Just for clarification, I'm mostly interested in Christian Existentialism (since the atheist forms of existentialism as explored by the likes of Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus & Franz Kafka, and turned to nihilism by the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche, are more easily refuted). I understand that guys like Kierkegaard and Shestov would by no means reach the same conclusions of Sartre & Nietzsche, and that therefore, there is a form of existentialist philosophy that is inherently informed by the Christian beliefs of it's adherents. Christian existentialists, to my knowledge, would include the writing of Soren Kierkegaard, Lev Shestov, Karl Jaspers, and Karl Barth, among others. Obviously, these fellows do not always agree, but there are still certain and particular ideas advocated by all of them as a group, reacting against rationalist philosophy and theology.
To be clear, I by no means consider myself an expert in philosophy or on any particular philosopher. I'm completely a layman on the topic who simply does a large amount of reading, and so out of many of each of the major philosophers, I've read one or two of their books. However, I don't think we have to be "experts" to benefit from discussing the ideas discussed by these men. And, if you read a book or two by one philosopher, I think you're qualified enough to explain whether you agree or disagree with that author's main points, and why.
Anyway, yes, we probably should discuss this in some new thread, although another reason why I haven't tried to argue in detail on Kierkegaard's behalf, besides the untopicality of it in this thread and its flammabilty, is because I don't by any means consider myself an expert on Kierkegaard. I kinda, sorta, do consider myself one on Shestov, because I've spent a great deal of time reading and studying him, but these two thinkers are only similar, not identical.
As to the topic's flammability, simply don't worry about offending me, man. I can't remember the last time I let sarcastic or pointed or passionate remarks in a good rollicking theology/philosophy discussion offend my personal feelings (if that happened, I might as well forget about trying to think about anything at all). I'll do my best to take all your discussion comments in the spirit of I Corinthians 13:5 - not be easily provoked and slow to take offense. And, part of why I'm interested in the topic is it touches upon subject matter that I too am passionate about, but I do not mean to offend you or anyone here on anything we may happen to disagree about. The goal of discussion here is to learn, and at least for me personally, to help think through and figure some things out that I admittedly have not finished thinking through.
Right, so you should at least be able to address concerns or disagreements others may have from reading Shestov. I refuse to believe we can't address specific ideas that could be contained in a single philosopher's book. For example, if I were to cite a single proposition from C.S. Lewis that you believe to be unBiblical, I do not believe that you would have to read "all of C.S. Lewis' works" in order to understand whether you'd agree or not with that single proposition. Having an axe to grind, btw, is not always a bad thing, but I'd also like to keep my knowledge from being skewed by bias at the same time.
I think your knowledge of Shestov is shallow and probably skewed by the axe you have to grind - not meaning to sound rude here, but I think it's just a fact. I have a suspicion that the same could be true of your knowledge of Kierkegaard, but I'm sure not the one who is qualified to make any judgment on that, like I am with Shestov. I know this may sound like I'm equivocating here, because I'm sure there are strong similarities between Kierkegaard and Shestov, but I come back to the fact that they are in fact two different thinkers. Also, it's worth pointing out that the amount of scholarly literature on Kierkegaard is vastly greater than that on Shestov, and thus far more time-consuming to get a handle on.
Cool. I'll comment more after I've read all of that. For starters, if you, or anyone else friendly to Christian existentialistism, would like to explain how they believe existentialism is different or valueable to regular Christian theology, and/or how "rationalism" within Christianity is bad, that would be a good place to start. Just remember that I get that there are truths we can learn from these guys (or any philosopher, hell, there are even truths we can learn from reading Nietzsche), that doesn't mean that they didn't still make a name for themselves by advocating particular ideas. Ideas that are either consistent with Biblical Christianity or are not.
With that very important qualification established, I did just find two articles on Kierkegaard's conception of subjectivity that might challenge your opinions on the subject, here and here. Also, not to toot my own horn, but my series of eight posts on the Fall of Man, over at my blog here (the posts are listed in reverse chronological order - read them from the bottom up), lays out using lots of extended quotes the critique of rationality that Shestov, Dostoevski, etc., made in the context of the Fall. I have no illusions about changing your mind, but you might it interesting.
Again, just so you know what I'm working with, I have so far read Kierkegaard's Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Shestov's The Philosophy of Tragedy, Dostoevsky and Nietzsche and about half of Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy, and selections here and there from Karl Barth's The Church Dogmatics and Karl Jaspers' Philosophy of Existence. I've also read a few Nietzsche and Sartre books, not that that's too relevant here. I'm coming from a point of view where I've mostly agreed with what I've read of Frederick Copleston, C.S. Lewis and Norman Geisler, and mostly disagreed with every existentialist writer that I've ever read. I see what appears to be considerable Existentialist influence in the modern day church and it always seems harmful to me. I think that there are things to be learned and appreciated from reading these guys, but if I could, I would still kick their main ideas out of the pulpits ASAP.
Edited by Persiflage, 13 February 2011 - 05:33 PM.