by Søren Kierkegaard (1844)


In what sense the subject of this deliberation is a theme of interest to psychology, and in what sense, after having interested psychology, it points precisely to dogmatics.

THE notion that every scientific problem within the great field embraced by science has its definite place, its measure and its bounds, and precisely thereby has its resonance in the whole, its legitimate consonance in what the whole expresses-this notion, I say, is not merely a pium desiderium which ennobles the- man of science by the visionary enthusiasm or melancholy which it begets, is not merely a sacred duty which employs him in the service of the whole, bidding him renounce lawlessness and the romantic lust to lose sight of land, but it is also in the interest of every more highly specialised deliberation, which by forgetting where its home properly is, forgets at the same time itself, a thought which the very language I use with its striking ambiguity expresses; it becomes another thing, and attains a dubious perfectibility by being able to become anything at all. By thus failing to let the scientific call to order be heard, by not being vigilant to forbid the individual problems to hurry by one another as though it were a question of arriving first at the masquerade, one may indeed attain sometimes an appearance of brilliancy, may give sometimes the impression of having already comprehended, when in fact one is far from it, may sometimes by the use of vague words strike up an agreement between things that differ. This gain, however, avenges itself subsequently, like all unlawful acquisitions, which neither in civic life nor in the field of science can really be owned.

Thus when a person entitles the last section of his Logic "Reality,"' he thereby gains the advantage of appearing to have already reached by logic the highest thing, or, if one prefers to say so, the lowest. The loss is obvious nevertheless, for this is not to the advantage either of logic or of reality. Not to that of reality, for the contingent, which is an integral part of reality, cannot be permitted to slip into logic. It is not to the advantage of logic, for if logic has conceived the thought of reality it has taken into its system something it cannot assimilate, it has anticipated what it ought merely to predispose. The punishment is clear: that every deliberation about what reality is must by this be made difficult, yea, perhaps for a long time impossible, because this word "reality" will, as it were, require some time to recall to mind what it is, must have time to forget the mistake.

Thus when in dogmatics a person says that faith is the immediate, without more precise definition, he gains the advantage of convincing everyone of the necessity of not stopping at faith, yea, he compels even the orthodox man to make this concession, because this man perhaps does not at once penetrate the misunderstanding and perceive that it is not due to a subsequent flaw in the argument but to this proton psendos. The loss is indubitable, for thereby faith loses by being deprived of what legitimately belongs to it: its historical presupposition. Dogmatics loses for the fact that it has to begin, not where it properly has its beginning, within the compass of an earlier beginning. Instead of presupposing an earlier beginning, it ignores this and begins straightway as if it were logic; for logic in fact begins with the most volatile essence produced by the finest abstraction: the immediate. What then logically is correct, namely, that the immediate is eo ipso annulled, becomes twaddle in dogmatics; for to no one could it occur to want to stop with the immediate (not further defined), seeing that in fact it is annulled the instant it is mentioned, just as a sleepwalker awakes the instant his name is called.

Thus when sometimes in the course of investigations which are hardly more than propaedeutic' one finds the word "reconciliation" used to designate speculative knowledge, or the identity of the knowing subject and the thing known, the subjective-objective, etc., thin one easily sees that the author is brilliant and that by the aid of his esprit he has explained all riddles, especially for those who do not even scientifically take the precaution, which yet one takes in everyday life, to listen carefully to the words of the riddle before guessing it. Otherwise one acquires the incomparable merit of having by one's explanation propounded a new riddle, namely, how it could occur to any man that this might be the explanation. That thought possesses reality was the assumption of all ancient philosophy as well as of the philosophy of the Middle Ages. With Kant this assumption became doubtful. Suppose now that the Hegelian school had really thought through Kant's scepticism (however, this ought always to remain a big question, in spite of all Hegel and his school' have done, by the help of the catchwords "Method and Manifestation," to hide what Schelling' recognised more openly by the cue "intellectual intuition and construction," the fact, namely, that this was a new point of departure) and then reconstructed the earlier view in a higher form, in such wise that thought does not possess reality by virtue of a presupposition - then this consciously produced reality of thought a reconciliation? In fact philosophy is merely brought back to the point where in old days one began, in the old days when precisely the word "reconciliation" had immense significance. We have an old and respectable philosophical terminology: thesis, antithesis, synthesis. They invent a newer one in which mediation occupies the third place. Is this to be considered such an extraordinary step in advance? Mediation is equivocal, for it designates at once the relation between the two terms and the result, that in which they stand related to one another as having been brought into relationship; it designates movement, but at the same time rest. Whether this is a perfection, only a far deeper dialectical test will decide; but for that unfortunately we are still waiting. They do away with synthesis and say "mediation." All right. But esprit requires more, so they say "reconciliation." What is the consequence? It is of no advantage to their propaedeutic investigations, for of course they gain as little as truth thereby gains in clarity, or as a man's soul increases in blessedness by acquiring a title. On the contrary, they have fundamentally confounded two sciences, ethics and dogmatics specially in view of the fact that, having got the word "reconciliation" introduced, they now hint that logic is properly the doctrine about the logos. Ethics and dogmatics contend in a fateful confinium about reconciliation. Repentance and guilt torture out reconciliation ethically, whereas dogmatics in its receptivity for the proffered reconciliation has the historically concrete immediateness with which it begins its discourse in the great conversation of science. What then will be the consequence? That language will presumably have to celebrate a great sabbatical year, in order to be able to begin with the beginning.

In logic they use the negative as the motive power which brings movement into everything. And movement in logic they must have, any way they can get it, by fair means or foul. The negative helps them, and if the negative cannot, then quibbles and phrases can, just as the negative itself has become a play on words.

{Exempli gratia: Wesen ist was ist gewesen, ist gewesen is the preterite tense of "to be," ergo Wesen is das aufgehoben being "the being which has been." This is a logical movement! If in the Hegelian logic (such as it is in itself and through the contributions of the School) one were to take "he trouble to pick out and make a collection of all the fabulous hobgoblins and kobolds which like busy swains help the logical movement along, a later age would perhaps be astonished to discover that witticisms which then will appear superannuated once played a great role in logic, not as incidental explanations and brilliant observations, but as masters of movement which made Hegel's logic a miracle and gave the logical thoughts feet to walk on, without anybody noticing it, since the long cloak of admiration concealed the performer who trained the animals, just as Lulu (in a play) comes running without anybody seeing the machinery. Movement in logic is the meritorious service of Hegel, in comparison with which it is hardly worth the trouble of mentioning the never-to-be-forgotten merits which Hegel has, and has disdained in order to run after the uncertain-I mean the merit of having in manifold ways enriched the categorical definitions and their arrangement.}

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