1st Edition

Kierkegaard, Mimesis, and Modernity A Study of Imitation, Existence, and Affect

By Wojciech Kaftanski Copyright 2022
    264 Pages
    by Routledge

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    This book challenges the widespread view of Kierkegaard’s idiosyncratic and predominantly religious position on mimesis.

    Taking mimesis as a crucial conceptual point of reference in reading Kierkegaard, this book offers a nuanced understanding of the relation between aesthetics and religion in his thought. Kaftanski shows how Kierkegaard's dialectical-existential reading of mimesis interlaces aesthetic and religious themes, including the familiar core concepts of imitation, repetition, and admiration as well as the newly arisen notions of affectivity, contagion, and crowd behavior. Kierkegaard’s enduring relevance to the malaises of our own day is firmly established by his classic concern for the meaning of human life informed by reflective meditation on the mimeticorigins of the contemporary age.

    Kierkegaard, Mimesis, and Modernity will be of interest to scholars and advanced students working on Kierkegaard, Continental philosophy, the history of aesthetics, and critical and religious studies.

    Chapter 6 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF at http://www.taylorfrancis.com under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives (CC-BY-NC-ND) 4.0 license. 


    1. Representation, Originality, Genius

    2. Repetition, Recollection, Time, Meaning

    3. Selfhood, Text, Redoubling

    4. Imitation

    5. The Prototypes

    6. Affect, Admiration, Crowd

    7. Comparison, Existential Mimesis, Authenticity



      Wojciech Kaftanski is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Communications Associate at the Human Flourishing Program at Harvard University. He is a former Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Husserl Archives/ Centre for Phenomenology and Continental Philosophy at KU Leuven, and a former House Foundation Fellow at the Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College.

      "Kaftanski’s work is an important contribution to an influential body of works that has taken up the issues of authenticity and identity in modernity . . . Philosophers of religion, readers of Kierkegaard, and scholars of post-Kantian European philosophy more generally will benefit from Kaftanski’s text immensely."

      Steven DeLay, Phenomenological Reviews

      "If it is the rigorous play of ideas which excites you, Kaftanski’s volume will prove an amiable companion. At the same time, Kaftanski does more than just offer clear exposition of difficult concepts. Throughout, I found myself led to wonder: What role is mimesis playing in my own life? Whom am I imitating, and what aspects of that person have I selected for emulation? Am I creatively remaking those aspects, or is my imitation a kind of aping, without due consideration of my own context and the particular challenges I am called to address? Like reading Kierkegaard himself, and like reading the best scholarship on him, Kierkegaard, Mimesis, and Modernity presses us to ask just such uncomfortable, life-altering, questions."

      Thomas J. Millay, Modern Theology

      "Kaftanski’s approach is novel, and his topic has gone unnoticed for too long. Placing Kierkegaard against the backdrop of mimesis’s aesthetic and religious renderings provides readers with a newfound appreciation for Kierkegaard’s brilliance. This book will be helpful to scholars, students, and casual readers interested in a synthetic approach to the entire authorship woven together through mimetic discourse."

      Orrin Page, Journal for Continental Philosophy of Religion