Kierkegaard: Poet of the Unknown


The author explores Kierkegaard´s religious thought, especially the way he understood the notion  of faith.  Kierkegaard´s leap of faith  is the embrace of the irrational as a key component for the fulfilment of a paradoxal risk, a choice made within existence with all its dangers.  The author works with the concepts of  irony, pseudonymous and paradox.  He leads his analysis of Kierkegard thought to the conclusion that he was a poet of the unknown.


“My song is love unknown” – Samuel Crossman (1624-1683)

There are many people who just cannot believe.  They are those who have not received the gift of faith as understood by the church.  The Bible says that faith is a gift given by God and not everyone is blessed with such a gift.[1] However, there are those who cannot believe but cannot disbelieve as well. They are neither atheists nor believers. They float in between these two certainties, these two radical poles of the same axis. They are either willing to believe but can’t or they cannot believe at all but at the same they cannot not believe somehow, somewhat.

How should the idea of God and faith itself in the Christian tradition be understood for those who were forgotten in this uncertain religious terrain, this muddy ungrounded ground of faith, whose own faith was not blessed with the gift of clearly seeing the unseen? Could religion help these estrange faithful people? This paper is an attempt to find answers for these questions in the writings of Kierkegaard.

I explore Kierkegaard’s religious thought in this paper, especially the way he understood the notion of faith. Kierkegaard’s leap of faith is the embrace of the irrational as a key component for the fulfillment of a paradoxical risk, a choice made within existence with all its dangers, bliss, disasters and void. Faith for Kierkegaard was not objective, logical, able to be rationally explained. However, it was neither illogical or the result of a simple fideism. Because faith could not be objectively communicated, he created his theory of indirect communication to talk about God, faith and existence. We chose three of his key themes to work in this paper, namely: irony, pseudonymous, and the paradox.

These themes tell us the way he builds his religious thought. As we read his writings, slowly we perceive that Kierkegaard cannot comply with theology but rather with religious thinking. Theology is, and was even more at his time, a very direct way of communication with strongly objective and logical contents, always rationally explained. Nonetheless, his idea of God as “infinite qualitative difference”, still settles him along the notion of a Christian “theos.” Kierkegaard says about himself: “What I truly am as an author is related to Christianity, to the problem of ‘becoming a Christian,’.”[2] The way he thinks and works on God, faith and human existence, however, places Kierkegaard closer to a more a theo-poet[3] than a theo-logian. He considered himself a poet more than anything else.

As a theo-poet, or better said, the poet of the unknown, he is free from any theological system that he so harshly criticized. There are reasons why he would be a theo-poet and not a theo-logian. Theologians work mostly with a reason embedded in a specific net of logic and consequences, from an episteme that is still grounded in notions of truth as relation. As for the theo-poet, he starts from his existence and even thought he works within the domain of reason, his reason is always deviated, his certainties always sent away, his meanings always deferred. He does his work mostly with passion, for passion and desire is what moves the theo-poet, but a passion of the unknown, having an ear more tuned to the unpredictable and breakable blowing of the winds than to the stability of the Rocks-of-Ages.  Theologians, by way of reason, cannot help but impose their viewpoint on the other. Even tolerance, from the point of view of a theologian would be an imposition, since the clean cut result of his work would always pursue an uncontained project, of approaching truth. As for the theo-poet, she starts from free floating signs and has no preoccupation with truth or certainties. Theologians are clear, sharp and sound about the right and the wrong. The theo-poet preserves the inwardness of every individual in their self-judgment and self-examination and describes what she sees without a necessary use of theories, proofs or postulates. Theologians live on their minds. Theo-poets have the body as their fragile and fading episteme. Theologians tells us what we are, what we should think of ourselves, of the world and of God. Theo-poets have no clue but keep trying to write what they don’t know, but pretend they know. Theologians try to be honest and true. Theo-poets, as Fernando Pessoa said, are pretenders.[4] Theologians have commitment with their faithtful thoughts, rational constructions of brilliant minds. Theo-poets have a commitment only with their feelings:

E os meus pensamentos são todos sensações.
Penso com os olhos e com os ouvidos
E com as mãos e os pés
E com o nariz e a boca.

Pensar uma flor é vê-la e cheirá-la
E comer um fruto é saber-lhe o sentido.[5]

Theologians set the barriers to establish those in and out of their communities by ways of theological confessions. Theo-poets confess their faith through. In that way, they follow Mario Quitana’s advice: “Eu sempre achei que toda confissão não transfigurada pela arte é indecente. Minha vida está nos meus poemas, meus poemas são eu mesmo, nunca escrevi uma vírgula que não fosse uma confissão.[6] If we read Augustine’s Confessions carefully, we might see that his literary invention leans toward the theo-poets.

The reason I call Kierkegaard a theo-poet is because Kierkegaard’s faith was grounded in love, passion and in the impossibility of its full happening. Faith is a central theme in his thought, so much so that he sees faith as belonging to every human being. His understandings of faith do not take faith as a gift given by God to some people, a kind of predestined godly luxury given just for some people. His understanding of faith are much broader, seen as a human fabric, woven within the absurd and hopes of life. Faith for him is the passion for the unknowing, the desire for the impossible and like the knight of faith, is the desire to defeat the undefeatable, to attain the unattainable. Faith is passion, this appetite for life at its fullness, a zest for what’s beyond, a craving for the impossible and the place for this faith is religion, a place for those who want to reach the unreachable, not by way of certainties but by way of the impossible. This passion is love, maybe the most intense human passion. Thus, faith becomes passion and religion a place for those passionate lovers. In Fear and Trembling he says: “Faith is a marvel, and yet, no human being is excluded from it; for that which unites all human life is passion, and faith is a passion.”[7]

Only a theo-poetry could afford faith as passion and not as logos, as regula, as logic. It is important to say that theo-poetry does not avoid the use of the logos as word because nobody can get rid of the empire of language. Moreover, this enterprise would be useless. Nonetheless, theo-poetry does not depend on the Logos, on any meta-narrative, but rather it is a yearning, a random search on deserts and oceans, places where the erased traces of the Gods might have been. Theo-poetry is a wish to known things unknown, a burning desire for this which is neither transcendent nor immanent, neither here nor there, a long for what we mistakenly think we had once. Theo-poetry is this risky passionate task, pushing the limits of our humanity and producing whatever it may be with and through passion. Kierkegaard tells us in his Concluding Unscientific Postscript what a theo-poetry might be:

If it is the misfortune of the age to have forgotten what inwardness is, it is of course, not the task to write for paragraph-eaters’, but existing individuals must be represented in their distress, when their existence presents itself to them as a confusion, which is something different from sitting safely in the chimney corner and reciting de omnibus dubitandum. If the production is to be significant, it should always have passion.[8]

This paper will raise briefly the question of the im/possibility of  God to Kierkegaard, which is also at the core of some trends of theology. In order to do that, I dialogue with Steve Shakespeare’s book Kierkegaard and the Reality of God.  Kierkegaard’s geniality and freedom turned theology from a rational dogmatic standpoint into an existential faith given to lovers, for those who are passionate even about God. Kierkegaard moves us all from a rigid onto-theological project to endless possibilities in theo-poetry.

