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Best known as the editor-in-chief of the monumental Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Paul Edwards (1923-2004) was a modern philosophe. Like the Enlightenment writers he himself so admired, Voltaire, Diderot, and D'Alembert, he spent his career defending the ideas of rationalism, freethought, materialism, and the application of scientific methodology to philosophy. In addition, deeply influenced by the Vienna Circle, he used his editorship of the Encyclopedia to keep alive the memories of many of the philosophers connected with that particular Logical Positivist movement. As a Positivist of sorts himself, he had no love for philosophers whom he considered to lack clarity, and like the philosophes—especially Voltaire, whose work he anthologized in a volume entitled Voltaire Selections—he had a gift for using biting humor to attack those with whom he disagreed. One of his foremost targets was Søren Kierkegaard, whom he considered to be the very model for how one should not do philosophy. While he referred several times in his writings and lectures to Kierkegaard's life and work, Edwards' best-known critique is found in the 1971 article "Kierkegaard and the 'Truth' of Christianity," published in Philosophy: The Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.


Excerpted from ‘Paul Edwards: A Rationalist Critic of Kierkegaard's Theory of Truth’, in Kierkegaard's influence on philosophy: Tome III, Anglophone philosophy, ed. Jon Stewart (Farnham: Ashgate, 2012), pp. 71-85. Copyright © 2012.

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