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Re: [Kierkegaardian] Digest Number 103

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  • Jonathan Glenn
    Does anyone on this list have anything that they might offer to help me understand where this stuff is coming from? I am about to drop off. jg
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 10 11:58 AM
      Does anyone on this list have anything that they might offer to help me understand where this stuff is coming from? I am about to drop off.
      jg

      kierkegaardians@yahoogroups.com wrote:

      There are 2 messages in this issue.

      Topics in this digest:

      1. A First Contribution
      From: Een Enkelte
      2. Redeeming the time
      From: "petervandever"



      ________________________________________________________________________
      ________________________________________________________________________

      Message: 1
      Date: Tue, 10 Aug 2004 02:07:56 +0100 (BST)
      From: Een Enkelte
      Subject: A First Contribution

      Dear Kierkegaardians,


      I am a new member, and as such thought it might be appropriate to start with a small contribution.

      Sincerely,

      Een Enkelte


      The Absurdity of it...




      Foreword


      While the this short piece is mainly psychological, it is only so until almost the very end - where the religious may be considered important. It is written for that individual who, in his passionate longing for objective certainty has confused himself with the object of that longing; and who, in doing so, is eliminating himself from his understanding of himself.

      If an individual, for example, holds that all that really exists is sub-atomic particles; need anyone concern himself ? Well, what if he also explains that his belief is a consequence of his having understood something, namely sub-atomic physics ? Then someone with an eye for the subjective, for subjectivity, may be concerned...

      This subjective concern for the individual will be for the relation of that individual to himself, or for how that individual is relating himself to himself. And why ? Well, because the individual would seem to be understanding himself by means of a certain picture of logical necessity - that the fact that he is willing to live a certain way 'follows from' , is a necessary consequence of some fact in the world.

      And so ? Well, the subjectivist would wonder if this individual had noticed that his willingness to live in a certain way in fact was a decision, and not merely a consequence... And in wondering this the subjectivist might wonder if the individual had confused himself with something that is bound by the rules of logical necessity, as one idea follows from another... as a consequence. That is to say, the subjectivist might wonder if the individual was confusing himself with something that he is not - namely, an idea.

      "Ah!, - How comical ! ", says this subjectivist.
      For what could be more comical than a man who believes himself to be something he most certainly is not, since it does not exist - namely, an idea ?
      "Well, I wonder? I wonder if it is in fact irony, and he laughs at himself if he hears himself saying such things?"

      But what if our physicist guesses at the subjectivist's question, and protests:
      "I tell you that I believe it, and that I believe it because I have to... You see I have understood the deeper nature of things!"

      Well then our subjectivist will not smile. That the fellow protests his belief, this is his privilege. But this that he says that his believing is required by his understanding - Absurd!
      This is not a subject suited for ironic jesting, but is a deep confusion that may cost the fellow his life.

      Yet our subjectivist may be thoroughly acquainted with the absurd, within his own life. His concern will be the subjective concern for the individual, for the relation of that individual to himself in relation to that which he relates himself to. Or, in this case, that the fellow is not relating (actively) himself to himself at all, but understands himself as something which is related (passively).
      His concern will then not be that what was said was absurd, or that this fellow believes something absurd. No, he is not so objective as to worry about things like that.

      If our subjectivist exists within his religious subjectivity, then for him the absurd is no longer a cause for alarm - it is something to which he relates himself daily, hourly, in each moment.

      He is one who has the strength to smile as he attentively listens to his own understanding as it cries 'Absurd!', as he relates himself in love - to the One he loves.



      ---------------------------------
      A Pause


      Absurdity. The Absurd. That a self, in relating itself to itself (in relating itself to something else), should become itself by means of the absurd. This is, perhaps, the hardest of all S��ren Kierkegaard's thoughts to set down on paper. This is because it is, perhaps, the lightest of them all. So light, so buoyantly light, that it is so very hard to set down, and hold there.
      What? Should this subject be light; this walking up a mountain in 'fear and trembling' - oh, the gravity of the thought! ; this solid rock from which the prophet says the believer is cut - should this be a matter for levity? Yes, I say, and for levitation.

