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    Post Philosopher 3: Soren Kierkegaard

    Soren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1853) was a Danish philosopher, theologian and psychologist and a defender of religious faith born in 1813 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a prosperous businessman and a Protestant Pietist. He was an unhappy and terribly suffering man and these factors plus the broken engagement to Regine Olsen greatly influenced his philosophy. He studied philosophy, theology and literature from University of Copenhagen.
    Kierkegaard believed that religious truth is subjective and cannot be conceptually grasped but must be existentially (existence as it is here and now) appropriated by the free activity of the individual agent which rejects Kant’s and Hegel’s idea. And in terms of faith he said that there can be neither knowledge nor certainty and thus there is always absolute risk involved in religious belief i.e. faith is a risk that each individual has free will to choose. In 1844 he published ‘In the concept of anxiety’ in which he defined anxiety in terms of an individual’s recognition of the outcomes opened by his or her own freedom. Hopelessness is the individual’s failure to be his or herself. And thus each individual has to take the absolute risk i.e. to achieve authentic selfhood (to act out of free will).
    According to Kierkegaard life can be experienced in three distinct stages, but not everyone experiences every stage and in order to achieve authentic selfhood, one must go through these three stages of existence namely, ‘the aesthetic stage’, ‘the ethical stage’ and ‘the religious stage’. The aesthetic stage (concerned with only experiences, emotion and sensation) of existence is characterized by the absence of genuine decision and becomes a source of boredom and despair. In the ethical stage, the individuals recognize the despair of aesthetics, and are compelled to find greater meaning in life through free activity. Kierkegaard shares Kant’s ‘the freedom will’ but rejects Kant’s ethic which requires morality i.e. the individual’s ‘concrete self’ over the ‘abstract self’ which focuses on the act according to the situation. An example for this can be, a man with a knife chasing another man, a person sees the victim run to right but when the man with a knife asks that person which direction the other man ran to, by not telling the truth the person can save a life. In the religious stage, the individuals experience both suffering and faith and hence the existence represents the full realization of authentic selfhood i.e. the individual has the absolute freedom of will to choose and he takes the risk believing the God exists (leap of faith). An analogy for this can be, a person jumping off an airplane (parachuting).
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  2. #2
    Paroxysm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hbk View Post
    Soren Kierkegaard (1813 – 1853) was a Danish philosopher, theologian and psychologist and a defender of religious faith born in 1813 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a prosperous businessman and a Protestant Pietist. He was an unhappy and terribly suffering man and these factors plus the broken engagement to Regine Olsen greatly influenced his philosophy. He studied philosophy, theology and literature from University of Copenhagen.
    Kierkegaard believed that religious truth is subjective and cannot be conceptually grasped but must be existentially (existence as it is here and now) appropriated by the free activity of the individual agent which rejects Kant’s and Hegel’s idea. And in terms of faith he said that there can be neither knowledge nor certainty and thus there is always absolute risk involved in religious belief i.e. faith is a risk that each individual has free will to choose. In 1844 he published ‘In the concept of anxiety’ in which he defined anxiety in terms of an individual’s recognition of the outcomes opened by his or her own freedom. Hopelessness is the individual’s failure to be his or herself. And thus each individual has to take the absolute risk i.e. to achieve authentic selfhood (to act out of free will).
    According to Kierkegaard life can be experienced in three distinct stages, but not everyone experiences every stage and in order to achieve authentic selfhood, one must go through these three stages of existence namely, ‘the aesthetic stage’, ‘the ethical stage’ and ‘the religious stage’. The aesthetic stage (concerned with only experiences, emotion and sensation) of existence is characterized by the absence of genuine decision and becomes a source of boredom and despair. In the ethical stage, the individuals recognize the despair of aesthetics, and are compelled to find greater meaning in life through free activity. Kierkegaard shares Kant’s ‘the freedom will’ but rejects Kant’s ethic which requires morality i.e. the individual’s ‘concrete self’ over the ‘abstract self’ which focuses on the act according to the situation. An example for this can be, a man with a knife chasing another man, a person sees the victim run to right but when the man with a knife asks that person which direction the other man ran to, by not telling the truth the person can save a life. In the religious stage, the individuals experience both suffering and faith and hence the existence represents the full realization of authentic selfhood i.e. the individual has the absolute freedom of will to choose and he takes the risk believing the God exists (leap of faith). An analogy for this can be, a person jumping off an airplane (parachuting).
    Kant's ethical system did suffer from rigidity mainly do to the fact that he didn't necessarily have ethical principles in hierarchies, so as a result truth telling and the value of life principle were on equal terms of significance. W.D. Ross improved on Kant's ethical system by introducing Prima facie duties which set up ethical principles in levels of importance, so that the individual wouldn't act unethically by lying to the murderer chasing a victim down. In regards to Kant, I've never been a fan of his Practical Imperative, sure superficially it makes sense but in some scenarios it results in more harm than good.
    Last edited by Paroxysm; 05-14-2010 at 10:05 AM.
    "We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter." ~ Denis Diderot

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