We've seen that Kierkegaard was irritated by the fact that Martensen was having great success with the students at the University of Copenhagen, and that Martensen, like Kierkegaard, was interested in the figure of Faust. One important aspect of Martensen's thought was his characterization of modern philosophy is beginning with the principle of doubt. While ancient philosophy and medieval philosophy were uncritical and baced their views on faith, modern philosophy that began with Descartes realized that it was necessary to begin from the ground up by doubting everything. Descartes realizes that many of the things that he and other people take to be true in fact proved to be mistaken under closer scrutiny. This means that many of the things that we think that we know are based upon very shaky foundations. In his Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes begins by making an attempt to doubt absolutely everything that he is known or ever been taught, so that he can attempt to determine from the start what can firmly be established as true. Martensen seizes on this image of Descartes applying a systematic method of doubt as a model for modern philosophical thought. He takes a Latin phrase from Descartes's text to capture this; de omnibus dubitandum est, or one must doubt everything. Martensen used this phrase repeatedly, and it became a shorthand slogan among his students. It seemed to be not just a characterization of the period of modern philosophy in contrast to earlier periods, but also a call to arms for modern philosophers to apply Descartes' skeptical method. Clearly, this set of issues that Martensen addresses is closely related to the issues that Kierkegaard finds in Socrates, who questions his fellow countrymen and calls their accepted views in denial. Descartes doesn't wish to stop until everything has been called into question, just as Socrates doesn't wish to stop until he's gained a satisfactory answer to his questions. Kierkegaard wrote two satirical works about Martensen and his students, but never published them. Both of them take the issue of Descartes' universal doubt as a central motif. The first of these works is a student comedy entitled The Conflict Between The Old and the New Soap Cellars, which Kierkegaard wrote in his journal DD, probably in the first months of 1838 when he was still a student. The inspiration for this piece came from this square, here in Copenhagen, where during Kierkegaard's time there were rival shops that sold soap. There was an old established shop. It was located here in the basement of this building. This was an old soap cellar, and then one day a new soap cellar moved in and became its rival. In order to avoid losing business, the old soap cellar put up a sign to indicate that his shop was the old traditional soap cellar. This was an amusing rivalry that caught Kierkegaard's attention. It will be recalled that at his trial, Socrates proposed this as penalty that he be maintained at public expense and that he could take free meals at the Prytaneum. This was a kind of public building in Athens, a sort of town hall, where people who had done great deeds for the state, for example victorious Olympian athletes, would receive free meals at the expense of the state. In his satire, Kierkegaard makes use of this idea, but instead of placing Socrates in the Prytaneum as Socrates himself requested, Kierkegaard places Martensen and his students there. Kierkegaard creates a handful of amusing characters who engage in absurd philosophical conversations. They're constantly using slogans such as de omnibus dubitandum est that everyone knew from Martensen's lectures and written works. In act two of the comedy, Kierkegaard creates the absurd situation of placing these comic philosophers in the Prytaneum. The implication is then that they, like Socrates, are providing some important public service with their philosophizing and with their attempt to doubt everything; but instead of doing anything meaningful, they simply engage in confused and absurd philosophical conversation, all the while taking themselves very seriously. Kierkegaard here seems clearly to be making fun of Martensen and his students, and their sense of self-importance in their attempt to begin as Descartes did with the universal doubt. What's interesting here is that, when we consider this work as a satire on Martensen and his students is that, at this time, Martensen himself lived in this house, just opposite the soap cellars. In September of 1837, that is when he was a student and when he was writing this comedy in the soap cellars, Kierkegaard moved into an apartment that stood right at the corner of the square, in this white building at the corner of Lovstraede in Niels Hemmingsens Gade. The other satirical work that Kierkegaard wrote but never published makes direct use of Martensen's slogan. It's entitled Johannes Climacus or the De Omnibus Dubitandum Est. Johannes Climacus is the name of Kierkegaard uses as the pseudonymous author of the works Philosophical Fragments and The Concluding Unscientific Postscript, but this satirical text was apparently written at some point in 1843 before these two well-known pseudonymous books. De Omnibus tells the story of a young student named Johannes Climacus. He attends lectures here in one of the lecture halls at the University of Copenhagen, and becomes interested in the philosophical discussions about the need to begin by doubting everything. Clearly, Kierkegaard intends Climacus to represent one of Martensen's students, who's caught up in the flurry of interest surrounding Martensen's lectures. Much of the text is filled with a series of philosophical deliberations in which Johannes tries to determine exactly what is meant with the demand that one doubt everything in philosophy. There are three different variants of this that he explores in turn: first, philosophy begins with doubt; second, in order to philosophize, one must have doubted; and third, modern philosophy begins with doubt. In each case, he ends up in absurdities. Although Kierkegaard never finished this work and it breaks off in the middle, the plot was apparently intended to end by showing how Johannes was reduced to despair in his attempt to follow the imperative of doubting everything. In a note, Kierkegaard explains the plan for the work that he never realized. He writes, "Johannes does what we're told to do. He actually doubts everything. He suffers through all the pain of doing that. When he's gone as far in that direction as he can go and wants to come back, he cannot do so. Now he despairs, his life is wasted, his youth is spent in these deliberations. Life has not acquired any meaning for him, and all this is the fault of philosophy." So, the point seems to be that philosophy can have a negative seductive effect on young people. Martensen and his irresponsibly enjoined the students to doubt everything, but this would also involve doubting things, such as one's religion, one's relations to family, community and so forth. When one begins to doubt these things, then one isolates oneself. While it was intended as a kind of academic exercise, these young students take it seriously as