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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 21, 2014

Shaftesbury—An Important Forgotten Indirect Source of Kierkegaard’s Thought

  • Lydia B. Amir EMAIL logo


The third Earl of Shaftesbury is not only a forgotten indirect source of Kierkegaard’s thought, but an important one as well. Kierkegaard adopts many ideas of the British philosopher of the Enlightenment, paraphrases him in his journals and writings and refers to him explicitly when introducing his interest in the legitimacy of the comic in Concluding Unscientific Postscript. To the best of my knowledge, however, there is no reference to Shaftesbury in the literature on Kierkegaard; thus, the relationship between the two thinkers has not been investigated. In this article, I propose to fill this gap as well as explain how Shaftesbury could have influenced Kierkegaard’s thought. I argue that Shaftesbury anticipates some of the problems that Kierkegaard is usually credited with formulating, as well as some of the solutions Kierkegaard found to the problems they share. In particular, I maintain that Kierkegaard’s reference to Shaftesbury reveals an important debt.With his views on the relation of the comic to truth, Kierkegaard not only joins the interminable debate that followed Shaftesbury’s alleged assertion that ridicule is the test of truth but also settles it by devising his ethics of the comic

Published Online: 2014-6-21
Published in Print: 2014-6-1

© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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