The subject of the article is a text by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard that is not much known and quite neglected by critics: A Literary Review (1846). By analysing its contents and illustrating the german reception of it the study intends showing both the centrality of this work for the comprehension of Kiekegaard’s position towards his century and its importance in the history of the political thought. The paper is divided into fours partes. The first section describes the history of the Review and the intellectual historical context in which it has been written, the net of relationships between Kierkegaard and the author of the reviewed tale, the reasons Kierkegaard wanted to write such a review, and what place it has inside his work. The second part brings out the contents of Kierkegaard’s Zeitkritik, that is to say his critical diagnosis of contemporary society, that represents the more significant and longest part of the Review. According to Kierkeggard distinctive phenomena of the present time are the predominance of the logical and calculating intellect over any genuine feeling or spontaneity, the lack of enthusiasm and faith, the incapacity of fixing the mind on the spiritual life, the primacy of the exteriority over the spirituality, the coquetry, the eagerness to be seen and to appear, the envy towards any manifestation of excellence and any original way of thinking. Most of all what distinguises the modern life from the past is the “levelling”, that is the sinking of all things to the same level and the progressiv removal of any differences between persons, life styles, opinions. It produces consequences involving all the aspects of the human life: the culture massification, the primacy of mediocrity, the homologation of ideas, behaviours, ways of thinking and acting, the hypocrisy and superficiality in interpersonal relationships, the supremacy of public opinion’s judging standards over individuality. Kierkegaard describes with negative words also democracy and the representative government, in which he sees one of the products of the present spiritual apathy. According to him the democratic system allows voting citizens to delegate any responsibilities and to escape their moral duty to take decision in the first person. The third section of the paper compares Kierkegaard’s Literary Review with two contemporaneous texts, that have become classics of the political thought and basic works for the unterstanding of the modern era: De la Démocratie en Amérique by Alexis de Tocqueville and On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. The comparison points out many similarities between Kierkegaard’s diagnosis of the present age and the other two treatises, whereas the differences are mostly dued both to Kierkegaard’s pessimistic persuasion that the levelling is real and inevitable and to his strong religious view. At the same time just the religious faith and the faith in ethical potentialities of the individual offer to the modern man the way to save himself from the levelling depersonalization. Kierkegaard’s attention for the individual and the strong role of religion in his philosophy have produced in the philosophical historiography the idea that Kierkegaard’s existenzialist thought has no connection with the historical and social world. On the contrary the analysis of the Review shows how sharp his sensibility for new social and intellectual phenomena was and how much he in contemporaneous matters and debates was personally involved. A further confirmation to such a view stressing also political aspects of Kierkegaard’s philosophy comes from considering the echo the Literary Review had. So the fourth part of the paper deals with the reception of the Review in Germany at the beginning of the XIX century thanks to Theodor Haecker’s german translation and to the intermediation worked out by his philosophical and cultural journal Der Brenner. In particular are considered the receptions of the Review by Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers. The paper explors the several correspondences recognizable between Kierkegaard’s diagnosis of the modern age and the famous categories of the existentialist analytics Heideggers uses in Being and Time to describe the way of beeing of the “one” (man): unanthenticity, publicness, mediocrity, idle talk, curiosity, ambiguity. In conclusion the case of Jaspers is discussed in accordance with the fact that a textual reference to the Review and echos of its contents can be found also in his critic essay Die geistige Situation der Zeit. The similarities regard both the matter of intellectual and social levelling as identifying sign of the modern life and the questions of anonymity and historicity as premises of any human decision and act. By analysing Kierkegaard’s review and the successful history of its reception the study offers many reasons in support of the thesis that “A Literary Review sums up in few pages the political philosophy of Kierkegaard”.

Søren Kierkegaard critico della modernità

Alessiato E
2007

Abstract

The subject of the article is a text by the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard that is not much known and quite neglected by critics: A Literary Review (1846). By analysing its contents and illustrating the german reception of it the study intends showing both the centrality of this work for the comprehension of Kiekegaard’s position towards his century and its importance in the history of the political thought. The paper is divided into fours partes. The first section describes the history of the Review and the intellectual historical context in which it has been written, the net of relationships between Kierkegaard and the author of the reviewed tale, the reasons Kierkegaard wanted to write such a review, and what place it has inside his work. The second part brings out the contents of Kierkegaard’s Zeitkritik, that is to say his critical diagnosis of contemporary society, that represents the more significant and longest part of the Review. According to Kierkeggard distinctive phenomena of the present time are the predominance of the logical and calculating intellect over any genuine feeling or spontaneity, the lack of enthusiasm and faith, the incapacity of fixing the mind on the spiritual life, the primacy of the exteriority over the spirituality, the coquetry, the eagerness to be seen and to appear, the envy towards any manifestation of excellence and any original way of thinking. Most of all what distinguises the modern life from the past is the “levelling”, that is the sinking of all things to the same level and the progressiv removal of any differences between persons, life styles, opinions. It produces consequences involving all the aspects of the human life: the culture massification, the primacy of mediocrity, the homologation of ideas, behaviours, ways of thinking and acting, the hypocrisy and superficiality in interpersonal relationships, the supremacy of public opinion’s judging standards over individuality. Kierkegaard describes with negative words also democracy and the representative government, in which he sees one of the products of the present spiritual apathy. According to him the democratic system allows voting citizens to delegate any responsibilities and to escape their moral duty to take decision in the first person. The third section of the paper compares Kierkegaard’s Literary Review with two contemporaneous texts, that have become classics of the political thought and basic works for the unterstanding of the modern era: De la Démocratie en Amérique by Alexis de Tocqueville and On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. The comparison points out many similarities between Kierkegaard’s diagnosis of the present age and the other two treatises, whereas the differences are mostly dued both to Kierkegaard’s pessimistic persuasion that the levelling is real and inevitable and to his strong religious view. At the same time just the religious faith and the faith in ethical potentialities of the individual offer to the modern man the way to save himself from the levelling depersonalization. Kierkegaard’s attention for the individual and the strong role of religion in his philosophy have produced in the philosophical historiography the idea that Kierkegaard’s existenzialist thought has no connection with the historical and social world. On the contrary the analysis of the Review shows how sharp his sensibility for new social and intellectual phenomena was and how much he in contemporaneous matters and debates was personally involved. A further confirmation to such a view stressing also political aspects of Kierkegaard’s philosophy comes from considering the echo the Literary Review had. So the fourth part of the paper deals with the reception of the Review in Germany at the beginning of the XIX century thanks to Theodor Haecker’s german translation and to the intermediation worked out by his philosophical and cultural journal Der Brenner. In particular are considered the receptions of the Review by Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers. The paper explors the several correspondences recognizable between Kierkegaard’s diagnosis of the modern age and the famous categories of the existentialist analytics Heideggers uses in Being and Time to describe the way of beeing of the “one” (man): unanthenticity, publicness, mediocrity, idle talk, curiosity, ambiguity. In conclusion the case of Jaspers is discussed in accordance with the fact that a textual reference to the Review and echos of its contents can be found also in his critic essay Die geistige Situation der Zeit. The similarities regard both the matter of intellectual and social levelling as identifying sign of the modern life and the questions of anonymity and historicity as premises of any human decision and act. By analysing Kierkegaard’s review and the successful history of its reception the study offers many reasons in support of the thesis that “A Literary Review sums up in few pages the political philosophy of Kierkegaard”.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/20.500.12570/14939
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