Kierkegaard’s Leap of Faith

Kierkegaard was born in a Danish Victorian society when Christianity was the automatic religion of every habitant.  As one automatically belongs to Christendom, a person’s task was only to understand, in the adult life, the concepts and logic of the Christian faith and in that way pay homage to Christianity.  Such a notion of Christendom bothered Soren Kierkegaard terribly.  For Kierkegaard, trained to be a pastor within the Lutheran Church of Denmark and the son of a disturbed Lutheran pastor, the Lutheran church of Denmark made Christian faith into a set of philosophical statements and modes of thought that, once properly understood, granted entrance to Christendom.  It was a too easy and unproblematic faith, unfair to the core of Christianity. For Kierkegaard, “Christendom is an illusion… Everyone who in earnest and also with some clarity of vision considers what is called Christendom, or the condition in a so-called Christian country, must without any doubt immediately have serious misgivings.”[9] The church was supposed to handle the Christian tenets in a proper philosophical manner in order to keep Christianity truthful and trustworthy, thus living properly the Hegelian concept of Christianity as the highest form of consciousness in history.  As Mark C. Taylor states, “In fact, Hegel becomes the philosopher of Christendom.  Kierkegaard, on the other hand, constantly holds a negative view of both Christendom and of its philosophy, Hegelianism.”[10]

Kierkegaard’s view of Christianity stood in opposition to the view of the church.  He criticized the church’s easy religion—a religion that was only to be grasped intellectually, not existentially.  For Kierkegaard, this philosophy was decaying Christianity and turning the people away from the religion of Christ. Hegelian philosophy distorted faith into something poor and easy.  Christian faith was made to be a religion without difficulty, without fear, without mysterium, without decision—a religion that was more a system of beliefs and a type of knowledge than a somewhat unsafe and careful journey.  Faith had become a sort of head-trip and not something embedded in real existence.

As John Caputo says:

Hegelianism is just such a counterfeit coin to Johannes de Silentio, because it attempts to purchase faith on the cheap, without the fear and the trembling, with a minimum of expense and difficulty, by removing the paradox and the terror, the instant of madness.[11]

Kierkegaard’s critique of Hegelianism was intended to help people to become Christians in a better sense. He said that “this is authorship of which the total thought is the task of becoming a Christian.”[12] However, this better sense means a way more problematic approach to Christianity, a more disputable, complicated and troublesome understanding of it. That’s because, among other things, Kierkegaard does not believe in any direct communication of God to humankind and in any proper relational communication between faith and God. The relation between God and humankind is impossible and the gift of faith has no possible reciprocity.

On the other hand, in Kierkegaard we learn the paradox of faith, the unreasonable divine madness of faith that overcomes madness by the divine, a faith that trusts entirely in the unknown, and jumps faithfully into the abyss.  In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard retells the story of the mysterium tremendum as realized in Abraham.  In Abraham’s story, there is not need for philosophy.  Rather, Abraham is governed by faith he cannot explain but, instead, lives and experiences in his bones.  When asked where was the lamb for the sacrifice, Abraham can only say, “God will provide.” Abraham’s journey  to sacrifice his son was the experience of dread, angst, fear and trembling. What Kierkegaard could not understand was why these feelings were missing in the Christian’s faith of Kierkegaard’s Danish world.  Kierkegaard powerfully retells the faith experience of Abraham as a way of denouncing the safe, opaque and empty faith lived by his contemporary fellows.

For Kierkegaard, Abraham’s faith has two movements: the movement of the infinite resignation and the movement of faith.  The first movement of infinite resignation is giving everything up to God.  One seeks the truth not in this world but in God.  Abraham found the truth when he offered himself with the risk of losing everything.  He resigns any moral commitment, leaving everything behind and renounces every possession.  At this moment, Abraham sacrifices Isaac and also himself.  In the words of Johannes de Silentio, these acts are committed “by virtue of the absurd.” [13] De Silentio identifies this as “the courage of faith.”[14] Fully integrated with this faithful gesture, Abraham thus becomes the knight of infinite resignation.

The second movement is the movement of faith when Abraham receives Isaac back from God.  Everything is returned to Abraham.  The angel holds his hand, the sheep is provided and Abraham takes Isaac home.  In this encounter lies the paradox of faith: the knight of infinite resignation encounters the knight of faith in the same moment, in the same act.  Abraham is as much the incredible knight of faith as he is the tragic hero, as he is a murderer.  Kierkegaard is in awe of him: “Abraham I cannot understand; in a certain sense I can learn nothing from him except to be amazed.”[15]

For Kierkegaard, there is a point in our lives when we encounter the double knights of faith  living inside us.  We must give up our Isaacs, because Isaac meant everything in Abraham’s life.  After sacrificing everything, the knight of infinite resignation waits for the knight of faith and for the future to come, the future that will bring everything back.  This is what Kierkegaard does with Regina, the love of his love.  He gives himself completely to her but, in order to prove that he loves her, he has to take it all back and not marry her.  Abraham gives up Isaac and waits for his resurrection.  Kierkegaard gives up Regina waiting for a day when he will have her.  Faith is about holding to this unsafe future, beating on it with passion but without promise.

For Kierkegaard, we are in the same situation as Abraham; we are called to respond to God with faith and not reason.  We are also in the same situation as the disciples who saw Jesus and had to respond with faith to a journey for happiness in the life of Jesus.  For Kierkegaard, we are contemporary of the disciples, thus in the same journey of happiness in Jesus.  On the other side of the paradox, reason always wants to explain why we are to follow Jesus and in what conditions we must accept and believe in this Jesus.  For Kierkegaard, the paradox calls for faith and not understanding, for happiness in the life of Jesus, since faith is not related properly to knowledge but to passion.  One has only to rely on faith through a process of inwardness to become a Christian.  Faith then is a scandal, an offense to reason.

Kierkegaard seeks the unfolding inwardness of faith in his “dialectic of existence.”  This dialectic goes through a process of maturity in three stages: the aesthetical, the ethical and the religious.  The aesthetical is constituted by reasoning, perception, and motivation and is guided by sensualism.  The principles of pleasures function as a way to avoid life’s boredom.  The ethical stage or sphere is also constituted by reasoning, perception, and motivation but is guided by devotion to the ethical, to the universal moral rule.  In this stage, every act must consider at least one other person.  In the religious stage, reasoning, perception, and motivation are guided by a devotion to the divine.  Kierkegaard defines two types of religiousness: religiousness A which features the things that every religion has in common and religiousness B which is the religion grasped by the paradox.  For Kierkegaard, the paradox is the unique characteristic of Christianity.  The religious stage has two sides that embrace each other: first, a Socratic possibility of infinite truth and second, the possibility of finding happiness in the finite being called Jesus Christ.  The incarnation of infinite truth in the finite being of Jesus Christ is the confluence of objectivity with subjectivity.

