Repetition and the question of temporality in Kierkegaard's authorship

Giofkou, Dafni (2020) Repetition and the question of temporality in Kierkegaard's authorship. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis undertakes the task of elucidating Kierkegaard’s category of repetition as related to temporality and the way in which it unfolds from Repetition (1843) and The Concept of Anxiety (1844) to the “Upbuilding Discourses” and the three sets of discourses on the lilies and the birds published in 1847, 1848, and 1849. I draw on literary theory and rhetorics, ancient theories of time (from Parmenides to Plato and Aristotle), selected writings from monastic literature (from Apophthegmata Patrum to Ps-Macarius’ Homilies and the Philokalia of the Neptic Fathers) and Pietism (mainly, Johann Arndt’s True Christianity).

The thesis is divided in two parts, entitled “Movement” and “Rest,” alluding thus to two overarching themes in Kierkegaard’s writings. Part I takes the cue from Diogenes’ anecdote that opens the novella Repetition and follows along the notion of movement/change/becoming and time as treated by Plato, Aristotle, and Hegel. I show (a) how the themes of recollection and immortality outlined in On the Concept of Irony (1841) are reworked by Kierkegaard in Repetition (b) that Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy proves to be an important intertext in Repetition. By employing the narratological taxonomy of Gérard Genette and being attentive to the narrative temporality of the novella, I illustrate the way in which the text engages the reader with the question of the possibility of repetition.

I expound Aristotle’s theory of time and movement (κινήσις) in Physics and Plato’s and the instant of change (ἐξαίϕνης) in the Parmenides so as to provide the necessary grounding in order to (a) read the long footnote on the Parmenides (CA, 82-84n/SKS 4, 385) as it is refracted in the text of The Concept of Anxiety (b) evaluate the critique of Platonic moment in The Concept of Anxiety (c) situate his critique within the context of Kierkegaard’s contemporary readings of the Parmenides. Kierkegaard faces the challenges of treating the moment as an extra-temporal, aesthetic-metaphysical abstraction and, in doing so, alternative temporalities emerge, cast as existential affects: anxiety, concern, longing, joy.

The main argument of Part II is that via the inactivity of the lilies and improvidence of the birds, that is, through the ‘antithetical’ pair of work and rest, Kierkegaard introduces the theology of the Sabbath-rest. In particular, the kingfisher (Alcedo ispida), which achieves peace [Ro] by building its nest upon the sea, illustrates Kierkegaard’s notion of ‘freedom from care’. Therefore, an important dimension of Kierkegaard’s theory of time and eternity is fleshed out. Kierkegaard continually reworks the theme of “the day of rest [Hviledag]” incorporating in his text Hebrews 3, in which the Sabbath and the ‘today’ are most distinctly intertwined. I evaluate a variety of textual sources ranging from the spiritual writings of Ps-Macarius (a desert father of the 4th century) and the literature of desert monasticism to Pietist writers. My aim is: (a) to present the theology of the Sabbath rest in Eastern Orthodox tradition and in Pietism (b) to address the complicated issue of Ps-Macarius’ influence on Pietism (c) to expound the presence of the themes of vigilance in prayer, soberness, and ἀμεριμνία (freedom from care) in desert monasticism and in Kierkegaard’s discourses (d) to show how the notion of rebirth and the Pietistic “spiritual Sabbath of the heart” are rearticulated in Kierkegaard. The expectation of the Sabbath rest, apart from its eschatological overtones, is a reality that could be achieved here ‘today’. The inbreaking of the Sabbath rest in time could transform time within time. The longest day, “the day of eternity,” this very day (Without Authority, 44-45/SKS 11, 48) is the day of rest [Hviledag] and, as I have tried to show, bears affinities to the mystery of the eighth day and the doctrine of Transfiguration in Orthodox spirituality.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Kierkegaard, repetition, Philosophy of time, Plato, Aristotle, Ps-Macarius, Pietism, narratology, Gerald Genette, Desert monasticism, Eastern Orthodox Spirituality, Sabbath rest.
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > Theology and Religious Studies
Supervisor's Name: Pattison, Prof. George
Date of Award: 2020
Depositing User: Ms Dafni Giofkou
Unique ID: glathesis:2020-80269
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2020 13:38
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2024 16:10

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