Kierkegaard famously asks the question of our times, the question that defines modernity by its post-modern parameters:
Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical?
The irony in which Kierkegaard couches every clause of his philosophy might be best comprehended in contemplation of a couple of other philosophers that never mentioned him. In fact, I am going to remain true to the spirit of K’s work by refusing to cite the other authors. It is true to his meaning Becuase the point of Kierkegaard’s work is that there is nothing one needs to understand by reading him: The point of all of his works, individually and together, is ironic:
Once we have climbed the ladder, and understand the meaning gained in the progress of knowledge, we find that if we indeed understood the truth of it, then we must throw away the ladder.
The enigmatic statement that is able to arise in this context indicates references are not needed to gain credibility to the meaning of the statement; the statement is not ethical, arising in truth outside of the ethical universe. Indeed, such incredibility beckons us to ask back to beginnings, of humanity, and to oneself, and ask: Why is credibility for myself gained through reference to other’s ideas? What is the answer to that question truly saying about who and what I am in the universe?
The irony of Kierkegaard is that he was not being ethical in his philosophy; in fact, he was being entirely not ethical. In his works somewhere (does it matter where?) he attempts to explain how what is not ethical is not the same an unethical. As well, he is not impacting a condition for all human beings by the not ethicalness, as though each of us has a part that arises in a condition of absurdity. On the contrary; he is relating a particular condition of Being human that only arises in absurdity. Not as an ironic feign to imply that all human beings naturally exist, as Sartre night have read Kierkegaard, against an absurdity where by we attain agency to make choices authentically. Sartre’s point about Kierkegaard being the first existentialist, is a remark based in a particular rational ideal of what is allowed to make sense; in this example, the notion of absurdity, as well as its implied content (or definition) from the Sartrean Existentialist standpoint, is understood to indicate something quite rational: that the notion of absurdity marks something by which the subsequent remarks and experiences are rational, i.e. the definition of absurdity is….the definition itself is a rational ideal of what is absurd– as though we should make account for ourselves rationally, that is by Ks reckoning, ethically.
Even though Sartre, in this regard, might be talking abut something that can be found in this manner of viewing meaning, this is not what Kierkegaard is talking about directly.
The absurdity arises in as much as what the individual comes upon once the truth of that matter is found at the end of a progress of knowledge guided by love. This absurdity is the realized motion where in the activity of one’s Being does not answer to what is ethical. This is to say that the activity of Being becomes absurd in itself because what is ethical is not informing every act. Not a rational act, but indeed one could say an act — if I might be so bold — that arises in the Pure Reason…
Again: must I cite? why?
Is there something inherently less powerful in the notion that I just conveyed when I convey it as a sense of being sensible, than when I convert it as something that a particular other person said at some point in time? Does any philosophical argument gain more credence because a bunch of people say it or agree with it, or argue with it?
We come back to Kierkegaard: The Crowd is Untruth.
Likewise; does it give my post here more credence when I say that Kierkegaard said this, as opposed to me having coming upon the same truth without him? Why do my words and statements suddenly have more weight and significance because I place it in a context of someone else who is then supposed to be more credible? Or intelligent? Or insightful?
Does the intelligencia ever ask this question with in good intention? In good faith?
…we can come back to Sartre and reconsider what he had to say about bad faith.
And again, ponder why when I say “Kierkegaard” or “Sartre” suddenly the very same notions that may have been come upon in mere sensible experience of Being have more weight? Shouldn’t that fact that, indeed, with a certain kind of reflection, each person will come upon the very same ideas about what is occurring philosophically have more weight that the mere name dropping?
And then, why should I discount what Might have come upon by myself despite that any philosopher in particular has just said stuff that I had already realized? Why am I waiting to realize or know things until I verify it with someone else?
In reflection of this, we begin to understand the problems of history, as well as authority, as well as authenticity. But more; we are able to begin to understand why those methods of knowledge show us that I need not reference anything else, any other corpus of knowledge, for the ideas to be true because they are merely telling me that I already know.
And then when we take that idea and reference it to Plato, say, what becomes not-ethical is to say that I did not need to even know of Plato for it to be true on one hand, but that indeed, such a statement is not an argument to be debated as to its veracity, which is to say, that so and so had this to say about it, but so and so disagreed.
It is not that Plato said or thought such and such about remembering or recollection, but that indeed to see such ideas as something to ponder over whether or not I believe or agree with it, is merely referring my knowledge to something that is a modern ethical standard by which I reference myself to ontological status.
It is to this kind of knowledge that Kierkegaard refers a suspension. He is asking if indeed the knowledge that I come upon has nothing (or at least, not what is commonly thought) to do with referencing someone else’s great ideas, because if I am able to understand the great idea, it is not because someone else had it. If indeed I am understanding my knowledge in this way, then indeed I am referencing myself to what is ethical as a standard under which I stand to consider what actions I should take.
In this regard, that I come upon the progress of knowledge which leads me to the understanding of the truth of the experience of philosophy, then indeed the ladder becomes thrown away and I no longer am determined ethically by what I might choose, but indeed my choices determine what arises as the ethical world. Not again whether I have made an ethical choice, but rather, that there is nothing that I am doing which is un-ethical; it is not ethical. Again, not in some meta-standard of rationality and subject intuition, but through the absurd situation wherein the pure reason arises as an imperative to my being whereby I never make any choices as to my determination of my Being, but only by the rationality where the ethical world must exist, at that, practically, as that through which I move, that which determines my Being, how I am only able to move. It is to this determinacy that Sartre finds disagreeable: Because he found a huge distortion of this ideal in the modern emanation that was called The Third Reich. He was unable to reconcile the incredible unethical manifestation of the world agent (Hitler and the Final Solution) so he had to define a new modern agent to ethically counter the incredible ethical breach (not suspension). Due to the atrocity of modern industrialism accompanied by a individual ideal of the historical agent, Sartre rightly sees that the socially ethical modern individual must make a choice as to whether such agency is responsible. Of course, we find after, again, that a mistake was Being perpetuated….as well as post-modern…all Beings determined by a freedom to choice…
Where Sartre moves philosophy toward a more rational ideal (that is by definition absurd–the Irrational Man– which is ironically very not absurd), he misrepresents philosophy to a new modern religion of what it is to be human. This, ironically, is less a rational choice of contingency, and more determined in love: To a new meta-discourse or meta-narrative which is unapproachable by modern ethical rational means. The means ends up confirming and relying upon the negation of its idealized past.
Such a state is absurd to that view of the world which sees that everything adheres or should comply with what is rational. It is absurd because ethics, and its rational ideal, has been suspended in such a state, and such that rationality itself become subject to the determination of absurdity. Or as Sartre called out, nothing.
This is absurdity in the positive sense, where the crowd is always untruth, but where the crowd doesn’t think itself through the individual as such, that is to say, Where the ratio of thought is upheld only in the imperative of what is ethical. The absurdity is thus to move by the imperative, such that what moves is no longer subject to ethics, but indeed– as above– determines them. Not as some Hegelian agent of history. By the exact opposite: Or in terms of “Can the Subaltern Speak?”: The subaltern speaks through the moving of what is true, Being called forth into the world, rather than what is ethically decided upon rationally.