Concluding Unscientific Postscript

Concluding Unscientific Postscript, By Søren Kierkegaard (Oxford University Press, 1945) translated byDavid F. Swenson.


p. 31/11-24

[I assume now the opposite, that the opponents have succeeded in proving what they desire about the Scriptures, with a certainty transcending the most ardent wish of the most passionate hostility—What then? Have the opponents thereby abolished Christianity? By no means. does not follow that Christ has not existed. In so far, the believer is equally free to assume it; equally free, let us note this well, for if he had assumed it by virtue of any proof, he would have been on the verge of giving up his faith.]: Wou1d K agree to the logical conclusion of this line or thought, viz. that one could be a Christian even if there were no historical evidence whatsoever of Christ's existence—or rather that e men claiming to be God had ever existed?


p. 75/4-7

[The certainty afforded by sense-perception is a deception, as one may learn from a study of the Greek sceptics...]: This is a mistaken view. See Sartre, L'Être et le Néant, pp. 11-12.


p. 179/fn.1

[It le not so much that God is a postulate, as that the existing individual's postulation of God is a necessity.]: Cf. Kirilov in Dostoievsky’s Possédés: "L'homme n'a fait qu'inventer Dieu pour ne pas se tuer. Yoilà le résumé de l'histoire universelle jusqu'à ce moment.'


p. 220/8-28

[If God were to reveal himself in human form and grant a direct relationship, by giving Himself, for example, the figure of a man six yards tall, then our hypothetical society man and captain of the hunt would doubtless have his attention aroused. But the spiritual relationship to God in truth, when God refuses to deceive, requires precisely that there be nothing remarkable about the figure, so that the society man would have to say: 'There is nothing whatever to see'. When God has nothing obviously remarkable about Him, the society man is perhaps deceived by not having his attention at all aroused. But this is not God's fault, and the actuality of such a deception is at the same time the constant possibility of the truth. But if God had anything obviously remarkable, He deceives men because they have their attention called to what is untrue, and this direction of attention is at the same time the impossibility of the truth. In paganism, the direct relationship is idolatry; in Christendom, everyone knows that God cannot so reveal Himself. But this knowledge is by no means inwardness, and in Christendom it may well happen to one who knows everything by rote that he is left altogether 'without God in the world', in a sense impossible in paganism, which did have the untrue relationship of paganism. Idolatry is indeed a sorry substitute, but that the item God should be entirely omitted is still worse.]: Here, when applied to the Buddha's Teaching, is what or where the position of samatha bhavanā comes in. It is ONLY with the initiation and development of samatha bh. that a puthujjana can even develop any anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato (see SN, SAKKĀYA [b]). With the increase of samatha bh. towards the samādhi degree these paṭisotagāmi vertiginous views of the nature of existence can be developed and held longer and steadier finally with the possibility of culmination at first jhāna, that is if anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato has been developed. Without it samādhi guarantees nothing as far as attainment. It is only the necessary 'allower' for the mind to have such views if it wants. In short, ONLY samatha bh. allows anulomikāya khantiyā samannāgato ; only samādhi allows the ambiguity to subside once for all, tout court.


p. 313/34-39

[But the subjective thinker is not a poet, though he may also be a poet; he is not on ethicist, though he may also be an ethicist; he is not a dialectician, though he may also be a dialectician. He is essentially an existing individual, while the existence of the poet is non-essential in relation to the poem, the existence of the ethicist, in relation to his doctrine.]: In as far as Ethics is understood as referring to a particular doctrine, Christian or Mahometan for example, this is true: but if Ethics is s matter of concern over the question 'What should I do?' than every subjective thinker is necessarily an ethicist (unless he exists in pure immediacy; in which case however, though he may be subjective, he is hardly a thinker); for the first thing brought to light in subjective reflexion is individual responsibility for action. For Johannes Climacus this question does not become acute, since he takes for granted the validity of the Christian scriptures (see p. 237). In this patter he is inconsistent, since he does not profess to be a Christian. The question becomes acute with Nietzsche, and has remained so.


p. 349/10-17

[Aesthetically it would be the highest pathos for the poet to annihilate himself, for him to demoralize himself if necessary, in order to produce masterpieces. Aesthetically it would be in order for a man to sell his soul to the devil, to use a strong expression which recalls what is perhaps still done more often than is ordinarily supposed—but also to produce miracles of art. Ethically it would perhaps be the highest pathos to renounce the glittering artistic career without saying a single world.] noted


bottom of the page:

It is related of the late F.W.H. Myers, that, at a dinner party one evening, ha asked the gentleman sitting opposite what he thought would happen to him after his death. At first the gentleman made as if he hadn't heard the question, but Myers pressed him, and was eventually rewarded with the tasty reply, 'Oh, I suppose I shall inherit Eternal Bliss-~but why must you talk about such an unpleasant matter?'


p. 563/note 2 to page 108

[This is S.K.'s constant complaint]:S.K. would have complained more if Hegel had included

an Ethics in the System. See p. 119, 11. 23-24.