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New English translation of German Book on Kierkegaard’s Epistemology!

Richard Popkin begins his essay “Kierkegaard and Skepticism,” by quoting Hume. “To be a philosophical skeptic,” asserts Hume at the end of his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, “is, in a man of letters, the first and foremost essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian.”

Popkin begins his essay with this quotation because Kierkegaard is known as something of a skeptic. Skepticism, as a philosophical position, is defensible, however, only against the backdrop of a particular, and relatively compelling, epistemological theory. That is, skepticism is essentially an account of the limits of knowledge, so any skeptic worth his salt has to have a fairly sophisticated account of the nature of knowledge and it limits. One would thus expect that there would be a fairly large body of scholarship on Kierkegaard’s epistemology. Strangely, there are only three books on Kierkegaard’s epistemology: Anton Hügli’s Die Erkenntnis der Subjektivitåt und die Objektivität des Erkennens (knowledge of subjectivity and the objectivity of knowing) (Basel, Switzerland: Editio Academica, 1973), Martin Slotty’s dissertation from 1915, Die Erkenntnislehre S. A. Kierkegaards (the epistemology of S. A. Kierkegaard), and my Ways of Knowing: Kierkegaard’s Pluralist Epistemology (Waco, TX: Baylor, 2010).

Unfortunately, two of these three works are not only in German, they’re out of print, and that has meant they’ve been more or less ignored by Anglo-American Kierkegaard scholarship, to its detriment. Fortunately, Ways of Knowing makes much of the substance of these works available for the first time to scholars who do not have a sufficient mastery of German to read the originals. Better still, Gegensatz Press is going to publish an English translation of Slotty’s work. This is wonderful news for Kierkegaard scholars, because Slotty’s is by far the more accessible of the two German works. It enjoys the distinction of being the very first work, so far as I know, in any language on Kierkegaard’s epistemology and as such it is something of a general introduction. It should be required reading for every Kierkegaard scholar, especially those who do not want to go on to tackle the larger and more substantive work by Hügli. I don’t know whether Gegensatz takes preorders. My advice is to write them and inquire.

M.G. Piety’s Website is Up and Running!

I said, when I started this blog, that I would let readers know when my website was finished. Well, it’s finished. The web address is mgpiety.org .  (The backslash is important. You will find there a complete list of my publications along with another more general interest blog.

There are a couple of publications on my website that will be of interest to Kierkegaard scholars. The first is an article entitled “What’s in a Face” that I published in the now defunct Lingua Franca back in 1995. It’s about portraits of Kierkegaard, or more specifically, about what have sometimes been taken to be portraits of Kierkegaard that are actually portraits of his contemporaries. There are copies of these portraits in the article.

The other piece that will be of interest to Kierkegaard scholars is entitled “Some Reflections on Academic Ethics.” This is one of the earliest articles I published on the controversy over Joakim Garff’s critically acclaimed biography of Kierkegaard.

The blog on my website, Reading Notes, while not about Kierkegaard, will address topics in the philosophy of religion, among other things, so it may be of interest to many readers of this blog. I plan to post on that blog about once a week. The post I have up there now is about publishing. I’m planning a post for next week though on religion, so if that’s a topic that interests you, check it out next week.

Finally, I’ve got some good posts coming up on this blog, including one on Kierkegaard and vampires, another on more online resources for Kierkegaard scholarship and one on my new book Ways of Knowing: Kierkegaard’s Pluralist Epistemology.