Friday, August 5, 2011

Kierkegaard: How Is Human Existence Possible?

Like all religious thinkers, Kierkegaard places in the centre the question: How is human existence possible? All through the Nineteenth Century this question—which before had been the core of Western thought—was not only highly unfashionable; it seemed senseless and irrelevant.

It is hardly possible to exaggerate the differences between Rousseau's "General Will," Hegel's concept of history as the unfolding of ideas, and the Marxian theory of the individual's determination through his objectively given class situation. But they all gave the same answer to the question of human existence: there is no such thing, there is no such question! Ideas and citizens exist, but no human beings. What is possible is merely the realization of ideas in and through society..

It may be true that human existence in freedom is not possible; which is, indeed, asserted by Hitler and the Communists as well as, less openly, by all those well-meaning "social engineers" who believe in social psychology, propaganda, re-education, or administration, as a means of molding and forming the individual. But at least the question, How is human existence possible? can no longer be regarded as irrelevant. For those who profess to believe in freedom there is no more relevant inquiry.

— Peter Drucker, The Unfashionable Kierkegaard (1949)
Kierkegaard's own answer to this important metaphysical and political question might have been different had he seen you. And the best answer that I know of is: Ozu's family dramas.

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