Read Either/Or: A Fragment of Life by Søren Kierkegaard Victor Eremita Alastair Hannay Online

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'What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?' Either/Or is the earliest of the major works of Søren 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'What if everything in the world were a misunderstanding, what if laughter were really tears?' Either/Or is the earliest of the major works of Søren 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 life.This 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 times....

Title : Either/Or: A Fragment of Life
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ISBN : 9780140445770
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 640 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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Either/Or: A Fragment of Life Reviews

  • Foad
    2019-02-04 18:52

    معرفی اجمالی کتاب "یا این یا آن"اثر سورن کیرکگور به مناسبت خبر ترجمه ى كتاب توسط "صالح نجفى"سه سپهرکیرکگور در نظریه ی انسان شناسی خود، تبیین می کند که زندگی انسانی، سه وادی مختلف، سه سپهر مختلف، سه جهان مختلف دارد و هر کس، الزاماً در یکی از این سه سپهر زندگی می کند: سپهر لذت جویی، سپهر اخلاقی، سپهر ایمانی.کتاب «یا این یا آن» به بررسی دو مرحله از این سه سپهر (سپهر لذت جویی، و سپهر اخلاقی) می پردازد که فرد باید یکی را برگزیند و نمی تواند در هر دو زندگی کند. کیرکگور می گوید به رغم آن چه هگل اصرار دارد، همه چیز را نمی توان در یک نظام دیالکتیکیِ «هم این هم آن» با هم جمع کرد و به این ترتیب به کمال رساند؛ بلکه گاهی فرد باید بین دو راه یکی را انتخاب کند و دیگری را پس بزند، به همین دلیل این کتاب، «یا این، یا آن» نامیده شده است.ساختار کتاب کتاب از زبان سه شخصیت خیالی نوشته شده که هر یک نمایانگر یکی از شیوه های زندگی هستند و نظر خود راجع به «ازدواج» را بیان می کنند.بخش نخست که توسط فردی بی نام نوشته شده، بیانگر «لذت جویی محض» است، جایی که فرد فقط دنبال لذت است و چیزی جز لذت نمی شناسد. این فرد ازدواج را نفی می کند و لذت افسار گسیخته ی دون ژوان مآبانه را بر می گزیند.بخش دوم ( خاطرات یک اغواگر) توسط شخصیتی خیالی به نام «یوهانس اغواگر» نوشته شده و بیانگر شیوه ی «لذت جویی حسابگرانه» است، جایی که فرد بیش از آن که از شیئ خارجی لذت ببرد، از نقشه ریختن و حسابگری برای به دست آوردن آن شیئ لذت می برد. یوهانس هر بار تنها عاشق یک دختر می شود (بر عکس فرد بی نام بخش اول، که لذت جویی اش حد و مرزی نمی شناخت) و سعی می کند او را با طعمه ها و توطئه های خود به دام بیندازد، سپس به راحتی او را رها کرده، سراغ دیگری می رود.بخش سوم به عنوان جوابیه ای بر دو بخش قبلی، توسط شخصیتی خیالی به نام «قاضی ویلهلم» نوشته شده که خود در عالم «اخلاقی» زندگی می کند. در این بخش قاضی ویلهلم بر اهمیت تعهد اخلاقی در زندگی (در این جا: پایبندی به ازدواج) تأکید می کند. مؤخره ی کتاب، از زبان شخصیتی خیالی که کشیشی اهل «یوتلند» معرفی می شود نوشته شده، که ظاهراً اشاره ای است به سپهر سوم (سپهر ایمانی) که در زمان نوشتن این کتاب، کیرکگور هنوز تصویر روشنی از چیستی آن نداشت؛ اما بعدها این سپهر را هم در کتابترس و لرز خود به تفصیل شرح داد.از کتاباگر ازدواج کنی پشیمان مى شوى، اگر ازدواج نکنی نیز پشیمان مى شوى؛چه ازدواج کنی چه نکنی، به یکسان پشیمان مى شوى و افسوس مى خورى.اگر به حماقت های این دنیا بخندی پشیمان مى شوى، اگر بر آن مویه کنی نیز پشیمان مى شوى؛چه بخندی چه مویه کنی، به یکسان پشیمان مى شوى و افسوس مى خورى.اگر خود را حلق آویز کنی پشیمان مى شوى، اگر خود را نکشی نیز پشیمان مى شوى؛چه خود را بکشی چه نکشی، به یکسان پشیمان مى شوى و افسوس مى خورى.این، خانم ها و آقایان، اساس فلسفه است.

