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Constrained spontaneity : Kierkegaard and rule-following

Watts, Daniel (2003) Constrained spontaneity : Kierkegaard and rule-following. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

This thesis interprets certain passages in Kierkegaard with reference to a problem for the theory of judgement. The problem is generated by powerful considerations to the effect that rule-governed thought essentially involves spontaneous activity. This goes against the grain of many accounts of what thoughts are, and what it means to think. Yet the notion of 'constrained spontaneity' is paradoxical- for how can one and the same act be both spontaneous and determined by rules? I explore how this puzzle informs Kierkegaard's criticisms of Hegel in ways that both anticipate and can be used to interpret Wittgenstein's so-called rule-following considerations. Whilst Kierkegaard's critique has often been seen to trade on a crude view of Hegel, I show how in this respect it survives the sophisticated 'non-metaphysical' readings developed by many contemporary commentators. I proceed to examine whether Kierkegaardian conceptions of 'the leap', indirect communication and imagination can furnish an understanding of constrained spontaneity. In these connections, I (i) advance an 'Inseparability Thesis' about the relation between acts and objects of thought; (ii) adumbrate a form of argument I call the rhetorical reduction, the aim of which is to elicit spontaneous agreement; and (iii) defend a 'direct imagist' account of the role of imagination in rule-following. In a Prologue to the thesis, I mediate between 'content-' and 'form-based' approaches to Kierkegaard's texts by appeal to the art of caricature. In an Epilogue, I assess parallels and disanalogies between judgement and faith in Kierkegaard' s work.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Philosophy
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > Philosophy (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.289653
Depositing User: EThOS Import Sheffield
Date Deposited: 03 Mar 2016 14:20
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2016 14:20
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/10215

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