The existentialist philosophy of Soëren Kierkegaard
Among the essential works of Kierkegaard, the Danish existentialist philosopher wrote :
- The Alternative (1843)
- Fear and Trembling (1843)
- The Concept of Anxiety(1844)
- Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (1846)
- The Sickness unto Death (1849)
Kierkegaard contrasts the philosophical system because he asserts the truth of individual existence and subjectivity. Become subjective is the highest task that he assigned to men. “Subjectivity is thruth” is one of the most famous quotes by Kierkegaard.
Kierkegaard vs Hegel: Existence vs System
Kierkegaard is not a philosopher and did not want a philosopher. He did not write system and refused, opposed by Hegel, to build up a philosophical system, where truths are coordinated and united into a totality.
What is the system?
- It means a closed world, integrating all the truths and unifying them
- The System is wrong to repudiate any separation and distinction: it coordinates the real in a fully closed, it contains, is an achievement and a fence.
Hegelian cons will bring together the knowledge and the various spiritual manifestations within a closed, Kierkegaard reminds us that the existence, the mode of being of the individual subject, is precisely the opposite of the System.
- Life is anything but a closed world: it is opening, rupture, discontinuity.
- To exist is to be there, unfinished, separate out any system and, of course, any abstraction.
Indeed, Kierkegaard also rejects the abstraction. What qu’abstraire?
- It’s isolating, in concept, some determinations excluding others.
- The abstraction means by which this operation removes the concrete thought, temporality, the individual experience, to delve into the conceptual idealism.
- Hegel Thus he emphasized the value of this process where we exclude the concrete determinations.
- On the contrary, says Kierkegaard, in a cry passionately anti-Hegelian, lack of abstraction is manifest: that’s life it drains, the concrete existence as such.
- The abstract thinker is an imaginary being living in the pure abstraction: he believes inhabit a palace of ideas, but he lives in a cottage, the concept that no life or depth.
Abstraction, System: these are not the only perils or pitfalls that await the existing and it is a third, and it’s history.
- Indeed, the latter means, in Hegel, becoming spiritually oriented leading to full transparency, to a balance of all the tensions and even to a decision of the dialectic.
- Kierkegaard, meanwhile, sees a great universal history “noise maker”, a process that profoundly misleading because part of the problem of the individual subject and purpose of existing as such.
Kierkegaard, the individual as a decisive category:
This is not at Universal History of Ideas and abstract system should seek the truth of beings. In this quest, the individual must be the center reference point and foundation.
But what the individual?
- This means being particular to the irreducible case, infinitely superior to the collective of the crowd because the crowd is a lie.
- The individual, however, is the awakening of the mind, which asserts that in the vocation to the subjective existence.
What is it then?
- Subjectivity is the authentic religious existence, where man is anchored in Christ.
- There are indeed three stages (or spheres) in the path of life and only the latter appears as the authentic spiritual conquest.
► The aesthetic stage is that of abandonment to the pleasures of immediacy: think Don Juan and his frantic desire of desires, from conquest to conquest, delights in pleasures.
→ This is the time of possibilities and capricious.
→ But this sphere where the individual can not be found, is that of death and despair radical, since the individual then scattered into a scattering of moments.
► The ethical stage, that of duty, characterized by stability and continuity, at least provides a principle of unity.
→ But how could he represent the final solution? This is just human and precarious stage, still closed to the real Spirit, Christ’s.
► Only the religious sphere, in which man, through faith (faith without insurance, without any intellectual security, movement of belief in virtue of the absurd and even within the absurd, hope against hope), reaches shore of Christ, is able to bring to man the real truth, that of the Spirit.
The path of faith is hard, ripped, a thousand miles an easy and safe. Y plays an essential role of anxiety, that is to say the frenzy of the free individual faced with opportunities and conflicting choices
“If the man was an angel or a beast, he could not know the anguish. As a summary, it is capable, and it is all the more man than his anguish is deep. “(The Concept of Dread).
Similarly, the despair, the internal inconsistency of human synthesis, this slow death of the soul that imbalance, we form there for eternity. We see then, is the school teacher who is suffering.
Kierkegaard: “Subjectivity is the truth, subjectivity is the error”:
Thus, far from systematic thinking, Kierkegaard, he designed the painful route of religious individual.
That means, in this perspective, the truth? It appears as the objective uncertainty, held in the appropriation of an inner passion. Thus, the goal seems to know he left open, in faith, when the existing risks everything without anything objective can be brought to him.
Nevertheless, it would be wrong if we see deeply into meditation Kierkegaard absolute subjectivism.
- If truth is subjective, it is at the same time, the error.
- We need a bridge which to drop anchor.
- In this final face to face with God, religious experience gives us does not, in fact, the Absolute of Christ, the God-Man?
- The Christian essence is a mixture (inconceivable) to subjective faith and received a real and transcendent truth, in a permanent paradox.
Summary on the philosophy of Kierkegaard:
Kierkegaard‘s influence was substantial and decisive: it is in a sense, the founder of contemporary “existentialism”. The individual is not a moment of the concept, he rightly pointed out: Man is not an accident of history.
This lesson is important and Kierkegaard’s philosophical issues concern each of us.