My blogrole has remained static for a while.
Today I am putting up After Existentialism, Light. This is a blog by Kevin Davis who has been reading Karl Barth and other personalist theology. He also promotes the music of people like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan.
I love the title of the blog. Most of my seminary teachers were existentialists. I spent a long time wrestling with Kierkegaard and his American follower, Reinhold Niebuhr. I utterly rejected Kierkegaard’s anti-rationalism. But I still found that he had a lot to say. So, yes. After existentialism, light.
Some time ago I was delighted to find John Wild’s old work, The Challenge of Existentialism was available in Kindle books. That book, more than any other, helped me see where Kierkegaard was useful and where he was a mess. Wild also surveyed other major existentialists. He even–hard as this was for me to swallow–found some useful bits in Heidegger.
I am not going to blog straight through The Challenge of Existentialism. But I think I will just randomly post some reflections on it from time to time as I also blog through other books.
This blog The Outward Quest, argues that Christian spirituality should be objective, an outward quest. Wild’s view of the world influences this. The existentialists tended to get caught up in just the inward. Subjectivity was a big deal for Kierkegaard. Yet, as Wild points out, Kierkegaard could not have written what he wrote without being a disciplined and careful observer of people, events, and traditions. In other words, in spite of his own polemic, he found a world that he could observe and describe.
John Daniel Wild lived from 1902-1972. Earlier books were on Plato, George Berkeley and William James. In his later career he pursued an interest in existentialism and phenomenology. The Challenge of Existentialism grew from on a series of lectures he delivered at Indiana University in 1953. The introduction seems out of date in that it continually speaks of the Cold War. But I was surprised to remember how old the book is, because much of it seems pretty contemporary. But then I am the guy who thought the Stoics sounded contemporary.
Of course, he does not deal directly with critical theory, post-modernism, deconstructionism and other catch-all phrases for more recent philosophy. But it is not hard to see him adamantly opposing such ideas. On the other hand, he read the existentialists sympathetically before moving beyond them. It would be interesting to see the same kind of treatment given to newer philosophers.