My Own Introduction
- Hello -- I think I subscribed about the same time Greg did, so I
thought I'd introduce myself. I'm Jim Rovira. I've been reading
existentialist lit off and on since High School, first drawn in by
Walter Kaufmann's _Existentialism from Dostoevsky to Sartre_. I think
the attraction at the time was similar to Greg's -- I was looking for
meaning in life, maybe even looking for a reason not to slit my wrists.
Anyway, Kaufmann's book seems flawed in retrospect but certainly
served its purposes at the time.
I'm currently working on my dissertation in the field of English
Romanticism and Kierkegaard, focusing on Kierkegaard's _Concept of
Anxiety_. It's interesting reading this against Greg's short
description of Frankl's main point: that there's no universal meaning
to life, we have to find it for ourselves. I think Kierkegaard would
say this is a half truth. In CoA he makes clear delineations between
the logical (esp. in terms of Hegel's _Logic_), the psychological, the
ethical, and the dogmatic, and tries throughout to demonstrate the
problems inherent in confusing one category with another.
In responding to Frankl (or at least Greg's presentation of him) K.
might say Frankl is confusing the psychological with the dogmatic. I
think the main idea here is that there is a universal meaning to life
that must be individually appropriated. So univeral meaning is located
in dogma, but merely being able to mouth the dogma doesn't mean you've
individually appropriated the meaning. In his discussion of
spiritlessness K. makes it pretty clear that the spiritless can say all
the right words and look and act like those with spirit, but it is just
babbling, like the murmuring of a brook, somewhat comic and horrible
all at the same time.
This universal meaning is ultimately defined in relationship to God as
far as K. is concerned. It's really very hard to talk about
Kierkegaard honestly and ignore this element. Dogma gives us the
content, but it doesn't really mean much until we've recovered a self
and stood it before God and seen the truth of the dogma for ourselves.
Thanks for listening,