now more effectively toward my future? Recollection forwards is we no longer abandon the necessity of living riskily forward into the future that is always mysterious and indeterminate. We embrace that risk. But we embrace that risk in light of anchoring ourselves in the faithfulness that we have done our best to enact on purpose. Right. So again, think my relation to my wife, is it possible that marriage gets dull after 22 years, of course, right? You’ve had the same conversation, an awful lot of times, you’ve done the same stuff, you’ve gone out to dinner, like, eventually, it just becomes this temptation to monotony. However, in real faithfulness, where it’s always becoming always ever new, always ever, you know, what we might describe as worthwhile. Well, now, hey, Vanessa, let’s go get dinner. Remember that place we went? That was so amazing. We’re now going maybe back to that same place, not just to literally recreate what we had done. But to realise that having done that having had dinner at that really neat place two years ago, whatever, actually informs the awesomeness that is the development that has occurred since we were there. So we don’t just go to Berlin again, we actually now go back to Berlin or go back to that restaurant, or go back to that pin or go back to that fly rod, we do these things, precisely as someone who has been shaped and grown and developed by that as part of our history. Right. So that’s where repetition against a complicated idea. And so that’s why it’s important to kind of lay that out in relation to the eternal return. They are different ideas. But what I think, again, is the underlying current that they both hit on that I think is really cool. Is Are you okay, saying yes, to the choices that you make? Both are asking us that right? Are you okay with who you’ve been as propelling you into who you’re trying to become? That question is why when Nietzsche talks about the eternal return, you know, he has this basically demon show up and says, You’ve got to repeat everything you’ve ever done for all eternity. And then the question is, will you look at the demon and say, Vallarta God, right, what would it look like to be okay, in the perpetual Groundhog Day of repeating our existence over and over and over? Well, that’s a question. Are you okay with the narrative you let be written? Are you able to will, the meaning and significance of the life that you intentionally let become meaningful and significant, right? That’s why when I say the only question For me is what’s worthy of our finitude. That’s not meant to be reductive or flippant. It’s meant to say, give me any technical debate. And at some level, that technical complicated pro level thing is reducing back to, but are we every day making the most of the time that is limited. And the eternal return is a way of foisting that responsibility on us. It confronts us it throw punches us with the idea that hey, Alright, are you okay? With what today looks like? Could you do it forever? And you’re like, Oh, God, no, like, I want to get out of university so I can do something else. But the point is, what makes the something else possible being in university? So are you okay, making the choice to be where you are on purpose, given how it is you’re trying to narrate where you want to be, where you want to go, and how you want to become. And for me, both of them are trying to overcome the tragedy of viewing finitude as a life sentence, right, you’re cursed into this 10 by 10 box for 80 years. Instead, I think both of them are inviting us to overcome nihilism to overcome quietism to abandon the Schopenhauer in pessimism. And instead to animate ourselves with passion, faith, will intensity, enthusiasm, excitement, joy, are we letting those things show up? Precisely because we recognise if I don’t like what I’m doing today, not just in mundane senses, but like who I am, right? Am I living on purpose today? If I’m not, I need to change today. Because I am who I’m becoming just your heads point, or niches point. I have to become who I already am. And the problem is, if I don’t like who I am, then becoming who I already am is a task that will always read to me as despairing. Said, I’m living into a self that I’m like, Oh, hell yeah. Like I’m okay with this self. And it doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days doesn’t mean that we don’t mess it up. That’s why the Ubermensch the night of faith shouldn’t be historical goals. They should be constant invitations to recognise we’re never quite done, so long as we exist.

Joshua Yen 1:07:30
I think that was the perhaps the best explanation of the eternal recurrence or a criminal record and repetition I’ve heard of so far. So thank you very much for that presentation. Perhaps one of the last questions for this interview, is what we’re Kierkegaard is views on Christ. We’ve heard a lot about him talking about the church, we’ve heard him talking about how we ought to live in relation to God in relation to faith. What who does he view Christ as and what was his thoughts on Christ?

