The Tension of Kierkegaard: A Delicate Recipe for Meaningful Action
MetadataShow full item record
It is hard to read Kierkegaard's work academically and not feel in some part as if you are letting him down, as if you are forsaking the very purpose of his writing and camouflaging yourself among the myriad academics who call his work their profession but never live his work'for Kierkegaard's work demands to be lived. Ignored for decades for supposedly being too religious, Kierkegaard's corpus is, indeed, religiously inspired, but it is a religiousness altogether unusual, a religiousness born of a deep aversion to the philosophical trends of his time. For Kierkegaard, the individual needs recovery from 'the wonder game [of] world history,' epitomized by Hegel, which absolves the individual of responsibility for oneself and one's decisions. In The Present Age, Kierkegaard laments the leveled, hyperdemocratic age in which he lived, an age where distinction and excellence are lampooned by an amorphous 'public,' where decisions are not made, nor actions taken, for their meaning, but for 'principle.' Indeed, for the great individuals to whom Kierkegaard alludes' Abraham, in Fear and Trembling is the best example'principle is not a crutch but a liability, a source of intense internal conflict and tension. Hence, what we take from an evaluation of three of Kierkegaard's seminal works is the understanding that meaning and selfhood arise not from conformation to a set of rules, religious or otherwise, but through a tension of deeply important but divergent sources of obligation. Thus, meaningful action depends upon 'the magnitude of that with which [one] struggle[s].'