From here is eternity

I have not posted recently on my Kierkegaard reading.  Things continue to progress more or less on target.  I am currently in the middle of Christian Discourses.  I continue to have a mild reception to most of his religious writings.  The first section of CD comes off as firmly okay.  It is essentially an exploration of how living in light of eternity creates a reversal of popular (temporary) understanding.  So wealth and poverty are inverted, gain is loss, strength is weakness, etc.  There is nothing wrong with this approach in itself and there are moments of insight in Kierkegaard’s thinking here.  For instance when Kierkegaard develops the inversion of wealth and poverty he does so by demonstrating the nature of wealth.

Riches are indeed a possession, but actually or essentially to possess something of which the essential feature is losableness or that it can be lost is just as impossible as to sit down and yet walk – at least thought cannot get anything in its head except that this must be a delusion.  If, namely, losability is an essential feature of riches, then it is obvious that no essential change has occurred when it is lost, no essential change occurs in it by being lost.  Therefore, it is essentially the same, but then it is indeed also essentially the same while I possess it – it is lost – because it must indeed be essentially the same at every moment.  Lost, it is essentially the same; possessed, it is essentially the same, is lost; that is, in a deeper sense it cannot be possessed. (28)

A key element of how Kierkegaard energizes this dialectic is the role of eternity.  Eternity for Kierkegaard is a mode or posture of approaching the world.  In one key passage Kierkegaard describes how eternity creates a way of being more present as opposed to a future or spiritualized orientation.  In this section Kierkegaard is referring to self-torment as the next day.

The one who rows a boat turns his back to the goal toward which he is working.  So it is with the next day.  When, with the help of the eternal, a person lives absorbed in today, the decisively he turns his back to the next day; then he does not see it all.  When he turns around, the eternal becomes confused before eyes and becomes the next day.  But when, in order to work toward the goal (eternity) properly, he turns his back, he does not see the next day at all, whereas with the help of the eternal he sees today and its tasks with perfect clarity.  But if the work today is to be done properly, a person must be turned in this way.  It is always delaying and distracting impatiently to want to inspect the goal every moment, to see whether on is coming a little closer, and then again a little closer.  No, be forever and earnestly resolute; then you turn wholeheartedly to the work – and your back to the goal.  This is the way one is turned when one rows a boat, but so also is on positioned when one believes.  One might think that the believer would be most distanced from the eternal, he who has completely turned his back and is living today, whereas the glimpser stands and looks for it.  And yet the believer is closest of all to the eternal, whereas the apocalypt is most distanced from the eternal, then the next day becomes a monstrous confused figure, like that in a fairytale.  Just like those daimons we read about in the book of Genesis who begot children with mortal women, the future is a monstrous daimon the begets the next day. (74)


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