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Jules van Schaijik

Kierkegaard turns 200

May. 8, 2013, at 8:52pm

I was just reminded by an advertisement (a bookseller), that Søren Kierkegaard turned 200 last Sunday. That is something I don't want to let pass unnoticed. But I have only a few minutes at my disposal. So I will just leave you with soem passages from one of Kierkegaard's early journals. In these he expresses his longing, indeed, his need, "to find a truth which is truth for me, to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die."

The whole passage could be seen as an explanation of our motto, tua res agitur (the thing concerns you}.

Of what use would it be to me to discover a so-called objective truth, to work through the philosophical systems so that I could, if asked, make

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Devra Torres

All Things to All Men

Mar. 22, 2013, at 9:37pm

Papa Francis has cured me—let’s hope it sticks!—of being a political junkie. 

The contrast between his heartfelt, fearless convictions and the politicians’ transparent, crowd-pleasing triangulations is just too stark.  The triangulators hardly seem worth poking fun at anymore.  And belaboring the contrast between his subway rides and their luxury junkets just seems like overkill.  The facts speak for themselves.

(Besides, I have an awful suspicion that the point of all this humility is not so much that we should despise the fat cats and fast talkers but that we should try to become what we’re meant to be.  As Kierkegaard has pointed out, a little admiration is a dangerous thing.  It’s

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Devra Torres

Kierkegaard Goes to Walmart

Jun. 7, 2012, at 11:55pm

I've never lived in the Third World, unless you count that one-year stint in Jerusalem when I was three (a subject for another day).  

I have very little first-hand experience of real poverty.

I did live in and around Barcelona for ten years—not conditions of misery by a long shot.  Coming from America, though, I imagined I was enduring hardship.  Only a few stores had fresh milk.  My American pizza pan wouldn’t fit inside my little Spanish oven.  Apartments were tiny, by my standards, and so were refrigerators, washing machines and cars (not to mention people, and families).  Life was lived on a small (if much more elegant) scale.

I got used to that.

But what really struck me, every

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Michael Healy

Misery and Pessimism

May. 13, 2012, at 6:58pm

Pessimism is an attempt at an “honest” solution to the problem of the miseries of life.  It tries to face squarely the reality of evil, pain, death, change, catastrophe, etc., and then offers a way to shield oneself from these inevitable facts of life by steeling oneself against them, not letting oneself be touched by them, by showing an enduring toughness and self-sufficiency in accepting them.  It espouses only a negative definition of happiness, relief from misery, without any positive components.  The problem with all this “realism” and “honesty” is the underlying assumption that evil, pain, and misery ultimately win out in life and in being.  But is this true?  Is it honest?  Is it

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Michael Healy

Misery and Earthly Optimism

May. 7, 2012, at 11:18am

Another way of trying to deal with the miseries of life involves an attitude that may be termed “earthly optimism.”  It some ways it is a more formalized type of escapism, but now developed into theory of life, either on a popular or on a more sophisticated intellectual level. 

On the popular level, we might term this a “Pollyanna” attitude, though I don’t mean thereby to make a judgment about Disney’s 1960 movie of the same name.  (Like every other red-blooded American 10-to-15-year-old male of my generation, I fell deeply in love with Hayley Mills after seeing that movie, rivaling even my devotion to Annette Funicello.  So I do not mean to tread on anyone’s sacred memories here!) 

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Michael Healy

Misery and Escapism

Apr. 29, 2012, at 4:18pm

One technique for handling life’s pains and miseries is simply to run from them, to try to distract oneself from the dark side of life and thus not really face the problem. This is, admittedly, not really even an attempt at a “solution” or an answer, but it can allow the individual to go on functioning day-to-day in practical terms.

This can be done with drugs or alcohol, trying to blot out the pain or threat and blissfully overcome it with the aid of artificial stimulants. Another version of this would be trying to “drown one’s sorrows” in the face a particular source of unhappiness or a general weariness or disgust with life. This is often the theme of country songs, e.g. Hank William’s

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Jules van Schaijik

Kierkegaard in search of solitary individuals

Apr. 2, 2012, at 9:07am

Our next two reading circles, on April 21 & May 19, are on Kierkegaard's Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing. It is a great book, worth reading slowly and reflectively. As Kierkegaard says in the preface:

It is in search of that solitary "individual," to whom it wholly abandons itself, by whom it wishes to be received as if it had arisen within his own heart; that solitary "individual" whom with joy and gratitude I call my reader; that solitary "individual" who reads willingly and slowly, who reads over and over again, and who reads aloud — for his own sake.

