Bartholomew Ryan

Oct 28, 2022

Kierkegaard's Indirect Politics

Interludes with Lukács, Schmitt, Benjamin and Adorno

Brill 2014

In 1848, as political movements and events were sweeping Europe and Marx and Engels penned their famous Communist Manifesto, Kierkegaard wrote in a letter: “No, politics is not for me. To follow politics, even if only domestic politics, is nowadays an impossibility, for me, at any rate. I love to focus my attention on lesser things, in which one may sometimes encounter exactly the same.” This negation of politics (and its negation) is the starting point for Bartholomew Ryan with his book Kierkegaard’s Indirect Politics: Interludes with Lukacs, Schmitt, Benjamin and Adorno (Brill, 2014), which looks at Kierkegaard’s own thinking and its effect on several more explicitly political thinkers. Kierkegaard’s own politics are somewhat ambivalent, and one might struggle to fit them onto today’s political landscape, but Ryan has a different project in mind. Instead, Kierkegaard’s elusiveness, ambiguity and cultivation of the single individual in all their inner psychological and spiritual richness are shown to be inspiring for thinking politics and history in new ways. In the four figures Ryan looks at Kierkegaard’s presence in all their thinking, both explicit and implicit, emerging with a sophisticated form of inwardness capable of standing against despair, despotism and reification.

Bartholomew Ryan is a philosophy research fellow at the NOVA Institute of Philosophy at the NOVA University Lisbon, where he works at the intersection of literature and philosophy. He is a coeditor of several books; Fernando Pessoa and Philosophy: Countless Lives Inhabit Us (2021), Faces of the Self: Autobiography, Confession, Therapy (2019), Nietzsche and Pessoa: Ensaios (2016), and Nietzsche and the Problem of Subjectivity (2015).

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