Ah, that dissatisfying tailing off feeling when a MOOC doesn’t quite deliver. There’s only so many vids one can take, and weeks 8 (informal cities and disadvantaged neighbourhoods) and 9 (visionary cities) didn’t half run on.
Of my assorted MOOCs Designing cities has made the least concessions to format and audience. The content was fine as far as it went, doubtless an f2f module including the assignments, but with no quizzes or other exercises there was nothing to get hold of. Despite the initial questionnaire giving scope for hobbyists the course seemed to be targeted at urban designers and related professionals. Maybe the team will look at these issues if they run the MOOC again. I did get quite fond of the three wise men by the end, but wish they had given a bit more of themselves and loosened up more.
The biggest disappointment was probably the forums, which never really took off – up to 17 pages 6 Dec, vs 20 on #kierkegaard and a stonking 521 on #mapmooc. Five pages of threads were reached in the first week, and activity picked up a little towards the end of the course, however in some weeks activity was down to around 10 posts a day. FWIW I made nine posts and two comments. What with the instructors being largely absent this meant that the MOOC was a largely solitary experience, with no sense of eventedness or belonging.
To sum up:
- it was content heavy – you could run a whole MOOC on one week’s lectures, if not on one lecture
- the assignments were too challenging - smaller bites, with weekly tasks, would work better and maybe encourage convos
- it’s too long – 11 weeks is about three too many
Looking back at my #designing cities posts it’s clear there were three big hits:
- the week 4 lecture on transportation – I tried out VideoNot.es for notetaking and curated the concept of ‘transport’ from the forum (no individual threads for lectures)
- the week 5 lecture on spatial patterns to promote communication, plus notes on the public realm (week 7)
- the week 7 lecture on walkability
On my A/drift blog I am taking these interests further – do stop by!
Notes from the walkability lecture of #designingcities week 7 plus some other bits and pieces from #mapmooc.
Many older neighbourhoods of cities are walkable, while more modernist areas are difficult to navigate on foot, organised to make driving almost a necessity. Foot power is the oldest form of locomotion, and may be the most relevant for a future where we seek to minimise energy usage and carbon levels.
What constitutes walkability, and how can it be designed into communities?
The idea of creating walkable communities is making a comeback. Surveys suggest that more than half of Americans would like to live in a place where they could walk to the important places, but they can’t find a place that meets those needs. The subject has taken on new urgency for other reasons, public health among them.
What makes a community walkable?
- easy to live there without having a car – you can find most everything you need in a typical week
- public transport – never more than a few blocks away, 15 minutes away
- density – 45,000 people per square mile, there are plenty of people to support the shops, also density of eg shops – large schools and shopping centres call for cars
- safe to walk along the street throughout the day and evening
Street patterns matter almost as much as density in promoting walkability. Most people will walk ten minutes to a desired destination. A typical grid pattern of older American cities makes it easier to walk in all directions to reachshops or institutions, but the same ten minute walk will get you to far fewer places if the streets are winding and circuitous. And in many neighborhoods sidewalks are narrow, poorly maintained, exposed to the hot sun and face uninteresting properties.
Other impediments to those on foot:
- in Bogota property owners have grabbed control of the sidewalks
- in Bangkok, as in many other cities, the sidewalks are broken and have become parking lots
- in Beijing – and increasingly in Copenhagen – pedestrians lose out to bicycle parking in the competition for the use of sidewalks
Where the city government takes a stand in organising sidewalks and adjoining property owners cooperate, walking can again become an option.
So density, modest setbacks, shade and sidewalks in good repair all contribute to walkability, but the most important determinant is having a walkable commercial centre within easy reach, with
- a rich variety of shops, mostly locally oriented
- a varied commercial area offering restaurants, and other services, including leisure
As traditional shopping centres become obsolete it may be possible to retrofit these areas to become walkable centres, organising arterial streets as more pedestrian friendly boulevards and adding new development that fronts on them. Then higher density development, with people living above the shops. As the streets become more bicycle and pedestrian friendly the number of people that find their way there will grow and the centre will prosper.
Walkable commercial areas also make good economic sense. Comparable properties and walkable areas sell or rent for considerably more than those that are in areas that rely only on automobile access. There’s a huge job to retrofit today’s suburbs to become more walkable (see the Urban sprawl repair kit), but at the very least we can ensure that all new development offers people a choice of walking, cycling, sharing vehicles and using transit, as well as using their private automobile.
