For Søren Kierkegaard, ‘How is it possible for one to become a disciple?’ was the fundamental question. The Philosophical Fragments, first published in 1844 under the pseudonym of Johannes Climacus, propounds a hypothetical metaphysical framework within which an answer to this question is formulated. This framework is usually construed simply as a general account of what must be the case if Christianity is true. But this has given rise to some perplexity regarding how the Climacian framework is to be interpreted. This is the result of the failure to take into account the specific function which it is meant to serve – namely, as the framework for ascertaining how becoming a disciple is a possibility. My present objective is not to pass any judgement on the adequacy of this framework as a model purporting to represent reality. Rather, I shall simply attempt a consistent elucidation of the framework which Climacus presents; and in so doing, I indicate the way in which, given this framework, the question ‘How is it possible for one to become a disciple?’ is to be answered – what I shall call ‘the Climacian answer’.
Part 1 of this article provides a basic account of the framework by explaining its key concepts and their relationship to one another. I then employ this account as the foundation for the thesis developed in Part 2: namely, that, for Climacus, faith is the condition of discipleship. In conclusion, I outline the answer which, on my interpretation, Kierkegaard's Climacian framework yields to the question ‘How is it possible for one to become a disciple?’
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