      I can only ask the reader to read with generosity of heart. Not that I ask for myself. Rather, in these tired and pinching days, a generosity towards that something which is the real object of inwardness, and allow that perhaps... well, perhaps... enough.




      ---------------------------------

      A (repetitive) Consideration

      "Faith is the objective uncertainty along with the repulsion of the absurd held fast in the passion of inwardness, which precisely is inwardness potentiated to the highest degree" S.K.

      "I believe that all that really exists is sub-atomic particles" - a thoroughly modern belief.
      SK did not hold with the view that belief, believing, is best understood as, e.g. a proposition to be analysed as containing:
      i) A propositional attitude, viz I believe that: ...
      ii) A proposition ��(x)[f(x)........], which in turn should be analysed in its relation to the world, etc., etc.

      Rather, he allowed (with Socrates) that objective knowledge was unavailable and therefore (practically enough, that is - ethically and religiously...) turned his attention to the subjective.


      "Faith is the objective uncertainty along with the repulsion of the absurd held fast in the passion of inwardness, which precisely is inwardness potentiated to the highest degree" S.K.

      Not that releasing the claim to objective knowledge is a light matter, since it requires the inwardness of resignation - an act that has no outward part, but is done entirely within... the self. The self, in its relating to itself, and while continuing passionately to relate itself to objective certainty as desirable, decisively gives up (renounces) all attempts of attaining objective certainty.

      You are invited to try this - imagine to yourself that objective certainty is unavailable and be willing to be yourself (namely, the self that has no access to objective certainty). Not just for a moment (as this would be mere ��sthetic toying with the idea and the self); for a whole day (Today - the ethical and the religious).
      Then try to imagine to yourself that this is a requirement: That you must admit to yourself that objective certainty is unavailable and be willing to be yourself... Today!
      Note: The Sceptic feint of trying to annul the desire (to deny one's passionate longing) is not available, since if the self is not willing to admit the longing, then it is not willing to be itself.


      If you lack the ability to do this, you lack inwardness (according to SK...) - and this because that which you relate yourself to (in relating yourself to yourself) you do not relate yourself to sufficiently passionately (or you would have noticed that you cannot attain it...)

      And why is objective certainty not attainable?
      Objective certainty is never finished, never arrives at its certain conclusion; there is always one more thing to be checked, one more sub-paragraph to be added, and so the self that requires objective certainty before admitting that it believes... will never believe - and yet (please note) one can believe...


      Believing* does not wait, it begins straight away, and then continues - as long as the self continues to agree with itself, as long as the self is willing to be itself (namely, the self that believes, the self that relates itself passionately to something else).

      All, and any believing.

      Note the condition:
      That the self agrees with itself, that it is willing to be itself - Today.

      "I believe that all that really exists is sub-atomic particles" - a thoroughly modern belief - Yes, yet where is the speaker himself in this universe?

      You are invited to try this - imagine to yourself that all that really exists is sub-atomic particles. Yes, this you can do, through the mode of imagining. Ah, abstract possibility - one can even think one's way around such a universe.
      Now try this - believe that all that really exists is sub-atomic particles. As you try, ask yourself this question "What am I...? That is, am I such a particle?". Surely not. But then - strange thought - you do not exist!


      And if you do not exist, then how will you act? And if you cannot act, then how will you believe? And if you cannot believe, then who is it that believes this - that all that really exists is sub-atomic particles?
      Please note: The weight of this point should not rest on a logical contradiction, but on an existential one. That the one who by means of existing asserts that he does not exists. That the self who by means of being a self believes that he is not a self.

      Please also note: The tone of this point should not be not be understood as that of offended reason, but instead should be understood as ethical and religious.


      If you do not exist, then how will you act (Today); and if you cannot act, then how will you fulfil the ethical and religious requirement that you do... and that you do so Today? This is the tone which accentuates the subjective.