  • Helle
    2019-02-04 21:55

    Søren Kierkegaard was clever, arrogant, verbose, observant, cynical, ironic, prolific, religious, gifted. His writing is dense, polemical, lyrical, remarkable. His magnum opus, Either-Or, is an exceptional work. I struggled my way through it, much as I imagine I would struggle to climb Mount Everest – through nebulous passages, up windy roads that sometimes narrowed, sometimes digressed into unexpected territory, always challenged my footing and my stamina. But on nearly every page there was a striking view to take in. I underlined sentence after sentence that made me stop, wonder, marvel; things that made me frustrated, impressed, enlightened, confused. It was tiring to read at times, perhaps even tiresome, because Kierkegaard would drone on and on, alighting on every possible angle to every topic. And yet it was these meanderings, these endless labyrinthine discussions that would produce golden nuggets of wisdom in the midst of beautiful, often archaic (in terms of today’s Danish) words. The first part – Either – is an ostensible defense of the aesthetic perspective on life, consisting of a number of texts, different in genres and themes, which celebrate constant change and sensory experiences. In one of these texts, Kierkegaard discusses this aesthetic view of life (a narrower definition of the term compared to today’s understanding) through a lengthy appreciation of Mozart’s opera, Don Giovanni, written by Victor Emeritus, aesthete, one of Kierkegaard’s many aliases. This part also includes one of his more famous pieces, The Seducer’s Diary. In the second part - Or, he criticizes this a superficial take on life and argues for the ethical perspective: the nourishment of the soul and not just of the senses. (Because of their cerebral compatibility, I wonder what Kierkegaard would have made of Oscar Wilde, and vice versa. When I say cerebral compatibility, I mean their extreme genius, their willingness to hold two opposing viewpoints at the same time, their ability to reference other works of literature ad infinitum, their linguistic superiority and wordsmithery. Despite these similarities they lived lives that were at the opposite ends of the aesthetic/ethical spectrum, which, paradoxically, made them both embrace an either-or stance. Personally, I opt for a both-and one (an expression which we have in Danish)). At 835 pages – a monstrous literary tour de force which cemented Kierkegaard’s status as one of the foremost thinkers of the age - this was a slow, slow read. I tried to read a minimum of ten pages at a time, but it turned out to be a maximum. I often went back to reread a sentence (which often began three lines above) to glean the exact meaning. Part of the problem is that the Danish language has evolved so much more since Kierkegaard’s days than the English language has, and many words have either disappeared from usage or have changed their usage to mean something different today. Also the inflections of verbs were different, and his punctuation – run-on clauses with only commas to separate them – would make me breathless. The Germanic capitalization of nouns was a detail in the bigger picture. I’ve been told he’s much easier to read in English, and so despite his (and my) original language being Danish, I might try him in English next time.There was much I marvelled at, much I admired but also quite a bit I disagreed with. His view of women, for instance; he seems stuck in the 19th century (women are not born to work but are flighty, imaginative creatures, etc.), though it is sometimes difficult to know whether he speaks with his own voice or under a pseudonym and is thus being ironic or downright insincere to provoke a reaction (this is the case in the Seducer’s Diary, for instance, in which the narrator is neither aesthete nor ethically responsible but rather a cynic). Moreover, his reliance on God is a far cry from the rather a-religious Denmark of today and sometimes seemed at odds with his sharp, intellectual observations. Though he is often considered the father of existentialism, his particular branch was more religious than the later existentialists of the 20th century.He ponders and discusses an abundance of life’s mysteries and challenges. Anxiety, for instance, is produced by our reflecting on things and as such, he claims, thus different from sorrow. It is always connected to time in the sense that you cannot be anxious about the present but only about what is past or what is in the future. Sorrow, on the other hand is bound to the present. This was something I pondered at length and which, like many of his other points and arguments, raised questions rather than gave any clear answers. Another point he made, which I immediately took to heart, is that we must not be (too) busy. If we’re too busy, we’re not taking our lives seriously. Throughout, he references Goethe’s Faust, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, Shakespeare and many Greeks – in Greek; those quotes were Greek to me. A selection of his more comprehensible quotes (which I’ve translated):I say about my sorrow what the Englishman says about his home: my sorrow is my castle. Many people see having sorrows as one of life’s comforts.Nobody returns from the dead, nobody has entered the world without crying; no one asks you when you want in, no one asks you when you want out.An individual who hopes for eternal life is in a sense an unhappy individual insofar as he relinquishes the present, but is not in a stricter sense unhappy because he is present within this hope.Can you long for what you already possess? Yes, when you imagine that in the next moment you may no longer possess it.One of Denmark's three literary triumvirs, if you ask me, the other two being Hans Christian Andersen and Karen Blixen. Recommended for the patient and philosophically-minded reader.