Aaron Simmons 1:08:02
Yeah, so for me, that’s the hardest question of any that you have asked. And the reason is, Kierkegaard like Bonhoeffer in many ways, and and I actually think that there is significant work yet to be done thinking the two of them together. I’ve tried to do a little bit of it. I think others should maybe take that up, because I think it’s a fecund conversation for sure. But like Bonhoeffer, I think what Kierkegaard asks us, is not the question, will you understand Christ correctly the way that I present Christ, but instead asks us, who then will Christ be for you? Right? So if we take it up that way, who will Christ be for us? Then Kierkegaard is not presenting some theological, doctrinal systematic theology, right? Here’s my Christology boom. He’s instead inviting us again as existential philosopher. But also, as you might even say, a kind of poets in many ways, right? He’s envisioning a world that makes sense in light of who he takes Christ to be for him. And when he does this, I think he says, Hey, we’ve all got to figure that out. We’ve all got to take that up for ourselves. But I think he gives us some general guidelines on maybe, like the bumpers in the bowling alley, sort of like here’s maybe where a good place to sort of throw the ball is on right? And on the one hand, he says, Christ, he defines as the absolute paradox, which is a technical term for him, but what he means is, it is what he calls the God man. It was a god human. There’s there shouldn’t be a gendered aspect here, but it’s where God he steps out of an ostensibly objective universal being state and enters the contextual specifics of becoming characteristic of human finitude. That shift does not eliminate the other aspect, right? It’s why it’s always God hyphen, human God hyphen, man. It’s not. It’s not God is no longer God by becoming human. The whole point is, man, there’s something really compelling about the Christian story. Because God does not suggest to us that the maximal thing that God is or cares about is this objective outside the world eternal thing. It’s actually the relational humility that is expressed in what Christians called kenosis. It’s when God’s becomes incarnate to experience the human condition, we get revealed the heart of God, I think, I think Kierkegaard holds it this way. Now, what would that heart of God look like? And this is really compelling. It reveals that the human condition is not something to try to escape. Right? Lots of cultural traditions that we name religions tell the following sort of story. There’s a pit, we’re in the pit called the human condition. And we’ve got to figure some way out of that pit, right. And we might do it via particular types of Buddhist directions, and deny selfhood altogether. There is no pit, right? We denied desire, the pit was the illusion we created as a result of mistaken desire and attachment and appropriately to ego. Maybe we certain types of Islamic culture, Muslim theology says, go about these things, engage in these practices, these rituals, pray this number of times a day face this direction, engage in the highs, right? Fast for Ramadan. And this allows us to kind of ladder out of the pit to something called holiness or salvation. Christianity kinda has done that too. Right? Pray this prayer, walk the Roman road, give to the poor love your neighbour, here’s the ladder that comes out and God standing up here waiting for us, right? So all traditions that are often called religions tend to try to give us some way of either eliminating the pit or getting out of the pit. Right? What Kierkegaard does is understands Christ as the absolute paradox in a way that ruptures and disorients us relative to that expectation. There is no escapism here. There is no How do we get out of the pit. What Kierkegaard does, is narrates Christ much more as the God who walks up to the pit, looks down and jumps in with us. And then what do we do? We keep trying to say, Oh, God, can I hop on your back and climb out with me, right? We keep still trying to make God jumping into the pit, a means of escape. If I just believe if I just if I just then I’ll get out, then I’ll be in heaven, then I’ll get there. But what we see is actually a Kierkegaardian story about the God who comes into the pit and says, y’all, this is where God is. Right? I’m right here, stop trying to get out the kingdom of God is present, the kingdom of God is now the kingdom of God is here. And so this is where I read these discourses later in character’s life, about Kemal who are heavy burdened about what it looks like to be with God in God’s loneliness. But then that doesn’t mean that we aren’t also participating with God in God’s elevation or height. But where is that height present, not out of the pit up on the surface, right out of the cave. The height is precisely the possibility of here and now on purpose, living into unity with the loneliness of a God who said, I’m in on the human condition. This is what I made for you. This is what you’re supposed to do do it well, right. That’s why works of love becomes so important not as a means of salvation, but a maximal expression of what it looks like to unite with God in God’s humility and loneliness as a means of participating in what God’s elevation and height looks like as a live practice. So, my view is that Kierkegaard is essentially Christological in his theology, you You do not get to God and Kierkegaard except via a narrative of the god, human, the god, man. But what that means is not that Christ is this access point to get out of human existence. But that being again, being a Christian, I pulled it off, I got to the top of the ladder on a Thursday, it’s instead about living faithfully recognising that God in Christ is a contemporary with us at all times. So that’s why he describes the task of faith as becoming contemporaries with Christ, not just receivers of what someone else told us Christ was or who Christ was. That invitation means Christ is always he thinks, walking right next to us. Who will you say that I am? And that question becomes one that again, I see as utterly consistent with the existential task of living faithfully becoming a Christian or becoming an atheist, as art says, these are all complicated, difficult and worthwhile ways of living. The question is, how will we then direct ourselves orient ourselves and inhabit our finitude in light of the fact that God always says, that’s the task. That’s the goal, not to get out not to be not to achieve, but to ever more, live faithfully where you are on purpose in light of the fact that you are still finite and probably going to mess it up. But faith is a task for a lifetime. And yet, if you’re a Christian, or trying to become one, then you’re not navigating that task by yourself. But God is always walking with you in real time in personal relationship, trying to help you understand why it matters to do so.