This kind of reading is not easy for contemporary men and women. All the more reason to make the effort. And, hopefully, doing it

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Michael Healy

Patience is a Virtue

Jan. 13, 2012, at 11:24pm

Further Reflections after 35th Wedding Anniversary.  When I first read Von Hildebrand’s Transformation in Christ at age 21, I was immediately struck by the title of Chapter 12: “Holy Patience.”  The beauty and appropriateness of the conjunction of those two words have stayed with me ever since.  Von Hildebrand unfolds in the chapter that impatience is a form of self-indulgence and is rooted in an illegitimate claim to sovereignty of the self.  Patience, on the other hand, is opposed to all petulance and quarrelsomeness; it is also opposed to fickleness and inconstancy—e.g., if a task or goal seems to require commitment over a long period of time.  True patience recognizes the sovereignty

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Michael Healy

After 35th Wedding Anniversary: Reflections on Fidelity

Jan. 8, 2012, at 7:13pm

Fidelity, faithfulness, constancy—these words imply an entire worldview or personal orientation toward reality.  In classical times, such words also implied strength and virtue, something to be celebrated.  In modern times, unfortunately, fidelity is sometimes ridiculed, as if fruitlessly binding me to a reality which is no more, e.g., in Engelbert Humperdinck’s ‘60’s pop hit Release Me, wherein the crooner, pining for a divorce, sings “to waste our lives would be a sin, so release me and let me love again.”

However, Gabriel Marcel, in his chapter on “Obedience and Fidelity” in Homo Viator, as well is in a separate article on “Creative Fidelity” from the book of the same name, points out

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Michael Healy

Genuine Religion and Conventional Religion in the Current Season

Dec. 30, 2011, at 12:56pm

Besides the distinction Mircea Eliade makes between the religious and the secular man (see earlier post, Dec. 26), one can further distinguish between the genuinely religious man and the conventionally religious man.  The latter follows religion more out of social habit or expectation rather than authentic faith and devotion. 

            John Henry Cardinal Newman calls this a distinction between vital religion and nominal religion.  Soren Kierkegaard conveys the same idea with his distinction between a Christianity which is socially acceptable compared to Christianity as a “scandal,” as described in the Acts of the Apostles.  We could perhaps capture the difference here in five points.

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Michael Healy

Silence, Recollection, and the Season of Hectic Activity

Dec. 21, 2011, at 2:12pm


Be still, and know that I am God.--Ps. 46:10

But Yahweh is in His holy temple, let the whole earth be silent before Him. –Hab. 2:2

The Lamb then broke the seventh seal, and there was silence in heaven. –Apoc. 8:1

Silence before the Lord Yahweh! –Zeph. 1:7

When peaceful silence lay over all, and night had run the half of her swift course, down from the heavens from the royal throne, leaped your all-powerful Word. –Wis. 18:14-15

            We are often reminded during the holiday season to keep Christ in Christmas.  This, of course, is a noble aim.  However, it can never be achieved via billboards, advertisements, and public announcements, which themselves just contribute to the clutter

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Katie van Schaijik

Deliberations

Sep. 14, 2010, at 11:34am

After an almost overwhelmingly rich and full summer, we are back home in West Chester.  Normal life has returned, and I have leisure to resume philosophical reading and thinking.

The other day someone asked me about phenomenology.  What is it? 
It’s not an easy question to answer, since there are so many different meanings of the term.  But one way of explaining it is as a deliberate effort at rightly centered, disencumbered thinking—a thinking that is first of all a listening, a stripping away of all prejudices and pre-conceptions in order to be purely and intelligently present to an important reality.  Perhaps it is person, or a moral experience.  The aim is to let that person or

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Katie van Schaijik

The marriage debt

Dec. 21, 2009, at 2:19pm

Janice Shaw Crouse has an article at American Thinker about the problem of sexless marriages.

We’ve all seen it happen: a young couple steps onto the fast track, and the treadmill of life begins to take its toll. An overly stressful lifestyle becomes habitual and inevitably has a corrosive effect upon health and relationships. Natural exuberance gets ground down, laughter seldom breaks through the grim determination and drive, and the little touches of endearment ebb away.

Are these the inevitable, natural effects of building careers or businesses? Of having children? Of simply getting older? Of two people with different temperaments, expectations, and tastes trying to navigate their

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