The transition between stages is the key point of Kierkegaard’s project.  Transitions never occur automatically as a logical consequence of events in one’s life but rather as an individual choice, an inward movement of personal resolution that will define the future of the individual.  This decision is not easy since it is surrounded by anxiety, dread, despair and boredom.  The transition marks the discovery of inner truth and is the only way to become a “self.”  This movement of inwardness thus is frightening.  In every transition, the found truths will always be subjective, for objective truth is never possible, but if objectivity is possible, it will be an uncertain, always held in passionate inwardness.  According to Kierkegaard, the realm of the religious sphere is not accessible to everyone.  To be part of this religious space, one has to abdicate the finite world, living for a moment in absolute isolation and infinite resignation in the Mount Moriah (which means God will see) waiting until God sees its servant and turn her/him into a knight of faith.  Who is able to give up everything?  That is the huge leap of faith.

The Theory of Indirect Communication

For Kierkegaard, the core of the Christian message is the absolute abandonment in God in an irresolvable paradox.  Kierkegaard does not want to sale Christianity cheap as he saw the Danish church doing.  His vision intentionally wants to complicate religion.  Somewhat like Jesus’ parables, Kierkegaard wants to speak without saying his message explicitly.  He can’t. In his theory of indirect communication, Kierkegaard wants to speak without providing direct understanding. Or better said, in Paul Ricoeur’s words Kierkegaard’s communication is an “incommunicable existence.”[16]

Kierkegaard’s philosophy is individualistic, opposed to the totality of knowledge seen in Hegel and the German idealists.  He writes from his experience as an individual.  For Kierkegaard, existence is more important than the Geist, the spirit that Hegel claimed surrounds the universe with its capacity to embrace, to express, and to explain subjectivity and objectivity, infinite and finitude, universal and particular.  Because of this change of tonality in Kierkegaard’s philosophy and his attempt to inquire more deeply into the realm of his own existence, he was named by some people as the father of existentialism.

Kierkegaard’s philosophy relies on the necessity to know the existence of the individual rather than the existence of things.  He is more preoccupied with existential truths—the internal truth of the individual which is shaped by personal revelations, individual choices and personal values. Truth for him, or better said, subjective truth, cannot be placed under any public criteria or objective scrutiny.  It is deeply intimate, personal, and non-transferable. Says Caputo,  “What I call God, God in me, calls me to be me, the interior I, which Kierkegaard calls subjectivity.”[17] The nature of subjective truth demands greater emphasis on the how of the truth rather than the what.  Kierkegaard says, “Objectively the emphasis is on what is said, subjectively the emphasis is on how it is said… Then the how of the truth is precisely the truth.”[18] Kierkegaard’s account of truth is neither objective nor given to the individual in objective ways.  Rather, any truth has to go through an inward component of the individual existence which is choice.  In every aspect of life, there is a need for a personal decision.  Hence, a woman or a man is in charge of her/his own life and destiny.

Taking this analysis into a more religious reading, it is the how of our truths that affects our beliefs and actions. We act in accordance with our beliefs; beliefs are motivated by values, not facts. Facts are interpreted in a contingence of values in specific contexts. Faith, then, is not something that has to be given, received or much less understood, but rather, passionately held in as an key outlet to help one make a decision.  The leap of faith is the recognition that only subjective truth can be found in subjectivity (where one decides) and not in objectivity.  For Kierkegaard “decision is subjectivity… Only in subjectivity is there decision, whereas wanting to become objective is untruth.”[19]

The philosophical shift that Kierkegaard proposes is born out of the way he does philosophy himself.  Thus, it must be understood not only through the content of his writings but also through the ways he produces writing and his own life.  I will focus on Kierkegaard’s methods of production with some sparse mention of his personal life.  His theory of indirect communication is based on the use of the pseudonymous, speculations, parables, parodies, reception and expression by elements of the body, irony, paradoxes and other ways of communicating.[20] He is skeptical, calls himself a poet and places more importance in the way he communicates truth (the how) rather than on its objective content. Kierkegaard didn’t belief in a system of objective truths. In that sense, theology would not help him, but only poetics. Since truths are subjective and experienced in existence, poetry might have helped his reader to get a better grasp into the discovery of her/his own self. Poetry does not search for certainties. Poetry moves freely in a skeptical terrain where words are eaten with passion not knowledge. Through three major channels of indirect communication (irony, the pseudonymous, and paradox), Kierkegaard tries to show that the communicable is incommunicable.

1. Irony

Irony is used by Kierkegaard to make things more confusing or not so easy to grasp.  Irony is an attempt to establish a non-relation between the form of a discourse and the content of its message, a way to play with the literality and illusory meanings of words.  He plays not only with words in parodies, oxymoron, sarcasm, understatement, overstatement and falsehood but also with predictable meanings by inverting apparent content.  To do this, Kierkegaard draws from Socrates and Jesus’ methods which refused total clarity on any particular issue.  Not everyone could grasp what they “meant” when they spoke.  In his dissertation, The Concept of Irony, Kierkegaard studies Socrates as a model of irony.  He calls Socrates eccentric (ex-centric) and a “comic poet”.[21] Through the Maieutic method, Socrates almost never said what he really thought.  Rather, he asked questions to his pupils until they could not hold a single thought in their minds and were sent away empty-handed.  The purpose of this method was to teach his students how to learn with their own contents and abilities, never entirely trusting that they could know something.  Similarly, Jesus’ parables were intended not to be understood but, perhaps, to inspire wonder.  As Jesus is recorded as saying in the gospel of Luke: “… to others, I speak in parables, so that looking they may not perceive, and listening they may not understand.”[22]

In The Concept of Irony appear most of the main concepts Kierkegaard later develops in his future works.  He defines irony in the following way:

One on hand, the manifold variety of actuality is the very element of the ironist. On the other hand, his passage across actuality is floating and ethereal; he is continually just touching the ground, but since the real Kingdom of ideality is still foreign to him, he has not as yet emigrated to it but seem always to be in the point of departure.[23]

Irony has to do with parody and laughter, contemplation and reflection, eccentricity and actuality.  Irony is an unending play of possibilities, a powerful tool to criticize, suspend, amplify or reduce the reality in which we live and the place and condition of our selves in the world.  It plays with the presence and absence of content and the manifold possibilities of the subject, dismantling actuality and forging new ways of seeing by the way of negativity.  He says:

Irony is a qualification of subjectivity.  In irony, the subject is negatively free, since the actuality that is supposed to give the subject content is not there.  He is free from the constraint in which the given actuality holds the subject, but he is negatively free and as such is suspended, because there is nothing that holds him.  But this very freedom, this suspension, gives the ironist a certain enthusiasm, because he becomes intoxicated, so to speak, in the infinity of possibilities, and if he needs any consolation for everything that is destroyed, he can have recourse to the enormous reserve fund of possibility.  He does not however, abandon himself to this enthusiasm; it simply inspires and feed his enthusiasm for destroying.[24]

His irony also serves as a way to criticize and offer corrections to his time. He wrote in his journals:

My task has continually been to provide the existential-corrective by poetically presenting the ideas and inciting people about the established order, with which I collaborate by criticizing all the false reformers and the opposition who simply are evil – and whom my own ideas can halt.[25]

Thus, irony is a powerful tool in Kierkegaard’s work.  A method that confuses more than it clarifies, that looks for the unpredictable, that plays incessantly with signifiers.  It is a plan to mislead its readers and indirectly communicate subjective truths.  In Kierkegaard’s works, sometimes we are found, sometimes we are completely lost.

