Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

The notion of actuality in Kierkegaard and Schelling's influence

Jon Stewart


Historians of philosophy have long regarded Kierkegaard as one of the most important forerunners of twentieth-century existentialism. One obvious reason for this is his rejection of abstraction and system-building and his insistence on the sphere of existence and actuality. One of his most famous criticisms of German idealism (and Hegel in particular) is that it neglects the realm of actuality, which cannot be captured by abstract concepts. His emphasis on the immediate lived experience of the individual seems to be at the opposite end of the philosophical spectrum from any form of idealism. What is interesting about this criticism is that it seems, at least in part, to be inspired by another German idealist, namely Schelling. This paper explores this criticism and attempts to come to terms with its implications. It is argued that this amounts to a somewhat unphilosophical criticism and that Kierkegaard does not end up with a philosophically plausible position, despite whatever merits it may have for the individual religious believer.

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