Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


1. (T/F) For Kierkegaard, the "Danish Socrates," the point of the Abraham/Isaac story is simply not to doubt God's word. LH 152

2. (T/F) Kierkegaard thought real Christians should find it easy to follow their faith, even if that sometimes means being irrational or abandoning ethics. LH 155

3. (T/F) Clare Carlisle says Kierkegaard perceived a complacency of faith among his fellow Christians, and wanted his readers to question whether Abraham did the right thing. PB 167

4. For Karl Marx, history was what kind of struggle, involving whom? LH 159

5. Marx's famous slogan, describing the governing principle in a post-capitalist utopia:  "____ according to ability, _____ according to need." LH 161

6. Marx called religion the "____ of the people." LH 162

BONUS: Who said "the function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays," and "people demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use," and "life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced."

BONUS+: Who said "the philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it," and "the proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains." 

BONUS++: Who said “Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.” 


1. Some people hear voices and are diagnosed as mentally ill, others respond by committing atrocities in the name of faith, while still others are esteemed as saints and spiritual heroes. If you ever hear an inner voice instructing you to do something you consider ethically wrong, what will you do? What do you say to those among us today who claim that God speaks to them and tells them to fight and slay nonbelievers? Can a civilized society tolerate acts committed in the name of a Higher Law? 

2. Have you ever allowed your religion (or your irreligion) to override your commitment to following the law and behaving ethically? Can you imagine a scenario in which you would deliberately harm an innocent person in the name of your faith? Do you respect people who are willing to die and kill "for their beliefs"?

3. What do you think of Kierkegaard's distinction between Christianity and Christendom? Are those who go through the motions of faith (e.g., regularly attend church services) closer to God or more likely to gain "salvation" than those who believe but do not make any public expression of faith?

4. Is it reasonable to think that most people in a capitalist society can hope to achieve satisfying, personally fulfilling careers? Or is "alienation" and 9-to-5 drudgery an inevitable result they should just accept, and stop complaining about? 

5. It's cliche to say that Marxist communism is utopian, hence unrealistic about human nature. Do you agree? Is that your experience, that most people are motivated more by greed and selfishness than by altruism and fellow-feeling? Is it possible that the cliche itself reinforces such behavior, and that if we stopped repeating it we might become better people?

6. Is religious faith a drug, distracting people from their problems and making it easier for the "haves" in our society to exploit the "have-nots"? Or does religion sometimes make people more engaged in addressing social and political problems? If a Marxist utopia ever came to pass, would religion "wither away"? 

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