In this study John W. Elrod demonstrates that Kierkegaard's pseudonymous writings have an ontological foundation that unites the disparate elements of these books. The descriptions of the different stages of human development are not fully understandable, the author argues, without an awareness of the role played by this ontology in Kierkegaard's analysis of human existence.
Kierkegaard contends that the self is a synthesis of finitude and infinitude, body and soul, reality and ideality, necessity and possibility, and time and eternity. Each of these syntheses reveals a particular and unique aspect of individual being not disclosed in the others. Part One shows that ontology is central to the discussion of the self in the pseudonyms. The author notes that spirit, as a synthesis of the expressions of the self, develops as consciousness and freedom. In Part Two he indicates the relationship between notions of being and existence. He notes that existence, in Kierkegaard's thought, grows out of the life of the spirit; the different stages of existence are concrete modes that develop in the spirit's striving to unify the self as a synthesis. These existential expressions of spirit are dialectically related, in that each step requires the preceding stages of spiritual development.
Originally published in 1975.
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Another Princeton book authored or coauthored by John W. Elrod: