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Jamie Aroosi on Kierkegaard on Love, Faith, and Science Fiction @ Brooklyn Public Philosophers, Tuesday 10/14
Oct 14, 2014 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm| Free
The next installment of Brooklyn Public Philosophers is right around the corner! Jamie Aroosi (Yeshiva University) will be joining us to speak about how the work of Søren Kierkegaard sheds light on questions of love, faith, and science fiction. Added bonus: you might come away with a better understanding of the biblical story of the binding of Isaac. Here’s a bit more about the talk in Prof. Aroosi’s own words:
Søren Kierkegaard and Science Fiction: How Love Can Help Us Navigate The Future
When people think about Søren Kierkegaard, what often comes to mind is his work Fear and Trembling, and its glorification of Abraham’s attempted sacrifice of Isaac. While artistic representations of this biblical narrative often portray it as a horrific act, and while theologians have struggled to reconcile this story with a vision of a just God, Kierkegaard unabashedly praises Abraham’s unquestioning faith. As a result, many people tend to see Kierkegaard as a proto-fascist, one who praises blind obedience above personal judgment, and who therefore sees zealotry as superior to a more reasoned approach to ethical life.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Instead, what Kierkegaard is attempting to demonstrate is how love is “beyond” proof. That is, try as we might, we cannot prove our love to others, nor can they prove their love to us, because ultimately, recognizing love depends on our ability to receive it. For instance, we can think of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail, and how, to so many, King’s call to “lovingly” break unjust laws appeared as an attack on the very fabric of society. Like Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac, it seemed to be a sacrifice of everything they held dear. In this light, Kierkegaard argues that recognizing love not only depends on the presence of love, but also, on our ability to receive it. In other words, because love cannot be proven, we have to take it on faith.
Working through Kierkegaard’s complicated interpretation of the sacrifice narrative, we will get a better sense of the intricacies of the problem of “proving” love. However, beyond this, we will also see how popular culture has adopted these themes to deal with some of our current instabilities. Provoked by our own anxieties over a fast approaching future—a future that threatens to “sacrifice” many of the things that we hold most dear—science fiction has made use of distinctly Kierkegaardian themes to offer us a measure of comfort in an increasingly unstable world. While love might require a terrifying leap of faith, in works like Spike Jonze’s movie, Her, and the cult classic television show, Battlestar Galactica, we will see how love can also provide us much needed stability in a world (and in a future) that offers us so little.
Please tell your friends and students! All BKPP meetings are free and open to the public. We meet in the Info Commons Lab at the central branch of the Brooklyn Public Library (10 Grand Army Plaza). If you’re interested in finding out more about BKPP, please check out the website (bkpp.tumblr.com) or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you there, I hope!