Kierkegaard’s Socratic pseudonym: A profile of Johannes Climacus

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Abstract

The subject of this report is a fictional character and so-called pseudonymous author, one Johannes Climacus, a self-described “humorist” who is “thirty years old” and was “born in Copenhagen” (CUP 520). Only known relative, father, deceased (CUP 135). Possible physical features: “medium in height, with black hair and brown eyes.” Pastimes: “loafing and thinking” “subjective author” of two books, Philosophical Crumbs (or Fragments) and Concluding Unscientific Postscript, both edited by S. Kierkegaard (CUP 156, 158). Philosophically notable characteristics: has an “ardent enthusiasm” for Socrates (KW 7: 111); seems to endorse the view he attributes to Socrates that being a philosophical “midwife … is the highest relationship a human being can have with another” person; has claimed with respect to his own development and philosophical undertakings that the “only one who consoles [him] is Socrates” may himself be a Socratic figure, perhaps representing Kierkegaard's “idealization of the Socratic within the context of nineteenth-century Danish Christendom.” Obtaining an understanding of Climacus has proved difficult; he remains under surveillance. The following (provisional) report includes an overview of Climacus' two works and the two therapeutic, experimental stances he adopts in relation to his readers (together with a few orienting observations about Climacus); a brief examination of Kierkegaard's unfinished manuscript Johannes Climacus, or De Omnibus Dubitandum Est; and a more detailed account of Climacus' diagnosis of what he thinks has gone wrong in Christendom and how this relates to his decision to become an author.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationKierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Subtitle of host publicationA Critical Guide
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages25-44
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511782008
ISBN (Print)9780521897983
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010

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