Errant Affirmations

Errant Affirmations : On the Philosophical Meaning of Kierkegaard's Religious Discourses

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Kierkegaard's religious discourses - his writings which have explicitly dealt with religion - have historically been given scant attention by philosophers. They have generally been considered to be of less philosophical interest than his 'proper' philosophy. Errant Affirmations radically questions this claim and considers Kierkegaard's religious writings as absolutely central to his philosophical vision.

Through close and clear readings of Kierkegaard's work, David Kangas argues that contemporary philosophical themes - gift, temporality, language, death, nothingness, economy and selfhood- are not only evident in the 'religious' works but explored with real depth and fascination. Above all, the book argues that Kierkegaard's positive account of the human condition, his "ontology," fully emerges only in these discourses. It shows how these discourses are organized around an "errant" kind of affirmation-namely, an affirmation of existence that is without conditions. Such affirmation involves the intensification of life around "today" and coincides with a joy that has no particular cause. It is an affirmation capable of affirming life even amidst its finitude and suffering.

Errant Affirmations is a fresh interpretation of Kierkegaard's understudied works that not only opens up a new reading of Kierkegaard but elucidates his 'religious' texts and places them organically within his philosophy as a whole.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 12.7mm | 472g
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1350020052
  • 9781350020054
  • 2,454,701

Table of contents


Introduction: Thinking outside Authority
Section One: Entering into Time
1. Expectancy, the Renewal of Time
2.Patience, the Weight of Time
3. The Gift of Time
4. Naked Humanity

Section Two: Intensities of Affirmation
5. On Confessing
6. On Death
7. Beyond Innocence

Section Three: Being Human
8. Of Spirit
9. Joy without Conditions

Conclusion: Errant Affirmation.

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Review quote

Beautifully written. At times it deploys specialist terms and language, and necessarily gets us to think about paradoxical issues. It is, however, largely free of unnecessary scholarly clutter and the obsessive need to cite every book or article that mentions a subject. It is a luminous work, which befits its subject matter and provides a wonderful legacy for a scholar whose humane voice will be missed. * Theology Journal * Errant Affirmations is a wonderful book that works at several different levels. The argument is developed through a highly original series of meditations on Kierkegaard's edifying discourses that shows how these often neglected works anticipate the key issues that have engaged continental philosophy of religion over the last thirty years. Now - at last - we are led to see just why Heidegger was right when he said that there was more of philosophical interest in Kierkegaard's edifying writings than in his more obviously philosophical works. This work not only puts the discourses into the centre of contemporary philosophy of religion but also shows that any reading of Kierkegaard that neglects them is missing the main event. Like the discourses themselves Errant Affirmations is sensitive to the poetry of language and to the religious as well as to the philosophical needs of its readers. David Kangas' death has been a grievous loss to the community of Kierkegaard scholarship but Errant Affirmations at least leaves us with thoughts and insights to ponder and debate for a long time to come. -- George Pattison, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Glasgow, UK In Errant Affirmations, David Kangas opens up the richness and philosophic precision of Kierkegaard's edifying discourses. At once thoughtful and unsettling, consoling and revolutionary, Kangas' text explores Kierkegaard's vital, often startling, reframing of religious and philosophic discourse. This is a probing meditation on issues of ultimate concern, to Kierkegaard, to Kangas, and to each of us-and a moving memorial to David Kangas' intelligence, fortitude and generosity. -- Vanessa Parks Rumble, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, USA In truth, there are not many studies of Kierkegaard that Kierkegaard would have smiled upon. However, Errant Affirmations is certainly one of them. Writing under his favorite pseudonym, Anti-Climacus, Kierkegaard baldy stated "from the Christian point of view, everything, indeed everything, ought to serve for upbuilding," and that "everything" would, of course, include scholarly studies of Kierkegaard's upbuilding literature. And that is precisely what we have in Errant Affirmations, an elegantly written interpretation of Kierkegaard's religious discourses that is as upbuilding as it is rigorously argued. -- Gordon Marino, Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Hong Kierkegaard Library, St. Olaf College, USA This book offers a rich and thought-provoking reading of some of Kierkegaard's 'edifying' or 'upbuilding' discourses, presenting them as deeply philosophical. Particularly interesting is Kangas' reading of the attunement of the lilies and birds as pointing towards a form of existence beyond relating to projects. This message of what 'being today' means - radical acceptance; consenting with absolutely no reservations - takes on an added poignancy in the wake of the author's illness and premature death. It is hard not to conclude that the world of Kierkegaard Studies lost David Kangas far too soon. -- John Lippitt, Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion, University of Hertfordshire, UK
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About David J. Kangas

David J. Kangas was Associate Professor of philosophy at California State University, Stanislaus USA. He is the author of Kierkegaard's Instant: On Beginnings (2007).
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