Some of you already know that I have a strong affection for the “melancholy Dane.” Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813 – 1855):
“the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was a fierce critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Swedenborg, Hegel, etc. Thanks Wikipedia, ;-)
I’m apologizing so that I can describe a reality of our lives together here in Madison and can use a model attributed to Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, as much as anyone Kierkegaard’s nemesis.
Here’s the reality: we are growing in love with each other. We have been, we still are, and with this change in my status to full-time can continue on a new scale. Part of the way this is happening is a back and forth of call and response, of giving and receiving and giving back, of taking turns for each other. Yes there is plenty that we are doing together, so the back and forth is not so obvious. But most of what we are doing has a kind of respect built in to it so that we can be said to be “taking turns.”
One of Hegel’s ideas was that things like Truth – capital T truth – were the result of a dialectic of ideas. First there is thesis, then there is antithesis then there is synthesis! And everyday in every way we were getting better and better. Kierkegaard’s rebuttal was that there was no abstract truth better than those lived by the individual in crisis, in decision.
I love my Søren but I think he is more helpful here in partnership with Hegel. To be brief, we are exchanging respect, honor, trust and in the back and forth there is something better to build on to which we proclaim, Thanks be to God!
As long as we are clear about our limitations – Kierkegaard would want us to call it sin – then we know not to expect what grows to be the end of who we are becoming. That would be to presume a version of things like capital T truth the reality of which can only be known because it comes first from God and has no need for the repartee of antithesis.
So thanks Georg H. and thanks Søren K. The dialectic your philosophies are performing for us is helping us see something about our lives in this moment in Madison GA. We are growing in love through an exchange of willful decisions made by people who understand their limits and trust in God.