The Ultimate Truth: Subjectivity – Kierkegaard

The world is absurd, and we must live in it.

“As I grew up, I opened my eyes and saw the real world, I began to laugh and I haven’t stopped since”. – Søren Kierkegaard

One can try making sense of life by laying a worldview or template on it, but Kierkegaard would guarantee you that the template would eventually shatter and break.

So, what do you do? Keep trying new templates and see if one works for you? Or maybe the template’s the problem?

Kierkegaard would tell you to start with yourself. He wrote in his journal:

“What I really want is to be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I am to know, except in so far as a certain knowledge must precede every action. The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do: the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die.”

Find a truth which is true for you.

Subjectivity. Not trying to find your identity in a system that somebody else created, and probably isn’t working for them either. What is the use of working through all philosophical systems and construct a world which one does not live, but only holds up to the view of others? The view must be taken up into one’s own life, and that is what Kierkegaard viewed as the most important thing.

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

One must take full possession of one’s existence and accept responsibility for it. Existence is a colossal risk; we can never know whether the way we choose to live is the right way. Anyone who realises this fully, is bound to feel angst according to Kierkegaard.

Such subjective truths supported by no objective evidence are grounded on nothing. We thus come to know the nothingness of existence, the utter uncertainty and illusion.

The only way out of this madness, is to take the leap of faith. The individual is thus saved from this madness, by his subjective inwardness being related to God.

By 1855, at the age of 42 – Kierkegaard was worn out, and the money he had inherited from his father was gone. He collapsed in the street; he was taken to his deathbed in a hospital where he refused to take the Holy Communion from the priest and he wouldn’t see his brother Peter, who was a bishop.

He ended his life with a savage assault on Christendom, attacking an illusion. The established church was supporting the rapid modernisation of Danish society, in the belief that the new liberal state would be a continuation of Christendom by other means.

Established Church.

There was a surprisingly big crowd at the funeral and a protest was started against the way in which the established church had taken possession of the body of the man who had so publicly defied it. Disorder ensued. A fitting end to someone who was always an oddity, an outsider, an exception, an individual.

Statue of Søren Kierkegaard in the Royal Library Garden of Copenhagen.

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Greatest Philosophers In History | Soren Kierkegaard

His concept of anxiety or angst is one of the most profound pre-Freudian works of psychology. His most popular work includes the leap of faith, the concept of angst, the three stages on life (aesthetic, ethical, religious) and the absurd, among others.

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