- Gary Hack on the business performance of walkable shopping areas
- Steps to a walkable community: a guide for citizens, planners and engineers (America Walks)
- Ramiro Aznar’s research: Walkscaping the streets of my hometown & blog & dissertation | Pedestrian areas, bike lanes and open space
- Branka Topic’s Walk [Your City] – “I really think we do not walk enough…without walking around we lose a part of our humanity…signs that motivate people to walk around and enjoy their city, their PLACE” (map, made w Google Fusion Tables; 6 continents/14 countries/34 states/115 users); “Our mission: Getting more feet on the street. A ground up guerrilla wayfinding project gone Gov 2.0 platform.” https://twitter.com/WalkYourCity
- apps: Walkability Asia | Walkonomics (rate the walkability of your street using open data and crowdmapping)
- computes how close the everyday necessities for living are to any location in a city, plus a a commute score, transit score and biking score for some areas and a travel time map for walking, cycling, public transport and driving
- covers US, Canada and Australia, but also other areas to a limited extent, eg Edinburgh, 35 Cammo Grove (dependent on the places people have added to the map??)
- the Walk Score App allows you to provide information about ‘problem spots’ (eg crime, no bike lanes, no sidewalks) and upload photos
- no crowdsourced rankings – could a community mapping project come up with a more comprehensive score? see Living Streets audits
- other factors which influence how people feel about walkability not taken into account include topography and road and urban design factors; see some work; there is more to walkability than simple proximity to amenities, eg are streets are difficult or dangerous to cross, crime, time of day, events going on, whether you are alone or not, gender , sidewalks, trees – just because an area can be walked, doesn’t mean you want to walk there
- parks, bikes and walking trail, schools, playgrounds and other places of interest not included
- adjustable settings – what’s walkable for a teenager may be different from what’s walkable for a senior citizen; Walk Score starts deducting points once a walk is over 0.25 miles (and gives zero points after 1 mile)
- the transit score algorithm only gives half as many points for buses as for rail
- walkability has a correlation with the safety and ‘community’ feel of a city, can overcome weather and terrain, but the score can vary: “ I live in Phoenix AZ. In the summer, I’d estimate that the walkability drops to about 10 but in the winter it soars to about 75″; “it’s way too hot and humid to be doing a lot of walking in Florida”
#mapmoocer Tony Targonski created a map of Seattle on an earlier Coursera MOOC: “Larger circles mean more social activity. Greener colour represents more “positive” than expected; redder is less “positive” than expected. In this case “positive” refers to valence (a commonly used measure of sentiment), and “expected” is the predicted valence score based on the Walk Score of the block (overall more walkable places correlate with more positive sentiment).”
Which is an interesting point IRT Happy Denmark. They’re not happy, they just bike a lot (like I didn’t know).
Kierkegaard as a walker being a prime mover in bringing me to the MOOC I had considered doing a map of places connected to him in Copenhagen and beyond. The videos for the course were filmed on location, leading to requests on the forums for more information. Timothy Hall, the course administrator was also planning a map, but this has not yet become available.
No matter! Plenty of people have beaten us to it:
- I byen med Kierkegaard – 10 POIs in Indre By from Politiken, inc a list of the nine houses he lived in (err…), and vids
- Søren Kierkegaards KBH – GoogleMap done for Kristeligt Dageblad, pretty extensive
- I Kierkegaards fodspor – educational resource based around nine places, as timeline and map
- Museum of Copenhagen app | Visit Copenhagen
- History Tours - route map
- In the tidy city of the world’s most anxious man (NYT, 2007)
Here are some of the video locations as tweeted by @SKCoursera:
- bust in Kierkegaard Research Centre (see also profile pic) and again (great hair)
- grave in Assistens Kirkegaard
- Citadel Church – Kierkegaard gave a sermon there on 18 May 1851
- Rosenborg Slot – around the corner from where Kierkegaard wrote The sickness unto death
- Thorvaldsen’s Museum’s sculpture of Christ that Kierkegaard discusses in Practice in Christianity
- Frederiksberg Garden in front of the café that Kierkegaard talks about in the Concluding unscientific postscript
- the Hill House, one of Copenhagen’s leading literary salons in Kierkegaard’s time
- Gilleleje, a village that Kierkegaard visited in 1835 and wrote the line “truth for which to live and die; rock monument | on VisitDenmark
- old building of the University of Copenhagen which Kierkegaard attended, near Store Kannikestræde
- Amalienborg Slot where Kierkegaard had an audience with King Christian VIII in 1847
- the house of Johan Ludvig Heiberg, whom Kierkegaard criticizes in Prefaces; poss Christianshavn
- Royal Danish Academy of Science
- the old courthouse on Nytorv next to where Kierkegaard was born
- the house of Kierkegaard’s professor, Poul Martin Møller, an inspiration for The Concept of Irony
- the Design Museum, where he died
The last week of teaching has been and gone. The reflective essay was to be submitted by midnight in some random time zone (really need #mapmooc’s widget) on 29 Nov, quizzes wrapped up by ditto on 1 Dec and peer reviews completed by ditto by 8 Dec. Essay didn’t happen here. I thought I might be able to scrape a certificate by finpudsing my quizzes, as your seven best scores make up 70% of the course score (the pass mark), but on checking I discovered that I’ve used up all my goes on two of the quizzes, how annoying. After all, I have put a fair amount of effort in and appropriated the MOOC in the way most suitable for me. Maybe I should put a whiney not fair! post on the discussion forum.
