Possibility, actuality, necessity and contingency are crucial categories recurring in Søren Kierkegaard’s thought. Some of them (i.e., possibility and necessity) are even part of the definition of the Self’s constitution as a relation (cf. The Sickness unto Death, 1849). The same categories also appear in reflections on historicity (cf. the “Interlude” from Philosophical Fragments, 1844; The Concept of Anxiety, 1844; Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, 1846) aimed at avoiding any form of Hegelian historicism in favor of the Christian revelatory Kairos.
But Kierkegaard does not merely limit himself to using modal categories to construct his peculiar worldview – although this “narrative” use is an integral part of his indirect communication. He also explicitly thematizes and reconsiders the long philosophical tradition of reflecting on categories of modality, from Aristotle, through the Middle Ages and Early Modernity (i.e. Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Schelling), to his contemporaries, including Adolf Trendelenburg. Trendelenburg seems to play a decisive role as the theoretical basis for a new form of “realism,” or at least for correcting the excesses of Hegelian idealistic “panlogism” (“There is no modern philosopher from whom I have profited so much as from Trendelenburg”, Notesbog NB:132, 1847).
Thus, for Kierkegaard, the analysis of categories seems to be key for understanding reality starting from the examination of a being that must be resemantized after the Hegelian radicalization of idealism in the direction of logic. From a methodological point of view, the fundamental peculiarity of Kierkegaardian reflection lies in the recognition that thought must begin with and pass through the notion of existing singularity. This is why the Copenhagen thinker rejects the idea of philosophizing without presuppositions, contrasting dialectical thinking with a thinking that he calls pathetic and that refers to the difference between logical movement (immanent, quantitative) and movement in the sphere of freedom (transcendent, qualitative): “When Aristotle says that the transition from possibility to actuality is a kinesis, it is not to be understood logically but with reference to historical freedom” (The Concept of Anxiety, 1844, SKS 4, 385).
The modal categories themselves must thus be rethought in relation to the actuality (Virkelighed / Wirklichkeit) of the existing human being, but they will necessarily have to be reexamined in light of the essential link with the negative. Where necessity and contingency are expressions of the negative (i.e. where the necessary is defined as “what cannot not be,” and where the contingency is “what is there but might not have been”), actuality and possibility are expressions of a position in the real, of an event in the world. Thus, for Kierkegaard: “The question of whether the positive or the negative comes first is exceedingly important” (The Concept of Anxiety, SKS 4, 445), and “Danish philosophy – if there ever comes to be such a thing – will be different from German philosophy in that it definitely will not begin with nothing or without any presuppositions whatsoever or explain everything by mediating, because, on the contrary, it begins with the proposition that there are many things between heaven and earth which no philosophy has explained” (Journalen JJ:239, SKS 18, 217).
The positive and the negative will thus also have to be examined in relation to the category of possibility, in the existential Stimmung of anxiety and in its connection with the Christian Revelation-notion of sin.
The present issue of Discipline Filosofiche is devoted to the exploration of Kierkegaardian thought on the use and reflection on modal categories and the weight they assume in the elaboration of an existential perspective built on a peculiar ontological structure.
Submission of papers dealing with the following topics is encouraged:
1) the existential expression of modal categories in Kierkegaard’s narrative-literary work;
2) the elaboration of a Kierkegaardian “epistemology”;
3) the Kierkegaardian position in the historical and philosophical debate on categories to date;
4) history, historical consciousness, narrative of history in Kierkegaard;
5) the positive, the negative and reflection from critiques of idealism;
6) the relationship between philosophical thought and the content of Christian Revelation;
7) the constitution of the self and singularity.
Guidelines for the authors: Submissions should not exceed 9,000 words including abstract, refer-ences and footnotes. Manuscripts may be submitted in Italian, English, French, German, or Spanish. They must be sent as an email attachment in .doc or .docx format, along with a .pdf version, to Ingrid Basso (email@example.com). Submitted manuscripts will be sent to two independent reviewers, following a double-blind peer review process. The reviewers may ask authors to make changes or improvements to their contributions in view of publication. Authors are kindly requested to attach both an anonymous version of their contribution entitled “Manuscript” and a separate “Cover Page” stating their name, academic affiliation and contact details. Manuscripts must include an English abstract of less than 150 words and 5 keywords. Any property of the file that might identify the author must be removed to ensure anonymity during the review process. A notification of receipt will be issued for each submission. In drafting their text, authors can adopt any clear and coherent style, but should the text be accepted for publication, they will be required to send a final version in keeping with the style guidelines of the journal (please refer to the style guidelines at https://www.disciplinefilosofiche.it/en/norme-redazionali/). Submission of a manuscript is understood to imply that the paper has not been published before and that it is not being considered for publication by any other journal. Should the manuscript be accepted for publication, the author will be required to transfer copyrights to the University of Bologna. Requests to republish the article may be made to the Editorial Board of the Journal.
Deadline for the submission of manuscripts: January 15, 2024
Notification of acceptance, conditional acceptance, or rejection: February 29, 2024
Deadline for the submission of the final draft: April 15, 2024