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Extra info for A Philosophical Dictionary: From the French of M. De Voltaire ...
Climacus attempts to persuade, mainly himself, that it is precisely this conflict within understanding that characterizes the moment of revelation of the truth. From a philosophical point of view, this sounds like a selfdeception: Climacus (or Kierkegaard) transforms a moment of false understanding into a moment of truth. The paradox is indeed a crucial moment for thinking from a philosophical perspective as well (see Socrates’ dialectical dialogues, Kant’s antinomies or Hegel’s dialectics), but cannot be accepted in philosophy as a moment of truth.
Socrates lacked the consciousness of sin and therefore could not transform the paradox of knowledge into the truth of faith. The consciousness of sin is the meeting point between man and god, and leads to the rebirth of man as a believer and to truth. Climacus is aware that this existential move goes against understanding, but he insists: The understanding certainly cannot think it, cannot hit upon it on its own, and if it is proclaimed, the understanding cannot understand it and merely detects that it will likely be its downfall.
6 Climacus follows Socrates in his search to understand the possibility of knowing. He adopts Socrates’ view that learning can only be an active process undertaken by the learner, and not a passive process of accepting or absorbing knowledge from external authorities. ”7 Socrates claims that each individual carries within himself the truth, which can be known only through a process of self-knowledge. This idea, Climacus argues, distinguishes Socrates from the philosophers of nature. Since the truth is internal as well as eternal, the moment in which it is learned is accidental and does not depend on external evidence or an encounter with a specific person.