Reflecting on my aims for the course, notwithstanding the pretty pictures it hasn’t felt very grounded in the University of Copenhagen and so hasn’t brought me any closer to Danish highered. Rather it felt very American, too formal by half and even stilted at times. Plus rather serious minded – the lack of some lighter relief in the discussion forum was a particular omission.
Course Administrator Timothy Hall, Google tells me, is based at Union Institute and University (no idea). He’s done some stuff worth following up, in particular in relation to how the MOOC was run:
- Prezis: Kierkegaard pedagogy in a new medium (Sep 2013) | A Kierkegaardian approach to education (2011)
- Suffering in the classroom: a Kierkegaardian perspective (text | slides)
I’m planning to do a #kierkegaard footprint to map my experiences in this MOOC in a different way from good old blogging. You’d perhaps expect a #kierkegaard MOOC to facilitate emergent learning, but it was pretty prescriptive. More on this to come, drawing on the discussion forum threads on social media and MOOCs and the humanities. Constructivism, anyone?
So, Kierkegaard as a greatest Dane, journaller – and flâneur? I’ve enough material to take this forward, but that will have to wait until after Xmas.
From the week 8 announcement:
The last decade of Kierkegaard’s life was in many ways the most dramatic, the time of the 1848 Revolution and his public attack on the Danish state church. It represents what Kierkegaard scholars refer to as the second half of the authorship, from 1846 after the Concluding unscientific postscript to Kierkegaard’s death in 1855. In this lecture we explore some of Kierkegaard’s main works from these years. We will see how some of the themes and motifs that we have examined re-appear in these works, and that even as Kierkegaard grows older he continues to return to the figure of Socrates as a source of inspiration.
- detail how Kierkegaard used Socrates as a model in the later works of his life
- define ‘leveling’ in Kierkegaardian terms and its significance
- trace Kierkegaard’s social and political relationship with the monarchy of Denmark
- summarise the influence of Socrates on Kierkegaard’s Christian works following the Concluding unscientific postscript
- explain the importance of The point of view in defining Kierkegaard’s authorship
- define ‘the single individual’ in Kierkegaardian terms and its significance
- trace Kierkegaard’s attack on the Danish state church in the last years of his life, 1854-55
- describe the circumstances of Kierkegaard’s death and funeral
- summarise Kierkegaard’s legacy to existentialism, deconstructionism, post-modernism, theologians and literary writers
- define ‘appropriation’ in Kierkegaardian terms and its significance
- apply Kierkegaard’s understanding of Socrates and its associated terms to components of modern life
Discussion question (which is almost the same as the essay question):
What did Kierkegaard learn from Socrates? Is this something that is still relevant in our world today?