      But perhaps the jolly fellow who says that he believes this (that he is just a jumble of sub-atomic particles) will, on considering the matter further, say that he does not believe this; that he just thought he did... in thoughtlessness.

      The believing that SK is talking about is not mere nodding (as one nods off...) when the statement is made - this is outwardness. It is not the public assenting to the truth of something, along with a quiet inward puzzlement - this is dishonesty, and the avoidance of looking like a fool... by being one.




      "Faith is the objective uncertainty along with the repulsion of the absurd held fast in the passion of inwardness, which precisely is inwardness potentiated to the highest degree" S.K.

      Is faith then on a level with all other believing?
      Never, in all eternity.

      What is common to all other believing, is that the self is willing to be itself (namely, the self that believes) on one condition; that that which is believed may also be understood. Which is to say that the self may understand itself in its believing; that, in believing and in being a self that believes, the self understands itself, can explain itself.

      The weak self - that is, the self that relates itself to itself without passion (since it does not relate itself passionately to something else), the self that does not take itself too seriously, the self that says to itself "I am not a important matter, not even to my self!" - is willing to be itself (namely, the self that believes) on one condition: that it can explain itself to others. As soon as it finds others who agree - Hey Presto! - it is willing to be itself, and believes.

      The stronger self - that is, the self that relates itself to itself passionately (since it relates itself passionately to something else), the self that trembles at the thought that it might lose itself, the self that says to itself "I will become myself, even if this means that no-one else will understand me" - is willing to be itself (namely, the self that believes) on one condition: that it can explain itself to itself.

      But what then, if it is to be considered possible, of the self that believes that in which it cannot understand itself - namely that the self relates itself to a paradox?
      Note: Where this means that the self, in relating itself to something else, cannot relate itself to itself as something it understands.

      Well, if it is possible, then it is not thoughtlessness - since thoughtlessness is not believing.

      It is not the weak self, since the weak self would flee from itself; so to speak, in the moment that it believed, and in terror of itself, it would flee from itself, it would annul the agreement with itself and seek comfort (the comfort of agreeing with someone else, that "It must have been awful, poor you!", the comfort that is actually despair: that one is not willing to be oneself). But then the weak self could believe it only for a moment, which is to say that is cannot believe it - since believing persists (ie the believing self believes Today - and this is the ethical and the religious).

      So then what kind of self can believe it ?
      Here the 'something else' is decisive.
      It must be something that, in the intense passion of relating itself to it (that something), the self can relate itself to itself sufficiently passionately, that the self can relate itself to itself entirely without leaning on the understanding.

      Without understanding - isn't this thoughtlessness? - Not at all.
      Surely the self still has the capacity to understand? - Indeed - it understands everything that it ever understood.
      Then it is hiding from its understanding? - Not at all. It is quite attentive to the violence of the objections of the understanding, that the understanding is violently offended!

      Indeed, and it is precisely the the cry of "Absurd! Absurdity!! Absurdity to the highest potential!!!" that the self agrees with.
      This self; this self that has the strength to believe The Paradox (the Rock of stumbling); this self that can relate itself to itself sufficiently passionately, that the self can relate itself to itself entirely without leaning on the understanding; this self that is willing to be itself even though it relates itself to The Paradox; this self that is willing to be itself Today, is Today willing to be a self that relates itself to The Paradox ( ... and this is the religious, is religiousness... ) is a self that hears the cry of "Absurd!" and agrees; is a self who loves He who he relates himself to, loves Him with a passion that is even greater than the extraordinary passion with which he relates himself to himself, and is therefore able to agree with himself that "Well, if the best my understanding can do, when presented with the One I love, is to cry Absurd! - well then I can certainly do without it...", and then smile.

