, edited by Robert C. Solomon, Modern Library, 1974, pp. 24-28 –
except second excerpt which is from:
Concluding Unscientific Postscript
, by Soren
Kierkegaard, translated by David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie, Princeton, 1941,
pp. 187-189; 186)
On Becoming a Christian
My only analogy is Socrates. My task is a Socratic task—to
the conception of what
it means to be a Christian.
Attack upon Christendom
is the truth.
By virtue of the relationship subsisting between the eternal truth
and the existing individual, the paradox came into being. Let us now go further, let us
suppose that the eternal essential truth is itself a paradox. How does the paradox come
into being? By putting the eternal essential truth into juxtaposition with existence. Hence
when we posit such a conjunction within the truth itself, the truth becomes a paradox.
The eternal truth has come into being in time: this is the paradox. If in accordance with
the determinations just posited, the subject is prevented by
* from taking himself back
into the eternal, now he need not trouble himself about this;
for now the eternal essential
truth is not behind him but in front of him, through its being in existence or having
existed, so that if the individual does not existentially and in existence lay hold of the
truth, he will never lay hold of it
Existence can never be more sharply accentuated than by means of these determinations.
The evasion by which speculative philosophy attempts to recollect itself out of existence
has been made impossible.
With reference to this, there is nothing for speculation to do
except to arrive at an understanding of this impossibility; every speculative
insists on being speculative shows
that it has not understood
it. The individual
may thrust all this away from him, and take refuge in speculation; but it is impossible
first to accept it, and then to revoke it by means of speculation, since it is definitely
calculated to prevent speculation.
When the eternal truth is related to an existing individual it becomes a paradox.
The paradox repels in the inwardness of the existing individual, through the objective
uncertainty and the corresponding Socratic ignorance.
But since the paradox is not in the
first instance itself paradoxical (but only in its relationship to the existing individual), it
does not repel with a sufficient intensive inwardness. For
without risk there is no faith,
and the greater the risk the greater the faith; the more objective security the less
inwardness (for inwardness is precisely subjectivity), and the less objective security the
more profound the possible inwardness. When the paradox is paradoxical in
itself, it repels the individual by virtue of its absurdity, and the corresponding passion of
inwardness is faith. But subjectivity, inwardness, is the truth; for otherwise we have
forgotten what the merit of the Socratic position is.
But there can be no stronger
expression for inwardness than when the retreat out of existence into the eternal by