Hi everyone who has read or is interesting in reading kierkegaard (hi M),
As usual...I am going to jump right in with both feet...because it is the only way I can learn is to be honest about my stupidity and have some kind person come to my aid and point out what I am missing. After all...how would I know what I don't know unless I profess what I think I know and someone tells me I am mistaken...lol.
I know this thread is about either/or but since I have read fear and trembling first, I see so many parallels between the 2, almost as if one is written to further clarify another. I hope that i can give justice to this incredible book as it would be impossible for me to tell everything I have learned with the limited language that I possess. Some of my words not be adequate enough to describe my thoughts about Kierkegaard's work, but then I have only to supply Kierkegaards own words to clarify what I think they mean.
If I am using the wrong terminology for what I am about to say...or if anyone has a better word or can clarify a meaning that I have misinterpreted or missed completely...please let me know as I fear I may be not grasping the entire content. I have scoured the web for information but it still leaves me with questions if they even know what he was talking about! It is so easy to get ahead of yourself when reading kirky because he gives his readers little puzzles to figure out and clues (sometimes funny) along the way...at one moment I say, "ah...I know what he is getting at"...and then at the next moment... say "am I imagining I understand?" Because he mesmerizes one with his seductive words...
On page,407, of Either/Or, He masterfully uses the the judge as a pseudonym to weave a tale of how seduction is done, however I believe it gives us a little glimpse into Kierkegaard's methods of seducing his readers...
"You approach her. Her finery, too, gives the situation a touch of the uncommon. You still haven't uttered a word. You look at her, yet as though you were not looking, you do not wish to embarrass her with amorous boorishness, but even the mirror comes to your aid. Upon her bosom you fasten a brooch you gave her the first time you kissed her, with a passion which now seeks its confirmation; she has herself kept it hidden, no one has known about it. You produce a little bouquet of flowers of just one sort, a flower of no significance in itself. When you sent her flowers there was always a small shoot of it, but not noticeable, so no one suspected it but here, Today this flower too shall stand up in honour and dignity, it alone is to adorn her, for she loved it. You hand it to her, a tear trembles in her eye, she returns it to you, you kiss it and fasten it to her bosom. A certain sorrow spreads over her."
And so, it seems Kierkegaard has seduced his reader in the most delightful way. Not because he wants to deceive, but because he wants to give the only thing he has to give...the intimacy of his thoughts. And to admit that is what he was doing would right off the bat put up a red flag for the reader. It might have caused them to misunderstand with cynical judgment before he could write the entirety of his thoughts. I believe he had to seduce the reader in order to get across to them the depth of his thoughts before they put up a defensive wall. After all...how do you tell people you have an argument to make that life is meaningless and they are in despair whether they know they are or not...as if you know them better than they know themselves. I believe most people would shut you down if you made a statement like that.
Rotabend asked me this question long ago, "Are you the knight of faith or are you the knight of infinite resignation?" At the time I had just started reading "Fear and trembling" and did not understand the question. Now that I have read Kierkegaards description of both (I still don't entirely understand the question...lol) However, I would have to truthfully answer at this point in my understanding, "I am the knight of faith." A distinction which I have come to the conclusion, is the only possible way I could answer truthfully and ethically , given the knowledge I have today and the confining boundaries of the question and knowing that I am unaware.
In Kierkegaard's "fear and Trembling", he speaks of the knight of faith having so much faith in his beliefs that it becomes absurd. I think what kirky means by absurd is that it is so out of the realm of what we want to believe, so ridiculous, that it is hard to fathom the depth of the honesty and ethicalness of it. What I mean by that is no matter what we 'know' or think we 'know' it will be outdone by another , thereby making our current 'knowledge' meaningless...maybe not meaningless on the small scale of our little minds...but on the larger scale of the infinite. Even if we say our knowledge is superior, the truth is it can't be...because if we had superior knowledge there would be no more unanswered question. And so we all have 'faith'. Faith in our knowledge whatever it might be. Because of that we are naively unethical to say, "My beliefs are correct because I know 1+1=2" ...or ..."My beliefs are correct because my IQ is off the charts"... or ... "My beliefs are correct because I have superior moral values." Those are all statements made of faith, faith in ourselves and our beliefs to the point of becoming the epitome of absurdity hence we become 'the knight of faith.'
