Doubting Kierkegaard

I have been re-reading Michael Watt’s book on Kierkegaard and have been wondering whether Kierkegaard was actually close to Sartre’s and Camus’s thoughts (as far as the whole ‘existentialism’ tag goes). It has been a doubt earlier and reading him in context to his life and personality, the doubt seems to grow to confirm itself.

The question of god is irrelevant to the inquiry as to how best must one live life. In face of empirical data, I agree with Camus and Sartre that even if a ‘unifying absolute truth’ (what we may universally term as ‘God’) exists, it is unknowable and therefore irrelevant for ‘earthly life’. In face of that, how does one reconcile the ‘leap of faith’ of Kierkegaard as an existential solution?

It is a common interpretation that Kierkegaard’s leap of faith is a solution offered by him to solve the empirical deadlocks that man generally hits. I consider such interpretations fallacious and biased. In my opinion, leap of faith was never a solution offered by Kierkegaard but a presumption with which he approached life and philosophy in general. It is true that most empirical data that came to be recognized as existential truths later on, had been acknowledged in some form or the other by Kierkegaard. But, it is not true to say that Kierkegaard solved these ‘existential truths’ with the leap of faith. He only stuck to his faith despite acknowledging existential truths.

Time and again Kierkegaard has expressed that his authorship was primarily ‘religious’ and his inquiry was ‘being Christian’. It is very obvious and apparent in his various writings that faith came to Kierkegaard before he embarked on any kind of inquiry whatsoever. Unlike Camus’s inquiry, Kierkegaard started with a presumption and arranged all empirical data collected by him around that presumption. Despite all his attempts, this arrangement could not lead to any logical pattern despite his brilliant penmanship. And therefore, faith took a leap.

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38 responses to “Doubting Kierkegaard

  1. If you don’t mind my saying so, I find myself disagreeing with your statement: “The question of god is irrelevant to the inquiry as to how best must one live life.”

    Assuming (rightly I hope) the question of god you’re referencing the existence of a god, or the influence of a god, etc., then with that attitude, you might as easily say that the question of love, or the question of hope, is also irrelevant.

    My suggestion is simply this – in one’s question to determine how best one might live their life, that which has the capacity to lift, liberate, and inspire a man cannot, correctly, be cast aside. Regardless of the answers, it’s the questions that move and remove us.

    I’d hate to see myself shoot myself in the foot at the onset of any journey I deemed important, and (compassionately, I’d hope) I’d also hate to see that happen to another.

    Don’t turn your back on anything when you’re searching for everything.

    ~ Driz

  2. Driz,

    First, great speed. Your comment was here before I finished reading my post after publishing it myself! 🙂

    Second, I agree completely with what you have tried to convey. Believe me, all I write on this blog is my thought process. None of it is dogmatic or rigid. I am open to the possibilities of all I will never know. I am only trying to reason things out at times.

    My problem with Kierkegaard is not that he uses faith. I do not have any per-se problem with faith. But I cannot see faith as a solution, specially to existential questions. If I had turned my back on him, I would not be reading him. I even plan to read the Bible someday (I am not a christian).

  3. Fluke chance, mon ami, you showed up first on my tag surfer.

    Or, I was stalking you. Either way.

    I guess my point was, in asking what’s a good life, it’s the *asking* part, and not the *good life* part, that catches my attention, if that makes sense. Looking at life as a problem to be solved, with a solution to be found doesn’t sit right with me.

    I’m not a believer, mind you, I’m a very delinquent taoist, or very confused atheist, but I do love the *idea* of god. It actually stemmed from a quote I once read, that went: “Man was not meant to look upon happiness. It’s the face of god.”

    The implication of that concept, when I read it, was very striking to me. If I, as a human, achieve happiness, even fleeting, it’s at those moment’s I’m staring eye to eye with ‘god’, and in those moments, him and I are equal, standing on even ground.

    I guess the expression or idea of god, in this sense, always reminds me to be more than myself. In doing so, in being more than man, we accomplish something god cannot do – for god is always god, no better or worse, in being everything, he is always everything, and cannot improve.

