Comparing Kierkegaard and Nietzsche Term Paper

Pages: 9 (2733 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion

Soren Kierkegaard and Fredric Nietzsche both fought against the rational empiricist streams that flowed from the Enlightenment. The main philosophical thought they opposed was Hegel and his method of giant system making. But most important, both were moved by the malaise of the age, the acquiescence of the people to a hypocritical Christianity and the rule of thought by a science that divided mind from body. They both were apparently moved by the morality of the age and reacted to it by building and establishing the self-searching individual as a beacon of hope and power.

Soren Kierkegaard

The self for Kierkegaard stood against a backdrop of the Christian Lutheran religion in mid-19th century Denmark. Kierkegaard's father had once cursed God in a public private way for initially locking him into the life of a shepherd. But after escaping that life he become a prosperous businessman and had made it a personal duty to raise his family under strict adherence to the Christian faith. Kierkegaard accepted Christianity as a child but grew to become critical of the hypocritical practices of the Danish Church accepted by the state and its people. His critical attitude informed his philosophy.

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Some writers, such as Tess Lewis, underline how Kierkegaard's early life was steeped in tragedy. He and his fathered experienced the early deaths of five of Kierkegaard's siblings along with that of his mother. Kierkegaard's mother was the servant girl who his father had impregnated and married after the death of his first wife (Tess, 2006). His father became a melancholy figure and Kierkegaard perhaps shared his attitude toward life.

Term Paper on Comparing Kierkegaard and Nietzsche Assignment

Kierkegaard built a self which sought truth apart from the rational truth derived from the widely accepted Hegelian system. Kierkegaard would write of a subjective truth which the self aspired to. His seriousness took on this kind of truth and famously led to his breakup with the love of his life Regina Olsen. Although he had known Regina since 1830 and had even become engaged to her, he broke up his engagement in other to shield her from the unrewarding life of the intellectual that he knew he would become. The breakup was heart wrenching for both of them, and for Regina especially in a physical way, and for Kierkegaard in an intellectual way. Regina and the breakup of a love relationship would never leave his thoughts and would become part of his writing (Lewis).

In Either/or: A Fragment of a Life, Kierkegaard wrote of the self going through three stages of life, the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. In this book he concentrated on the first two. Author a, a pseudonym was author of the first book and, along with another writer, the Judge, allowed Kierkegaard to step away from his own observance of the life. The aesthetic was the hedonist who enjoyed life for its pleasures while running away from boredom and dispair. Author a described Johannes Climacus whose basic objective was to seduce Cordelia. There was another viewpoint from the Judge who attempted to persuade Climacus that the ethical life was more favorable to the life of the aesthetic. But Climacus was taken up more with setting up the stage for the seduction and abstracting pleasure from the pursuit of Cordelia. After he seduces her he quickly forgets her, tosses her aside and looks for another conquest. But in the way of Kierkegaard's own love affair with Regina, Climacus tries to return back to her seducer. But Climacus refuses to be bored again with the same conquest. Important for the aesthetic life is that the aesthetic seeks to refresh pleasure and avoid boredom. Boredom is a terrible thing that leads to melancholy and displeasure with life.

The Judge writes a long letter to Climacus defending the ethical life, the life of the family. He explains that there is also pleasure that could be obtained from this sort of life. Either/or ends with a sermon where Kierkegaard reveals that the self must choose the religious life in a personal way to God and not through the usual requirements of the Church. He also decries Hegel's system and explains that one must go inside the self to establish a personal relationship with God.

In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard uses the tale from Genesis of Isaac and his struggle with God who demanded that he sacrifice his son Isaac. Kierkegaard draws out the same tale in four different portrayals. He seeks to explain how Isaac is the father of faith. But most importantly Kierkegaard shows how the self must progress to accept a subjective truth to make a passionate leap of faith that would take the self to the religious stage and a personal true relationship with God.

Kierkegaard contrasts the tragic hero from the ethical stage who accepts the Hegelian universal in an act of infinite resignation. The self who reaches God is the knight of faith, who leaps from infinite resignation, and without telling or explaining to others, comes to a personal understanding with God. The self does this by not joining the Hegelian system of the Universal, but instead by reaching over anxiety into something that is higher than the individual and is paradoxically above reason and rationality. The self then moves into the realm of the absurd where there is no reason. The self ignores it, the lack of rationality, and then reaches God. This act requires a "teleological suspension of the ethical." The act ultimately requires repetition so that the knight of faith in making his or her leap to faith is able to go back and obtain the self that was had been given up.

Friedrich W. Nietzsche

In the Birth of Tragedy, the early Nietzsche poses the self as a sublimation of the calm Apollonian spirits in the individual by the drunken Dionysian spirits. Once the Apollonian appearance of the self, calm and joyful to hide suffering and tragedy, meets the dancing destructive and rapturous Dionysian spirit, the beauty and art of the self arrives. It is necessary to accept the suffering, and it is doubtful that it can be escaped by the self. As the calm placid Greek Doric columns would latter have to accept portrayals of Greek Attic columns, one is probably never without the other. The self accepts the world as it is with all of its conflicts and tragedies and then pushes itself above it. One must accept the suffering which the Apollonian mask tried to hide for the truth of the human experience for self accosted by the Dionysian spirit.

In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche's self emerges difficult as it does not allow fixed dogmatic truths. In a similar way to which Kierkegaard denies the system building of Hegel, Nietzsche, in Beyond Good and Evil, also denies system building. He gives the self a lot of freedom and power. The self has the power to undertake Perspective and will and truth in a world in which nothing is permanent, where everything changes. There can be a lot of truths as there will be lots of wills. Wills seek power and domination. The self consists of a lot of conflicting wills. Thoughts come to the self and the self accepts that which is the most (democratically) dominating. Perhaps because it, at the time, makes sense. There is a will to form an "I" in the Cartesian phrase "I think." Or in Hegel's case there is a will to make an overall dominating system based on the progressive march of history. At Hegel's time it made sense. Hence, the prejudice of this one particular philosopher was accepted and made dominant over the wills of other philosophers. They fitted their philosophies into Hegel's. Nietzsche's will to power pushes outside of Hegel's boundaries and other philosophers.

Nietzsche's self is deeply psychological as it is a free spirit which has freed itself from over views and perspectives. It has freed itself from accepting the morals of the present society because for one thing the world changes, everything changes, and also there are deeper things underneath those morals whose motives must be questioned. These deeper things may not be causes but may have been accepted as causes by others. However they believe the surface morals that have been accepted as realities. The free spirit of the self becomes lonely and dangerous as it tries to free itself from what has been accepted in the way of truth and morality. Nietzsche's concept of the will comes from Schopenhauer but he extends it further and bases it on freedom, on freedom to practice a strength to express a will to power. The new philosopher will use this will to power to disengage him or herself from dogmatisms that deny the will to power's independence.

Even the Christian saint has accepted a will to power to be an ascetic. In doing so the saint had to deny other things, pleasures in life and had to make himself an example. The saint's will to power was able to project this style… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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