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Kierkegaard and the Ends of Language

2002
Author:

Geoffrey A. Hale

Kierkegaard and the Ends of Language

A timely and original intervention in our understanding of this major philosopher through the lens of his influence on others

In mutually reflective readings of Kierkegaard’s foundational texts through the work of three pivotal authors—Franz Kafka, Theodor Adorno, and Rainer Maria Rilke—Hale shows how each of these writers draws attention to the unwavering sense of human finitude that pervades all of Kierkegaard’s work and, with it, the profoundly unsettling indeterminacy in which it results.

This book is a timely, original, and cogent intervention in the reception and understanding of a major intellectual figure, Søren Kierkegaard. It goes beyond other books in delineating once and for all the subtle but nearly omnipresent impact of Kierkegaard on the most important twentieth-century developments in philosophy, poetry, and prose narrative.

Kevin Newmark, Boston College

What do we read when we read Kierkegaard? How do we know? Insisting that Kierkegaard remains a far more enigmatic and paradoxical writer than is often assumed, Geoffrey A. Hale argues that the best way to approach Kierkegaard’s work and understand its significance for our own thought is to retrace its formative influence on major intellectuals of the early twentieth century.

In mutually reflective readings of Kierkegaard’s foundational texts through the work of three pivotal authors—Franz Kafka, Theodor Adorno, and Rainer Maria Rilke—Hale shows how each of these writers draws attention to the unwavering sense of human finitude that pervades all of Kierkegaard’s work and, with it, the profoundly unsettling indeterminacy in which it results. It is the very limitations of language, Hale argues, that hold it open to meaning, to interpretation, and thus to freedom. Resisting clear circumscription in this way, Kierkegaard’s work becomes all the more fruitful to us—and all the more challenging—to the extent that it resists our understanding.

Kierkegaard and the Ends of Language

Geoffrey A. Hale received a Ph.D. in German from The Johns Hopkins University and studied at the Free University in Berlin through a Fulbright scholarship.

Kierkegaard and the Ends of Language

This book is a timely, original, and cogent intervention in the reception and understanding of a major intellectual figure, Søren Kierkegaard. It goes beyond other books in delineating once and for all the subtle but nearly omnipresent impact of Kierkegaard on the most important twentieth-century developments in philosophy, poetry, and prose narrative.

Kevin Newmark, Boston College