6.13.2010

Kierkegaard's Contemporaneity

Kierkegaard's Contemporaneity from Daniel Coffeen on Vimeo.



Kierkegaard claims that Christendom reads the Gospels all wrong — it's as if everyone skipped to the end, found out Jesus was in fact God, and then read what it has to say. But, for Kierkegaard, what makes Christianity what it is is that you don't know that Jesus is God — you believe it, or don't.

When reading the Gospels, Kierkegaard tells us that we must be contemporary with the text, contemporary with Jesus and the disciplines. From that perspective, the text is insane and the demand even more so: believe that a singular, historical man is the eternal God. Nuts.

And, for Kierkegaard, this critique turns on hermeneutic posture: how do you stand towards a text and the demands it makes?

5 comments:

Vlad said...

Wow! this is a great thought! I've never thought about that in such a way :) this is really cool! and it's very interesting to read text in that way :) thank you :)

Pierre said...

a nice article about the 'guy', if I may say...

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/atlarge/2010/05/24/100524crat_atlarge_gopnik

the topic of the post and of the artcile are near from each other

Samuel said...

Hi Daniel,

I too am attracted to Kierkegaard's concept of contemporaneity. In fact, some colleagues of mine at the UBC department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory are holding a symposium on the subject of contemporaneity early next year.

I see Fear and Trembling in your canon. Are there any other Kierkegaard texts that deal with contemporaneity?

Daniel Coffeen said...

Hey Samuel,

Alas, I don't live /w my Kierkegaard books these days as I recently moved.

I'd look at Concluding Unscientific Postscript, however.

And, if you don't mind, I'd love to know more about the conference and how you're framing the question.

Patrick said...

Hi Samuel,

Just stumbled onto this, and I'm not sure if this is of any use to you six months too late, but anyway: the main discussion of contemporaneity (samtidighed) in SK is in Philosophical Fragments, but there's also important uses of it in Practice in Christianity (explicitly) and The Book on Adler (implicitly). It also has an interesting cameo as early as 'The Seducer's Diary' section of Either/Or Pt.I and also occurs as late as The Moment, where he refers to contemporaneity as 'my life's thought'. So the concept finds turns up at both ends of Kierkegaard's authorial career and all through the middle too. For an overview, may I be obnoxious enough to suggest my rather awkwardly-titled paper "'See For Your Self': Contemporaneity, Autopsy, and Presence in Kierkegaard's Moral-Religious Psychology" in British Journal for the History of Philosophy (April 2010).

I'd be interested to hear more about this conference - are you working with Gadamer's use of Kierkegaardian contemporaneity? (Bonhoeffer also does interesting things with it).