Illusion and satire in Kierkegaard's Postscript
This paper investigates Johannes Climacus''s infamous satire against Hegelianism in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. In considering why Climacus aims to show speculative thought as comical rather than simply mistaken, it is argued that Climacus sees the need for the comic as a vital form of ''indirect communication.'' The thinker who approaches ethical and religious questions in an inappropriately ''objective'' manner is in the grip of an illusion which can only be dispelled by his coming to see his own confusion, and satire (as well as other forms of the comic) can be a more effective weapon in dispelling such illusions than can more ''direct'' forms of critical argument. Moreover, it is argued that the ''Hegelian'' is not simply a figure at whom Climacus''s readers are invited to scoff. Rather, we are intended to see ourselves as prone to the same kind of confusions and evasions. Thus Climacus''s ostensibly anti-Hegelian satire is itself a form of indirect communication which, if we do see how it rebounds upon ourselves, serves a vital ethical-religious purpose.