    If we’re capable of positive evolutions and valuable improvements to ourselves, the implication, for me, then becomes: that we could be (or, dare I suggest, are?) better than the big guy himself. We are the god(s).

    And that idea leaves the aftertaste of a few more prominent existential writers, wouldn’t you agree?

    ~ Driz

  4. I don’t think I am inquiring into what a good life is. The abstract idea of that would not interest me. Even an atheistic idea of that kind would be religious.

    I ask myself only this – at any given moment, I can chose only one of million possibilities. What should be the guiding force in making that choice? I guess, that is essentially the question I am after. All my experiences, including reading, helps me in that. When I tend to reject one of the ideas as a possible guiding force, I keep asking myself why I am rejecting it. Kierkegaard’s leap of faith is one such idea and am still asking myself while reading him.

    From the idea of God, if you mean an essence of some kind, e.g. life force, I am with you on that. If god signifies an idea of what one can perceive as the essence, I have no problems with that. (I have no problems with personal gods too except when they form rigid religions).

    But I do not get the ‘Big Guy’ theory. I cannot be better than an imaginary undefined Big Guy. I think I am not getting the full implication of what you mean by the ‘after taste’ of the existentialist philosophers. If it refers to their rejection and scorn of fate or the independence of human choices, I agree with you.

    You said you say my post on the tag surfer. Would like to have the link to your blog, if you have one.

  5. My blog is drizitche.wordpress.com.

    And let me try to clarify, at least in brief in this setting here. I’d certainly enjoy perhaps talking with you via skype or msn messenger in more detail, since it’s so rare to find someone who takes the time to consider questions such as these. =D

    The big guy theory, in essence, goes like this: god is, by the nature of godliness, finite in that he is always infinite. He’s everything, at all times – but in being that, when we examine the ‘million possibilites of god’ he can never improve himself. He cannot strive for better, for he always is better. There is no room for innovation, or struggle.

    Man, however, is a creature that, for lengthy and debatable reasons, can and has become more than himself, and often the major problems of our life are the side-effects of these evolutions. For instance, is it not the very consciousness you possess that makes the choice of what to do, so maddening? Awareness to life is awareness to possibilities, and in evolving our possibilities, life, for man, has changed.

    Gad cannot accomplish this feat. He cannot understand words, concepts, like growth, struggle, and indecision. Those severe and tearing emotions are the very stuff of personal growth.

    The suggestion is, then, that a being of absolution, like god, would very simply admire a creature like man, for ‘pulling himself up by his own bootstraps’, as it were. We defy our design, and in that, we are capable of something that god is not.

    Camus, in The Stranger, to use just one example, has a character that, at the crossroads he faced, made the choice to improve himself, evolve himself to something more than he was. He lit that fire of the passions, even as he was going down with the ship. He began to seek value in a world *as it was* being taken away from him.

    In this example, god would know nothing of having anything less but all the information. He wouldn’t ever be an outsider, like Meursault was – exterior to the experience of life. And he certainly could not claim first-hand knowledge of the struggle it takes to become more than oneself, as Meursault certainly did.

    We admire those who can do what we cannot. In that respect, god would admire us. If one had to choose between omnipotent, unending, casual existence, or the passionate struggle of a life that can author itself, the choice is clear. Our lot, our life, and our position, would seem to be preferable to God’s.

    So yeah, it’s a bit about the rejection of fate. But it’s less about the petulant denial, or scorn of, the shackles of predetermination, and more of the jubilant celebration of the possibilities of our life and will to improve.

    *lol* On and on I go, filling your blog full of nonsense. For this I apologise. =P

    ~ Driz

  6. I agree with Driz –

    I think the mistake people make with Kierkegaard is that they have a very specific definition of God and of faith and use these definitions with Kierkegaard when those weren’t the definitions he, himself, uses. The idea is that this leap of faith is a faith into some “thing” (a being, some preconceived idea, etc.) That’s how we are conditioned to think. But that’s not what Kierkegaard means by a leap of faith at all. It’s the leap of faith beyond the meaning we assign to our experience. It’s a leap into the meaninglessness and nothingness that is the ground of all meaning. (The experience which precedes meaning.)

