Monday, February 23, 2009

Best Excerpt from Some of My Morning's Studies

"What is to be understood by a 'sign?' A sign is the negation of immediacy, or a second state of being, differing from the first. It is not thereby affirmed that the sign is not something immediate, but that what it is as a sign is not immediate, in other words, that as a sign it is not the immediate thing it is. A nautical mark is a sign. Immediately it is a post, a light, or some such thing, but a sign it is not immediately, that it is a sign is something different from what it immediately is. This lies at the bottom of all the mystifications by the help of 'signs'; for a sign is a sign only for one who knows that it is a sign, and in the strictest sense only for one who knows what it signifies; for everyone else the sign is only what it immediately is."
-Soren Kierkegaard, Training in Christianity p. 124

I threw in some emphasis here and there, but really, I could have emphasized the whole thing and gone on forever.

I posted this quote because I read it this morning and because I've still got so much structuralism and post-structuralism in my gut. The words "sign", "signifier", and "signified" will always get my attention and when I come across something as plainly insightful as this bit of Kierkegaard it stops me dead in my tracks and I think "Forget pictures of cats, I've got to put this on my blog!"

And yes, the quote is from Training in's found at the beginning of a section called "The God-Man is a Sign." If you've ever been to Sunday School, you can guess where Soren is headed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So why does Kierkegaard use so many words? A sign is a symbol. The symbol is never the thing it represents. One must know the language to be able to interpret the symbol. Is he saying something more than that?