  • Sean Wilson
    2019-02-03 19:56

    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.

  • Brent McCulley
    2019-02-21 17:31

    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 is more afraid 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 did?" Beyond 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 that "People 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 is more interesting 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 to...for 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 the more poignant 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).

  • Khashayar Mohammadi
    2019-02-06 20:27

    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 is more a 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.

  • AJ Griffin
    2019-02-20 19:36

    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.

  • Matt
    2019-01-29 20:35

    "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...more on that later) but he uses little illustrations to make this metaphysic so much richer and more palatable.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.

  • Armin
    2019-01-26 19:56

    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 aesthetic...Married 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.

  • Marcus Speh
    2019-02-11 17:43

    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, camus...unlike these frenchmen, kierkegaard has a northern lightness that appeals to my own mood.

  • Simon Robs
    2019-01-24 22:37

    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....

  • Gary
    2019-02-19 21:26

    I found the 'Either' part of the book somewhat tedious in itself. Music, art, seduction, Mozart and Don Giovanni is the greatest opera ever and so on. It took the 'Or' part of the book for me to really appreciate what was going on with the book as a whole. The universal can never be understood except through the particular (big theme with Kierkegaard and also Hegel but Hegel develops a coherent philosophy to deal with it). Kierkegaard really once again gets to the heart of the issue of being human within his ramblings. There is something rotten in Denmark (and the world) and Kierkegaard has only his feelings to guide him and tries to layout what that is. At the heart of being human is a paradox that is best revealed by an irony which is always jealous of authenticity. David Foster Wallace's in his Infinite Jest grabs onto these concepts from Kierkegaard and ends up writing my second favorite fictional book which explores the same concepts in the guise of fiction. I'm not sure if others see that connection with "Infinite Jest" but as I was reading it I noticed Kierkegaard (and Reginia) were mentioned multiple times and I had connected the dots between the two within my own mind and what IJ was trying to get at.Being can contrast with appearance, thought, ought or becoming. Kierkegaard focuses on the being/becoming dichotomy. The aesthetic is the being, and the ethical is the becoming in his formulation. There is an Aristotelian story that Kierkegaard is telling and he just assumes that his readers have read Aristotle. The beautiful, that which is its own teleology, is not the accidental but the essential and breaks the chain of necessity since it is only temporal and is not part of the mimetic, the they, our nature that is our culture. It is not 'know thyself', it is 'choose thyself', Kierkegaard will state from his 'Or' alter ego. I only started understanding this book with the 'Or'. His 'Or' explained what the 'Either' was and what the 'Or' meant. The foundations for 'existentialism' definitely are within this book (as witnessed by his 'choose thyself' stance). The one thing we are always free to choose is our freedom according to 'Or' and the advice he gives to 'Either'. There's a direct connection between what is going on in the country today with a president who after a hurricane has devastated a part of it says moronic things like "Puerto Rico has always been in debt, they're an island with problems, an island surrounded by a body of water, an ocean, a