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Zimmerman (1982:141-144) – agora e instante

quinta-feira 14 de dezembro de 2023, por Cardoso de Castro


Foi sem dúvida, S. Kierkegaard   quem viu com a maior profundidade o fenômeno existenciário do instante, o que não significa que ele tenha logrado uma correspondente interpretação existencial. Ele permanece preso ao conceito vulgar de tempo que determina o instante com o auxilio do agora e da eternidade. Quando K. fala de “temporalidade”, ele quer referir-se ao “ser e estar-no-tempo” do homem. O tempo como intratemporalidade conhece apenas o agora e nunca o instante experimentado existenciariamente, instante pressupõe uma temporalidade mais originária, embora existencialmente não explicitada com relação ao “instante”, cf. K. Jaspers  , Psychologie   der Weltanschauungen, 3a edição, 1925, p. 108s e também o “Referat Kierkegaards”, p. 419-432. [SZ  :338 nota, tr. Marcia Schuback  ]


Kierkegaard, critical of the conception of eternity as an infinity of instants, tried to comprehend the ecstatic moment in which an individual feels the presence of the eternal within his own finite existence. He interpreted eternity as “a qualification of existence which transfigures the temporality of the self in a moment of decision.” [1] The crucial decision involves resolving to repeat the life of Christ, i.e., resolving to shoulder the burden of one’s own cross. Yet precisely in this resolution, the weight of the cross (the burden of guilt and sin) is alleviated. The desperate life of the egoistical person   arises from his failure to see that he is not   self-creating and self-sustaining. The egoist resents his finitude and thus tries to dominate the world to gain compensation. He is freed from this compulsive life, however, when he recognizes that his life is not his own but a gift for which thanksgiving is appropriate. Giving thanks for life would mean to accept and affirm its limitations and pain. Such acceptance, however, is possible only because the redeemed person lives from out of a new mode of temporality in which he experiences himself as always becoming who he already is. This spiritual unfolding, in which the future is revealed as the present fulfillment of what has always been, is understood as the continual re-birth of Christ in the soul. There is a tendency, of course, for faith to become weak and thus for the experience of eternity to fade. Hence, it is crucial for the Christian to practice repetition of his commitment to faith; he must want to become who he already is; he must somehow anticipate the presence of God within his own finite life. In Kierkegaard’s notion of repetition we can discern a model for Heidegger’s idea   of “retrieving” (wiederholen). For Kierkegaard, retrieving the past or resolving to repeat it means letting the power within operate as it has always been doing, but now without the obstacle of self-will or egoism. In authentic temporality we see that each moment is the necessary realization or fulfillment of what we have always been and will always be. The experience of eternity is a self-circling, self-unfolding spiral. God announces his eternal [142] nature when he utters “I Am who Am.” We become most like God when we let ourselves become who we already are: finite love or openness. The perversity of life lies in our denial of the enduring presence of love.

Heidegger regarded Kierkegaard’s analysis of temporality and authenticity as brilliant but limited to the existentiell-ontical realm. The life of the resolute, faithful Christian is only one way to appropriate one’s heritage, to become authentic, to be who one already is. Heidegger wanted to describe the ontological-existential conditions necessary for any possible moment of vision or resolute anticipation of death. His aim was not existentiell-religious, as was Kierkegaard’s, but existential-ontological: he sought to answer the question of the sense of Being by analyzing the sense of human Being. Any particular resolve is possible only because human beings always have some self-understanding. In the resolve of faith, an individual no longer understands himself as a self-willed ego   but as a child of God who must obey His commands in order to be most fully the individual he was created to be and already is. There is no guarantee, however, that this choice is the most appropriate one. That is why an act of faith, or any other instance of resoluteness, involves a risk. Kierkegaard, Paul, Augustine  , Pascal  , Luther  , and Heidegger are all part of the ancient tradition   which speaks of the danger and difficulty inherent in the life of faith or authenticity.