2. The Pseudonymous

Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous is his Socratic way of inviting readers into dialogue.  It is a Maieutic process of giving birth to ideas, replies, and considerations while developing one’s sense of insight into Kierkegaard’s ideas as well as one’s own.  Ricoeur says that Kierkegaard’s “incommunicable existence” is seen through his pseudonyms which are speculations:

No one else has ever transposed autobiography into personal myth as he did… through his characters, he elaborated a kind of fictive personality which conceals and dissimulates his real existence. And this poet character…can never be situated within the framework or landscape of ordinary communication.[26]

Kierkegaard said that his writings were a lie and that his authorship was without authority:

From the very beginning I have enjoyed and repeated unchanged that I was ‘without authority’.  I regarded myself rather as a reader of the books, not as the author. So in the pseudonymous works there is not a single word that is mine, I have no opinion about these works except as a third person, no knowledge of their meaning except as a reader, not the remotest private relation to them, since such a thing is impossible in the case of a doubly reflected communication.  One single world of mine uttered personally in my own name would be an instance of presumptuous self-forgetfulness and dialectically viewed it would incur with one word the guilt of annihilating the pseudonymous. [27]

Authorship in Kierkegaard’s work carries the notion of the writer as incognito, as the one who nobody knows and thus cannot influence any reader into any decision or direction.  Since the authorship is unknown, reader would be able to relate only to different representations of authorship exposed through the pseudonymous and not to Kierkegaard’s personal life which could affected the reader in a specific way.  Each reader is left alone with the pseudonymous and has to decide its own subjective truth by indirect influences.  Without authorship, the pseudonymous are attempts to present ideal worlds to the reader, to describe different selves in different stages of life.  Mark C. Taylor writes, “the fact that Kierkegaard intends to present the reader ideal representations of different life-views so that the reader can clarify his own understanding of himself is fully overlooked.”[28] In the same way, Kierkegaard’s fourteen pseudonymous’ writings were a way to express different points of view.  For Kierkegaard, “A pseudonym is excellent for accentuating a point, a stance, a position. It creates a poetic person…”[29]

Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous authorship was a way of establishing that objective truth was impossible since different authors re-present various subjective undertakings of the world and of themselves. Kierkegaard’s writings are offered as a challenge to the reader to see the world with particularity, with eyes that try to see the world as its is re-presented by the unrecognizable author, leaving the reader with her/his own eyes to decide subjectively what he has been offered and re-presented. Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous writings  had the intention to pulverize the monolithic idea of the Hegelian Geist and the totalized idea of Christendom by breaking the ground of pure presentations, by opening fissures on our way of understanding, showing our wounds and offering undecidable meanings, distinct stages of life, of mere contingencies, and of many different inner truths that becomes impossible to be fully recognized.

Kierkegaard was a poet and he called himself as such.  One can recall the somewhat related to Kierkegaard, the project of a Portuguese poet named Fernando Pessoa, who created three pseudonyms along with his own proper name to create his vast work of poetry.  Fernando Pessoa was four poets in one: Alberto Caeiro, Ricardo Reis, Alvaro de Campos and himself; each clearly distinct from the others.  In Fernando Pessoa’s pseudonyms, each had its own abilities, identities, singularities and interests.  In respective or divergent ways, each one grasps the world with distinct senses, unique voices and dissonant perspectives.  Each comes up with specific understandings, singular analyses and incongruous responses to same issues.  Each one of them is able to find their own subjectivity and consequently its own decision and its own truth.  They were an attempt of Fernando Pessoa to show the multiple ways to grasp, understand and express the world.

3. Paradox

For Kierkegaard, there is no faith without paradox.  A faith that can be fully understood is certainty not faith.  For Johannes de Silentio, one of Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous, Abraham is the true knight of faith. Nonetheless, when he talks about Abraham, Johannes is also shocked by Abraham’s act.  His admiration does not come without harsh critique.  How is this man able to sacrifice his son and at the same time believe that he will have him back?  Worse, how is Abraham able to kill his own son?  Johannes says of Abraham:

Humanly speaking, he is crazy and cannot make himself intelligible to anyone.  And yet it is the mildest expression to say that he is crazy…Abraham was greater than all, great by reason of his power whose strength is impotence, great by reason of his wisdom whose secret is foolishness, great by reason of his hope whose form is madness, great by reason of the love which is hatred of oneself.[30]

Abraham’s condition is what Kierkegaard calls “divine madness”.  What saves Abraham’s madness is his divine link, his impossible faith.  He may speak a divine language, a language that nobody can understand but God.  Abraham acts in favor of the individual to the detriment of the universal, abandoning the ethical for a teleological end.  Abraham’s act cannot be validated, grasped, understood.  Still, there is something in his divine link that insists that his act is not simply denial but fully contemplated in a paradox.  In order to be a knight of faith, one has to carry the burden of its own choices and acts which are always wrapped in paradox, ambiguity, fear and trembling.  One cannot hide anything under God’s so called general and rational plan/project for one’s life.  Johannes says:

Faith is this paradox… the individual cannot make himself intelligible to anybody. People imagine maybe that the individual can make himself intelligible to another individual in the same case… But the one knight of faith can render no aid to the other. Either the individual becomes a knight of faith by assuming the burden of the paradox, or he never becomes one. In these regions partnership is unthinkable.[31]

Theology, during Kierkegaard’s time and even now, attempts to explain faith in it’s entirely, breaking up the anxiety of paradoxes by offering relational and relational truths.  Even what is called the mystery of faith must be deciphered.  Theology in its performative action, both in books and in liturgies, cannot leave faith unsafe, uncertain, vague and full of paradoxes.  The sacrament, for instance, the supreme space for the dwelling of the sacred, is where the paradox lives in its most contradiction but through rational explanation, it is always given to the believers in orderly form and reasonable content.  What theology values in the relationship between the believer and the sacrament is the proper manner, the proper approach and the proper beliefs the believer must carry, understand and perform.  For Kierkegaard, this way of doing theology and living faith is idolatrous and opposite to what faith is supposed to be.  As a way to break through this encoded system, Kierkegaard, a “system-hater,”[32] sets faith as a paradox, making faith not entirely understood, somewhat outrageous, somewhat scary and completely impossible to live up to any liturgical act.  Kierkegaard goes so far in his project that Paul Ricoeur states that Kierkegaard’s Christianity is impossible to follow: “Surely the Christianity he described is so extreme that no one could possible practice it.”[33]

