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Kierkegaard's Critique of Christian Nationalism$
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Stephen Backhouse

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199604722

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604722.001.0001

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(p.125) 5 History
Kierkegaard's Critique of Christian Nationalism

Stephen Backhouse

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 considers Kierkegaard's complaint with the ‘world historical’ influence on Christian thought. Critics often charge Kierkegaard with radically separating the individual from all meaningful relation to history. Instead the chapter argues that a right historical orientation is crucial to Kierkegaard's project. Christian nationalisms depend upon a belief in the divine unfolding expressed in the development of national cultures, and hence presuppose a change in the essential ethical task facing persons over time. Kierkegaard challenges these notions with his attack on the ‘world‐historical’ point of view. He does this not by abstracting persons from history but rather by heightening the importance of the place of individuals in their immediate surroundings. The chapter focuses on Concluding Unscientific Postscript and Two Ages, demonstrating Kierkegaard's conviction that while the trappings of culture change over time, what is essential about the human condition does not.

Keywords:   Kierkegaard, Hegel, world‐historical, history, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Two Ages, philosophy of history

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