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Kierkegaard and Kant: The Hidden Debt.

Green calls his book a detective story. Its central theses are that Kierkegaard is heavily indebted to Kant, far more than has previously been noticed, and that a major reason this has been overlooked is that Kierkegaard deliberately obscured his dependence on Kant. The task of this book is to put an end to the coverup.

After chapters setting forth the information available about the extent of Kierkegaard's knowledge of Kantian texts and giving an overview of Kantian epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of religion, two central chapters trace in detail the points where Green finds Kierkegaard indebted to Kant. A fifth chapter gives a rereading of Fear and Trembling in the light of the preceding argument, and the Conclusion speculates as to why Kierkegaard may have wanted to hide his linkages to Kant.

The case is considerably overstated, for, as Green himself keeps reminding us, themes that Kierkegaard may have read in Kant are often not distinctively Kantian and were available to him from other sources as well, especially the pietistic Lutheranism to which both he and Kant were heirs and the larger Augustinian tradition to which it belonged. When all these materials are set aside, what is left hardly seems as important as Green's overall presentations suggests. Still, he has called attention to an important part of Kierkegaard's intellectual background well deserving of attention, even if only more modest claims about it are warranted.
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Author:Westphal, Merold
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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