A Kierkegaardian Essay: Paragraph 1

I am in Las Vegas, Nevada, at my sister’s house. No other person is here at the moment, but Princess keeps me company. Princess is a rottweiler chihuahua, and she has not warmed up to me yet, though she is very loving.

I have several tabs open on the browser, and one of the tabs is an essay by the Danish philosopher, Søren Aabye Kierkegaard. The essay is titled, “THE ROTATION OF CROPS: A Venture in a Theory of Social Prudence.”

I didn’t get to finish reading the entire essay the other day, and I thought: “why not read it and make a blog post out of it?” It’s a win-win situation because I gain some new knowledge, while at the same time creating more content for my blog, so that’s what I will do, but before we dive into the essay, I think it would be a good idea to mention a little about Søren’s life.

He was born on May 5, 1813, in Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, and is considered to be “the father of existentialism.” He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Copenhagen from 1830-40. He was a prolific writer; devoted Christian; theologian; and profound philosopher.

In October 1855 he collapsed in the street, ill and burned out; he was taken to hospital where he died five weeks later. Through German translations, Søren Kierkegaard’s fame became established outside Denmark about the turn of the century, and his work achieved great international significance after the First World War. For instance, Søren Kierkegaard became the great source of inspiration for dialectical theology, for existential philosophy, the philosophy of dialogue and for existential theology. ref

Now that we know a little about the author, let’s dive into the essay. Kierkegaard begins the essay by introducing what he calls a “basic principle,” which I am thinking will guide the direction of the essay, and the basic principle is that “all people are boring.”

I don’t think he is trying to be derisive, so let’s not get too excited. (It may just be that he hasn’t met you.) Let’s continue; let’s see what he is getting at.

Kierkegaard: “Or is there anyone who would be boring enough to contradict me in this regard?” I don’t quite understand the question. Hmmm? Well, he just finished saying that we are all boring, so I suppose he is referring to us. But, what does he mean by “boring enough to contradict me”? Let’s carry on, it may make more sense as we read.

Kierkegaard: “This basic principle has to the highest degree the repelling force always required in the negative, which is actually the principle of motion. It is not merely repelling but infinitely repulsive, and whoever has the basic principle behind him must necessarily have infinite momentum for making discoveries.” So, is he saying that the basic principle: “all people are boring,” is a negative in nature, but not to the one who acknowledges it; therefore, he who has the basic principle behind him will thrust forward with infinite momentum for making discoveries? I am curious, how so?

Kierkegaard: “If, then, my thesis is true, a person needs only to ponder how corrupting boredom is for people, tempering his reflections more or less according to his desire to diminish or increase his impetus, and if he wants to press the speed of the motion to the highest point, almost with danger to the locomotive, he needs only to say to himself: Boredom is the root of all evil.” I understand now. I think that he is saying that, if the basic principle is true, and “all people are boring”, all one has to do is reflect on the state of boredom, and monitor one’s  reflections, and depending of our reflections we may either increase of decrease our state of boredom; therefore, if his basic principle holds, all one has to do is accept that “boredom is the root of all evil,” and once we have accepted this, depending on our conviction, we will thrust forward to the land of discoveries.
Kierkegaard finishes the first paragraph: “It is very curious that boredom, which itself has such a calm and sedate nature, can have such a capacity to initiate motion. The effect that boredom brings about is absolutely magical, but this effect is one not of attraction but of repulsion.” We shall continue this exposition tomorrow.

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