For Kierkegaard, faith is an existential condition, not a consequence of a reasonable thought or specific understanding.  Faith cannot be objectively demonstrated.  As Richard Kerney says, “Existential faith is a project shot through with doubt, anxiety and desire. It can only be assumed by each solitary individual responding to what he believes to be a divine summons even though he lacks any objective evidence to support this belief. An absurd faith, therefore, but a faith nonetheless.”[34] The believer can express the reasons for her/his belief but she/he cannot hope to have those reasons objectively tested or rationally approved.  Faith can only be explained at the expense of its uncertainty, inadequacy and irrationality.  Faith must be lived.  One must find the subject truth in one’s inwardness and be able to say like Abraham “God will provide,” without knowing exactly what God will provide.  What is needed for faith is not any reasonable understanding of its content or any grounding objective truth, but rather, a passionate choice, an inward journey to the human life where one gives oneself totally and regains everything.  This leap of faith is a passion for the unknown, a desire to jump into the abyss, into eternity, into God.  Faith knows the dangers and frailty of its enterprise, but nonetheless, it jumps.

Richard Kerney talks about reason and faith in Kierkegaard: “for the existential ‘knight of faith’ there is no way of knowing whether the religious choice is objectively true or false. Hence Kierkegaard’s portrait of faith is a leap of faith into the dark fraught with risk and uncertainty.”[35] Abraham jumps into the unknown by virtue of the absurd and loses his balance:

He believed by virtue of the absurd; for there could be no question of human calculation, and it was indeed absurd that God who required it of him should the next instant recall the requirement. He climbed the mountain. Even at the instant the knife glittered he believed that God would not require Isaac… He believed by virtue of the absurd; for all human reckoning had long since ceased to function.[36]

Faith lives by virtue of the absurd, and the absurd has no explanation.  Absurdity bears the irrational, it is the impossibility to hear.  From its Latin roots, Ab Surdus means becoming deaf.  Faith lives out of this incapacity to listen to rational explanations.  It lives out of its capacity to dare, to not understand and to believe anyway, to have hope against hope.

From the depths/surfaces of ourselves, faith, the last sphere of existence, must take all of our will, body and desire and help us to jump into God’s abyss.  Faith is an existential commitment not circumscribed in philosophical arguments or logical truths, but placed in an irresolvable paradox of madness and divinity.  In this moving ground, faith is a statement of the unfamiliar, a passionate leap into what we do not know.  This is the paradox, the leap of faith.  As Kierkegaard states:

The paradox calls for faith, not understandings. When the understanding and the paradox happily encounter each other in the moment, when the understanding steps aside and the paradox gives itself… the third something, the something in which this occurs… is that happy passion to which we shall now give a name, although for us it is not a matter of the name. We shall call it faith.[37]

Kierkegaard and the Im/Possibility of a Real God

My interpretation thus far was to take Kierkegaard into a place where he can be called neither an anti-realist nor a realist.  However, this paper has leaned more towards Kierkegaard as an anti-realist, that is, a thinker who may believe in the transcendence of God but cannot hold this belief so clear, since there is neither an objective truth to be grasped or learned nor any possible direct communication from or about God’s own existence.  On the other hand, I have not denied the possibility of a transcendent God within Kierkegaard’s religious thought.  Since Kierkegaard’s writings are so ambiguous, there are different interpretations and approaches to his thought and specifically his own ideas on the reality of God.

Steven Shakespeare, a young British philosopher, has done an impressive job in trying to understand Kierkegaard’s idea of God in the midst of the old and current debates on realism and anti-realism.[38] For the purpose of this paper, I will only engage in conversation with the key points of his thought.  Very briefly, I define realism simply as the theological/philosophical interpretation of God that assumes the existence of God and/or a transcendent God that cannot be grasped by human boundaries.  Anti-realism is a theological/philosophical interpretation of God that affirms that God is the creation of the human ideals. Shakespeare is careful to take into account diverse perspectives on realism and anti-realism in his interpretation of Kierkegaard’s position regarding these two possibilities.  Within this debate, he proposes a “third position, somewhere between the two, which we will call ethical realism”.[39] Ethical realism draws on anti-realism’s “point that religious faith is not a matter of knowing, of conceptual cognition, that there is no immediate access to God.”[40] From realism, he says that Kierkegaard “would adopt the argument that religious faith cannot be reduced without remainder to an expression of human ideals.  Language about God opens us to an otherness which we cannot eliminate or dispose of at will.”[41] In developing his argument, Shakespeare constantly runs the risk of loosing the “balance” he advocates between the two options.  At times, Shakespeare overvalues realism, thus loosing the necessary and always present surd (irrationality), a key component in Kierkegaard’s faith, doing away with the unbearable lightness of God.  Shakespeare says that we cannot, at our will, dispose God’s otherness because God is unfathomable and we cannot reduce God simply to the realm of “human ideals.” However, once one takes into account any perspective on realism, as Shakespeare does, one opens oneself up to the realm of the human constructions. It is not a matter of “our will” as he puts it but of language itself. Limitations on God are always humanly imposed and we cannot escape from it. God is only God if we, humans, do not try to categorize or try to understand God through our language or any other mediation. Once we attach any word to God and make it into a speech, even in paradoxical or ironical way, we turn God into an idol.

At the end of the book, Shakespeare opens up the limits of both sides, stating that his “ethical realism” tries to limit any direct reading on God, be it realist or anti-realist.  Here, he seems to have taken back the unbearable lightness of the argument and the impossibility to know God.  Nonetheless, and this is his problem, he still believes that God can be known.  He says: “God is known in and through the paradoxes of thought and the practice of liberating communication which the text enacts. God is known in the way of discipleship which faith in him (sic) makes possible…”[42] He relates God’s possibility (its otherness) with what he calls “liberating signs.”  In this moment he looses again the subtleness where God lives, making God become present and consequently possible.  He then moves from the free ground of deconstruction to the dangerously settled ground of dogmatism.  I believe that he would defend himself by calling this attempt a moment of decision, a turning of a stage, trying to capture the risk of the decision.  If this is the case, he cannot forget that any decision is an ethical decision, based on human contingencies and not a decision taken from a reification of God, which would become a victim of dogmatism.

I believe that God’s existence cannot be defended by neither realism nor anti-realism.  Separating these two realms, there should be a thin, effacing and blurred line where God might dwell in absence.  This line is the witnessing not of God as Shakespeare suggests,[43] but of the possibility of the impossible God.  Once one affirms any knowledge about God, one creates an idol. God is impossible.  As Derrida says, God is the “becoming possible of the impossible”.[44] We live in fear and trembling because of this possibility of the impossible.  God is always the absolute future, and like the Messiah in Judaism it is always yet to come.  As we see in Kierkegaard, we are always in the (Heideggerian) process of becoming, as God might be.  Once we bring God to the present, we become idolatrous.  As impossible disciples of the impossible God, we become errant nomads in terra incognita, searching for the rubbles of God in our decomposed constructions.  What sustains our wandering is the passionate love of the unknowable.

