A Kierkegaardian Essay: Paragraphs 2 Through 8

Let’s us continue on Kierkegaard’s essay, “THE ROTATION OF CROPS: A Venture in a Theory of Social Prudence,” and see how far we can make it today. The essay is fairly short–six pages–I’ve only discussed the first paragraph on the my last post, so let’s dive in.

To my understanding, Kierkegaard begins the essay by stating a basic principle: “all people are boring.” Using this principle, and depending of our reflections, we may either increase of decrease our state of boredom. Then, once we have acknowledged the belief that “boredom is the root of all evil,” and depending on our conviction of this belief, we will thrust forward to the land of discoveries. (This is a recap.)

I agree with Kierkegaard when he says that boredom is corrupting. No one likes to be bored, that’s a fact. We can see that this is the case, especially with children. Kierkegaard points out that boredom is what causes children to become unmanageable. This can be supported by the fact that “as long as children are having a good time, they are always good,” in the strictest sense, he mentions.

Having said that–and other things–he points out that, “Since boredom advances and boredom is the root of all evil, no wonder, then, that the world goes backwards, that evil spreads.” This is an interesting statement: he is claiming that boredom is at fault for the backwardness of the world and the spread of evil–wow, really? To support this claim he points out that the human race came to be because the Gods were bored (recall that Kierkegaard was a theologian). They needed some entertainment I suppose (how could it be that even Gods get bored?).

First Adam was created, but he grew bored; therefore the Gods created Eve, and “since that moment, boredom entered the world and grew in quantity in exact proportion to the growth of population”. I see I see.

Then after a brief criticism, on what I think must have been issues pervading his time, Kierkegaard turns to the idea of idleness.

Unlike boredom, Kierkegaard claims that idleness is not evil. In fact, idleness may be seen as a true good, as long as it does not lead to boredom. He says, “the Latin proverb otium est pulvinar diaboli [idleness is the devil’s pillow] is quite correct, but the devil does not find time to lay his head on this pillow if one is not bored.”

Now, if boredom is the root of all evil, then we shall seek to conquer it. It’s the only natural thing to do, isn’t? And to do this we must deliberate calmly and act according to principle. But, which principle?

The principle is designated by the phrase, “the rotation of crops.”

Kierkegaard acknowledges the ambiguity of this phrase, and expands on what he means when he says “the rotation of crops.” He explains, “the rotation of crops consists in continually changing the soil.” Though this is not exactly what the farmer has in mind when he hears the phrase, “For the moment, however, I will use it in this way to discuss the rotation of crops that depends upon the boundless infinity of change, its extensive dimension,” he adds.


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