Existentialism Midterm 2014 Essay
Existentialism Midterm 2014
What Kierkegaard is saying in this jumble of words is not as complicated as it seems; in fact, his statements are extremely logical and intuitive, save the manner in which he explains himself. Kierkegaard write about how he does not believe that resignation requires any faith at all; in fact, he means something quite different, For the act of resignation faith is not required, for what I gain by resignation is my eternal consciousness… for my eternal consciousness is my love to God, for me this is higher than everything…
For the act of resignation faith is not required, but it is needed when it is the case of acquiring the very least thing more than my eternal consciousness… (Fear and Trembling 51) Although his explanation is lengthy, Kierkegaard states what must be stated; he says that personally, in order to carry out an act of resignation, he never felt the need for faith. He simply showed resignation and after all was lost, he developed his “eternal consciousness” which to him, is the most important thing in the world because it is essentially the knowledge of ones self; Kierkegaard refers to it as his “love to God… higher than everything.
” Kierkegaard goes on to say, however, that faith is required shortly after the resignation process. After a man has given up all he is in order to find himself, he must then have faith that he will acquire the next piece that he requires to move on. Kierkegaard describes another case, however, in which a man never feels any faith after his resignation, …When a man laments the loss of his faith, and when one looks at the scale to see where he is, one sees, strangely enough that he has only reached the point where he should make the infinite movement of resignation.
In resignation I make renunciation of everything, this movement I make by myself, and if I do not make it, it is because I am cowardly and effeminate and without enthusiasm and do not feel the significance of the lofty dignity which is assigned to every man, that of being his own censor…” (Fear and Trembling 51) Kierkegaard states the problems that a man can undergo in resigning. The purpose of this part of the passage is that Kierkegaard conveys that some men confirm their act of resignation, yet never feel anything after that, therefore forcing them to stay in their miserable state of resignation.
Kierkegaard sees it as a weakness for some men, calling the act of not making it “cowardly and effeminate,” suggesting that resignation is a glorious and freeing act. Finally, Kierkegaard elaborates on his points, making a very clear statement on his stance, …What I gain is myself in my eternal consciousness, in blissful agreement with my love for the Eternal Being. By faith I make renunciation of nothing, on the contrary, by faith I acquire everything, precisely in the sense in which it is said that he who has faith like a grain of mustard can remove mountains. (Fear and Trembling 52).
Kierkegaard closes his argument on faith and resignation by stating that he gives nothing up in having faith, which is why it is not part of resignation; resignation is simply a place of rest or a platform in between non-resignation and faith. He in fact gains faith because he finally truly learns about himself and reflects inward, therefore gaining the strength and will power to “move mountains. ” 2. “To despair over oneself, in despair to will to be rid of oneself, is the formula for all despair” (Sickness unto Death, p83). Explain. Kierkegaard introduces quite an interesting topic in this particular passage.
Kierkegaard is stating that one of the worst types of despair is the despair that forces one to feel as though they must rid themselves of themselves. At first, it is very easy to mistake this statement from the quote for someone who despairs enough to kill himself or herself. Kierkegaard, however, speaks of something far deeper than suicide; he in fact speaks of a forced separation of sorts. Explanation of his quotation requires another quotation to elaborate, in which Kierkegaard explains the forced separation from ones self, A despairing man wants despairingly to be himself. But if he despairingly wants to be himself, he will not want to get rid of himself.
Yes, so it seems; but if one inspects more closely, one perceives that after all the contradiction is the same. That self which he despairingly wills to be is a self which he is not (for to will to be that self which one truly is, is indeed the opposite of despair); what he really wills is to tear himself away from the power which constituted it… the power is stronger, and it compels him to be the self he does not will to be. (The Sickness Unto Death 84) Kierkegaard says here that when one despairs, they are more or less scrambling in order to find themselves.
Although their intentions are good, they tend to make fairly bad and impetuous decisions in their frenzy. By “rid himself” Kierkegaard means that in hopes of finding themselves, they in fact throw away any chance of doing so, therefore condemning them to even more despair. He describes finding oneself in reality as something that is not related to despair at all, which suggests that one must be very misled in order to forsake themselves in a manner such as that which Kierkegaard speaks of. Kierkegaard describes this misleading need to make a decision as a “power” that is particularly strong and very hard to overcome.
The power is said to make one something that he never intended to be, even though he thought he was doing what was best for himself. 3. “Dialectic [or, logical argument] is chosen only as a last resort,” Nietzsche writes in Twilight of the Idols (p174). Explain how this expresses the “problem” of Socrates. Nietzsche creates a notion in Twilight of The Idols that dialectics are a bad thing and that they are not worth anyone’s time for various reasons that he, quite frankly, makes somewhat unclear.
Nietzsche, as an example, brings up Socrates and begins to speak of methods he used to convey his messages. He expressed his belief that dialectics are useless. Nietzsche exclaims, For dialectic, the rabble rises to the top… Respectable things, like respectable people just don’t carry their reasons around on their sleeves like that… Dialectic is chose only as a last resort. It is well known that it creates mistrust, that it is not very convincing… deployed by those who have no other weapons.
(Twilight of the Idols 174) Nietzsche’s view on dialectics seems to be very negative because of his belief that they are simply a bad way to argue.
It is obvious that, to Nietzsche, they are not convincing, and are a particularly amateur manor in which to prove a point. He believes that in dialectic, you are not discussing worthwhile topics, but instead, just criticizing logic and the truth of opinions instead of going into real analysis and argument about said topic; this is why Nietzsche views it as a last resort. Nietzsche also relates dialectic to Socrates and expresses his lack of enthusiasm for Socrates’ methods of argument.
