April 11, 2014,

7:15 -10:00 pm,

Divinity Common Room,

Trinity College, University of Toronto

Avron Kulak

Between Kierkegaard and Descartes:
Faith, Reason, and the Ontology of Creation


Kierkegaard opens Fear and Trembling by invoking Cartesian doubt as the challenge to modern philosophers. Unlike modern philosophers, Kierkegaard insists, Descartes was willing to undertake the enormous task of doubting everything, which was possible, Kierkegaard holds, because, like Abraham, Descartes did not doubt with respect to faith - he did not doubt that God necessarily existed. Yet, what are we to make of Kierkegaard aligning Descartes, the father of modern philosophy, with Abraham, the father of faith, especially given the insistence in Fear and Trembling that faith begins where thought stops? Are the single individual and the doubter presented to us by Kierkegaard and Descartes faithful or rational, religious or philosophical? In my paper I shall argue that, in showing that the being whose necessary existence must be affirmed is no less human than divine, the texts of Kierkegaard and Descartes teach us that faith and reason are dialogically interconnected, insofar as each involves the confrontation with or call from God and, therefore, the ontology of creation from nothing.


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