From the lectures:
- a pernicious aspect of modern life – anyone who dares to be different or who possesses great gifts that make the mediocre masses envious will be subject to criticism and mockery; such a person, who towers above others will be brought down to the common level of the masses
- leveling – instead of encouraging people to cultivate and develop their individual genius, modern democratic culture actively undermines and works against this…Kierkegaard believes that the old order of things was better, where recognition was given to, for example, nobility, and the public opinion did not carry so much weight
- Kierkegaard has a negative view of people as a collective unit such as a political party, a political lobby or interest group or political opinion; he believes that this distorts or even destroys the voice of the individual
- Kierkegaard develops number of concepts such as the crowd, the masses and public opinion, which he takes to be pernicious new developments in his own age; one of the main goals of his work is to point in just the opposite direction, namely, to the absolute, irreducible value of the individual as individual…in a democracy [an opinion] can never really have any weight until it’s shared by a larger group
Socratic ignorance is the means to correct mistaken conceptions…Kierkegaard goes around Copenhagen and explores the different conceptions of Christianity which he believes to be mistaken; in his works, he tries to point out the contradictions and problems with these conceptions in order to undermine them, just as Socrates did with the different claims to knowledge that he encountered…they’re both content to remain in negativity
- writers who have attempted to create Kierkegaardian characters or to explore emotions such as anxiety, despair, and so forth, or to imitate and further develop his often pioneering literary techniques include Thomas Mann, Rilke, Kafka, Ibsen, Strindberg and Joyce
- thinkers tend to pick and choose certain aspects of Kierkegaard’s thinking that are relevant for their own intellectual agenda…this approach invariably leads to a selective interpretation…to fully appreciate his writings requires that we look at them from different perspectives and with different interpretations – touche!
Socrates was a negative thinker, in the sense that he always claimed ignorance and refrained from giving any positive view in his own name, leaving an open space for later interpretation to fill in and resulting in many different competing philosophical schools that all claimed their origin in Socrates
- Kierkegaard’s Socratic mission made it such that he too was in many regards a negative thinker, making it possible for him to be appropriated by many different schools of thought, some of which were even in conflict with one another…this negative or open ended dimension of Kierkegaard’s thought perhaps explains why he continues to appeal to so many different kinds of readers with so many different kinds of interests
- the point of learning new things is not just to understand the way the world works (sophistry); instead this knowledge should be transformed or translated into something personal; each person must appropriate that knowledge in the context of their own situation and life
- the idea of ‘appropriation’ is absolutely central to Kierkegaard’s understanding of the proper acquisition and use of knowledge - the key terms of the thought of Socrates, such as irony, ignorance, negation, aporia, maieutics, and the gadfly all came to take on a new meaning in the context of Kierkegaard’s own life and time
irony and negativity can help us to undermine mistaken views and modern illusions that people still suffer from, while maieutics or midwifery can help us to
understand that each and every one of us individually has the truth within ourselves
Quiz (10/10 w 1st shot):
- What was the purpose of Kierkegaard’s The Point of View for My Work as an Author? - It is Kierkegaard’s interpretation of his own work.
- How does Kierkegaard return to Socrates in The Sickness Unto Death? - He wants to use Socrates’ ironic ethical correction for the current age.
- How does Kierkegaard solve the contradiction of Christianity? - He does not; he says that it must be maintained.
- To what school of thought does Kierkegaard belong? - None of the above (Dialectical Materialism or Utilitarianism)
- How does Helweg judge Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Irony? - He sees it as the work in which Kierkegaard presents his task of life.
- What does Kierkegaard mean by “leveling”? - Leveling refers to Kierkegaard’s concern that political democracy essentially has to speak as a group, and therefore would invariably squash anyone exceptional who might challenge “group-think.”
- Why does Kierkegaard say that he is “not a Christian”? - In his writings, Kierkegaard presented an ideal of Christianity which neither he nor anybody else could achieve, so he saves himself from hypocrisy by saying he is not a Christian.
- Which best describes what Kierkegaard means by “appropriation”? - Appropriation refers to not merely an objective understanding of truth, that is, mere assent, but translating the truth into one’s own existence through passion and inwardness.
