When Kierkegaard begins The Present Age by stating that, “Our age is essentially of understanding and reflection, without passion, momentarily bursting into enthusiasm, and shrewdly relapsing into repose,” what does he mean? Give specific examples from the text. What does Kierkegaard think we should do about this? Do you agree? Why?
Intro – Outline Kierkegaard’s position, my interpretation of the statement and specific examples to back up my argument.
Body – Kierkegaard’s solution – what is wrong with this solution. Give a sound argument to refute it. This is when I do philosophy.
Outré – Talk about the problem presented by Kierkegaard and how I might go about solving it.
Kierkegaard means that people no longer act. People no longer create and accomplish anything. People are content to sit around and let the world pass by them rather than actively participate in it. People forget that they are individuals and merely fall into the crowd into obscurity. Kierkegaard believes people should stop reflecting, stop deliberating, stop contemplating and act! People have lost passion for anything. There is no passion only reflection. Only “hmmmm” rather than “!!!!”. Talk about passion, passionately. You could even write about how the Present Age describes our time. Talk about abstraction. You read this book in two nights, you could do it in one if you tried.
On suicide Kierkegaard says that one does not die with deliberation but from deliberation” (33).
“A revolutionary age is an age of action; ours is the age of advertisement and publicity” (35).
“Formerly it was agreed that a man stood or fell by his actions; nowadays, on the contrary, every one idles about and comes off brilliantly with the help of a little reflection, knowing perfectly well what ought to be done” (39).
“For, being without passion, it has lost all feeling for the values of eros, for enthusiasm and sincerity in politics and religion, or for piety, admiration and domesticity in everyday life” (39).
“But these are only the excuses of reflection and the real position in reflection remains unchanged, for it is only altered within reflection” (42).
“Each individual within his own little circle can co-operate in the leveling, but it is an abstract power, and the leveling process is the victory of abstraction over the individual. The leveling process in modern times, corresponds, in reflection, to fate in antiquity” (52).
“It must be obvious to every one that the profound significance of the leveling process lies in the fact that it means the predominance of the category ‘generation’ over the category ‘individuality’” (52).
“infinite freedom of religion” (53).
“Mere gossip anticipates real talk, and to express what is still in though weakens action by forestalling it” (69).
“Life’s existential tasks have lost the interest of reality; illusion cannot build a sanctuary for the divine growth of inwardness which ripens to decisions” (78).
“when as a result of leveling with this skepticism, the generation has rid itself of the individual and of everything organic and concrete, and put in its place ‘humanity’ and the numerical equality of man and man…” (81).