    In this sense, I think he is very much like Nietzsche. And, I likewise think this is where Camus and Sartre potentially get stuck in “bad faith”. (Although, as you know, I’m not holding to this dogmatically.)

  7. The faith then, being faith that in leaping into that primordial nothingness, that one will not be lost in it, but rather, exit the nothingness with a clearer sense of value.

    It’s like holding your breath for a long time, to teach yourself the value of fresh air. Imagine how scary it would be to hold your breath if you had no proof you could let it out and resume normal breathing? That sort of experiment, requires a sort of strenuous hope, or hell-bent faith – it’s making a demand of your existence, the demand being: “I’m gonna try this, gonna try to improve, and you better not let me down, world, and show me nothing when I come out the other side of this!”

    But it’s about experimenting with the mind, or in this example, the lungs, when you have no empirical reason to believe it will do any good at all. That’s the leap of faith. Einstein had a great quote related to the essence of this: “If (my work) isn’t right, it ought to be.”

    Arulba hit it straight on, I hope I’m just elaborating a bit on what he’s saying.

    ~ Driz

  8. Driz
    (On your reply No. 5)

    I accept this – Awareness to life is awareness to possibilities, and in evolving our possibilities, life, for man, has changed. This and a lot about this that you have so beautifully expressed is what gives us the Dostoevskyian ‘passion for life’. This is exactly why life is fun. Dynamic flux of evolution is truly progress

    I also get the Big Guy theory and it is quite interesting. I understand what you are saying. I have read indications of this kind of relationship between god and man in Hindu mythology. God respecting man may sound paradoxical to many, but in having been raised in a Hindu culture, it is not so for me.

    Your comments are really thought-provoking and the Big Guy theory is almost original (at least for me). Thanks!

  9. Arulba,
    In this post I have not rejected Kierkegaard, only that I have doubts about him being tagged as an existentialist. I believe he would never agree to that tag. The tag is generally irrelevant, but if I approach him with that in mind, I am bound to reject him mid-way for I see that he does not seem to make sense. My point is that Kierkegaard needs to be read independently of the existentialist burden that he is made to carry. I am attempting that.

    I do not agree that Kierkegaard does not consider faith as faith in God. He is very clear about the faith in Christ, let alone God. Difference is he is not dogmatic or forcing it on others. He respects personal choice and believes that only faith by choice is true faith, not one incited by Sermons. I do not think he is talking about the faith in human possibilities, in possibility of transcendence, in overcoming in Nietzsche’s style. I have still a lot to read on him, but with what I have read, he is more a free-thinking, individual-choice respecting, ardent Christian theologian and philosopher than anything else. And I do not reject him for that. I am more interested in reading him because he is unique.

  10. Driz,
    (On your Reply No.7)
    I completely understand what you are saying. Arulba in her many replies before in other posts and in brilliant posts on her blog has talked about this. I would love to have such experience but for some reason it evades me. I can even have the faith that such experience is possible, but faith in what? I do not understand what this experience is, how can I have faith in it?

    My second objection to this faith is – There is just no empirical data to base my faith on the possibility of such experience. In light of that, every minute I am attempting to have a transcendental experience seems to be a minute wasted. A minute that I could use for ‘more experience’ within my limited existence. In that sense, I am skeptical of it.

    However, it would be fallacious to conclude that I reject the whole idea, or consider any other person’s attempt at this as a waste. I think experience is subjective and another person may have enough empirical data to base his attempts on. And even succeed. But personally, I have been incapable of it yet.

  11. Driz wrote: The faith then, being faith that in leaping into that primordial nothingness, that one will not be lost in it, but rather, exit the nothingness with a clearer sense of value.

    Very well said. We exit with greater awareness of what is and our reason adapts to this awareness.

