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~E-PUB ♹ Enten-Eller ⚔ What If Everything In The World Were A Misunderstanding, What If Laughter Were Really TearsEither Or Is The Earliest Of The Major Works Of S Ren Kierkegaard, One Of The Most Startlingly Original Thinkers And Writers Of The Nineteenth Century, And The First Which He Wrote Under A Pseudonym, As He Would For His Greatest Philosophical Writings Adopting The Viewpoints Of Two Distinct Figures With Radically Different Beliefs The Aesthetic Young Man Of Part One, Called Simply A , And The Ethical Judge Vilhelm Of The Second Section Kierkegaard Reflects Upon The Search For A Meaningful Existence, Contemplating Subjects As Diverse As Mozart, Drama, Boredom, And, In The Famous Seducer S Diary, The Cynical Seduction And Ultimate Rejection Of A Young, Beautiful Woman A Masterpiece Of Duality, Either Or Is An Exploration Of The Conflict Between The Aesthetic And The Ethical Both Meditating Ironically And Seductively Upon Epicurean Pleasures, And Eloquently Expounding The Noble Virtues Of A Morally Upstanding LifeThis Lightly Abridged Edition Fully Conveys The Vigour And Eloquence Of The Original Alastair Hannay S Introduction Explains The Philosophical Background To The Work And Places It In The Context Of Its TimesThis First Major Work By The Precursor Of Existentialism Examines The Philosophical Choice Between Aesthetic And Romantic Life Versus Ethical And Domestic Life, And Offers Profound Observations On The Meaning Of Choice Itself Sheltering Behind The Persona Of A Fictitious Editor, Kierkegaard Brings Together A Diverse Range Of Material, Including Reflections On Mozart And The Famous Seducer S Diary This is one of those books that you read that covers a bunch of things you had been thinking about on your own, at which point you realize oh i m not really that smart, am I But as a general rule, I like anyone who agrees with me, and I like the way Kerigaodigjadkfaodfkadsdfnsldfkasdfnlaskdn sp writes 4 stars from me.also a very very good album, but that s a different deal. A book full of musings on many different elements of life and issues which are still very much relevant today, Either Or is a wonderful book, not just as a piece of philosophy, but as pure literature Soren Kierkegaard writes like a poet, which makes his philosophical writings so entertaining and enlightening to read.A guide to a meaningful existence, Kierkegaard explores the aesthetic and ethical ideologies of life through two characters A, the aesthetician and Judge Wilhelm, the ethicist Part I is an exploration of aesthetic ideologies discussing music, poetry, boredom and which also includes Diary of a Seducer, a lovely little psychological novel within the book in which a calculated aesthetician seducts and then rejects the love of a woman.Part II begins and rather savagely attacks aestheticism and discusses the positive aspects of the ethical ways while also exploring choices in life using the either or categorization Here, he takes his time, in two long letters, to explain how we should live our life, the choices we make and the extremities of certain life views Unconventional in its structure, Either Or is full of aphorisms, extended essays, a novella, letters and even a religious sermon With this structure, Kierkegaard explores human nature philosophically, psychologically, religiously and poetically in his first published work It s an exceptionally complex book but, in the end, it s extremely rewarding. Easily one of the best books I have read this year, as this year nears the end, I can say without a doubt that Kierkegaard was truly a genius It is not without purpose that my mind immediately rushes to Nietzsche pithy aphorism on genius wherein he writes,Every deep thinker isafraid of being understood than being misunderstood In the latter case, perhaps his vanity suffers, but the former hurts his heart, his sympathy, which always says, Alas, why do you want to have it as hard as I didBeyond Good and Evil, IX, Aphorism 290.Kierkegaard knew that he was a genius, yet he also knew that he was misunderstood This seems to me not to be a accidental product of the Danish culture s ability to exegete Kierkegaard properly, but rather, an intentional property postulated by Kierkegaard himself within his writings for the sole purpose of protecting his heart, his sympathy as Nietzsche said Kierkegaard complains in his diaries thatPeople understand me so little that they do not even understand when I complain of being misunderstood,yet it was not without purpose that Kierkegaard s Either Or was cloaked in two pseudonyms fictionally compiled by another pseudonymous editor Either Or is split twain, as the first part is written by the young aesthetic called A , and is a compilations of essays which reaches its pinnacle with The Seducer s Diary which is A s personal diary entries and letters back and forth to Coralina, a young maiden whom he seduces, engages, and thereupon breaks off While reading through the Either part, I felt ecstatic, aroused, and excited, as the aesthetic appeal and philosophical dialectic that A engages in truly is seductive The first portion is a bunch of aphorisms whereof all are highly quotable and attractive, and standard Kierkegaard He then deals with the dialectic progression of the erotic understanding in music, and analyzes Mozart among others Kierkegaard then deals with the Ancient s understanding of tragedy juxtaposed to the modern understanding of tragedy In Shadowgraphs, Kierkegaard deals with the aesthetic elements of theater and the psychological development of the aforesaid in the subject My two favorite essays, however, are the next two which are entitled The Unhappiest One and Crop Rotation In the former Kierkegaard propounds his dialectical philosophy to show it is the unhappiest one of all that is the happiest, and in the latter he postulates