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International Kierkegaard Commentary Volume 3: Either/Or, I

Series edited by: Robert L. Perkins, Robert L. Perkins
Product Code: H360
ISBN: 9780865544703
Product Format: Hardback
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Price: $50.00

Kierkegaard’s Either/Or can be read in multiple ways. One important possible reading at the present time is to read it as a critique of the sexual stereotyping of women (and, implicitly, the stereotyping of men as well) and gender relations that characterize modern Western thought. The stereotyping is not simple and unvarigated. To mention two extremes, Kierkegaard’s presentation of gender relations range from the outrageous subjugation and domination of woman shown in the “Diary of the Seducer,” with which Kierkegaard closes the first volume of Either/Or, to the affectionate and gentle love that characterizes the relation of Judge William and his wife in the second volume, where the best face is put upon bourgeois marriage. In Either/Or, Part One, Kierkegaard presents what he calls the aesthetic form of life. There he focuses on a large variety of the stereotypical views of women, from a sentimental and whining appraisal of her position in the world, through the view that sexual exploitation is an uncontrollable natural instinct and/or drive for which men are not morally responsible, to the view that women is a jest, not to be taken seriously as a moral and responsible being, and then that she is just there as a sexual object or plaything to be reflectively seduced on the male’s terms and for his pleasure or rejection, whatever suits him at the moment. Needless to say, this great variety of views of the “uses” of woman has provoked a large critique, and just as predictable, that critique is as varied as the intellectual tools available for the analysis of a work that is as literary as it is philosophic. The present collection of essays treats these and many other of the most important issues raised in Either/Or in fresh and perceptive ways. Even where familiar themes are argued, the authors introduce innovative interpretive models, new approaches and new materials are appealed to, or new rebuttal arguments against previously held positions are offered. Several of the articles, for instance, appropriate or criticize methods or insights derived from postmodernism and/or feminist philosophy; an approach that would have been unlikely two decades ago.
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