    BookCrazy: I’m curious – what is it you have read by Kierkegaard? He is considered by almost every modern Existentialist to be the father of Existentialism and I think with extremely good reason. Even Nietzsche said he couldn’t solve the problem of Kierkegaard! Kierkegaard was the first person to come up with the term Existentialism, the first person to come up with the idea of the Absurd.

    You write: I do not agree that Kierkegaard does not consider faith as faith in God.

    How do you define faith and how do you define God? I can guarantee you 100% that you do not define these terms at all in the way that I define them based on our conversations. I think you have a warped perception of what “faith in God means” that is very similar to the same warped perception that most Christians have. You are stuck in a mindset.

    I suggest you read Kierkegaard’s Repetition and then read Job from the Old Testament with a very open mind and then read Repetition again. Then read Fear and Trembling and Sickness Unto Death.

    He rejected everything within his Christian faith and was kicked out of his church for his harsh criticism.

    I think you have an unwarranted prejudice against Christianity. 🙂

  12. OK – well, maybe it isn’t unwarranted. I would say the problem is that you have bought into the Conservative Christian definition of Christianity and haven’t taken the time to understand it on it’s own terms. Therefore, you are stuck in a Conservative Christian mindset even though you are on the opposite side of it.

  13. For all I know the Big Guy theory (what an absurd name for it, lol) might be my own. I really can’t think who else I’d credit to it – the best bet is to credit the longwinded discussions, like this one, with insightful people that led me to such a theory.

    Regarding the ‘leap’;

    My most cherished maxim I try to live life by, is a latin saying: Dum spiro, spero. It means, while I breathe, I hope.

    I think that this sort of idea is what we’re talking about, when we’re talking about faith. Kierkegaard is certainly a staunch christian, no doubt – but I can’t see myself giving him so little credit to think the man was so hung up on his vehicle to salvation, he lost sight of the destination.

    ‘Becoming christian’ can just as easily be expressed as becoming whole, or becoming divine, or becoming real. Some excellent poetry I’ve read uses a central, specific foci as the source of it’s strength – a continued metaphor or sight, or smell, that through this focus, meaning and value are found.

    It’s much the same as learning of the deepest and most surreal nuances of love through loving one specific woman. As much as she is the catalyst, the experience is transcendental to such a degree that genuine understanding of the experience overshadows the woman. As in all art, we value the muse, but we do not adorn the walls of our gallery with her.

    She, like god, would not want the credit.

    ~ Driz

  14. Oh, Arulba? Apologies, lady, for thinking the she that she is, was a he.

  15. Sorry – I think you may have edited your comment before I noticed.

    An attempt to have a transcendental experience is a wasted attempt. The truth of our reality is that we transcend the meaning we place on our experience. You don’t have to attempt transcendence. Your need only allow it. We waste energy on our attempts to disallow it!

    You write: There is just no empirical data to base my faith on the possibility of such experience.

    Exactly! The reason you need empirical data is because it provides you with “meaning”. But the existentialists all say Existence precedes essence. I think Nietzsche would say that your need for empirical data to collaborate with your experience makes you a typical modern meaning junkie.

  16. Driz –

    I love this: while I breathe, I hope. For me, faith does include hope, but more specifically it is trust. Not trust in anything in specific. But just plain and simple trust. No matter what happens, my existence is OK. My meaning may be completely destroyed, but my existence remains intact.

    You write: It’s much the same as learning of the deepest and most surreal nuances of love through loving one specific woman. As much as she is the catalyst, the experience is transcendental to such a degree that genuine understanding of the experience overshadows the woman. As in all art, we value the muse, but we do not adorn the walls of our gallery with her.

    I think this is so true! I wrote an article on Leonard Cohen’s song Hallelujah that typically gets over 100 hits a day based on this very idea. I wrote it shortly after I read Kierkegaard because it made total sense to me in terms of Kierkegaard’s leap of faith – especially in Repetition. If you’ve had the experience of loving someone in that way, then it makes perfect sense. It becomes sublime (and Cohen captures this beautifully!)

  17. I haven’t made the time, Arulba, to look at your blog in depth, but I promise you that I will. It seems you and I have a similar outlook.

