The Point of View for My Work as an Author (1848)

The Point of View of My Work as an Author (subtitle: A Direct Communication, Report to History) is an autobiographical account of the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard's use of his pseudonyms. The work was written in 1848, published in part in 1851 (as On my Work as an Author), and published in full posthumously in 1859. The Point of View On My Work As An Author by Soren Kierkegaard (finished 1848) published by Peter Christian Kierkegaard 1859 translated by Howard and Edna Hong 1998 Princeton University Press

The AccountingEdit

  • The movement the authorship describes is: from “the poet,” from the esthetic – from “the philosopher,” from the speculative – to the indication of the most inward qualification of the essentially Christian; from the pseudonymous Either/Or, through Concluding Postscript, with my name as editor, to Discourses at the Communion on Fridays, of which two were delivered at Fru Church. p. 5
  • Oh, to what degree human beings would become – human and loveable beings – if they would become single individuals before God! p. 11

Appendix: My Position as a Religious Author in “Christendom” and My Strategy, November 1850Edit

  • In the year 1848 the threads of sagacity broke: the shriek that announces chaos was heard! “It was the year 1848; it was a step forward.” Well, yes, if “government” is achieved for which not a single new official is needed or the dismissal of any older official, but perhaps an internal transformation in the direction of becoming steadfast by fearing God. Certainly the mistake from above was that on the whole the strength throughout the government from top to bottom was essentially secular sagacity, which essentially is precisely the lack of strength. The fault from below was to want to do away with all government. p. 19

The Point of View For My Work As An Author: A Direct Communication, Report to History by S. KierkegaardEdit

  • The content, then, of this little book is: what I in truth am as an author, that I am an was a religious author, that my whole authorship pertains to Christianity, to the issue: becoming a Christian, with direct and indirect polemical aim at that enormous illusion, Christendom, or the illusion that in such a country all are Christians or sorts. P. 23
  • Every once in a while a pastor makes a little fuss in the pulpit about there being something not quite right with all these many Christians – but all those who hear him and who are present there, consequently all those he is speaking to, are Christians, and of course he is not speaking to those he is speaking about. This is most appropriately called simulated motion. …. An illusion can never be removed directly …. By a direct attack he only strengthens a person in the illusion and infuriates him. Generally speaking, there is nothing that requires as gentle a treatment as the removal of an illusion. P. 42
  • To be a teacher is not to say: This is the way it is, nor is it to assign lessons and the like. No, to be a teacher is truly to be the learner. Instruction begins with this, that you, the teacher, learn from the learner, place yourself in what he has understood and how he has understood it, if you yourself have not understood it previously, or that you, if you have understood it, then let him examine you, as it were, so that he can be sure that you know your lesson. P. 46-47
  • The objection I have repeatedly made privately against those who ordinarily proclaim Christianity in Christendom is that they, themselves surrounded and safeguarded by all too many illusions, do not have the courage to make people aware. p. 51
  • Even if so many pastors will find it indefensible, even if equally as many will be incapable of getting it into their heads – although all of them otherwise, according to their own statement, are accustomed to using the Socratic method – in this respect I calmly stick to Socrates. True, he was no Christian, that I know, although I also definitely remain convinced that he has become one. But he was a dialectician and understood everything in reflection. And the question here is purely dialectical – it is the question of the use of reflection in Christendom. Qualitatively two altogether different magnitudes are involved here, but formally I can very well call Socrates my teacher – whereas I have believed and believe in only one, the Lord Jesus Christ. p. 54-55
  • It was a purely Christian satisfaction for me that if ordinarily there was no one else there was definitely one in Copenhagen with whom any poor person could without ceremony speak and associate on the street; that if ordinarily there was no one else, there was one who, in whatever social circles he otherwise moved, did not slink by but acknowledged every maidservant, manservant, and every day laborer he knew in other contexts. P. 60
  • And my entire view of the crowd, which even the more perceptive at that time perhaps found somewhat exaggerated, now in 1848, assisted by the gesticulations of existence (these are more powerful and in comparison to the single individual’s thin voice are like the raging of the elements), now the objection probably is that I have not exaggerated enough. p. 68-69
  • It has been inexplicable to me how very often seemingly quite accidental little circumstances in my life, which then in turn admittedly became something very considerable through my imagination, brought me into a specific state, and I did not understand myself, became depressed – and see – then out of this developed a mood, the very mood I should use in the work with which I was engaged at the time, and at just the right place. P. 76
  • I had a thorn in the flesh, intellectual endowments (especially imagination and dialectic), and education in abundance, an enormous development as an observer, a truly rare Christian upbringing, an altogether unique dialectical relation to Christianity. From childhood I was trained in obedience, absolute obedience, was equipped with an almost reckless faith in being capable of everything, except one thing – to become a free bird, even if it were for just one single whole day, or to slip out of the chains of depression in which another power held me – finally, I myself was a penitent. p. 83

EpilogueEdit

  • “But what have you done here!” I hear someone say, “Do you not see what you have lost in the eyes of the world by this information and attestation?” Indeed, I do see it very well. By doing this, I lose what from a Christian point of view must be regarded as a loss in being possessed: every worldly form of the interesting. I lose the interesting, to proclaim the seductive subtlety of pleasure and the enjoyment of life, the joyful gospel of the most sophisticated enjoyment of life, and mockery’s overweening pride. p. 91

ConclusionEdit

  • “I, the poet, see the epigram, the satire, not the particular things that he wrote but what his whole life was. …. It comforts him in eternity that he has suffered this, that he voluntarily exposed himself to it, that he did not support his cause with any illusion, did not hide behind any illusion, but by suffering with God-fearing sagacity saved up for eternity: the recollection of surmounted sufferings, that he had remained faithful to himself and to his first love, the love with which he has loved only what has suffered in the world.” P. 96

External linksEdit

Anthony Storm's Commentary on Point of View