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Zimmerman (1981:79) – Kerkegaard and Heidegger - Entschlossenheit

quinta-feira 17 de janeiro de 2019

A thorough comparison of Kierkegaard   and Heidegger on resoluteness can be found elsewhere. [1] Here I only want to mention the following points. For Kierkegaard, the human subject is authentic only when infinitely concerned about its own subjectivity; the highest task of human life is to become a subject in the most appropriate way. [2] Accomplishing this task requires the commitment to our own particular possibilities. Being fully human means deciding to be oneself. More important than any particular moral   choice is choosing to will in the first place. Only in choosing to will to be ethical can one discern good and evil as choices. [3] The aesthete, described in Either/ Or, is desperate because he refuses to make such a choice; he is morally neutral. Proud and defiant, he seeks fulfillment in the astounding and sensual. [4] But, paradoxically, in chasing after infinite possibilities, he loses himself as a particular individual. The truly daring adventure is the quiet but demanding effort to become one: self. [5] This effort begins only if the individual accepts that he is in despair — in flight from himself. Only in courageous resoluteness, however, can he see the absolute importance of choosing himself. [6] To choose himself absolutely requires that he acknowledge his own guilt, finitude, and limitations. [7] In choosing to be his own subjectivity, he gives up the longing for security. He begins to understand that only objects are complete; human beings are always in the process of becoming. Resoluteness does not   end his uncertainty and ambiguity, but lets him accept that all spiritual life is necessarily ambiguous. In resoluteness, or in wanting to have a conscience, the individual acknowledges that his primary responsibility is to be himself. [8] When he flees from this responsibility, he becomes a self-hating coward. Being true to oneself requires endurance, patience, courage, steadfastness, will, and striving. The "reward" is nothing [79] other than being the finite subjectivity one already is. "The truly extraordinary man is the truly ordinary man." [9] According to Kierkegaard, most of us do not want to be ourselves; we want to be something else.

The similarities between Kierkegaard’s "ethical individual" and Heidegger’s "authentic self" should be evident. The differences stem from the fact that Kierkegaard is critical of philosophy, while Heidegger wants to revitalize it. Kierkegaard claimed that philosophy had degenerated into the abstract thinking of Hegel  , who seemed to overlook the importance of the individual person  . Philosophy had become abstract reflection, but the life of reflection is desperate. Genuine life is always concrete and demands that one shoulder particular responsibilities. For Heidegger, although philosophy must be rooted in concrete human existence, its task is — above all — to make possible the authentic disclosure of Being. Authenticity is, of course, important in itself, but for the philosopher authenticity is a crucial element in the event of the revelation of Being. The revelation of Being, as such, only happens in conjunction with the authentic revelation of an individual’s own Being. (p. 79)


[1Schrag, Existence and Freedom; Stack, Kierkegaard’s Existential Ethics; and Michael Wyschogrod, Kierkegaard and Heidegger: Ontology of Existence (New York: Humanities Press, 1969).

[2Sören Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, trans. by David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1969), pp. 116, 119.

[3Kierkegaard, Either/Or, II. trans. by Walter Lowrie (New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1959), p. 1 73.

[4Ibid., p. 199.

[5Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript, p. 133.

[6Kierkegaard, Either/Or, p. 220; Concluding Unscientific Postscript, pp. 90-97.

[7Kierkegaard, Either/Or, pp. 220-223.

[8Cf. Stack, Kierkegaard’s Existential Ethics, p. 122; Kierkegaard, Either/ Or, p. 210.

[9Kierkegaard, Either/Or, p. 333; Concluding Unscientific Postscript, p. 113.