Wikipedia defines the knight of faith:
"The knight of faith is an individual who has placed complete faith in himself and in God."
I question this understanding, I think Kierkegaard meant something else that not only encompasses religion but encompasses the faith we have in our knowledge and how that knowledge is lacking on any meaningful scale . The knight of faith does indeed have faith in himself...but not necessarily in God. God is just the "scenario" that Kierkegaard used to describe this ineffable truth. It could have been faith in love, faith in logic, faith in morality...it doesn't matter, as we all have faith in something that defines us. He only used the story of Abraham and Issac to show this absurd notion we all carry. There is a belief system we have that is unshakable, like Abraham, and that belief system would even present in those who say, "I have no belief system" because the minute we believe/have faith in not having a belief system...that too is a belief system! So we are either "unaware" as in have no understanding or "aware" and unethically lying to ourselves.. Because if we are unaware we are simply in a state of not yet aware and just naive. However, if we are aware..then we are liars in the conceit of our knowledge that is absurd ( after all, no one knows the entirety of our existence) and thus we become unethical. Or something like that...ugh!
Anyway, I believe that Kierkegaard cleverly beats his readers to the punch...he admits truthfully..."the knight of faith is absurdity" He lulls them into thinking...he's only talking about Abraham! ...and then sets up a masterful tales of Abraham's absurd faith. Absurd because most of us could not fathom his faith...and at the same time...our faith is as absurd as Abraham's...its just that we have society to protect us , if you will, from being an individual and being completely responsible for our own decisions.
What he doesn't do is claim these thoughts as his own (he uses pseudonyms for this purpose)or as those of ours, because to do so would be to lose his audience through the sheer audacity of his claims..still, I think these is exactly what he means to show in his masterful manipulation of our thoughts by seducing us with little gifts of rhetoric, if you will, that make us feel as if we are sharing an intimate little secret with him about somebody else, not us!
In order to reveal his seductive, secret little gifts to be shared between him and his readers I will show one instance in which he does this that made me question if he was actually doing what I thought...but this is not the only instance...this just happened to be one that stood out to me. In "Either" (the aesthetic section of the book Either/or) 'ancient tragedy's reflection in the modern', page 139, Kierkegaard writes a little secret that he will later share with his readers when they begin to read "/Or" (the ethical section of the book Either/Or). He begins:
"If someone said the tragic will always be the tragic, I wouldn't object too much; every historical development takes place within the embrace of its concept. At least assuming that what he says makes sense, and that the twice-repeated "tragic" isn't just a meaningless bracket surrounding a contentless nothing, the meaning must be that the content of the concept didn't turn the concept off its throne but enriched it."
When I began to read '/Or" I was immediately struck with all these brackets containing ellipses on almost every page...They visually and literally look like this...[...]. At first I wondered what they meant...until I happened to remember the passage from above. Then it all made sense! He was seducing me into a shared moment between him and his reader...me!
I am still reading "Or" and I am on page 434....but I can't help to get the feeling that there is a pattern to the meaningless brackets [...] as when the judge makes his argument....when he is saying something that is meaningless (empty words) these brackets appear after each meaningless sentence. When he is saying something of substance they do not appear. At least that is my take. Anyway, The intimacy made me laugh out loud at the humor but also made me blush at my own gullibility at being seduced by his words! Although the seduction was not a form of trickery that meant to harm...but one that meant to enlighten or to convey the deeper thought he was having that was ineffable. I believe in his desire to be understood...and knowing that his readers would probably shun the absurdity of his words if they saw themselves in the mirror he provides...the mirror that reflects the absurdity in us, he uses delightful and masterful seduction to lull us into thinking he is talking about someone else rather than us!
I am simply enchanted...floating on a cloud...enjoying the seduction while it lasts....ahhhh...bring it on baby....