Religious Studies

Kierkegaard on truth as subjectivity: Christianity, ethics and asceticism

a1 27 Clifden Road, Twickenham, Middlesex TW1 4LU


This paper is an exploration and interpretation of Kierkegaard's account of Christian belief. I argue that Kierkegaard believed that the Christian metaphysical tradition was exhausted and hence that there could be no defence of belief in God in purely rational terms. I defend this interpretation against objections, going on to argue that Kierkegaard thought it possible to defend a post-metaphysical conception of religious belief. I argue that Kierkegaard thought that such a defence was available if we understand correctly what it is to speak with ethico-religious authority. I argue that, when interpreted in the way I outline, Kierkegaard's notion of ethico-religious authority shows his conception of religious belief to have great plausibility. However, Kierkegaard goes on to argue that an individual's true relationship with God is constituted through the cultivation of guilt and the sense of himself as a sinner, and I give reasons for rejecting this claim, arguing that such cultivation is a form of asceticism.