Joshua Yen 1:16:50
That’s definitely a very brilliant description of Kierkegaard views on on Christ. To end off this video out, perhaps us like to ask you, if someone wants to learn more about Kierkegaard where what are some of the best books or what kind of articles or places they can find to learn more about Kierkegaard?

Unknown Speaker 1:17:08
Yeah, so I’ll give a couple of suggestions that hit different levels and different ways to think about it. So if you want to get a introduction, I think is the best philosophical introduction to Kierkegaard by a really serious Career Scholar trying to write for a slightly broader audience, but it’s still a pretty technical book. So I think it’s, it’s the book I use when I teach Kierkegaard to students in a Kierkegaard seminar. This is like the first thing we read, right? But it’s not something that I just recommend that book clubs, but it’s simply called Kierkegaard by Jamie Ferreira, Jamie, for Arizona, Kierkegaard is short. It is compact, it is unbelievably compelling, excellent, excellent book, it is probably still one that people who have studied a little bit of philosophy that will be very helpful to kind of navigate a lot of what of what she’s doing. If you want a book that is a little bit more directed toward Christian living, a little bit more accessible, also written by an amazing scholar, but written to a particularly Christian audience, I would recommend Mark Tetjein book on Kierkegaard, the title I’m actually blanking on right this second. But it is also very short, very accessible.I’ve used it also in classes, but I’ve used it in classes, for example, where I had broader community members taking the class, not just philosophy majors, so that one has a little bit more accessibility a little bit more specifically Christian focus. If you wanted a biography on Kierkegaard, I’d recommend the biography came out a couple years ago by Claire Carlyle, there in the UK, amazing, amazing biography on Kierkegaard sold really well got a lot of a lot of press a lot of traction, but it’s also beautifully written. And so that book, if you want more of the biography, and kind of expanded story of who he was, that’s a really good one. And then if you want to read about Kierkegaard in relation to his time, you’re more of like historian approaching Kierkegaard, I’d recommend the book simply called Kierkegaard in Golden Age Denmark, which is a fascinating book that talks about the way in which the history of Denmark and the politics and the religious structures create a particular setting that then allows Kierkegaard to be who he ends up becoming. Now, if you want not to read a book, you want to go for a jog and think a little bit about Kierkegaard. I’ve actually given quite a few podcast interviews, similar to this, but that we’re focused in particular on sort of Kierkegaard for the church or Why We Need To Read Kierkegaard today where I tried to not just say speak to a philosophical audience like I’ve tried had to do in this one right since you you’re intentionally making philosophy content. I’ve done some that were more to again, just kind of broader religion podcasts and and even podcasts just talking about kind of contemporary living and stuff. Those are accessible via my website. Again, Jay Aaron simmons.com. I’ve got links to those. So it’s podcasts such as you have permission and rethinking faith and the young evangelicals and homebrew Christianity, and things like that. So I think those would be great resources. And otherwise, you know, sign up for my email newsletter there on my website and subscribe to my YouTube channel philosophy for where we find ourselves. Because once my book camping with Kierkegaard comes out, that will be a different kind of invitation into Kierkegaard. It’s not an introduction to his thought. It’s not even a book about his philosophy. It’s an attempt instead to kind of think about what would it look like to live Kierkegaardian Lee, on purpose in our world on our jobs, doing what we love to do. So it’s a book that is a different take on thinking about Kierkegaard. It’s more like thinking with him at the campsite. Instead of trying to make sense of his ideas. It’s really more like putting his ideas into practice, and maybe ways that are compelling to all of us where we find ourselves. So maybe those are some some places people would start.

Joshua Yen 1:21:26
Definitely those are brilliant suggestions. I’ll put links to those where you can find them, of course, our website, I’ll put that in the description below. And also, of course, links to different books on Amazon. I’m sure they’re on Amazon in the description below, so you can go find that out. Once again, thank you very much for coming onto this channel is a really phenomenal and a great a huge privilege to have you on the channel to talk to you about Kierkegaard through God’s phenomenal thinker Andrew, it’s great to have you on to talk about all of his career ideas. Likewise, thanks for watching this video. Stay safe my friends, see you soon. And goodbye. Thank you for watching and God Bless

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