Feb 16, 2015

Monday Morning Quotes (Heidegger and Kierkegaard, 2/16/15)

What follows are two quotes on metaphysics that have been derided as nonsensical by some and brilliant by others. It would probably take a whole book to discuss the significance of either of these quotes. But I'll just leave one question: What does it mean?
"Despair is a sickness in the spirit, in the self, and so it may assume a triple form: despair at not being sonscious of having a self (despair improperly so called); despair at not willing to be oneself, in despair at willing to be oneself.
"Man is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation [which accounts for it] that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but [consists in the fact] that the relation relates itself to its own self. Man is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short it is a synthesis."
 Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855)

This quote is taken from the first chapter to The Sickness Unto Death. I've heard that this quote is Kierkegaard parodying Hegel but I'm not entirely sure. It's possible that Kierkegaard is poking fun by using such an obtuse and obscure language. However I recently watched a video on contemporary neuroscience that suggests that the self may be a simple illusion created as a byproduct of the brain's left hemisphere trying to construct a narrative of reality.

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"What is to be investigated is being only and—nothing else; being alone and further—nothing; solely being, and beyond being-nothing. What about this Nothing? … Does the Nothing exist only because the Not, i.e. the Negation, exists? Or is it the other way around? Does Negation and the Not exist only because the Nothing exists? … We assert: the Nothing is prior to the Not and the Negation…. Where do we seek the Nothing? How do we find the Nothing…. We know the Nothing…. Anxiety reveals the Nothing…. That for which and because of which we were anxious, was 'really'—nothing. Indeed: the Nothing itself—as such—was present…. What about this Nothing?—The Nothing itself nothings."
 Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)

It became an English scholar's joke that 'nothing noths'.

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