Leo Stan, Either Nothingness or Love: On Alterity in Søren Kierkegaard’s Writings, 2009

Either Nothingness or Love
Either Nothingness or Love

Throughout the 20th century, Søren Kierkegaard’s name critically or apologetically surfaced in numerous philosophical attempts at coming to terms with the challenges of otherness. Since even the more recent interpretations of Kierkegaard evince an overwhelming diversity, one feels the need for a more comprehensive and coherent account, which the present volume seeks to elaborate. With that in mind, after thematizing four distinct senses of otherness in Kierkegaard’s corpus, the author unearths their complex interrelation and reveals their Christian, redemption-oriented roots. In addition, he engages in a critical manner with the extant scholarship on the topic and aims to reopen the discussion of alterity in light of the pivotal significance of sinfulness in the way we relate to God, Christ, and other people. The book thus tackles indispensable issues for contemporary Christian ethics and philosophical psychology.

Leo Stan’s remarkable work places Kierkegaard right in the middle of a vigorous, longstanding philosophical discussion about „the other.” Unlike several other such efforts, which focus on this theme in a particular text or group of texts, Stan argues that Kierkegaard’s writings are heterological through and through, from Either/Or to the end. Kierkegaard’s distinctively Christian „heterology,” if that is what it should be called, differs sharply from those of Levinas and certain post modernist writers, but that level of difference is just what one has come to expect from such a maverick as Kierkegaard. Whether someone agrees with Kierkegaard’s provocative theses or not, Stan’s book demonstrates why they dare not be ignored.
Prof. Anthony Burgess (Philosophy Department, University of New Mexico)

Language of otherness and alterity has become prominent in recent Continental philosophy, largely through the writings of Levinas and Derrida, but it has also been traced and attributed to the influence of Kierkegaard by recent works in the philosophy of religion. Leo Stan’s excellent monograph provides the first systematic analysis of this topic in Kierkegaard’s corpus and offers a critical rejoinder to recent interpreters, many of whom have tended to ignore the theological and Christian aspects of this discourse in Kierkegaard’s works. Stan uncovers and illuminates four crucial, interrelated senses of otherness that pervade Kierkegaard’s authorship as a whole: the infinite alterity of God, the paradoxical alterity of Christ and the alterity of the human other, all approachable through the „other within” which is the self’s inward spirit. This outstanding study makes an original and important contribution to Kierkegaard scholarship, Continental philosophy of religion, and to the growing literature in philosophical theology/theological philosophy.
Prof. P. Travis Kroeker (Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University)

Dr. Leo Stan has a masterful command of both the history of theology and philosophy. He is one of the best interpreters of Kierkegaard in the world today of his generation. His readings are rigorous, tethered to the text, and always creative and illuminating.

Prof. Gordon Marino (Philosophy Department, St. Olaf College, Director, Hong Kierkegaard Library)

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