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PHIL 375 - Lecture: Kierkegaard (Subjective Thinker/Sickness Unto Death)

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PHIL 375
Susan Judith Hoffmann

The Subjective Thinker Kierkegaard argues that reality is higher than possibility. From an ethical perspective, reality is higher than possibility. Kierkegaard: aesthetic -> ethical -> religious Sometimes, when he talks about the ethical, he is critiquing the Kantian position, one of rational, objective morality. For Kierkegaard, true ethical decisions are made in complete and absolute freedom, a vacuum. They are decisions that are completely unique for each individual. Hence, reality is higher than possibility is regarding the true ethical thinker, whose decisions are existential, concrete. What is merely possible is in the realm of thought and knowledge, whereas reality has to do with the now, with existence. To make an ethical decision is to make it in the vacuum. One must refrain from theoretical, external reflection, so that it does not become a mere possibility. One cannot think about one's ethical decisions in an abstract way. It requires choosing, a concrete existential choice. They become a concrete reality when thinking is choosing and acting, not when thinking is thinking about possibilities. Hence, they cannot be made by following Kant's categorical imperative. ethical decisions are entirely subjective, and it can never become knowledge by others. Hence, one cannot judge other people, because one cannot see their inner reality. One never really understands others. The ethical individual is infinitely interested in his/her own reality. The reality of another cannot be understood—except in the case of the believer, which can and should be infinitely interested in the reality of another: God. For the believer, the object of faith is the reality of another. Here, the reality is, again, higher than the possibility. Here, the infinite interest in the object of faith is what matters. The doctrine of any organized religion is in the realm of theoretical knowledge; it is not the reality of God. Christianity properly understood, not mixed up with the aesthetic or the ethical, is the fact that God exists, and that God has entered time, and has nothing to do with a doctrine
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