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Camden Philosophical Society Meeting

Tuesday, February 15, 2022 @ 4:00 pm 6:00 pm

The Camden Philosophical Society’s next regularly scheduled meeting — on Tuesday, Feb. 15, at 4 pm — will be a follow-up to last month’s introduction to nihilism, this time focused on the work of 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Chuck Marecic will lead the discussion.

The gathering will again be held primarily online, via Zoom. All are welcome to participate. Let us know by emailing sarahmiller@usa.net and cmarecic@gmail.com if you wish to attend via Zoom. You will then receive an invitation on the morning of the meeting. Click on the “Join Zoom Meeting” link in that invitation at the time of the event. We are still hoping to go soon into hybrid mode, with most attending in-person but Zoom participation also available. However, that has not proved possible as yet.

Although he does not use the term nihilism directly, Kierkegaard continues the critique of Enlightenment reason and German Idealism begun by the late 18th century “anti-philosopher” F. H. Jacobi, whom we discussed in January. Among the many targets of Kierkegaard’s polemic (and satire) was Hegel’s idea that philosophy can begin without any presuppositions; in other words, from nothing. 

Kierkegaard challenges the notion that reflection and its attendant abstraction can effectively address actuality and concrete existence. According to him, through reflection and abstraction, the actual living individual disappears and is replaced by pure being sub specie aeterni. For Kierkegaard, this is not merely a metaphysical distinction. It ignores the passion and motion necessary for actual life and therefore undermines existence per se. 

The two selections for this month’s discussion provide a quick introduction to Kierkegaard’s critique of Hegel’s reliance on pure thought. 

First, from Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs; Part 2, Chapter 3, section 1 (Existing; actuality) (pp. 252-266)

https://antilogicalism.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/concluding-unsci-post.pdf

In this selection, Kierkegaard confronts Hegel’s philosophy of abstraction viz. actual existence. Here, he argues that actual existence depends on both motion (becoming) and aut/aut (choice). Pure thought cannot account for them. 

Second, from Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and The Present Age: A Literary Review; The Present Age,

https://pdfcoffee.com/kierkegaard-the-present-age-full-text-trans-alexander-drua-pdf-free.html

In this selection, Kierkegaard critiques his contemporary Danish society as an age of reflection as opposed to an age of revolution. It is an age of thought rather than action, it lacks passion, yet it is based on ressentiment, envy and leveling. It sacrifices the concrete individual to the abstract public. Kierkegaard sees this as the result of over thinking and under acting.

Finally, as you read these selections, consider how they may or may not pertain to our contemporary society and culture. We are considered an individualistic society. We are also considered a rationalistic society. Where would we fit in Kierkegaard’s critique?

See you on the 15th!

55 Main Street
Camden, ME 04843 United States
207-236-3440