      Smiles? Absurd! - Yes; though please note, I do not say "... and then grin", as though he had (as the expression has it) 'lost' his understanding - for it is fully in his possession. This self is strong enough to make the inward movement of resignation; for he stands at a fork in the road, where the (humanly speaking) hardest parting of all must take place.
      Note: I have said that this self is strong, and this is true... from a certain point of view; but this is not the point of view of this self - this self will joyfully (again the smile) confess his absolute weakness to the One he loves...

      Oh! It is long since that he stood at an easier fork in that road; at which he parted company with those who insisted on understanding him - those to whom he should explain himself. He broke off from the broad way, taking a narrower one where there few who walk, and those who do... walk in silence.



      "Faith is the objective uncertainty along with the repulsion of the absurd held fast in the passion of inwardness, which precisely is inwardness potentiated to the highest degree" S.K.


      Now he must choose again, to walk the narrowest way, to walk, to continue walking... ; either in understanding agreement with himself; or in uncomprehending fellowship with the One he loves... the Paradox.



      ---------------------------------

      A Conclusion

      But a smile...? - Well, that is exactly what is so curious about Christianity: That it is most light exactly when you need it - when anything else would crush you... it is exactly enough.








      ---------------------------------


      * And what of doubt ? Doubt is also an activity of the self, is also an expression of the essential possibility of the self, of the essential freedom of the self. It occurs only when the self is waiting for authorisation, or, it is the expression of this: that the self contains the possibility of waiting for authorisation. In the specific case of doubt, the self is waiting for the authorisation of the ideal, or, the self is waiting to agree with itself that it agrees with the idea... but then what is it waiting for? The doubting self does not, so to speak, want to be 'caught out' ! It does not want to allow a certain possibility to become actual, namely, that it is in the wrong. The doubting self suspends agreeing with itself, postpones the beginning, until it perceives the idea exactly. However, the self then finds itself in the awkward position that it can only perceive the idea by means of reflection - unless it wishes to perceive the idea in thoughtlessness, in which case it
      perceives the idea by means of forgetting that it is a self at all ! - and reflection has (for an existing self, that is, a self that is becoming) the remarkable quality that it is infinite, ie that it has an unending supply of further considerations, footnotes, qualifications , etc...

      Since the self also finds itself in the awkward position that it exists - and time comes calling... The self becomes tired, or pressured by circumstances, or impatient, or despairing... or any of the other possible conditions of an existing self.

      But then the agreement of the self with itself (eg that it believes something) must be infinitely postponed?
      No, since the end of doubt is to simply to stop doubting. It is a Leap.




      Can this not be courage: To doubt?
      No, since it is a confusion - but not as a confusion of the mind (this is just the result), it is a confusion of the self - the doubting self has confused itself with something else, has related itself to itself as something other than what it is; namely, something which is governed by the rules of another realm, The Ideal. It has confused itself with something which is capable of conforming itself to the rules of thought and (and this is decisive) without error. Which is to say that the self has confused itself with something that it will never in all eternity be: an idea.
      Doubt is the self abstracting** itself away from itself, and being unwilling to return (to itself) until it is in the right. It is the self placing a condition on its being willing to be itself, ie 'I am willing to be myself on this condition: That I am in the right!'.

      And the doubter will receive applause! Such courage, such nobleness of spirit! To be so principled!

      And yet what is this 'courage'...?
      ...when to be spirit is exactly this: To be oneself ?
      ...and that to be oneself requires this: That one is willing to be oneself !
      ...and that when oneself, like every self (including the cheering crowd, each one individually), is bound by the founding principle of all that exists: That it exists!
      So then, what is this 'courage'?
      It is the 'courage' to make demands of eternity, to demand entry on ones own terms !
      It is to demand that eternity should accept one - note - even when one is not willing to accept oneself !

      And what is this willing to make demands concerning the self - when that self is not willing to be itself ? It is despair. Despair; which is exactly this: the expression of the the eternal truth that the self is free!
      But Eternity is patient, and patiently asks "Why do you, in your despair, cry that you are in chains? If you who are free are nevertheless in chains, then in freedom you have bound yourself".

      === message truncated ===

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