chapter  33
12 Pages

Logic, Language, and Existential Knowledge

WithMélissa Fox-Muraton

Although Kierkegaard offers no systematic treatment of language and logic in his works, and even suggests that logic is antithetical to existence, many of his works do engage with questions of logic and language with regard to existential knowledge. In this article, we aim to give a positive account of the ways in which logic and language can serve as tools for responding to moral and existential questions from a Kierkegaardian perspective. Our intent is not to give a full overview of Kierkegaard’s treatment of these questions, but more modestly to suggest some new ways in which to draw from Kierkegaard’s works, which have often been neglected by theological or existentialist interpretations of Kierkegaard. We begin by setting out Kierkegaard’s ambiguity with regard to the status of logic, and the ways in which this has made him vulnerable to critiques that associate his views with strong irrationalism or fideism. We then examine this in more detail with regard to the treatment of logic in Either/Or and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. In the third section, we offer a reading of Kierkegaard’s analysis of language in Works of Love, and suggest that Kierkegaard embraces a realist theory of language. In the final section, we turn to the issue of knowledge with regard to existential and moral questions, and examine the ways in which Kierkegaard uses logic and grammatical analysis in ‘Does a Human Being Have the Right to Let Himself Be Put to Death for the Truth?’