really big ocean (sic), Puerto Rico wants everything to be done for them" and with Kierkegaard's frustrations expressed in this book. Forty eight percent of Americans voted for the speaker of such moronic statements and they share Kierkegaard's extreme reaction against the lessons from the Enlightenment which are subtly presented within this book.The connection lies here: The 'Or' needs 'the good' and 'the evil' to be from the infinite and unattainable. Kierkegaard will say that God is always right and we are always wrong, and God is not love and we must learn to reject the absolute completely before we can know God (most of this is gleamed from the text and other people might read it differently, but I think I could defend this if I were forced to based on this book alone. Also similarly Augustine, Miester Eckhart, and Pascal have a similar take on our relationship to God). The absolute truth is certain within the conservative mindset (and with Kierkegaard) and that eliminates the need for tolerance and therefore compassion (after all, why would any one need facts, data, logic, reason, analysis or the empirical if they already know truth with certainty from their feelings and sentiments, after all who really needs science when you already know "climate change is a Chinese Hoax", good God conservatives why can't you read "Scientific American" they have demonstrated the scientific truth of the absurdity of that statement with facts, data, logic, reason, analysis and empirical based models). (All of the Enlightenment can be distilled into the expression 'tolerance is good' and that is anathema to conservatives and Donald Trump). I see Kierkegaard mostly as abhorrent. But, I still love to read him. He knows something that others don't know. Our contradictions make us human. Logic and Reason do not allow for contradictions, but existence leads to absurdities. Our despair (anxiety) is over 'nothing'. Trump (and his followers, 48% of the country) do not allow for the contradictions and believe their feelings and sentiments give certainty thus justifying their hate and intolerance for others. Kierkegaard wants certainty without contradictions but knows the closer he gets the further it gets from him. (This is what Infinite Jest gets at but takes over 1000 pages). Kierkegaard is aware of the contradictions, but doesn't accept them. Trump is not even aware of the contradictions. This is Kierkegaard's first book. He's trying to keep it serious and is not yet mocking his reader or showing contempt for them. His 'Or' persona gets the last word and reveals the author as he wants to be, his 'Either' shows him how he is. I think he did such a good job with his 'Or' that I ignored the ramblings from his 'Either' because they ultimately become clear by the end of the book.

  • kaśyap
    2019-01-24 22:41

    Are passions, then, the Pagans of the soul? Reason alone baptized?I guess the choice of this quote in the beginning of the book tells us a lot about the common thread in this book and the rest of his work.So the book is divided into two parts and Victor Eremita is the editor who published the work.The part I written by the young ironic aesthete “A” contains a lot of witty aphorisms, an essay on Mozart’s Don Giovanni, a very interesting essay on tragedy in ancient and modern drama and an insightful chapter on how to deal with boredom. It finally ends with the seducer’s diary. (A attributes the authorship of the diary to another man Johannes.The part II is a series of letters written to the young aesthete by an ethicist, an old judge named Wilhelm. In this part, judge Wilhelm presents us with the existential choice of either/or, also reminding us that we have a choice not to choose as “A” does. This part ends with a religious sermon(written by another author and not judge wilhelm).It's hard to to praphrase this work but we can say that Either/Or at it's heart is concerned mainly with living, and the various ideas and insights you can get out of it are complex and layered.And kierkegaard is quite poetic and this book(well, at least the first part) is a literary pleasure.

