1st Edition

Reason and Conversion in Kierkegaard and the German Idealists

By Ryan Kemp, Christopher Iacovetti Copyright 2020
    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    194 Pages
    by Routledge

    In his late work Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, Immanuel Kant struggles to answer a straightforward, yet surprisingly difficult, question: how is radical conversion—a complete reorientation of a person’s most deeply held values—possible? In this book, Ryan S. Kemp and Christopher Iacovetti examine how this question gets taken up by Kant’s philosophical heirs: Schelling, Fichte, Hegel and Kierkegaard. More than simply developing a novel account of each thinker’s position, Kemp and Iacovetti trace how each philosopher formulates his theory in response to tensions in preceding views, culminating in Kierkegaard’s claim that radical conversion lies outside a person’s control. Kemp and Iacovetti close by examining some of the moral-psychological implications of Kierkegaard’s account, particularly the question of how someone might responsibly relate to values that have, by their own admission, been acquired in contingent and accidental fashion.

    Introduction: The Self Transformation Puzzle

    Part I: Radical Conversion in Kant and the German Idealists

    Chapter 1: The Problem of Conversion in Kant’s Religion

    Chapter 2: Schelling on Conversion from Dogmatism to Criticism

    Chapter 3: Fichte on Becoming an Idealist

    Chapter 4: Hegel on Culture, Philosophy, and Conversion

    Part II: Kierkegaard’s Break with the German Tradition

    Chapter 5: Kierkegaard’s Challenge to the Rational Affirmation Tradition

    Chapter 6: Kierkegaard’s Grace Account of Conversion

    Chapter 7: A Kierkegaardian Case for Ethical Faith


    Ryan S. Kemp is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Wheaton College (IL). His research focuses on 18th - and 19th -century European philosophy, especially the work of Kant and Kierkegaard. His recent work has appeared in Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, British Journal for the History of Philosophy, and European Journal of Philosophy.

    Christopher Iacovetti is a graduate student in philosophy and religion, with research interests in German Idealism, Christian Platonism, and autobiographical literature. Previous work of his has appeared in Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, Modern Theology, and Pro Ecclesia.

    "This carefully argued and erudite study is provocative in more than one way . . . From start to finish, the authors’ arguments are articulated with close attention to the central texts and advanced in critical dialogue with some of the finest recent scholarship."

    Steven Hoeltzel, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews