(Omitted) Memorial of St. John Climacus

March 30, 2008

If today were not Sunday, it would be the memorial of St. John Climacus (c.525-606). He was a monk of the Monastery of St. Catherine at the foot of Mount Sinai. During his life he had a reputation as a wise man, and he wrote a book, The Ladder of Divine Ascent, that remains popular to this day. It was, in fact, the first book to be printed in the New World (Mexico, 1532). I myself have not read it, but I would like to do so. It seems to consist of aphorisms and advice on the inner life:

Forgetting offences is a sign of sincere repentance. If you keep the memory of them, you may believe you have repented but you are like someone running in his sleep.

Love, unchangeable tranquility, and our adoption as children of God are different from each other only in name. As light, fire and flame are present in the selfsame operation, so are these three manifestations of the Spirit.

The Ladder of Divine Ascent

“John Climacus”, or “Johannes Climacus” is also one of the pseudonyms used by Søren Kierkegaard. I am not sure why he chose this name, but I expect it was not an accident. This “John Climacus” is not a saint, nor even a Christian, but he did write several of the most important philosophical texts in Kierkegaard’s corpus, including Philosophical Fragments and Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Many of the leading ideas that one associates with Kierkegaard — the absurd, the leap, subjectivity — came from the pen of “John Climacus”.

As it happens, I recently finished reading Philosophical Fragments, and I have written some thoughts about it. Today seems a good opportunity to post those. I’ll do that now.

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