a way of life and thereby come to undermine their own beliefs, but once one has reached this point, it's impossible to go back. Once one has begun the process of critical reflection, it's impossible to return and live in the uncritical intimacy of one's former beliefs. This is the view that is suspicious of new knowledge, fearful of what it might bring. As was the case with Socrates, it separates the individual from their family and community. The conclusion of Kierkegaard's story is that Johannes ends in despair. He's destroyed by philosophical doubt. Kierkegaard agrees with Hegel's characterization of Socrates as a turning point in history. He proposes his own evaluation of this by analyzing, first the relation of Socrates to the movement of the Sophists which preceded him, and then his relation to the different schools of philosophy that came after him. By seeing Socrates between these two poles, we can come to a better understanding of his role as a turning point in the development of Greek thought and culture. Because of the downfall of Greek life was, what Kierkegaard following Hegel, characterizes as the arbitrariness of finite subjectivity. This is associated with the sophists, who are known for their relativism. He explains quote, "The Sophists represent knowledge separating itself into its motley multiplicity from substantial morality by means of the awakening reflection. On the whole, they represented the separated culture for which a need was felt by everyone for whom the fascination of immediacy had faded away." Like socrates, the sophists also subjected to doubt and criticism accepted custom and tradition or what is called here substantial morality. They represented a separation or alienation from the traditional Greek culture. The sophists claimed to teach a practical knowledge that would be beneficial to young men in politics and business. Specifically, they taught the art of speaking and argumentation, by means of which, they can make an effective case for whatever they perceived to be to their advantage at the moment. But this argumentation was always in the interest of the one doing the arguing and not in the interest of any higher truth, since that truth is exactly what the Sophists denied. So, there's both something negative and something positive about this procedure. The negative aspect says that there is no absolute truth and the truths of traditional custom morality and ethics are in fact illusory, having no firm foundation. Given that there is no absolute truth, there's only an arbitrary or contingent truth which is dictated by the self-interest of the individual. So, the Sophists elevate these contingent arbitrary truths to something important and their promise is to teach how to pursue this. Given that there are no absolute truths, the Sophists thus enjoin people to revel in the contingent ones, for as long as it serves their purposes. Kierkegaard explains this as follows, quote, "In its first form, this education, offered by the Sophists, shakes the foundation of everything, but in its second form it enables every pupil of integrity to make everything firm and fast again. The Sophists, therefore, demonstrates that everything is true." The Sophist can thus give reasons and arguments for anything at all. It is in this sense, that we still use the word Sophist today. We say for example, that someone is a Sophist to tries to justify blatantly wrongful behavior by means of specious reasoning. One of the things that bothered Kierkegaard about Martensen, was the fact that he pretended to assume a posture of radical, disabused skepticism with his well-known claim, [inaudible]. But this was only an empty slogan. Martensen's point was like that of Descartes, to emerge from the skepticism and begin to establish something positive, a doctrine, an argument or a foundational truth claim. This was exactly the way that Kierkegaard describes the Sophist, as we just saw. They shake the foundations of everything, but then, they make everything for him again. For Kierkegaard, the profundity ingenious of Socrates is to be found in the fact that he remains in the skepticism and negativity and refuses to be drawn into the construction of a positive truth claim. Kierkegaard contrasts Socrates with the Sophist, by claiming that Socrates is purely negative whereas the Sophists teach positive doctrines. For example, Protagoras claims to know what virtue is and to be able to teach it, by contrast Socrates claims not to know what it is and claims it cannot be taught. Kierkegaard concludes from this analysis, quote, "Irony has a world-historical validity." In other words, it's valid for Socrates to use irony in the given historical situation. His irony was aimed against two targets. First, the unreflective proponents of traditional Athenian life and second, the self-assured Sophists, who were making various unfounded positive claims. With respect to the former, traditional values and ethics were falling into decay, and it was historically valid that these be taken up by critical reflection at the time. With respect to the latter, it was valid that Socrates tried to confront the Sophist and expose the shallowness of their relativism. These were two important aspects of Greek life at the time, and Socrates with his irony, plays a key historical role in this context. He's not employing irony just to be flippant or to irritate or impress someone, rather his use of irony was dictated by the times. By Kierkegaard's time, it had become a standard motif to compare Socrates and his fate with Christ. Both were ethically righteous individuals, and both had been prosecuted in legal proceedings and ultimately executed. There was a body of literature on this comparison, which Kierkegaard was familiar with. One of the most important of these was the work the German theologian, Ferdinand Christian Baur entitled [inaudible] On Christianity in Platonism or Socrates and Christ from 1837. Kierkegaard refers to this work repeatedly in the concept of irony. In the New Testament, Christ is portrayed as struggling with the scribes and teachers of the law known as the Pharisees, who insisted on strict observance of religious ceremonies and practices. In comparative studies like that of Baur, a parallel was often drawn with Christ's conflict with the Pharisees and Socrates conflict with the Sophists. Kierkegaard makes this connection, when he says quote, "The Sophists are reminiscent of the Pharisees." This gives us an important insight into the significance of Socrates for Kierkegaard. Initially, it was not clear why he would be so interested in Socrates, a pagan philosopher, if his primary goals had something to do with a specific understanding and appreciation of Christianity. Here, we see the connection. Socrates is like Christ and the Sophists are like the Pharisees. So although, Socrates is a pagan philosopher, he displays some important points of commonality with the message of Christ that Kierkegaard believes had been forgotten. Thus, by making use of some of Socrates's ideas or methods, Kierkegaard believes that he can bring some insight into what he takes to be the confused understanding of Christianity in his own day.