- What was the title of Kierkegaard’s polemical pamphlet aimed against the Danish State Church? – The Moment
- After what text does Kierkegaard’s “second authorship” begin? - Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Some last resources:
- things come in 3s: the inestimably named Neal Ashley Conrad Thing on Kierkegaard, Piety on Kierkegaard and Kierkegaard scholar Mads Bunch
- Søren Kierkegaard: Originalmanuskript, brev og dagbogsoptegnelse – details of the National Library’s treasures
- Robert Ferguson’s Life lessons from Kierkegaard for a quick primer of what we may have missed (review: recommends Kierkegaard because he teaches us “why we should cultivate dissatisfaction”…writes well about Kierkegaard’s claim that we sleepwalk through our days, which is truer than ever now that we are insulated and pacified by our battery of electronic comforters; surrounded by a “cacophony of digital sound and wind”. We are in danger, Ferguson warns, of living virtual lives; includes a playlist w The Boomtown Rats and Fleetwood Mac)
- Politiken recently ran an irony feature, online in two bits: Dramatiker: Ironien er blevet en adfærd der behersker os and Ironi i kunstarterne: fra Kierkegaard til Frödin, plus a faktabox cribbed from Wikipedia
- on DR K, a rather dull dramadoc Kierkegaard: farlige tanker
- Regine in the (Danish) Virgin Islands - article by course participant Don Buchanan
Københavns Museum has a series of events on Kærlighedens gerninger – most mainstream DK K activity seems to circle around issues of lurve:
- 28 Nov: Ægteskab, exploring DR’s recent arranged marriages prog
- 12 Dec: Selvkærlighed, self development and coaching, aargh
- 30 Jan: Kærlighed til en afdød, on grief
- 27 Feb: Kæbenhavn: metropol med landsbymentalitet? sounds fab!
The discussion forum made it up to 2o pages @3 Dec. On Twitter, @skcoursera has made 223 tweets and has 1323 followers, largely by broadcasting and RTing.
Again, some enjoyable vids but largely unchallenging – just too descriptive. We didn’t really get to the nub of the horror which is Ørestad. But a whole lecture on walkability, yay!
Lovely to revisit Ebenezer Howard and friends, felt right at home in the lectures but don’t feel I learned a great deal. In particular I could have done with a critical look at the later stuff, what has been learned from eg people’s responses to Cumbernauld, and the issues around the fact that the new often feels sterile, dull and orderly, not the kind of place you want to move to.
It is difficult to create the institutions which form a community from scratch, and people are often reluctant to move until they are in place. Variety is the key, with real choice for the residents about the kind of building they wish to live in (Amsterdam waterfronts), but with consistency in the public realm to avoid the Las Vegas effect.
How can the spaces and places that provide the social glue for areas be created? Electronic networks and communication are replacing face to face interaction, meaning that we get information about others in our community and beyond through media, social networks and other forms of controlled communication and develop stereotypes about whether others must be like. It’s only when we see people in public that we come to know people as people. Richard Sennett calls this process de-stereotyping, observing that disorder and lack of control over streets and public spaces is critical. The rituals we observe in public spaces say a lot about what we share in common.
The public realm
What is included in the term ‘public realm’? Just the spaces owned and managed by public bodies? It usually also includes private spaces the public is allowed to use, if sometimes with restrictions, such as restaurants on a square. The uses that border the public realm are also key – ‘hot’ frontages have active uses while cooler ones, such as open spaces and facades with only windows on them, are less of a magnet to a passerby. Time is a further factor – we seldom stand still on streets, and usually experience public spaces in a serial way.
The most public spaces in the city are owned by the city, where we can do pretty much as we please within the norms of a civilized society – examples includes streets, squares and waterfronts. Spaces such as arcades are also open to the public 24 hours a day, but the owners of the buildings have the right to restrict who goes there and the kind of activities they carry on – such spaces can be seen as ‘semi-public’, similar to university campuses. Other spaces, such as gated communities which are only accessible to those who live there or are there as guests can be seen as semi-private spaces – a growing category. The least public environments are purely private spaces, such as our own garden and any other space we can exclude others from at our will.
According to the Complete Streets Movement the public realm should serve all the users who come there in a balanced way, encouraging diverse ways of traveling to and along the street and giving priority to the most vulnerable, such as pedestrians. Thinking of complete – or Living Streets offers a way to imagine what to do with the places where only people in cars are at home today, for example by reclaiming traffic islands for pedestrians. Other opportunities to create a public realm include those where wasteland now exists.
Most people enjoy being in public, especially in good weather. Having a public realm that avoids conflicts and supports social interchange is critically important for cities, as well as being a source of pride for residents and an important piece of a city’s economy for visitors.
There’s a definite end of course feel now – lectures have been released at the weekend for the last couple of weeks, and this week
the whole lot plus the peer assessment have been made available. Turns out this was an error, but it still takes us back to staging arguments – making the content available early is meant to help in writing the essay, but equally you lose the sense of an event and it feels like a lot of material in one go. Maybe the essay could have taken the form of a ninth week?
In a message Jon Stewart states that the last two lectures aim to bring together some of the themes from the beginning of the course, so that a “complete picture of the figure of Kierkegaard and his complex authorship emerges…I further hope that with this overview you will feel that you now have established a firm foundation that you can build on for future study”.