Heidegger’s evaluation of Kierkegaard’s conception of authentic temporality is summarized in the following note from Being and Time:

S. Kierkegaard is probably the one who has seen the existentiell phenomenon of the moment of vision with the most penetration; but this does not signify that he has been correspondingly successful in interpreting it existentially. He clings to the ordinary conception of time, and defines the “moment of vision” with the help of “now” and “eternity.” When Kierkegaard speaks of ‘temporality’, what he has in mind is man’s ‘Being in time’. Time as within-timeness knows only the “now”; it never knows a moment of vision. If, however, such a moment gets experienced in an existentiell manner, then a more primordial temporality has been presupposed, although existentially it has not been made explicit. (SZ, 338/497)

[143] Heidegger suggests that Kierkegaard probably experienced a moment of vision (Augenblick  ) which could not be interpreted existentially without a Heideggerian understanding of the relation of time and Being. Kierkegaard was still too much a part of the metaphysical tradition represented by Hegel  , Kierkegaard’s great enemy, but also his great teacher. Kierkegaard reacted against Hegel’s “essentialism” with his own “existentialism,” but this inversion did not free Kierkegaard from the limitations of the metaphysical interpretation   of time as instants and Being as constant presence. Yet Kierkegaard had insight into the relation of the change of human temporality to the alteration in self-understanding. Because he was a Christian theologian, however, Kierkegaard did not undertake an independent philosophical investigation of the conditions necessary for the possibility of Christian faith. His approach to the problem of what it means to be human was always a blend of the existentiell and the existential, with more emphasis on the former. Heidegger, on the other hand  , emphasized the existential in his analysis of human Being. That Kierkegaard and Heidegger differed in this can be seen immediately by comparing Either/Or with Being and Time.

The question is, however, whether Heidegger’s interpretation of Kierkegaard’s understanding of time and eternity is really fair to the Danish thinker to whom he owes so much. At times Heidegger seems to make Kierkegaard more of a subjectivistic thinker than he actually was, particularly with regard to the question of the relation between temporality and eternity. At one point in Being and Time, Heidegger refers to Karl Jaspers’ Psychologie der Weltanschauungen for confirmation of Kierkegaard’s idea that the “lived moment” reveals more than the conclusions produced by rational calculation. Jaspers says:

To see the life of man, one must see how he lives in the moment [Augenblick]. The moment is the single reality, the reality in general in spiritual life. The lived moment is that which is final, the warmblooded, the immediate, the living, the vital [leibhaftig] present, the totality of the real, that alone which is concrete. Instead of losing the present itself in past and future, man finds Existenz   and the absolute only in the moment of vision. Past and future are dark, uncertain abysses, they are endless time, whereas the moment can be the cancelling of time, the presence of eternity. [2]

[144] Yet Kierkegaard, like Heidegger, did not want to “cancel” past and future. He wanted to show how they can be united in the Augenblick; he wanted to display the presence of the eternal within the temporal  . Nevertheless, Kierkegaard’s religious orientation did allow him to conceive of eternity as in some sense beyond time. Heidegger, however, regarded authentic temporality as the origin of the experience of eternity: eternity is authentic temporality. Taking heed from Nietzsche  , Heidegger turned his eyes earthward and away from the ideal   of eternity as unchanged reality (heaven), an idea which continued to affect Kierkegaard’s thinking in certain respects, although not nearly so much as Heidegger would have us believe. Heidegger’s hesitation to accord full recognition to the importance of Kierkegaard’s thinking may arise in part from Heidegger’s desire to put distance between himself and his own theological background. As his thinking developed and his own self-understanding grew, however, he became ever more aware of the decisive influence of these theological origins.

Ver online : Michael Zimmerman

ZIMMERMAN, M. E. Eclipse of the Self. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1982.

[1Schrag, Existence and Freedom, p. 138.

[2Karl Jaspers, Psychologie der Weltanschauung (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1954), p. 112. Translation my own. Cf. my essay “Heidegger and Nietzsche on Authentic Time,” Cultural Hermeneutics, IV (1977), pp. 239-264.