    You mention something here, in post #16, which is so central to Bookcrazy’s problem with what we’re saying:

    “If you’ve had the experience of loving someone in that way, then it makes perfect sense.”

    The man is saying that he has not had the experience. Without context, we’re describing a melody, a jingle. We look at this idea as an opus and concert of the highest regard, and yet, without the accompaniment this idea deserves, it really is naught more than a lovely tune.

    Bookcrazy says himself that he does not deny the value of such a melody, and that he can imagine it’s inclusion into a much greater piece. But he does also say that such a song, he has not yet heard.

    And to Bookcrazy: You ask, “I can even have the faith that such experience is possible, but faith in what?” Have faith in us. It’s a small, silly request, but we assure you, from a place of compassion, such an experience *is* possible.

    Faith is, as Arulba said, very much an issue of trust. But it is giving trust, not waiting for the recipient to earn that trust. To draw back to my earlier example, it is giving love – and not waiting for the recipient to earn it.

    ~ Driz

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  19. Arulba,
    First, apologies. I have never read Christian theology in original to have my own interpretation, therefore I agree it may be flawed. My opinion of Christianity is formed through opinions of various authors in their works. My biggest problem with Christianity is that in my perception, it is essentially a god-fearing religion. Of all places, I may cite Joyce’s The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. I have been wanting to read Bible, but the whole of it I will never manage. Can you help me identify which portions I must read as a non-Christian for an independent understanding and what edition should I pick.

    I have also not read Kierkegaard in original. I am re-reading Watt’s book (on the sidebar). While I was reading that the first time, my very close friend was reading Fear and Trembling and we discussed his concept of faith in detail. From then, I have had a bias. I am also open to the possibility that Watts book may not be a very good representation of him. Anyways, I will read through it and start the originals and let you know if I agree with you.

    See, I do not think I define God very different from you do. Where we differ is you supply your definition to wherever it is used. When I know someone is talking about Jesus Christ and his miracles, how can I supply my definition of God there.

    I really appreciate the thing on experience and meaning that you have said in your reply. That will need some very serious consideration before I can say anything about it.

    You said:The truth of our reality is that we transcend the meaning we place on our experience. You don’t have to attempt transcendence. Your need only allow it. We waste energy on our attempts to disallow it!
    I have heard this so often from the friend I have referred to above. I get the essence of what you guys are saying but something in me just doesn’t … I don’t know. I am not a rigid person but …

  20. Driz,

    You Said:
    “We look at this idea as an opus and concert of the highest regard, and yet, without the accompaniment this idea deserves, it really is naught more than a lovely tune.”
    “Bookcrazy says himself that he does not deny the value of such a melody, and that he can imagine it’s inclusion into a much greater piece. But he does also say that such a song, he has not yet heard.”

    AMEN

    Take a bow – for describing me better than I could.

    “Have faith in us. It’s a small, silly request, but we assure you, from a place of compassion, such an experience *is* possible.”

    ACCEPTED

  21. You write: When I know someone is talking about Jesus Christ and his miracles, how can I supply my definition of God there.

    I’m not sure you mean by this? My “definition” of God informs my understanding of Jesus Christ and his miracles just as your definition of God informs it.

    You write: My biggest problem with Christianity is that in my perception, it is essentially a god-fearing religion.

    This is true of the vast majority of Christian religions. But it’s only one experience of Christianity and unfortunately the one we moderns have inherited. The Bible wasn’t canonized until 300s AC so can be more problematic than helpful – especially since the reason it was canonized was to denounce Gnostic Christian teaching. It’s extremely important to understand it in its historical context.

    I’ve read some Christian Theology, but not a lot. My main interest has been Christian history and its evolution and the study of where Christian teaching authentically carries on the Jewish tradition and likewise where it mirrors that of other world religions (especially Zen Buddhism where there are a lot of similarities (especially between what is considered to be the direct teachings of Jesus and Buddha).

  22. You both talk about the problem of a god-fearing religion… can someone elaborate the actual grievance with such a setup?