While I certainly agree that there is no way all of Kierkegaard’s books could have been explored in the depth given to The concept of irony, week 7 felt like a whistle stop tour, and as several people have commented on the forums it’s a little troubling that the focus is overwhelmingly on a text which isn’t considered part of the ‘authorship’. I don’t really feel I have gained a grasp of Kierkegaard in the round, or am equipped to comment on his legacy in Denmark today, although there have been some delicious tasters.
Week 7 announcement:
The years 1844 to 1846 were perhaps the most productive in Kierkegaard’s entire life. In this lecture we explore the series of famous works that he penned during this time [which] present a complex series of works ostensibly authored by different pseudonyms, each with his own agenda and intentions. At first glance, this might all look like a playful chaos or a straightforward kind of madness on Kierkegaard’s side. But in this lecture we try to make sense of Kierkegaard’s plan with these works and their complex relations to one another…This lecture also continues the biographical narrative by highlighting Kierkegaard’s polemic with Johan Ludvig Heiberg and his conflict with the satirical journal, The Corsair. The lecture ends with a discussion of the Concluding unscientific postscript, which Kierkegaard believed would be his last work before he died. We explore Kierkegaard’s conception of a parallel authorship that features a series of pseudonymous works that run parallel to a series of signed works, which are intended to treat the same topics but in different ways.
- describe how Kierkegaard uses Socrates to introduce the notion of the absolute paradox in Philosophical fragments
- summarise Kierkegaard’s use of Socrates in his understanding of sin in The concept of anxiety
- define ‘appropriation’ and ‘inclosed reserve’ in Kierkegaardian terms
- trace Kierkegaard’s dispute with Johan Ludvig Heiberg and its relation to Socrates
- detail the Kierkegaard’s Socratic strategy in Stages on life’s way
- trace the importance of Kierkegaard’s conflict with The Corsair
- summarise Kierkegaard’s parallel authorship in his pseudonymous and signed works
- compare Kierkegaard’s parallel authorship to the authorship of his journals and notebooks
- explain how Kierkegaard uses Socrates to help define Christianity as a religion of inwardness and subjective passion
- Philosophical fragments – the title is often taken as a protest against systematic philosophy; Kierkegaard has his pseudonymous author explore Socrates’ role as a teacher; teachers are thought to convey certain material or, in Kierkegaard’s language, something positive, but by using the art of maieutics or midwifery Socrates doesn’t produce the ideas or thoughts in the student but rather helps the student to find them within himself – Socrates is a teacher since he’s the occasion for the student to arrive at the truth, but Socrates doesn’t teach him the truth
- the concept of the absolute paradox – a contradiction the human mind cannot grasp or think and hence must accept, a response to the idea of mediation (after Hegel), which finds that there are no absolute dichotomies or contradictions and everything can be mediated, bringing together opposites and eliminating distinctions; to hold firmly to one side of an opposite and to fail to recognise the other is, according to Hegel, the sign of dogmatism, but Kierkegaard’s slogan either/or emphasises that one is obliged to take one side or the other, and no mediation is possible
- the sermon – not a lecture, where a priest or a pastor explains a certain Biblical passage or idea to the congregation, but charcacterised by the key term appropriation; through Socrates’ questioning and conversation the individual is led to find the truth within himself, taking something and giving it their own interpretation or appropriation in one’s own special context; every follower of Christ must appropriate the Christian message for him- or herself
- the notion of negation and what Kierkegaard refers to as inclosed reserve (indesluttethed), closing oneself off from the world or from other people, negating the outside world and emphasising Socrates’ element of subjectivity; to get to what is infinitely important and valuable in the individual one must occasionally get away; this distancing involves negation and irony
- Prefaces - a somewhat odd book in that it consists of a series of different prefaces to other texts which were never written; criticises the entire culture of literary critics and the industry of book reviews in the second preface
- in the postscript Climacus decides he would benefit the age not by making things easier but rather by making something more difficult; he points out that there’s a danger in an age when things become too easy, and so it’s important to have someone who can guard against this danger and point out the difficulties
- Kierkegaard indicates that his literary production is to be understood as “a unified project…a comprehensive plan in the entire production”; despite the fact that Kierkegaard was an outspoken critic of any form of systematic thinking, but as explained in The point of view the pseudonymous works treat different themes such aesthetics, philosophy and psychology and are aimed at a more sophisticated audience, while the signed works tend to be more religious, typically upbuilding discourses cf sermons – an attempt to reach different kinds of people through his writings in a way that was most suitable for them
All exceedingly interesting, even snipping out the tough stuff…on the forum there’s an interesting comment re dropping the lectures in favour of Socratic discussions, which seems so obvious they need to address it. It’s all very Donald Clark.