  • Seri
    2019-02-17 14:30

    Even if you are not interested in philosophy, this book is great to read just for its literary style. Kierkegaard speaks through a pseudonymous editor, who has compiled the diary of an aesthete who is also a seducer of young girls. Warning the aesthete is a judge who pleads with him to choose an ethical life over his aesthetic gallavanting lifestyle.Kierkegaard is not only a great philosopher, but also a great writer. This is his first work and also the best introduction to his later philosophy. Choose the aesthetic life or the ethic life, whichever you choose you'll be disappointed.

  • S.J. Pettersson
    2019-02-07 17:49

    Either you have read this book, or you have not. If you have read it, you will not require a review, if you have not, non will suffice to describe its content.A friend took me to visit Kierkegaard's grave at assistens kirkrgården in Copenhagen during a difficult time in my life. Ben Webster is also buried there.

  • no_more_color
    2019-02-09 22:40

    "Yes, I assure you that if my own life, through no fault of my own, were so fraught with sorrows and sufferings that I could call myself the greatest tragic hero, revel in my pain, and appal the world by calling attention to it, my choice is made; I divest myself of the hero's apparel and of tragedy's pathos, I am not the afflicted one who can be proud of his suffering, I am the humble one who is aware of his sin. I have only one expression for what I suffer-guilt; one expression for my pain-repentance; one hope before my eyes-forgiveness; and if I find this difficult… I have but one prayer, I will throw myself to the ground and implore the eternal power that governs the world for one grace early and late, that I be allowed to repent. For I know only one sorrow which can bring me to despair and plunge everything down into it-the sorrow that repentance was a delusion, a delusion not in respect of the forgiveness it seeks, but in the accountability it presupposes."This passage is one of the most powerful and beautiful I have ever read.

  • Logophile (Heather)
    2019-01-28 21:36

    This was a slow read. Not because it isn't interesting but because it demands every available brain cell be focused. His discussions of the aesthetic and then the ethical life are presented by means of letters, and a diary, written by different characters created by Kierkegaard. This is a devise to show the various views from the inside. Having read Fear and Trembling before this definitely helped me sort out some of what he was saying. An understanding his views regarding despair, resignation, and freedom was helpful. "The Aesthetic Validity of Marriage" attempts to reconcile the aesthetic and ethical by claiming that the nature of marriage makes it more aesthetically pleasing than a fling, and it is an ethical model as well. However, he does show that there are limitations inherent in this choice as well.The writing is engaging, at times amusing, even if demanding.I'm glad I read it. I'm glad I'm done.

  • Michael
    2019-02-22 17:52

    Either/or is discredited by its principle reliance on the necessity to choose between an aesthetic or ethical life. Kierkegaard makes the point that we have to choose between these if we want to have purpose to life because of the inherent contradiction between the two. However this choice seems arbitrary and unnatural. Even if necessary (which I doubt it is), why propose a philosophy that's impossible for a vast majority of people to apply?While the logic is pretty shady for a work considered to be one of the greats of Western philosophy, Kierkegaard's sense of humor and irony is always entertaining.

  • Eve
    2019-02-09 22:52

    Enten you Love this / Eller you don't. It had a big impact on my life for sure...

