This article explores Kierkegaard’s largely overlooked 1838 paper “Telegraph Messages from a Mousvoyant to a Clairvoyant concerning the Relation between Xnty and Philosophy,” and argues that it can be read as a polemic against the speculative unity of philosophy and Christianity and speculative thought’s epistemological optimism, especially targeting the Danish speculative theologian Hans Lassen Martensen. It will be suggested that the “Telegraph Messages” offer a corrective to this view by separating Christianity and philosophy and underlining the ambiguity of human existence and the paradoxicality of the religious sphere, thus foreshadowing key themes in Kierkegaard’s mature pseudonymous authorship.
An early version of this paper was presented at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre Project Seminar in May 2019, and I would like to thank René Rosfort, Ettore Rocca, Brian Söderquist, Joakim Garff, Iben Damgaard, Kristian Bunkenborg, Paulo Lopes, Cæcilie Varslev, and Eleanor Helms for their generous and incisive comments on this occasion and in later conversations. I would also like to thank Joel Rasmussen, Dritëro Demjaha, and Karl Verstrynge for their invaluable insights and suggestions.
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