- Why does Kierkegaard compare Socrates’ form of discussing with a Christian sermon? - because they both lead the individual to find the truth within himself
- What is Heiberg’s diagnosis of his and Kierkegaard’s age? – it is relativistic
- What is the “second immediacy” according to Frater Taciturnus in Stages on Life’s Way? – forgiveness
- What is Kierkegaard’s philosophical view of the Christian doctrine of the Incarnation? - The incarnation is an absolute paradox, and therefore it cannot be comprehended.
- What, for Kierkegaard, is “inclosed reserve?” - The act of closing oneself off from the crowd and all of the clamor of the outside world in order to discover one’s subjective truth in inwardness.
- Nicolaus Notabene invites collaborators to contribute to his journal in order to explain to him – the new philosophy
- Why wasn’t Nicolaus Notabene able to write books? – his wife was mad at him
- To which pseudonym does Kierkegaard attribute the Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments? – Johannes Climacus
- What did Kierkegaard mean by this? “But to preach is really the most difficult of all arts and is essentially the art that Socrates praised, the art of being able to converse.” - Good sermons cause congregants to find the Christian truth within, just as Socrates wanted people to find the truth within.
- Where did P. L. Møller publish “A Visit to Sorø,” his critical treatment of Stages on Life’s Way and the beginning of Kierkegaard’s critical conflict with The Corsair? - Gæa
Kierkegaard’s distinction between subjective and objective knowing captures something very fundamental. Is the truth something subjective, in the hearts of each individual, or something objective, something out in the world?
Degree of Freedom newsletter, on the Fall and rise of Jerusalem:
So once again the MOOC format demonstrates its effectiveness at teaching important material quickly and efficiently, so long as the right professor is at the helm (and students are ready to listen to a prof talking excitedly – and rapidly – about a subject he or she loves).
Or 1843, the trip to Berlin and the beginning of the authorship. Blimey. What else happened in 1843, I wonder.
Kierkegaard stayed in Berlin from 25 October 1841 to 6 March 1842, where he heard the lectures of the German philosopher Schelling. During this time he struggled with what he wanted to do with his life. He decided to became a writer and, drawing on the knowledge gained from his dissertation, to use Socrates as his model. We examine Kierkegaard’s breakthrough work, Either/Or, which appeared at the beginning of 1843. This work develops in a literary way some aspects of the character of the Romantic ironist that he explored in the second half of his dissertation. We also examine Johan Ludvig Heiberg’s critical review of this work. We briefly mention the key works that Kierkegaard published after Either/Or, namely, Repetition, Fear and trembling and his series of edifying or upbuilding discourses. We look in some detail at Kierkegaard’s conception of the nature of faith as presented in Fear and trembling. His conception is a highly troubling one that raises important questions for religious life today.
- describe the significance of Kierkegaard’s stay in Berlin
- summarise the intellectual climate of Berlin during Kierkegaard’s time in Berlin
- explain how The concept of irony serves as a model for Kierkegaard’s authorship
- define the law of the excluded middle and its significance
- differentiate the themes of Esthete A as a romantic ironist in Diapsalmata in Either/Or
- detail the reception of Kierkegaard’s Either/Or
- compare the universal and the single individual in Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling
- analyse Kierkegaard’s perspective of the paradox of faith
We all value the sanctity of religious freedom, but is there a limit to it? Are there cases where society cannot allow certain things that are done in the name of religion? What does Fear and Trembling have to contribute to this discussion?
10/10 in the quiz with my first shot, how about that! : P
- Why didn’t Kierkegaard include The Concept of Irony in his official authorship? - He thought of the unifying idea of his authorship after writing it.
- Why does Kierkegaard’s aesthete claim that the busy man is “the most ludicrous of all ludicrous things”? - The aesthete doesn’t believe that the busy man’s work has any deep or lasting meaning.
- How does the story of Abraham and the binding of Isaac challenge the universal view of ethics? - It shows that the universal view of ethics is too narrow since it fails to take into account exceptions to the rule.
