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The Concept of Writing, with Continual Reference to “Kierkegaard”

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This essay explores the role that writing plays within the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. Given that a majority of his commentators seemingly agree that his philosophy is thoroughly “Socratic,” emphasis on what Mallarme once called the “insane game of writing” perhaps shows that this claim is somewhat inaccurate. For if the Socratic logos is defined according to the proximity of living speech, then the fact that Kierkegaard was, above anything else, a writer would perhaps position him much closer to Plato than to Socrates. This becomes all the more evident when considering what Kierkegaard called the “poet-dialectician,” which is indeed a name that is somewhat paradoxical given that it signifies the Socratic philosopher who must engage in those activities which Socrates himself—notably in Plato's Phaedrus—had disparaged as removed from the essence of truth: namely, to write and to poetise. So if Kierkegaard's philosophy is really Socratic in nature, how can he resemble such a “pure thinker” who never wrote a single word?

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, University of Essex, Colchester, CO4 3SQ, UK

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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