Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Which Way?

Which Way?
by Scott Bradley


In the previous post I spoke of Jaspers' discussion of how Kierkegaard and Nietzsche showed us into a new age, a new world in which we, as individuals, must make our own sense of existence. There are no longer any metaphysical systems in which we can (honestly) snuggle and suck our thumbs.

These two showed us a new way -- expressed in two new ways. Kierkegaard took a leap of faith into the absurd as expressed in Christianity. Nietzsche declared, "God is dead" and replaced him with the "will to power". Jaspers points out that though they opened the way, we cannot follow them in the ways they took. This, of course, is as it should be. The whole point of their philosophizing was, by way of their example in doing it, that we must work out things for ourselves. We must each of us find and follow our own way.

Very much like the sages of Taoism and Zen, who perpetually cast their disciples back upon themselves, and saw the ultimate expression of sageness as the renunciation of the same, both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche feared having disciples and being 'understood' as much as they suffered in their loneliness.

Kierkegaard, Jaspers explains, wanted to awaken, not lead. "He uncovered, but he did not assert what should be done." He quotes Nietzsche as wanting to "awaken the highest suspicion against himself" because "to the humanity of a teacher belongs the duty of warning his students against himself."

These were not just self-righteous posturings, for both men realized deeply their own inadequacies. But their very message was that the inadequacies themselves are the way to transcendence. Only in discovering our limitations are we able to transcend them — not by abolishing them, but by using them.

Such reluctance to be honored and respected makes them, for me, all the more desirable to be understood the more. Like those wise villagers who smoked out the reluctant sage from his cave and brought him home to govern them, I would learn from these two troubled souls.

Beware the sage happily adored.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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