  • Jimmy
    2019-02-02 18:48

    Alastair Hannay writes that the "motivation" for Either/Or was "probably a combination of two things:" 1. breaking off with Regine Olsen and 2. his confrontation with Schelling's philosophy. I'm fascinated by the whole breakup story. I've long tried to figure out why he did it. I think it was Francis Bacon who said something like "He who has a wife and children has given hostages to fortune." Or maybe it was Kevin Bacon. In any case, I think Soren made the choice to write and he did not want anything to stand in his way. Even his love for this young woman. As a poet myself, I was fascinated by the story in the first paragraph of Diapsalmata. He compares poets to the "unfortunates" who are being "slowly tortured by a gentle fire in Phalaris's bull." To the tyrant, "they sounded like sweet music." So with the poet. He needs to suffer to write. The words may be beautiful, but they are a product of suffering.I love the lines where Kierkegaard repeats "I can't be bothered" about opposite things. So he can't be bothered to ride and he can't be bothered to walk. He makes the point elsewhere as well that no matter what we do we will regret it. So there is no solution here on earth except suffering. He calls sorrow his life's "castle." The way others refer to their homes.I also love his famous image about the tile falling from a roof and hitting someone on the head. What's the point in making plans when you could walk out the door and get hit on the head by a falling tile and die. I think these lines are the beginning of existentialism:"No one comes back from the dead, no one has entered the world without crying; no one is asked when he wishes to enter life, nor when he wishes to leave." Kierkegaard speaks of winning an essay contest at age 15 about the proof of the existence of the soul. Now at age 25, he cannot think of a single proof of the soul. This will all lead to the leap of faith. Forget proof, just believe. He makes his main point about tragedy in a bit of a contradiction: "there is an essential difference between ancient and modern tragedy" BUT "the concept of the tragic remains essentially unchanged." His first point is that the aesthetics of Aristotle still apply. And I have to agree with the genius of Aristotle. The difference with the modern concept of tragedy is that now the "hero stands and falls entirely on his own deeds." In the past it was more the sins of the father in the case of Antigone, or perhaps some excessive hubris as in the case of Oedipus. We are presented with three Shadowgraphs: Marie Beaumarchais from Goethe's Clavigo, Donna Elvira from Mozart's Don Giovanni, and Margrete from Goethe's Faust. All of them women who were mistreated by men. I can't help but go back again to Kierkegaard's personal life with Regine Olsen. More and more I believe he thought he was his own Don Juan. There may have been many reasons why he dumped her, such as the desire to focus on writing, but I think the whole Don Giovanni metaphor influenced him also. Kierkegaard's description of "The Unhappiest One":“He cannot become old, for he has never been young; he cannot become young, for he is already old. In one sense of the word he cannot die, for he is already old. In one sense of the word he cannot die, for he has not really lived; in another sense he cannot live, for he is already died. He cannot love, for love is in the present, and he has no present, no future, and no past; and yet he has a sympathetic nature, and he hates the world only because he loves it. He has no passion, not because he is destitute of it, but because simultaneously he has the opposite passion. He has no time for anything, not because his time is take up with something else, but because he has no time at all. He is impotent, not because he has no energy, but because his own energy makes him impotent.”He starts with the idea in Crop Rotation that "all men are boring." He should know."Boredom is the root of all evil." When kids are bored, they cause trouble and misbehave. Hire nursemaids that know how to entertain children. I have to give Kierkegaard credit for understanding youngsters.Boredom can be traced back to "the very beginning of the world." Bored gods created humans. Bored Adam got Eve. Bored Adam and Eve conceived children. Bored children increased population. "The peoples were bored en masse so they built the Tower of Babel. Now bored people create a "constitutional assembly."Limit yourself and become resourceful. A prisoner in solitary confinement becomes amused by a spider. For married couples to promise "eternal love" is absurd. They should set a date they could "perhaps keep to."When a man tires of his wife and throws her out, he is thought of as contemptible. Kierkegaard does not understand this.Having a wife limits your freedom and "travel boots." A wife and children eliminates them.Have the courage to break off a marriage he says. In The Seducer's Diary, he speaks about seduction as if it were an art form. He considers engagement as "a purely invention and reflects no credit at all on its inventor." And it has nothing to do with love. Engagement loses its sense of eroticism. The seducer carries on his seduction until just the right moment. It must not be too soon. And he continues to promote the idea of female virginity which has been a bane on women for so long. "Once resistance is gone, love is only weakness and habit." . . . "If I were a god, I would do what Neptune did for a nymph: change her into a man." Kierkegaard believes that if there is a future, there is an either/or choice. I have gradually lost that belief in my own life. In any moment, I feel the past weighing down on me like a freight train. It feels that I may have a choice about tomorrow, but when it arrives it is no different than this moment.