a theory of life wherein he says that contrary to culture s opinion it is not idleness that is the root of all evil, but boredom Both are written so fantastically that it hard not to agree with everything he says.My understanding of Either could only have developed after reading Or, and it s understandable why Kierkegaard got so mad seeing Danish bookstores lined with the former whilst the latter went neglected compared to the former They must be read in conjunction with one another, because all the ideas presented in both are not necessarily Kierkegaard s own ideas this is a partial reason for the pseudonyms Since this was Kierkegaard s first major work, written mostly in Germany in a short amount of time while he was attending the Schelling lectures, the breakup with Regine, his then fiancee, would have been extremely fresh The aesthetic part of Either seems to be Kierkegaard s self justification of the breakup, rationalizing that it was done in protection of Regine, and also, at the consummation of what Kierkegaard calls first love Marriage simply would have bridled them both, and would have hampered Kierkegaard s writing career also to be sure Certainly, then, The Seducer s diary can be read in a but of an autobiographical flair, and indeed it writes like one, although often times Kierkegaard flips the subjects around.What isinteresting is when I got to the Or portion Written by a venerable Judge Wilhelm, they are two letters of correspondence to A, as in the novel both the Judge and A are good friends, and A often comes over frequently to dine and spend time with the Judge and his wife the Or section therefore serves as a rebuttal, and a personal one at that, as the judge shows the error of the young aesthetics s ways, claiming that he has a false view and foundation upon which he built is conceptions of love, duty, etc on The Judge systematically tries to refute the aesthetic in each theory postulated, and ultimately show the validity of marriage ethically and also aesthetically Let us sum up the whole of the matter with one quotation from the Judge when he writes, What stands out in my either or is the ethical So far, then, it is not a matter of the choice of some thing, not a matter of the reality of the thing chosen, but of the reality of choosing It is this, though, that is decisive and what I shall try to awaken you tofor only in choosing absolutely can one choose the ethical Through the absolute choice, then, the ethical is posited, but from that it by no means follows that the aesthetic is excluded In the ethical the personality is centered in itself the aesthetic is thus excluded absolutely, or it is excluded as the absolute, but relatively it always stays behind The personality, through choosing itself, chooses itself ethically and excludes the aesthetic absolutely but since it is, after all, he himself the person chooses and through choosing himself does not become another nature but remains himself, the whole of the aesthetic returns in its relativity pp 491, 491. This is utterly brilliant, and to be sure, much of what Kierkegaard writes through the Judge are philosophical ideas that are further developed in his later works such as the movement from the aesthetic to the religious to the ethical in his Stages on Life s Way, and also the idea of choosing the self which lies in the infinite or absolute in The Sickness unto Death The idea that Judge defends from the above, and indeed throughout his two essays to A, is that the aesthetic cannot be chosen as the absolute, because it is not a choice at all, but rather a defiance or privation away from the absolute, and hence because the self is lost, it follows that the self cannot choose the aesthetic since their is no self to do the choosing Yet, when one postulates the ethical as the absolute, the self chooses absolutely because the choice is choosing yourself, which only can be found in the ethical, and because the ethical is the absolute, and the self is chosen, the aesthetic no thereby nullified as A would like to suppose, but is in fact affirmed, albeit in the relative sense of the subject And so it follows that marriage, which is the ethical choice, affirms both the ethical and the aesthetic, the moral and the sensual.What is so paradoxical about all this is that Kierkegaard is writing this only because he was able to since he broke off engagement with his previous fiancee, Regine Olson Affirming the ethical validity of marriage, writing as the Judge, only after he denied it s validity practically by rejecting Regine Incidentally enough, Kierkegaard would later regret not marrying, which makes his aphorism in the beginning of the book all thepoignant and chagrin If you marry, you will regret it if you do not marry, you will also regret it if you marry or if you do not marry, you will regret both whether you marry or you do not marry, you will regret both p 54. Should I get married, should I be good Astound the girl next door with my velvet suit and Faustus hood Not take her to movies, but to cemetaries Gregory CorsoThis is heartfelt, probing thinking which everyone goes through at one time or another Whether its better to settle down and get married or to try and live zestfully as a single person Not to mention all the attendant indentity, Being, subjective objective issues that accrue when you sit down and think about it.There are fictionally two sets of letters here, a correspondence between youth and age One from a dashing young cynic and the other from a boring, somewhat pompous old provincial the aesthetic versus the ethic, if you will.Wonderful writing results, limitless insights I d quote them but I don t happen to have the book on hand The erotic in music, the hour when all masks fall and we are revealed to be who we are to ourselves, how marriage is of the mind as well as the spirit and the body, how all men are bores.What makes this