Nietzsche states, Is Socrates’ irony an expression of revolt?… As a dialectician one has a merciless instrument at hand; one can play the tyranny with it; one compromises by conquering. The dialectician lays on his opponent the burden of providing that he is not an idiot. He infuriates yet at the same time, paralyzes. The dialectician disempowers the intellect of his opponent. (Twilight of the Idols 174) It is easy to see that the “problem” of Socrates in this sense is in his means of argument; he only makes whomever he is arguing against feel the need to prove his own intellect and not his point.
Nietzsche describes it as a possible “expression of revolt” and “tyranny” in the sense that, using dialectic, Socrates could put any man at his feet in an argument. The “problem” is that it is more of a ‘cheap shot’ for lack of better words, than anything else. 4. “We, however, want to become who we arethe new, the unique, the in comparable, those who give themselves the law, those who create themselves. ” (p147). What are these new people like, according to Nietzsche? What could it mean, to create yourself? Nietzsche is a philosopher who most certainly believes that each person should express his or her individuality.
He does not believe that people should follow social norms exactly, but he believes that they should in fact express themselves however they see fit. He emphasizes this not only in The Gay Science but in other works as well. Regarding free thinking and free expression of the self, Nietzsche states, Admire your selfishness in this… for it is selfishness to perceive ones own judgment as universal law. And it is blind, petty, and unpretentious selfishness to boot, because it betrays the fact that you have not yet discovered yourself, not yet created your own, ownmost ideal for yourself-for this could never be the ideal of another, not to mention of all, all!
(The Gay Science 147) He says that one must be selfish and, to an extent, self-absorbed in order to create their own ideas and be a true individual. He creates the idea that says there are two different types of selfishness, in fact. There is the previously mentioned type, allowing one to express themselves, and there is the type, which blinds one to self-enlightenment. It in fact affirms that you have not made any sort of step in order to find yourself, but that you have backtracked.
Nietzsche goes on, All who still judge “everyone would have to act this way in this case” have not yet progressed five steps in self-knowledge… our opinions about “good,” “noble,” and “great” can never be proved by our actions, because every action is unknowable; that certainly our opinions, valuations, and tables of goods are among the most powerful gears in the clockwork of our actions…
(The Gay Science 147) Nietzsche went on to just elaborate on his previous point; whoever judges others and says that certain situations call for certain specific actions are confused and haven’t yet come anywhere close in finding themselves. He goes on to say essentially that all opinions such as nobility, goodness, etc.
are totally subjective, that is to say that they are different in everyone; he stresses, however, that these differences define the beauty of self- expression. 5. The Underground Man writes: “For this stupidest of all, this caprice of ours gentlemen, may in fact be the most profitable of anything on earth for our sort… ” (p28, Section VIII, Part One). Explain. Dostoyevsky speaks of the way that mans choice tends to often be stubbornly opposed to reason. He says that man does indeed tend to reject reason occasionally when trying to make decisions and choices, however this is a somewhat good thing.
It is a very counter intuitive claim that he makes; however, the reason for it is extremely simple. Dostoyevsky states on page 29, …For in any circumstance, it (the caprice) preserves for us what is most precious and most important – that is, our personality and our individuality. Some, you see, maintain that this really is the most precious thing for mankind; choice can of course, if it chooses, be in agreement with reason; and especially if this is not being abused and kept within bounds. It is profitable and sometimes even praiseworthy. But very often, and even most often, choice is utterly and stubbornly opposed to reason. (Notes From The Underground)
Dostoyevsky refers to the personality and individuality of a human being as the most precious and most important thing that there is. He believes that “this caprice of ours” is most profitable because it encourages this individuality. Our choice, whether it agrees or disagrees with reason is still one that is unique to us and defines us accordingly. Without these choices, nobody would be different from each other, we would all just follow societal norms, and Dostoyevsky implies in this passage, just like Nietzsche, that this is no fun.
Dostoyevsky believes that the courage to make your own choices is not only profitable, but also “praiseworthy. ” Without choice, there would be no individuality, and this is why Dostoyevsky believes that the caprice is the “profitable thing of anything on earth. ” 6. “Faith is precisely this paradox, that the individual as particular is higher than the universal. ” (p57) Expain. In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard speaks of the interaction between the individual, and the ethical and religious, or the universal.
From an ethical standpoint Kierkegaard analyzes Abraham; Abraham expresses love towards Isaac as a father, but he truly had intentions to kill his son, so what does this mean? The notion that the individual is higher than the universal lies directly in the concept of the Teleological Suspension of the Ethical. Kierkegaard writes, He (Abraham) acts by virtue of the absurd, for it is precisely absurd that he as the particular is higher than the universal. This paradox cannot be mediated, for as soon as he begins to do this he has to admit that he was in temptation…
Abraham is therefore at no instant a tragic hero but something quite different, either a murderer or a believer. (Fear and Trembling 58) Kierkegaard is stating that the paradox lies in the fact that what Abraham was driven to do is not ethical at all, therefore, he cannot be a tragic hero, but must be something else. Kierkegaard brings up the idea of temptation; in this case, what would have tempted Abraham? The answer is “What Abraham thought was ethical. ”
This is where the paradox comes into play with faith. It seems as though Abraham’s faith in Gods word overpowered the objectively ethical and because of this, many would argue that it actually was ethical. Others believe in the concept of the Teleological Suspension of the Ethical, which is somewhat of a solution to the paradox, saying that in order to fulfill ones telos and act for the greater good (what Abraham was doing) one must at some point put a suspension on the objectively ethical; and this is why the individual is higher than the universal.
In quite a complicated way, the individual possesses the ability to conduct a Teleological suspension of the Ethical in order to fulfill his or her purpose, yet still be morally and ethically “good. ”
Subject: Søren Kierkegaard,
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 November 2016
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