Know Thyself in the Mirror of the Word. Self-Cognition in Kierkegaard
The article reconstructs Kierkegaardʼs understanding of self-knowledge, especially with the use of The Concept of Irony, The Sickness Unto Death, and Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses. First, irony is interpreted as a step – dangerous indeed, but unavoidable – in the process of oneʼs self-knowledge. The concept of self-knowledge is then related to Kierkegaardʼs concept of transparency in faith. Self-knowledge is thus understood as a form of self-realization, that is, a concept which goes beyond mere epistemology, as it involves four elements, namely knowledge, will, feeling and imagination. Particular attention is paid to the aspect of knowledge (what it is we should know about ourselves), which leads to the problem of the corruption of will (sin). This concept illustrates how Kierkegaardʼs ethical emphasis on self-knowledge culminates in religiosity. It is also shown how alongside his Christian assumptions Kierkegaard is still attentive to the psychological conditions of possibility of manʼs ethical act of self-realization. Self-knowledge is thus reconstructed in its duality, as a process which is for Kierkegaard both substantial and relational: Kierkegaard understands self-knowledge both as an ethical claim upon man and as a religious act whose accomplishment is dependent on Godʼs intervention. The article next discusses how self-knowledge involves a relationship to and “knowledge” of God. Finally, it is shown that self-knowledge presupposes not only that one believes himself or herself to be known by God, but also by his or her fellow human beings.