    I guess from where I’m sitting, I can imagine a number of scenarios where a god-fearing religion might not be a bad thing, on the whole.

    ~ Driz

  23. Driz,
    Speaking for myself, I do not like the concept of a god-fearing religion because it makes man eternally ‘guilty’. The idea that there is someone waiting for you up there to make you burn in hell for your sins, etc. does not excite me about life, makes life a punishment. It also kills all choice and makes things intrinsically good or bad. I just cannot accept that. I believe I have the freedom to chose the values on which to life my life here on earth. I do not think that if there is a creator, it would have wanted us to live with this fear.

  24. Hmm. I guess I try to consider the god-fearing religion in a sort of, benevolent absolute monarch sense. No man fears to keel before this god that he trusts, and to expedite humanity’s path to grace, he rightly insists we act morally, and act worthy of that love from above.

    It’s mostly a fantasy ideal, I suppose, at least when contrasted with a modern day understanding of a ‘god-fearing’ religion – a general understanding and perception that I think you, yourself might hold – given your concerns you state above (and reasonable concerns they are).

    But then I think, from the position of an atheist, if we, as man, constructed this one fairly useful myth, could we not have just as easily constructed another? I think the apparent ‘watering-down’ of christianity on the whole would suggest that such a reconstruction is preferred by many.

    In a way, I’m just reiterating what Arulba said above – we have this scary idea of original sin that attracts a lot of negative attention, and the scorn that it inspires tends to overshadow the other ‘flavours’ of christianity.

    ~ Driz

  25. As I hit, submit comment, I realized I had another take on this god-fearing shenanigans.

    Maybe a way to look at it would be not from the position of a peasant, following a pious lifestyle fearing a god, but from the position of a solider, following a military lifestyle fearing a general.

    In a practical sense, there is little difference. You get orders/commandments, that you may not understand, but you do have to follow, the actions you take and the life you lead are with a bigger picture in mind, at all times, and you hold in your heart a sort of supreme trust that the one in charge of the whole operation is qualified, essentially ‘good’, and has your best interests and personal safety in mind.

    There is good reason to volunteer for either lifestyle, the serf or the soldier, and both are essentially god-fearing organizations.

    ~ Driz

  26. These overshadowed “flavours” of Christianity that Driz points out is extremely important in that it reminds us that all the world religions are “flavoured,” complicated, and constantly evolving. I think we have to be really careful making generalizations about how “most” Christians perceive their God. It’s like saying “most” Muslims perceive their God as wanting them to blow themselves up to become martyrs. We know this isn’t the case.

  27. Driz,

    Your last comment paints an excellent picture, although the word fear might trip some up. I think another example can be used through children. According to numerous childhood studies, the majority of young children like/want/need structure. They are not old enough to structure their own activities so must depend on trustworthy adults who are capable of giving them the structure they require. Much like a general, the hopefully qualified adult guides the child and provides a sense of security. The child is able to thrive in a loving environment free of stress and chaos. I don’t think the child has to “fear” the adult, but at some point will learn there are consequences to one’s actions. Good or bad, period. It doesn’t matter. I believe this has more to do with the individual then the adult/general/God. As children mature and people grow the bigger picture will come to light.

  28. I like the childhood example, Jenavie. The image of the parent is something I wrestle with a lot, and I like the parent/god parallel.

    To take another life into your own, as your responsibility, especially in such an age as ours, as a parent does with their children, is a task akin to godliness. The feat should be respected as such, mostly by the parent-to-be themselves.

    The word fear, may indeed, trip some up. But it’s usage here is that of implying consequences that could well-deserve to be feared. Not a barefoot and broken peasant life, but a sort of authority and predictable, retributive responses to misdeeds.

    I like the god-fearing idea because I like the idea of people being accountable. We certainly aren’t accountable to ourselves – but we are indeed accountable to god. Or, as you suggest, accountable to our parent(s).

