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Chapter 11 - The Problem of Evil in Either/Or

A Religious–Aesthetic Debate

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 November 2023

Ryan S. Kemp
Affiliation:
Wheaton College, Illinois
Walter Wietzke
Affiliation:
University of Wisconsin, River Falls
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Summary

Judge William of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or claims that the Jutland Pastor’s sermon expresses exactly what he had tried to say in his letters. This is far from obvious to the reader, and I suggest we bypass the Judge, reading the sermon directly with A’s essays on unhappy love and tragedy. Like the sermon, Part I’s “Shadowgraphs” deals with the psychology of persons who have (apparently) been wronged by someone they love and the defenses they construct on the beloved’s behalf mimic classic theodicies. The Pastor’s “practical theodicy,” which consists in thinking of ourselves as the wrongdoers, can be applied to their predicament as well. Yet imagining what that would mean in an abusive interpersonal relationship shows how perilous the Pastor’s theodicy is, alienating us from our own ideas of good and bad, right and wrong. A’s treatment of tragedy offers an alternative. Recognizing that God (or the beloved) is indifferent or simply evil restores our moral-emotional integrity.

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Kierkegaard's Either/Or
A Critical Guide
, pp. 188 - 203
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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