The Human Embrace: The Love of Philosophy and the Philosophy of Love: Kierkegaard, Cavell, Nussbaum

By Ronald L. Hall | Go to book overview

One

RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY AS REFUSALS OF FAITH

It is perhaps a startling claim, but Kierkegaard argues, and I think correctly, that religion in general, and Christianity in particular, can be, and often are, at odds with faith. He identifies such faithless religions with a modality of existence he sometimes calls religiousness A, and sometimes, infinite resignation. I read his notion of resignation as a form of refusing the human, the human world, a kind of turning of one's back on it, spiritual or literal, for the sake of a world elsewhere, a world perceived to be higher or better than this human world. These faithless religions I call religions of resignation and refusal. Again, these religions are marked definitively by the efforts they devise and promote to provide human beings with ways of salvation, all of which turn out to be ways of resigning from, or denying, or avoiding, or otherwise refusing the existential embrace of our own humanness.1

____________________
1
Kierkegaard treats religiousness A in his Concluding Unscientific Postscript, trans. David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968) (hereafter CUP). And in agreement with my opening point about the possibility that religion, in particular popular Christianity, can be at odds with faith, he says, "Religiousness A can exist in paganism, and in Christianity it can be the religiousness of everyone who is not decisively Christian [that is, who does not five in faith], whether he is baptized or not" (495). He also treats it, although not explicitly in Fear and Trembling, Repetition, ed. and trans. Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong ( Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983) (hereafter Fr). In this work, I take Kierkegaard's discussion of the movement of resignation that the knight of resignation makes to be essentially identical to the movement made in religiousness A. While Stephen Dunning takes resignation to be but the first movement of Religiousness A, along with suffering and guilt, I will take resignation to be its central and defining element (KDI, 190). For my purposes in this book, I will take the discussion of infinite resignation in FT, and the discussion of religiousness A in CUP to be variations on the type of religion that I call the religion or philosophy of resignation.

-9-

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