Chapter

Making Cohen’s Style Explicit

Daniel H. Weiss

in Paradox and the Prophets

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199895908
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949854 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199895908.003.0005
Making Cohen’s Style Explicit

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While Søren Kierkegaard has not typically been linked with Hermann Cohen, this chapter argues that Kierkegaardian insights can be of significant help in compensating for a deficiency on Cohen’s part. While Cohen highlights the shortcomings of the method of Ethics and then performs his double-edged style, he does not provide a full self-conscious account of precisely what that style consists of and why he employs it. In contrast, Kierkegaard provides a more explicit and carefully formulated account of the problems of ethico-religious communication, especially in his Concluding Unscientific Postscript under the pseudonym of Johannes Climacus. Kierkegaard/Climacus emphasizes that ethico-religious concepts cannot be directly communicated, and indicates practical strategies and pitfalls of which a subjective thinker or author must be aware in his or her attempts at indirect communication. Since Cohen’s multiform style can be understood as a form of indirect communication, the application of Kierkegaard to Cohen’s text can help bring Cohen’s style to greater self-consciousness, enabling the reader to better see how and why his approach allows him to avoid a content-distorting one-sidedness. In addition, Kierkegaard’s theory of communication also aids in drawing links between Cohen’s style and the classical rabbinic approach to interpreting Scripture.

Keywords: Kierkegaard; indirect; communication; subjective; rabbinic; Scripture; style; author; reader; practical

Chapter.  13104 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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