go down easy is the fact that Kierkegaard can write beautifully Not only does he argue and reason himself out not like it s actually him, but it is on that later but he uses little illustrations to make this metaphysic so much richer andpalatable.Marriage, for one, is when you spend your entire day frowning over a book because there s an umlaut over one of the letters in a phrase that s not supposed to be there and suddenly your spouse comes in and you show it to them and they say O, look, it s just a speck of dust and blows it away for good.I m not doing justice to this, but that s becuase I don t have enough personality TO wit Kierkegaard had a bad love affair early in life and spent the next few decades of his life living off his father s inheritance and writing philosophy under different pen names He even went so far as to use personalized grammer to create these characters, they did a linguistic analysis on it Incredible.But anyway he s literally speaking from different voices that manifest the ideas and conflicts he put himself through The aesthete, the cynic, the ethicist, the tortured soul, the man of god.He sat day after day writing away and adding voices to the symphony of his mind.Amazing, right No wonder he was a crazy genius.This is one of his first books, and its worth every moment of time spent on it You ll enjoy, I m sure. I ve been on a Kierkegaard Binge, and after re reading all his shorter works, I started Either Or with enthusiasm but it really is a hard book to review as a whole.Its definitely one of my all time favorites, not just philosophically, but over all But it just didn t feel right to give it the full 5 5 Kierkegaard isa writer than a philosopher, such that in poetic congruence with the themes of this book, his writing never ceases to be Aesthetic, but it does cease to be philosophical from time to time But does it really Let s first break down the book in its original two parts of A and B A being the Aesthetic, and B being the Aesthetic ethical The first few hundred pages leading up to the second part can be utterly confusing, since they only find meaning in opposition of the discourse of Judge Vilhelm Maybe I hesitate to give this book five stars merely because it has pulled a twist ending of sorts that forces me to re read the first 400 pages in order to fully understand the rest This book is in fact a thousand pages long The Aesthetic part A, The Ethical vs Aesthetic of part B, and then again the Aesthetic Ethical of part A.Though I can t say I cared much about the endless discourse on Don Giovanni Which ends up costing you a good couple hundred pages if you re in the same ship as I am , I found the last chapter, The Equilibrium between the Aesthetic and the Ethical to be breath takingly eye opening There were parts were a dozen pages were written with heart piercing accuracy mocking the self induced despair that we can still see to this day among us.Its a fantastic book, and like all other books I have of Kierkegaard, it shall never leave my bedside table. From Part Two 1 The Aesthetic validity of marriageMarriage was constructed with highest in mind lasting possession To conquer, one needs pride to possess, humility To conquer one needs to be violent to possess, to have patience To conquer, greed to possess, contentment Pride lends itself superbly to representation, for what is essential in pride is not succession in time but intensity in the moment Humility is hard to represent just because it is indeed successive In the case of humility he really requires what poetry and art cannot provide, to see it in its constant process of becoming Romantic love lends itself to representation in the moment not so married love I can represent a hero conquering kingdoms but a cross bearer who everyday takes up his cross can never be represented, because the point of it is that he does it everyday.The development of the aesthetically beautiful and the perfecting of art depends on art s being able to free itself from space and to define itself in temporal terms Music has time as its element but poetry is the most complete of all arts which knows best how to justice to the significance of time But it has its limits, and cannot represent something whose very truth is temporal succession.But if aesthetic remains incommensurable even with poetic representation, how can it be represented Answer by being lived With this I have reached the highest in aestheticMarried love, has its enemy in time, its victory in time, and its eternity in time Faithful, humble, patient, observant, persistent, willing All these virtues have the property of being inward specifications of the individual And they have a temporal qualification, for their truth consists not in applying once, but all the time Married love does not come with an external mark it is the incorruptible being of a quiet spirit. kierkegaard s either or which i first read in the german translation possibly a little closer to the danish original is a first rate philosophical excursion that, much like many of the works of nietzsche, is also a first rate literary pleasure it is only reluctantly that i call this book non fiction if published today, e.g in mcsweeney s, either or, k.s first published book, would blow people away just the same and lead to a global existential outcry of youths k has always informed my writing re read it recently finding it just as relevant and important to me as it was thirty years ago when i first discovered it as a teenager alongside the writing of sartre, camusunlike these frenchmen, kierkegaard has a northern lightness that appeals to my own mood. Of course, a critic resembles a poet to a hair, except that he has no anguish in his heart, no music on his lips. This is one of those rare unclassifiable books, whose genre was born the day it was published and which has since left no heirs Kierkegaard gives us what appears, at