Although Shakespeare theologizes a possible God, his major accomplishment is to keep the circle of interpretation open.  He remembers the self-effacement of God and the necessary deconstruction of any totalizing reflection.  He quotes Marc C. Taylor in his interpretation of Kierkegaard’s God, in which Taylor “is never clear whether he wants to interpret Kierkegaard’s God as just another name for an amoral différance or, whether he acknowledges the possibility of transcendent grace and love.”[45]

Awareness of the wholly other must come from elsewhere; it must be solicited by otherness itself. ‘God’, ‘God’ is an improper name for absolute exteriority that resists all interiorization and recollection… As the difference that ‘precedes’ all differences, the Unknown, which is forever unknowable, is the condition of both the possibility and the impossibility of reason.[46]

This passage accurately describes Kierkegaard’s God, sustaining the unbearable lightness of God and the said thin, blurred and continuously fading line where God performs the possibility of the impossibility. We cannot know what God Kierkegaard believes. It seems to be the perfect pathway into an im/proper way of talking about God, namely theo-poetry.

Kierkegaard and the Poetry of the Unknown

Kierkegaard may be defined as a theologian and as a philosopher.  However, he defines himself as a poet: “I am only a poet – alas, only a poet… I love this earthly life all too much”.[47] Since all his writings are religious writings, one could call him a theo-poet.  However, this is not the only reason for him to be a theo-poet.  A theo-poet is a poet that is incapable of holding meanings for too long and interweaves the divine with the human in wounded words, without knowing exactly how to define these terms and its ambience.  In this unstoppable task of doing poetry, sometimes the theo-poet asks for the double, sometimes calling upon the shadows, broken mirrors and haunting ghosts.  Theo-poetry is a lost connection unsolved, never able to properly bind the religious project of religare. The theo-poet wrestles endlessly with this religare, knowing in advance that she will never be able to accomplish it.

Kierkegaard says in his Journal: “The poetic is the divine woof of the purely human existence… it is the cord through which the divine holds fast to existence…”[48] The theo-poet tries to get to existence in its opacity and its mixture of disaster and sublimity, searching for the double. Theo-poetics is a metonymic exposure of our excess and lacks, a fractured glimpse over the abyss, the performance of our dizziness over the void. Theo-poetry is the spilling out of our treasures over the semblance of our scattered pulsating bodies, the unavoidable and awesome terror of life with its despair and fascination.

Kierkegaard as a theo-poet tries to overcome onto-theo-logy without trying to fill any possible gap, knowing that we are always between gaps.  Theo-poetics does not try to catch the essence of the things through words, like it was before Adam and Eve or before the myth of the cave in Plato or amidst the Enlightnment and modernity.  Theo-poetry overcomes (at least try to overcome) onto-theo-logy.  The theo-poet, like Kierkegaard, cannot stop using words: broken, used, lost, impossible and repeated.  Words that stand for themselves without proper relationship and meanings.  Words are also the vehicles of change, transformation and possibilities of impossibilities. Things are carried by the words through the kaleidoscope of arbitrary chosen hermeneutics.  The connection is possible in blurred revelatory moments, immanent revelations. Those moments make the theo-poet, like Kierkegaard, stand against everything that tries to unify the thought, to perpetuate truths, to stabilize points of view, to disrupt so-called evidences that serve to control, to reify beliefs and interpretations. The theo-poet looks to the wor(l)d for its passion (faith) and brilliance through the shadows of our ruins and the crumbs of our lights. In that sense, the theo-poet is it is exactly what Foucault said once about the intellectuals:

I dream of the intellectual destroyer of evidence and universalities, the one who, in the inertias and constraints of the present, locates and marks the weak points, the openings, the lines of force, who incessantly displaces himself , does not know exactly where he is heading nor what he will think tomorrow because he is too attentive to the present …[49]

Asking permission for a pun, the theo-poet is like Calvin, not John Calvin the famous moral preacher of Geneva who was incapable of being a theo-poet, but rather Calvin the little boy friend of Hobbes who said: “I realized that the purpose of writing is to inflate weak ideas, obscure poor reasoning, and inhibit clarity.”[50]

Theo-poetry is not poetry about God.  Theo-poetry is about the poetics of the gods/God, or as we said in the beginning, of the unknown.  It is poetry that reminds us oft the flight of the gods and the remains of their absence.  Theo-poetry is about mistakenly longing for the gods who have fled from the earth causing the hiatus in our human condition.  Only the poet can help us to live in this fissure, in this gap, like Holderlin who was able to see that the gods had fled our world.  Only the theo-poets can see the movements of the Gods. The theo-poets can see through the fracture of the waters, the shadows of the gods flying over our empty skies.  Heidegger describes the role of the poet and the human situation in these terms: “The poet is a demi-god, between the gods and the people, standing in the between where it is decided who man is and where he is to dwell.”[51]

Theo-poetics is a way of doing a/theology.  It is a/theology done with words, but leaving the Cartesian logical way of thinking aside.  Theo-poetry does not look for clear ideas, consistency or for the heart of the matter or the a-ha moment.  Not because it does not want, but because it knows of its impossibility. Instead, it is an unending search for the unknown that will appear by its concealing and conceal by its appearance, catching us by surprise.  It is the search for the impossible word that will better translate the unspeakable word.

The God of theo-poetics is unspeakable, and the theo-poet is limited by her/his words.  Like T.S. Elliot who said, “I can only say there we have been but I cannot say where,” theo-poetics is a/theology with/out God, it is the venturing into the religious realm of existence, where we find ourselves alone with a God who I cannot hear, see or even believe, but a God whom I cannot live without.  This relation is always loving and terrifying.  As Caputo puts it brilliantly: “We are in the hands of God and we do not know what God wants, what is God’s pleasure, which is a secret shrouded in silence.  We do not see (Voir) or know (savoir) what God wants, otherwise God would not be God, i.e., Wholly Other.”[52]

The theo-poet wanders in unknown lands with her/his only instrument: his passion and love for live. As for the realm of the theo-poet, it is the realm of religion only as an absolute future, as Caputo puts it,

which is the future that is unforeseeable, that will take us by surprise, that will come like a thief in the night (I Thess. 5:2) and shatter the comfortable horizons of expectation that surround the present… With the absolute future, I maintain, we set forth for the first time on the shore of the ‘religious” we enter the sphere of religious passion, and we hit upon a distinctively ‘religious category’… We cross over the border of rational planning methods, venturing into the sort of thing that makes corporate managers nervous, venturing out onto terra incognita. [53]

Kierkegaard opened the door for the theo-poet to come.  The theo-poet does not need to be in service of the logos.  Instead, he can play undecidedly with the random fading logos, and this undecidability will help the player to un/define her/his own decision, and to set forth the risk to be taken.[54]

Kierkegaard is this excessive theo-poet, who could not imagine anything less than the impossible.  His love drove his writings, his passion made him equate the uncontrollable power of passion with faith.  From him, we learn that religion is for lovers![55] Kierkegaard’s God was also excessive, lost in its giveness. Kierkegaard’s excessive God is what gives to the poet the possibility of the impossible God.

