Mindful of Fallibility

Kierkegaard presents a contrast between a Christian who prays to God 'in a false spirit' and an idolater who prays to an idol 'with the passion of the infinite', and concludes that 'The one prays in truth to God though he worships an idol; the other prays falsely to the true God, and hence worships in fact an idol.' Kierkegaard is an advocate of passionate faith and 'subjective truth' which he describes as a being determined by the nature of the relationship of the individual to conception of God rather than what may objectively be true: 'if only the mode of this relationship is in the truth, the individual is in the truth even if he should happen to be thus related to what is not true.' [Concluding Unscientific Postscript]

Walter Kaufman comments on this: "the contrast of the passionate idolater with the Christian who 'prays in false spirit' is attractive. But is Kierkegaard's knowledge of what constitutes a false spirit objective or subjective? And are passion and the feeling of certainty a warrant of any kind of truth -- even "subjective truth"? The contrast is posed in such terms that the reader may be ready to grant the ethico-religious superiority of those who are passionate and feel certain; but suppose it were posed in different terms, with a fanatic on one side and a person with more humility on the other. Is there nothing to be said in favor of those who are mindful of their fallibility precisely in matters of faith and morals?" [My italics. Existentialism: From Dostoevsky to Sartre]

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