Overcoming the Tradition as a Spiritual Act
“from the bottom of my heart it is all the same to me what professional philosophers of today think; for it is not for them that I am writing” (1932).
“any attempt to claim an escape from metaphysics necessarily involves the blind appeal to at least one metaphysical concept which compromises the escape the moment it is claimed” (see Bennington, 1997).
“…in the Third Meditation, when Descartes attempts to identify his essence as a subject by feigning a set of impossible conditions. He proposes to close his eyes, shut his ears, suspend his senses, efface from his thoughts all images of corporeal things…But Descartes’ effort to achieve a more familiar acquaintance with himself could only take place through an interior conversation with himself, which implies the use of representation and the exchange of signs – that is to say, the material and thus necessarily metaphorical character of language – at the very moment when he pretends to exclude from his thoughts all images of corporeal things.” (page 46, Derrida and Deconstruction, edited by Hugh J. Silverman, 1989)
“The state of affairs ‘presented’ by the picture or sentence is thus presented by us, by our making a picture. Therefore, a picture or a sentence is the act of presenting a state of affairs…one could believe one was reading Heidegger.” (Stenius, 1963)
“ …the principles of reason…do not conduct us to any theological truths…we recognise [reason’s] right to assert the existence of a perfect and absolutely necessary being, [but] this can be admitted only from favour, and cannot be regarded as the result of irresistible demonstration.” (Critique of Pure Reason, Transcendental Dialectic)
“ The Critique of Pure Reason has made room for faith… Although ‘morality leads unavoidably to religion’ an act of faith is required to close the logical gap between morality and the Idea of God…” (pg. 169, Kant, by S. Körner)
- What I call the “Protestant strand” of Catholicism (or, at the least, of Catholic theology and philosophy) has a much longer lineage than is commonly thought by many people on the outside of the faith - especially many Protestants. Indeed, as Kierkegaard says in this essay, it can be traced back to St. Paul (see Kierkegaard’s passage near the top of the ‘Religion, Metaphysics and Reason’ section).
“Theory was not the strong point of movements devoted to the inadequacies of reason and rationalism and the superiority of instinct and will. They attracted all kinds of reactionary theorists in countries with an active intellectual life – Germany is an obvious case in point.” (Eric Hobsbawn, in his Age of Extremes, 117)