    ~ Driz

  29. Driz and Jenavie J,

    Thanks for considering my doubts worthy enough to contemplate. I think by now I am transparent in as much as the fact that I am skeptical of ‘spiritualism’ or without getting into definitions, possibility of ‘experiences beyond physical and intellectual realms’. But, I am skeptical not rigid. I have taken Driz’s and Arulba’s comments seriously and have vowed to give it a chance in whatever way I can.

    As far as God fearing religion is concerned, let us change the frame of reference. Please believe me when I say that I do not have anything against Christianity (except what I have against all religions as a sect in general). Let me tell you why I do not like the idea of a God I need to fear.

    First, as I said, it kills my freedom of choice. If there is a God I need to fear, there is definitely ‘his’ set of values I need to follow. I consider my life boring if it means such external discipline. I like my experiments. I like choices. One may say, “What if such experiments include one like Raskalnikov’s in Crime and Punishment’. I have not resolved that dilemma, neither do I think that Dostoevsky could. I think through that novel he wanted people to contemplate on it. His answer in Brothers Karamazov seems to answer in your favour, not mine. Because if Ivan goes mad and Alyosha resolves internal conflict, your ideas stand over mine. Why do I still struggle then against it? Why do I stand with Ivan yet? Simple. Doing otherwise would be intellectual dishonesty. Frankly, if in Arulba’s terms I am a meaning junkie, I can live with it. But, I can not accept what I fail to feel. I cannot help but quote Eliot:

    “Will the veiled sister pray
    For the children at the gate
    who will not go away and cannot pray”

    Jumping away from my doubts is not possible. Overcoming them definitely is, but is a painful and long process. I have, I belive started that process, thanks to you all.

    Why cannot man be responsible for his ctions by the simple fact that he is free within his limitations and his choices define him? Why cannot Nietzsche’s concept of eternal burden give us all the discipline we need, without having to stand as a naughty child before a god? Why do we need fantasies to regulate us when we can do with our inherent sense of right and wrong? Just a few quentions…

  30. You poor man. As I re-read the very lengthy discussion we’ve all had about your *SHODDY* belief system, I’m almost amazed you haven’t gone totally mad and broken down to tears.

    lol! We ought to leave you alone for a little while. In a sense, what I think we, the collective opposition, have committed is a crime similar to that of the porter in Through The Looking Glass.

    The servant brings up the joint, a juicy leg of mutton. The mutton is calmly introduced to poor Alice, (she curtseys, the mutton bows, it’s all very proper) and as she begs to cut a slice and have a little to eat, the meat is promptly removed! Little Alice is scolded and then well advised to *not* slice up those who she’s only just met, and the poor girl goes hungry.

    We offered the man something that looked delicious, and as he goes to take a bite, we move him on to other introductions! Shame on us!

    ~ Driz

  31. BookCrazy –

    I know I am horrible at expressing myself so please, please, please forgive me. I wasn’t trying to say that you, alone, are a meaning junkie. Driz, me, Jenavie J, and anyone else engaged in any discussion whatsover on the web is a meaning junkie. This, to me, is what Nietzsche understood that perhaps Camus did not (although as I’ve said before, I am open to re-evaluation).

    We can’t go back to a tribal understanding that existed prior to our meaning addiction because modern man is far too addicted to meaning to be able to do this. It won’t work.

    I’m not particularly into the fearing God thing, either. At least in terms of “being afraid of God.” But to be in “awe” is very closely related and contains fear.

    You’ve mentioned several times that you’ve read the Bhagavad Gita. Remember when Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna and Arjuna can barely stand it? Krishna shows himself as the creator and destroyer of everything on earth and Arjuna is in awe of this. Yes, it is fearsome, but
    Arjuna’s overriding emotion isn’t fear or being afraid, it’s wonder. It shatters the sense of “self”. That’s scary. But it’s also awesome!

  32. It just occurred to me on reading your comment that what Camus is trying to do is to show how life is beautiful despite being addicted to meaning. Just a thought.

    I completely understand your awe theory and a little fear within that. I am only against a God who prescribes rules for my earthly life.

