Kierkegaard: decisionality and betrayal


Inscriptions, a journal of contemporary thinking on philosophy, psychoanalysis and art, invites contributions to our upcoming issue on Søren Kierkegaard, decisionality and betrayal. We are looking for well-crafted and skillfully written scholarly essays and literary fiction (poetry, aphorisms, short stories, fables, literary essays, etc.) that engage our mandate and the theme of this issue.

To Søren Kierkegaard God’s injunction that Abraham was to murder his son served as both an obstacle and a key to faith. Was Abraham struck by madness when he set out to obey the words of a God only he could hear, and did he return to his senses when he decided not to kill Isaac? In Kierkegaard’s view our access to the ethical domain is premised on a leap from a purely aesthetic existence. To jump, and perhaps fall, into the religious domain constitutes a second, more fundamental leap, where, to put it in the words of Slavoj Žižek, the only temptation that remains is the ethical: if Abraham were to disobey his God and not slaughter his son it would be in conformity with the laws of ethics, and yet it would be nothing less than a betrayal of the gravest kind – a betrayal of his own, most deeply constituted truth and being.

Jacques Derrida extracted a different, elemental knowledge from Kierkegaard’s treatment of Abraham: we fear and we tremble, Derrida noted, not when God is with us, but when he is not present. It is when we are thrown out to our own devices that we must truly grapple with our own salvation. For Derrida, and later Žižek, the gift of faith is to betray our own. The duty, and therefore the gift, is absolute.

In this upcoming issue of Inscriptions we will investigate terms such as decision and betrayal against a background of Søren Kierkegaard’s philosophy. While we can refer to decisionality as the ability to make decisions, we also claim that there is a sense in which decisionality signifies the moment in which what is right or true is constituted on the level of decision. In health care decisionality is an inquiry into when and how subjects can make decisions about care for themselves and others; in the political domain we believe that decisions mark the endpoint of deliberation and, ultimately, philosophy: when we reach a decision no further argument is required or wanted; from then on loyalty to the decision will be enforced.

Key questions relevant to our inquiry include:

  • What is the relation between faith and betrayal in general, and how specifically do we decode these terms in philosophy after Kierkegaard?
  • How do we approach the notion of a “leap of faith” today, in political, social, ethical, and human terms?
  • In what senses can terms such as decisionality and the end of philosophy become meaningful in the contexts of care and dialogue?

Submission instructions:
Academic essays should be 3,000 to 4,500 words. We also seek scholarship in the form of interviews, reviews, short interventions, opinion pieces, etc., and in these cases we also seek shorter texts. Inscriptions adheres to the Chicago Manual of Style (footnotes and bibliography). For other instructions, please see our website. We encourage potential authors to submit proposals for review prior to their writing/submitting entire full-length manuscripts. Include title, proposal (150 words), short biography, and institutional affiliation in your preliminary submission. All academic essays undergo double-blind peer review.

We also accept submissions of literary fiction (poetry, aphorisms, short stories, fables, literary essays, etc.), to be reviewed by our Fiction Editor Monika Zagar.

Submit proposals, essays and literary fiction on or before March 15.