Adam Staley Groves (Bio)

Lord of the Door: Kierkegaard and the poetry of thought

Before anything else Søren Kierkegaard is considered a philosopher however, in the opening chapter of Philosophies of Existence (1959) Jean André Wahl writes “He is not a philosopher, he would say \ … and had no philosophy to call ‘philosophy of existence’ or to oppose other philosophies.” The significance of this depiction hinges on Wahl’s pioneering work Études kierkegaardiennes (1938) which introduced Kierkegaard’s thought into France. Wahl’s depiction raises essential questions. If Kierkegaard is not a philosopher how is this to be determined? How should we regard him? Furthermore, what might we learn about contemporary life (if not philosophy itself) if we understand Kierkegaard’s persona and insight independent of its philosophical frame? This essay begins with a distinction between poetry, philosophy, and science placing emphasis on technic which supposedly threatens to unify the immediate, mediate, and conceptual. The advance of technic and our lack of redress threatens to embolden the authoritarian banality of current regimes. How to respond? The ethics to come regarding our technological destiny is viewed particular to strong poets who purportedly guard the passage between the immediate and conceptual. Their concepts suggest an insight into our seemingly inevitable technological despair. This is particular to Kierkegaard whose radical individualism remains unparalleled in terms of it praxis. To develop our understanding Kierkegaard is considered akin to Wallace Stevens’s concept of “a poetry of thought” which designates a theory of poetry according to poets distinct from philosophy. For both Kierkegaard and Stevens authored singular prose thus we should not ignore the nature of his theory which may belong to poetry as potentially validated by Jean Wahl, a philosopher whom Stevens befriended.