Paul Ricoeur seems to have got the best way to define Kierkegaard. He says:

The subjective thinker before God, the pure contemporary of Christ, suffering crucifixion with him, without church, without tradition, without ritual, can only exist outside of history. ‘I am the poet of the religious’, he says, and I think we should take him at his word. But what does he it actually mean? We cannot possibly tell. Kierkegaard is there somewhere in the gaps between the stages, in the interstices and transitions, as a kind of synopsis of the aesthetics and religious stages, but omitting the ethical stage… Kierkegaard does not fit into any categories.[56]

With Kierkegaard, we come into the realm of the religious without the need to sign up for any dogmas or to be circumscribed by any confessional faith.  In Kierkegaard we learn not to relate God through right beliefs, through proper attitudes, through a proper confession of faith, but rather, to see and perform faith as passion, passion that takes us into the unknown and helps us to see epiphanies of darkness like the one the psalmist said:

Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night…[57]

Conclusion: Religion is for Lovers

Those who cannot believe in what confessional faiths say about God share the gospel of Thomas and are always ashamed of their lack of faith.  Those who are forbidden in the Realm of God by the lack of a proper faith are the ones who have extravagant passion and clumsy ways to deal with it. Nonetheless, in Kierkegaard everyone is included in the gift of faith.  No one can live without it.  He says: “Faith is a marvel, and yet no human being is excluded from it; for that which unites all human life is passion, and faith is a passion.”[58] Kierkegaard turns to those who cannot believe in a proper way, and cracks down the meaning of faith, declaring it to be not certainty or knowledge, but life-sustaining love and passion.  In this love, everybody is included: the lame, the beggar, the incredulous, the unchurched, the cursed, the abominable, the sinner, the loser, the crazy and even for those who love too much.  Religion is indeed for lovers, all of us searching to impossibly become knights of faith.

Whomever wants to live by faith must always be in the becoming ambience: “Whereas the objective thinking invests everything in the result and assists all humankind to cheat by copying and reeling off the results and answers, subjective thinking invests everything in the process of becoming…he as existing is continually in the process of becoming.”[59] It is not reason that gives us our own selves but faith.  As Mark C. Taylor says, “Kierkegaard offers an alternative phenomenology of spirit, in which he examines the dynamics of individual selfhood in the movement toward faith.”[60]

The greatest paradox and irony of Kierkegaard’s life is that he could not live up by his own standards. Ricoeur says:

He was not enough of a seducer, a Don Juan, to be an aesthete. Nor he did succeed with the life of ethics: he was unmarried and childless, and he did not earn his living by practicing a profession, so he was excluded from the ethical existence described by Judge Wilhelm in Either/Or.[61]

He also failed in the religious stage.  Even though he gave himself to Regina and took himself away from her, he said in his journals that he didn’t have enough faith to marry her.  He said: “If I had faith, I would have remained with Regina.”  Nonetheless, even Kierkegaard is a knight of faith. He could not live without the faith that made him take the leap into an unknown life without her.  He abandoned his beloved Regina and contrary to what happened to Abraham, he was never able to get her back.  Regina got married and Kierkegaard died before she became a widow.

In the realm of faith, which is the realm of desert errands, we all share Abraham’s story. As Derrida points out a very important point in Kierkegaard’s interpretation of Abraham’s story, we may not share the same faith of Abraham but we share the same “paradox of responsibility”.[62] For the unfaithful ones, namely the lovers, they look for poetry, they search for theo-poets: poems about the unknown, about the unsayable, about a certain aboutness: words torching and flaming with the sacred, getting us closer to the consuming fire of the impossible God. In this search, one lives in this free world of association, contingent circumstances, fleeting moments of fragile and crumbled provisory and imagined truths.  At the edge of the abyss we dance, dangling our two feet over the abyss.  At the edge of the abyss where God might live, we make our beds and sleep, for we know the risk. However, there is no way out, one must risk. As Kierkegaard says the religious stage asks us to jump and we try to do so for we have the passionate faith to believe that if we fall, God, if God, might come to us.

To finish this article I call upon two other somewhat theo-poets to join Kierkegaard and myself. I start with Jaci Maraschin, a Brazilian poet:

quoniam iniquitatem meam ego cognosco[63]

I hear an intermittent voice

and nobody  listen to it

this voice calls me in silence

it runs through my veins as fire

and disarranges my visceras

it is like a woman´s song

down at the bottom of the ocean

the unheard voice which I only feel

is like a chill

sliding slowly through my hair

until it becomes an alley

I shut my ears with darkness

and the voice is like a buzz

up and down

amongst the many decibels of  incomprehension

And finish with Rainer Maria Rilke[64]:

Who if I shouted, among the hierarchy of angels would hear me? And supposing one of them took me sudden to his heart, I would perish before his stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror we can just barely endure, and we admire it so because it calmly disdain to destroy us. Every angel is terrible. And so I restrain myself and swallow the luring call of dark sobbing. Ah, whom can we use then? Not angels, not men, and the shrewd animals notice that we’re not very much at home in the world we’ve expounded. Maybe on the hill-slope some three or other remains for us, so that we see it every day; yesterday street is left us, and the gnarled fidelity of and old habit that was comfortable with us and never wanted to leave.


CAPUTO, John D. On Religion. London and New York, Routledge, 2001.

FOUCAULT, Michel. Foucault Live. Michel Foucault. Collective Interviews. 1961-1984. Ed. Sylvère Lotringer (Semiotext(e), 1989.

INWOOD, Michel Inwood. A Heidegger Dictionary. Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishers Inc, 1999.

KEARNEY, Richard Kearney. The Wake of Imagination. Toward a Postmodern Culture. London, Routledge, 1988.

KIERKEGAARD, Soren.  The Point of View. London, New York, Toronto, Oxford University Press, 1939.

_____________________ “Concluding Unscientific Postcript”. In:, Mark C. Taylor. Journeys of Selfhood. Hegel and Kierkegaard. New York, Fordam University Press, 2000.

_____________________. The Essential Kierkegaard. Howard V. Hong e Edna H. Hong (editores). Princeton, New Jersey , Princeton University Press, 2000.

_____________________.Fear and Trembling. Trans. Walter Lowrie. Garden City, NY, Doubleday Anchor Book, 1954.

MATUSTIK, Martin J. e WESPHAL, Merold Westphal (Editores).  Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity. Bloomington and Indianapolis, Indiana University Press, 1995.