first, to be a sort of literary experiment the papers of two imaginary characters, found inside the escritoire by a third imaginary character These two characters referred to as A and B serve as the titular either or and their writings are a study in contrast Specifically, Kierkegaard uses these two personages to juxtapose the aesthetic with the ethical modes of life, presumably asking the reader to choose between them You might say it is a choose your own adventure book of philosophy, except the adventure chosen turns out to be your life.Part 1, by A, gives us the aesthetic man We are presented with extracts from a journal, essays on Mozart s Don Giovanni and ancient tragedy, a study of boredom, and the famous Seducer s Diary A s record of his carefully planned seduction of a young girl Part 2 isfocused, consisting of two long letters sent by B who is supposed to be a middle aged judge to A, both exhorting the latter to turn towards aethical view of life The styles of the two writers are suitably different A is excitable, hyperbolic, and aphoristic, while B isstaid and focused Nevertheless, it is never difficult to tell that Kierkegaard is the true author Neatly summarizing the difference in perspectives would be difficult, since Kierkegaard tends to be flexible with his own definitions Perhaps the best way to capture the contrast is with the book s central metaphor seduction vs marriage In the first, A is concerned with attaining a maximum of pleasure He is not a hedonist, and is not very interested in sex Rather, he is interested in avoiding boredom by carefully shaping his developing relationship like a well plotted novel, ensuring that each emotion is felt to the utmost His primary concern, in other words, is to avoid the stale, the clich , the repetitive The judge, by contrast, sees marriage as far preferable to seduction, since it is through commitments like marriage that the inner self develops and becomes fully actualized While the aesthete prefers to live in the moment, the ethical man notes that, even if every moment is novel, the self remains the same Change requires commitment Interpreting the book is difficult Are we being asked to make a choice in values Such a choice could have no basis but chance or personal whim, since no pre existing value could guide us between two incompatible value systems This, you might say, is the existentialist interpretation of the book the primacy of choice over values Yet other options are available For example, despite Kierkegaard s famous opposition to Hegel s philosophy, this text is open to a Hegelian reading Specifically, B s perspective seems in many respects superior to A s, since B demonstrates that he is able to understand A, while A presumably cannot understand B Thus, you can perhaps regard B as the Hegelian antithesis to A s thesis and perhaps both of these can be united in a wider perspective, such as in Kierkegaard s Knight of Faith a religious unity of inner feeling and outer obligation There is also the unmistakable autobiographical element in this writing, since Kierkegaard had not long before broken off his own engagement This is just to scrape the surface of possibility And this shows both the strength and weakness of Kierkegaard s writing On the one hand, this book is highly rich and suggestive, with brilliant passages buried amid piles of less compelling material On the other hand, to call a book rich and suggestive is also to call it confused Since no clear message emerges, and since there are no arguments to guide the way, the book can easily yield interpretations consonant with pre conceived opinions In other words, it is hard to me to imagine somebody being convinced to change their mind by reading this But Kierkegaard can perhaps better be likened to a good art critic than to a systematic philosopher, for the value in his writing consistsin illuminating comments than in a final conclusion.On the whole, however, I must say that I emerged with a distaste for Kierkegaard s writing At times he rises to commanding eloquence but so often he seems to wallow in confusing and repetitive intricacies More to the point, I find the general tenor of his writing to be anti rationalist and this is exemplified in the complete lack of argument in his writings But nobody could deny that, all told, this is an extraordinary book and a worthy addition to the philosophical tradition. Three stars means I liked it but given a directive HE could have made this dyad FAR less convoluted and still entertained a us readers even though it most certainly deserves 4or5 I don t have to understand it all to do so, right There were lucid passages and then there were obscure lengthy digressions that took your head for a ride There was of course the gap of time and context to hinder meaning as well Anyone who can get so far down the rabbit hole of parsing the seduction of a young maiden with only an intension to bring her to the brink of ecstasy and then disappear think Dangerous Liaisons is not worth my time for the ride along It s fiction but then it s not, pseudonym aside That s the Either side The Or side read much cleaner and countered with an intention to collapse the duality into a universal whole This was Kierkegaard s first foray into what would become his method of exploring topics of query, espousing his determinations whilst remaining on the proverbial sidelines through second hand authoring Brilliant and antithetical too Christianity and existentialism parfait n est ce pas Once I get the whiff of an abstruse ity like this I change up my reading style and instead of slowing down for close inspection I accelerate not trying to understand so much as to accept the material and then let my subconscious go to work over time assembling a retrospect ah ha when something else triggers a comeback Make sense Read over yer head enough and eventually it will Und so weiter.