    I remember when Krishna reveals himself to Arjuna in the battlefield towards the end of his speech. It’s beautiful. There is a tele-series on Mahabharata in Hindi which has a long (but abridged) version of Gita. I have also seen it on that and that was what inspired me to read it in the first place. The actor who plays Krishna is brilliant. He has that naughty glow and smile on his face without any attempts that is so appropriate for Krishna.

    All this has nothing to do with the discussion, but just came to my mind.

  33. Wayne Campbell

    Was it Dick van Patton or Kierkegaard who said “If I am labeled, I am denied!”

  34. I’m extremely sensitive to the whole “god fearing” idea because I very publicly denounced my identification with conservative Christianity and wasn’t altogether nice about it. I did this on Blogger before you could block comments and had so much spam it wasn’t even funny. People were making horrible comments about me – telling me I’d burn in hell, that I was evil, that I had given in to Satan.

    In retrospect, I really should have been more diplomatic and respectful of other people’s beliefs. But at the same time, I don’t want to turn my freedom over to anyone. I’m willing to suffer the consequences. Bring it on!! I don’t need to be saved from my experience.

    Is that sort of what you are saying? (Of course, without all of the baggage I’ve brought to the issue?)

    You write: It just occurred to me on reading your comment that what Camus is trying to do is to show how life is beautiful despite being addicted to meaning. Just a thought.

    That’s exactly where I’ve been tripped up with my understanding of Camus. Did he get stuck in ideas of Original Sin, or was this intentional on his part. Maybe Solomon is wrong and he intentionally presented it in this way to create an intellectual “conundrum” for we meaning junkies – especially those of us whose meaning is stuck in Christian baggage.

  35. Arulba,
    It is encouraging to see that you got back to this after having contemplated for sometime.It really helps.
    I think you are right in your interpretation of my resistance to the idea of ‘god-fearing’. It is the ‘freedom’ that I cling on to. Aslo, in my understanding of what could be the truth, absolute, or God – I don’t seem to find a place for fear.

    About Camus, I cannot really comment on whether he was trying to deal with the Christian baggage. Actually, original sin is an idea completely alien to the atmosphere I have grown in and cannot connect with it. Therefore, I cannot see any traces of it in Camus, even if it exists. For me, Camus (in his essay on Sisyphus)is a young guy trying to figure out whether this life as it is, without speculative hopes, is better lived through and enjoyed or just ended and done with. He justifies life and his love for it through logic and experience and his reasons sound solid to e. Camus means that to me. Maybe, he is simpler for me because I do not have any background of Christian theology or greek mythology to read more than he writes. I think Camus accepted that we are addicted to meaning and even within that ‘condition’, life is beautiful.
    Also, I believe it is difficult to understand any thinker through another thinker. Only the other thinkers interpretation filters dowm. Like you saw in this post how you disagree with my take on Kierkegaard whom I have only read through Watts and not in the original.

  36. Just to get the full picture, the statue on the photo is of the 17th century Danish statesman Peder Schumacher Griffenfeld, and not Kierkegaard. Just around the corner though you will find his statue. It looks like this: http://egalicontrarian.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Kierkegaard-statue-685×1024.jpg

    • Sorry if I’m stabbing a dead cow here, I haven’t read the other posts and understand that the OP is pretty old itself. However, the idea that SK came to the “leap of faith” because he couldn’t find “any logical pattern” isn’t quite right. Kiekegaard was big on the “wholly other” or utterly “transcendent” nature of God from the human purview. The leap of faith is necessary not because of a lack of logicalical reasons for faith, but because it is the only way one can come to faith in God, existentially speaking. Faith cannot be mediated through discourse, God cannot be approached or boxed in according to an elaborate logical system (in particular Hegel’s phenomenalogical system).

      You can also look at it from the stand point of ethics versus the religious (specifically religiousness B). If a teleological suspension of the ethical is revealed in Scripture (as in the case with Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac) then there really can be no proven methodology of how God works, nor how to track him intellectually. Therefore, if one is to act in the highest level of duty, he is left with a leap of faith into the arms of the “absolute” (God’s righteousness) rather than the ethical.

      Anyway, just some thoughts. Cheers.

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