Ideas from 'Either/Or: a fragment of life' by Søren Kierkegaard [1843], by Theme Structure

[found in 'Either/Or: a fragment of life' by Kierkegaard,Søren (ed/tr Hannay,Alastair) [Penguin 1992,0-14-044577-3]].

green numbers give full details    |     back to texts     |     unexpand these ideas


1. Philosophy / D. Nature of Philosophy / 7. Despair over Philosophy
Philosophy fails to articulate the continual becoming of existence
                        Full Idea: Kierkegaard criticise philosophy for its inability to grasp and to articulate the movement, the continual becoming, that characterises existence.
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843]) by Clare Carlisle - Kierkegaard: a guide for the perplexed 2
                        A reaction: Heraclitus had a go, and Hegel's historicism focuses on dynamic thought, but this idea concerns the immediacy of individual life.
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 8. Subjective Truth
Traditional views of truth are tautologies, and truth is empty without a subject
                        Full Idea: Kierkegaard developed the idea of 'truth as subjectivity'; the traditional conceptions of truth - correspondence or coherence - he regarded as equally empty, not because false, but because tautologous; truth ceases to be empty when related to a subject.
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843]) by Roger Scruton - Short History of Modern Philosophy Ch.13
                        A reaction: It strikes me that the correspondence theory of truth also involves a subject. If you become too obsessed with the subject, you lose the concept of truth. You need a concept of the non-subject too. Truth concerns the contents of thought.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 2. Nihilism
For me time stands still, and I with it
                        Full Idea: Time flows, life is a stream, people say, and so on. I do not notice it. Time stands still, and I with it.
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843], I:26) by Clare Carlisle - Kierkegaard: a guide for the perplexed 3
                        A reaction: This is from the spokesman for the aesthetic option in life, which is largely pleasure-seeking. No real choices ever occur.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 4. Boredom
The plebeians bore others; only the nobility bore themselves
                        Full Idea: Those who bore others are the plebeians, the crowd, the endless train of humanity in general; those who bore themselves are the chosen ones, the nobility.
                        From: Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843], Pt.1), quoted by Lars Svendsen - A Philosophy of Boredom Ch.2
                        A reaction: [p.288 in Princeton Edn] Stunningly elitist, but ask where boredom is most overtly found. "Boring" was once a very fashionable word among the English upper classes. Education and wealth seem to intensify boredom.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 5. Existence-Essence
Reason is just abstractions, so our essence needs a subjective 'leap of faith'
                        Full Idea: For Kierkegaard, reason, which produces only abstractions, negates our individual essence; this essence is subjectivity, and subjectivity exists only in the 'leap of faith', whereby the individual casts in his lot with eternity.
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843]) by Roger Scruton - Short History of Modern Philosophy Ch.13
                        A reaction: Interesting, but this strikes me as a confusion of reason and logic. A logical life would indeed be a sort of death, and need faith as an escape, but a broad view of the rational life includes emotion, imagination and laughter. Blind faith is disaster.
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 6. Authentic Self
There are aesthetic, ethical and religious subjectivity
                        Full Idea: Kierkegaard distinguishes three main types of subjectivity: aesthetic, ethical and religious. But are these types of people, or different phases of one person's life?
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843]) by Clare Carlisle - Kierkegaard: a guide for the perplexed 4
                        A reaction: His picture of the religious mode holds no appeal for me. I also can't accept that the aesthetic and the moral are somewho distinct. People may discover they have slipped into one of these modes, but no one chooses them, do they?
23. Ethics / F. Existentialism / 7. Existential Action
What matters is not right choice, but energy, earnestness and pathos in the choosing
                        Full Idea: In making a choice, it is not so much a question of choosing the right way as of the energy, the earnestness, and the pathos with which one chooses.
                        From: Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843], p.106), quoted by Kevin Aho - Existentialism: an introduction 2 'Phenomenology'
                        A reaction: I'm struggling to identify with the experience he is describing. I can't imagine a more quintessentially existentialist remark than this. Reference to 'energy' in choosing strikes me as very romantic. Is 'the way not taken' crucial (in 'pathos')?
24. Political Theory / D. Ideologies / 7. Communitarianism
Kierkegaard prioritises the inward individual, rather than community
                        Full Idea: Whereas Hegel argues that individuals find fulfilment through participation in their community, Kierkegaard prioritises the inwardness of each person, which is shared only with God.
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843]) by Clare Carlisle - Kierkegaard: a guide for the perplexed 3
                        A reaction: Sounds like the protestant religion opposing the catholic religion (although Hegel was a protestant). Individual v community is the great debate of the last two centuries in Europe.
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 1. Religious Commitment / e. Fideism
Faith is like a dancer's leap, going up to God, but also back to earth
                        Full Idea: Kierkegaard doesn't use the phrase 'leap of faith'. His metaphor of a dancer's leap expresses the way faith goes 'up' towards God, but also comes back down to earth, and is a way of living in the world.
                        From: report of Søren Kierkegaard (Either/Or: a fragment of life [1843]) by Clare Carlisle - Kierkegaard: a guide for the perplexed 2
                        A reaction: This entirely contradicts what I was taught about this idea many years ago. Memes turn into Chinese whispers.