- Why can’t Kierkegaard’s theory be used to justify illegal and immoral acts? - Kierkegaard claims that faith is not objective, discursive, or communicable and can’t be used to provide reasons or justifications to others.
- Which of the following groups is regarded as belonging to the “Left Hegelians”? - Feuerbach, Strauss, Marx, Engels, and Bauer
- The Hegelian Martensen claimed that key Christian dogmas such as the Incarnation and the Trinity could not be made sense of in terms of Aristotle’s logic. Why? - These Christian concepts are fundamentally at odds with the law of excluded middle and require mediation.
- What book did Kierkegaard publish immediately after The Concept of Irony? - Either/Or
- On October 16, 1843 Kierkegaard published which 3 books? Repetition, Fear & Trembling, and Three Edifying Discourses
- What does Kierkegaard mean by “The Universal” in Fear and Trembling? - General ethics
- The response of Copenhagen’s leading literary critic, Johan Ludvig Heiberg, to Kierkegaard’s Either/Or was…somewhat positive but ultimately critical.
Two points of note:
- Either/Or can be seen as a kind of Socratic dialogue between two opposing positions, a dialogue that ends in aporia. The esthete makes use of the law of excluded middle, a given thing must be either X or not X, and derives a number of different formulations, some of them seemingly absurd. According to Hegel’s logic these oppositions must be resolved or mediated, but Kierkegaard insists on holding firmly to the opposition. The truth appears not when the dichotomy or opposition is mediated or resolved with the either/or or behind it, but rather when one is confronted with the opposition. The resolution of such conceptual conundrums lies in the realm of thought but cannot be done in life. In life one is subject to such irresolvable oppositions.The goal is to remain in the Socratic negativity or aporia and not go further.
- Repetition, a novella, is the story of a young man who asks the question of whether or not a repetition is possible. Like Kierkegaard, the young man had been in Berlin once before, and so he hits upon the idea of making a return trip to see if he can repeat his experience. He thus goes back to the Prussian capital and tries to visit the old places that he went to during his first visit. But he finds that many things have changed in the interim, and it’s impossible to recreate his original experience of the city. Not only has the city itself changed, but he has changed, and so the way in which he experiences the city is also different. His conclusion from this experiment is that no true repetition is really possible since things were always changing.
Tweeted aphorisms from Either/Or (via Evernote):
- “I prefer to talk with children, for one may still dare to hope that they may become rational beings; but those who have already become that—good Lord!” On Monday this quote was etched into the steps on Nytorv.
- “The most ludicrous of all ludicrous things, it seems to me, is to be busy in the world, to be a man who is brisk at his meals and brisk at his work.”
- “I saw that the meaning of life was to make a living, its goal to become a councilor, that the rich delight of love was to acquire a well-to-do girl, that the blessedness of friendship was to help each other in financial difficulties, that wisdom was whatever the majority assumed it to be, that enthusiasm was to give a speech, that courage was to risk being fined ten dollars, that cordiality was to say ‘May it do you good’ after a meal, that piety was to go to communion once a year. This I saw, and I laughed.”
Actually a pretty quiet week. In MOOCish news, Degree of Freedom hails short(er) MOOCs and praises this one for “beginning and ending each week’s lecture series with an insightful analysis of how Kierkegaard’s theories of alienation and irony still speak to us in our modern era which, like prosperous Copenhagen during Denmark’s Golden Age, has created material comfort but spiritual emptiness.” The lecture format in general “leaves room for those inspiring teachers whose lectures have had a major impact on our lives”.
- How to live without irony – article in the New York Times on avoiding Alanis Morisette style irony
- some lighter takes på dansk – Mig og Søren | Hvordan skal jeg leve mit liv, Kierkegaard? | Øjeblikkets evighed (review) | Hvem Søren var Kierkegaard? (for children) –> Saxo comes up with 159 books, will comb through this at some point as I’m sure I saw mention of Jenny Diski style reflection once
- the Kierkegaard krimi! The stages: a novel by Thom Satterlee, read his Kierkegaard blog posts (only available as an ebook på englesk ($8.74) although as doorstop på dansk ($$$), but added to my Danish translators list)
- DR’s ebook – or rather radio book – is finally out! Stadier på livets vej, seems to take the form of 67 audio clips, gosh
- Clare Carlisle’s series in The Guardian
- Kierkegaard in 10 minutes by Brian Soederqvist