MONTONE, Mônica Montone. Nomes gigantescos, grande entrevista. In:

RICOEUR, Paul. Kierkegaard: a Critical View. Jonathan Rée and Jane Chamberlain (editores). Oxford & Maden: Blackwell Publishers, 1998.

RILKE, Rainer Maria. Duino Elegies, Trans. C.F. MacIntyre. Berkley, Los Angeles, London: University of California Press, 1961.

SHAKESPEARE, Steven. Kierkegaard, Language and the Reality of God. Ashgate Publishing Company, 2002.

TAYLOR, Mark C. Taylor. Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self. Princeton, New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1975.

WATERSON, Bill Waterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary. Kansas City, Andrews and McMeel, University Press Syndicate Company, 1995.

· The author is a Brazilian  PhD student at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, USA.

[1] “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge… to another faith…” I Corinthians 12: 8-9. New Revised Standard Version.

[2] KIERKEGAARD,  Soren. The Point of View. P. 6.

[3] The term “theo-poet” as used here needs a reminder: the theos applied here has the notion given by Charles Winquist in his book Desiring Theology, a theos that goes beyond the Greek notion of theos and establishes itself as the unknown.

[4] “O poeta é um fingidor. Finge tão completamente/ Que chega a fingir que é dor/ A dor que deveras sente”. Fernando Pessoa. In: O Livro do Desassossego.

[5] Fernando Pessoa. O Guardador De Rebanhos (Ix).

[6]MONTONE, Mônica, Nomes gigantescos, grande entrevista. In:

[7]KIERKEGAAR, Kierkegaard. “Fear and Trembling”. In: HONG, Howard V. e  HONG, Edna H.(eds). The Essential Kierkegaard. P.101.

[8] Idem. “Concluding Unscientific Postcript”. TAYLOR, Mark C. Taylor. Journeys of Selfhood. Hegel and Kierkegaard. P. 91.

[9] Idem. “On My Work as an Author, The Point of View”. In: The Essential Kierkegaard. P. 457.

[10] Taylor, Mark C. Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self. P. 31.

[11] CAPUTO, John. “Instants, Secrets and Singularities: Dealing Death in Kierkegaard and Derrida”. In: MATUSTIK,  Martin J. and WESTPHAL, Merold (eds.)  Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity. P 219.

[12] KIERKEGAAR, S. “On My Work as an Author, The Point of View”. In: The Essential Kierkegaard. P. 468.

[13] Idem. “Fear and Trembling”. In: op. cit. P. 98.

[14] Ibidem.

[15] Ibidem. P 95.

[16] RICOEUR, Paul.  “Philosophy after Kierkegaard”. In: RÉE, Jonathan and CHAMBERLAIN, Jane Kierkegaard: a Critical View. P. 12

[17] CAPUTO, John. Op. cit. P. 230.

[18] KIERKEGAARD, S. “Concluding Scientific Postcripts to Philosophical Fragments”. In: The Essential Kierkegaard. P. 217.

[19] Ibidem.. Pp. 202, 206.

[20] Thinkers like Derrida will pick on Kierkegaard’s use of some parts of the body such as the eyes and the ear.  See The Ear of the Other: Otobiography, Transference, Translation. Texts and Discussions with Jacques Derrida .Lincoln and London, University of Nebraska Press, 1985.  In Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering Kofman’s recent film, Derrida, Derrida talks about the impossibility of the eyes to get old, a statement taken from Kierkegaard in Either/OR, A Fragment of Life.  Kierkegaard states: “… for the eye, eternally young, eternally ardent, that sees possibility everywhere”, in The Essential Kierkegaard, 45.

[21] Ibidem P. 23.

[22] Luke 8:10 New Revised Standard Version.

[23] KIERKEGAARD, S.  “The Concept of Irony”. In: The Essential Kierkegaard. P. 454.

[24] Ibidem.P. 29.

[25] Idem.. Journals and Papers No 708, Papier X4 A 15, Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self. P. 369.

[26] RICOEUR, P. Op. cit..P. 12.

[27] KIERKEGAARD, S. “On My Work as an Author, The Point of View”. In: The Essential Kierkegaard. P. 454.

[28] TAYLOR,  Mark C. Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self. 30.

[29] KIERKEGAARD, S. “Papier X1 510, in Armed Neutrality and An Open Letter”,  Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self. P. 55.

[30] Idem. Fear and Trembling. P. 86.

[31] Ibidem.Pp. 81, 82

[32] TAYLOR, Mark C. Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self. P. 23.

[33] RICOEUR, Paul Op. cit. P. 13.

[34] KEARNEY, Richard. The Wake of Imagination. Toward a Postmodern Culture. P. 202.

[35] Ibidem. P. 203.

[36] KIERKEGAARD, S. Fear and Trembling. Pp. 46-47

[37] Ibidem.

[38] SHAKESPEARE, Steven. Kierkegaard, Language and the Reality of God.

[39] Ibidem. P. 22.

[40] Ibidem.

[41] Ibidem. P. 23.

[42] Ibidem. P.178

[43] Ibidem. P. 27: “God must not be proved but witnessed to.”

[44] Jacques Derrida quoted in CAPUTO, John D. On Religion. P. 10

[45] SHAKESPEARE, Steven. Op. cit. P. 236.

[46] Ibidem.

[47] RICOEUR, Paul Op. cit. P. 24.

[48] Ibidem.

[49] FOUCAULT, Michel. Foucault Live. Michel Foucault. Collective Interviews. 1961-1984. Ed. Sylvère Lotringer (Semiotext(e), 1989.

[50] WATERSON, Bill Waterson, The Calvin and Hobbes Tenth Anniversary. P. 184.

[51] Martin Heidegger, “Holderlin and the Essence of Poetry”, Michel Inwood. A Heidegger Dictionary. . P. 170.

[52] CAPUTO, John.  “Instants, Secrets and Singularities: Dealing Death in Kierkegaard and Derrida”. Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity. P. 220.

[53] Ibidem. Pp. 8, 10.

[54] Ibidem. P. 216.

[55] John D. Caputo uses this definition in his book On Religion, showing a clear influence from Kierkegaard. See CAPUTO, John .On Religion.

[56] RICOEUR, Paul Op. cit. P. 13.

[57] Psalm 139: 7-11. New Revised Standard Version.

[58] KIERKEGAARD, S. “Fear and Trembling”. In: The Essential Kierkegaard. P. 101.

[59] Ibidem. P. 191.

[60] TAYLOR, Mark C.. Kierkegaard’s Pseudonymous Authorship. A Study of Time and Self.

[61] RICOEUR, Paul. Op. cit. P.13.

[62] DERRIDA, Jacques. “Donner la Mort”. John Caputo. “Instants, Secrets and Singularities: Dealing Death in Kierkegaard and Derrida”. Kierkegaard in Post/Modernity. P. 220.

[63] Melodia do amor e da morte em Veneza, 2001, Not published yet.

[64] RILKE, Rainer Maria. Duino Elegies. P. 3.

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