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Despite 9 years of a philosophy education, I have yet to read Kierkagaard. I'm rather embarassed about it but I've been schooled by some militant anglo-analytic departments who didn't spend time on spooky things like existentialism.

I want to be the first mormon to give a talk on the blessings of severe depression comorbid with anxiety! If they ever ask me to talk again I think I will. :) I heard that women in Utah have the highest rate of prescriptions for anti-depressants. Kierkagaard might be more relevant to the LDS than we'd like to pretend.

I'm anything but knowledgeable on Kierkegaard, despite being the source for the link. But I think he distinguishes between what he calls a "knight of faith" and a "knight of remorse" which thereby deals quite differently with the notion of despair. It's important to realize that when he writes under a pseudonym he is often adopting a personae who can't understand faith. In a sense it is those unable to take the leap of faith who are doomed to depression and despair of the sort you mention.

As to whether that ought to apply to LDS society, that's more problematic. I do think that many people try do *do* perfection on their own, never admitting to themselves the impossibility of this. Yet without faith this conflict between the possible and the impossible inevitably leads to despair. Kierkegaard's solution is the leap of faith where the impossible becomes possible and then those problems (in his eyes) aren't problems.

Thus to him the difference between the stereotypical relief society women filled with (and often repressing) despair arises because they do not yet have real faith. They are, in his taxonomy, knights of remorse and not knights of faith. In a way there is a lot that probably is relevant of that view - although for reasons I won't go into (because I'm not sure they are right) I'm not sure Kierkegaard's solution is correct.

If I remember correctly, Madsen talks about "K" fairly often. Maybe in his new book (out by Christmas) it will discuss 'K' more? i'll try to find out.

Dave Paulsen, a philosophy professor at BYU, teaches Kierkegaard and wrote a paper for the SMPT conference called "Soren Kierkegaard and Joseph Smith: What Does It Mean to be a Christian?" Anybody attend or get the paper?

Terry Warner (BYU Phil./Psych. professor) also relies on Kierkegaard quite a bit, as I recall, but more for his psychology than theology.

Several others over at LDS_Phil have brought him up fairly frequently too. As I said, I fear my knowledge of him is very poor. So don't take anything I say as indicating too much. Most of it comes from those lectures from Berkeley I downloaded and have been listening to at the gym.

Yes, I found the program posted at the SMPT site that has a Paulsen talk or paper on Kierkegaard and Joseph Smith noted, but no links to any paper or even a synopsis. Did anyone even post notes on the conference? I know several Bloggernackers attended, just don't know which ones.

In answer to your question, Dave, I did actually "read" (as in look at every word) all of Fear and Trembling when I was about 13. Needless to say, I didn't get it. But your post has inspired me to try again. I'm thinking that the fact that my father loves Kierkegaard, that he is one of maybe 3 or 4 philosophers represented in the hundreds of shelf-feet of my parents' library might explain a few things about why Mormons (well, yeah, everyone else, too) think I'm weird :)

An anecdote: When I was enjoying my one brief year at BYU, a friend and I noticed the striking similarity between the picture of Kierkegaard on the paperback editions of his works and the bust of Joseph Smith in the Honors building. So my friend made an alternate plaque that said "Soren Kierkegaard," placed it on the bust, and left a little offering of parsley, if I remember correctly.

A thought experiment: Someone might ponder the Mormon belief that the prophet would never lead the faithful astray while reading "Fear and Trembling," which is about Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. I once asked a Gospel Doctrine class to interpret the Old Testament passages in which the Israelites were instructed to kill every man, woman, and child in Canaan, alarmed by the thought that genocide could ever be considered a divine instruction. The responses in the class led me to think that I was the only one bothered by the idea. Kierkegaard would have given me a bit more to chew on, if I had known about him at the time.

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