  • Knjigoholičarka
    2019-02-24 15:35

    Ne gledaj me zadugo, Nismo jedno za drugo.(opsa-sa)

  • Edward III
    2019-02-13 22:31

    This book is one of those rare things, a philosophical work that might actually change you. Works of philosophy should either make you look at the world differently, or yourself differently. Either/Or is in the latter class.This is the first book by the first existentialist philospher, the Dane Soren Kierkegaard. In many ways it is unusual, such as I have described above, and also in terms of its structure. It is written under a pseudonym (Victor Eremita) who himself has not actually "written" the book but compiled it. It consists of two sections, the first being a series of essays and aphorisms by an unnamed "aesthete" (read: hedonist) who lives for nothing other than his own pleasure, the second being a response in the form of a series of letters to the aesthete from his friend judge Wilhelm, who represents the ethical mode of life. According to Eremita, he found these two opposed works in an antique writing desk, and he carries them around in briefcases meant for dueling pistols, to symbolize their antagonistic nature.It's clear that Eremita, if not Kierkegaard himself, wants us to choose between these two different modes of life, though it may not initially be clear just how they are incompatible, if at all. You'll have to read the book to find out, in fact that very question gives rise to one of many great surprises in this excellent work. Kierkegaard himself insisted that we either read the whole thing or leave it aside entirely, and once you have read both sections you will understand why. The two parts necessarily complement each other and form a unified whole, which doesn't fully make sense independently. This is why it is so strange that the various sections have been published separately. It is quite easy to find a copy of just part II, less easy to find only a copy of part I, and I have even found the longest essay in part I (The Seducer's Diary) published by itself. This seems to miss the point of the work.As it is, Either/Or is a masterpiece. In the Penguin Classics edition one essay from part I has been omitted, but the edition suffers little for it. There are countless moments of great poetic beauty in both sections, some poignant moments, and even a couple of moments where the reader literally bursts out in to laughter. That is rare for any author and rarer still for a philosopher, but such is the power of Kierkegaard's prose.But for all of Kierkegaard's mastery of his craft, the message itself is what really counts, and I won't spoil that for you. I will merely say that this book has had a considerable impact on my life, coming at just the right time and saying just what I needed to hear. Either/Or was a kick in the pants for me, and this is really what any work of philosophy should be. I do not give out 5 star rankings for many books. This one ranks among the best I have read.

  • Matias Dalsgaard
    2019-02-04 16:45

    I very much learned thinking and observing from Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is at the same time a philosopher, a psychologist and a writer. In Either-Or you find all these aspects of Kierkegaard. The aesthetic observer in part one and the ethic and religious philosophy in part two of the book. A good place to start getting acquainted with Kierkegaard's style and intellectual universe.

  • my name is corey irl
    2019-02-13 19:36

    A: take many lovers! maximise enjoyment!B: marry! love your wife with all your soule!C: Most famous cat on the Internet: Maru - compilation (329.9 Mb)

  • Hanadi
    2019-02-04 20:28

    In Either/Or, Kierkergaard dealt with two views of life, the aesthetic and the ethical, as to which one of them he belonged is not clear. However, that should not be what matters; because the anonymous style in which he wrote point exactly at that: "Don't give a +$%# about who am I? or what I believe in! Just think of what I'm writing here and do yourself the favour of thinking about it!".In general, the first life-view is the aesthetic, which throws light on the abstract and immediate. The ethics, the second life-view, is about making an absolute choice, that is to choose yourself eternally.Anyhow, is there anyway to reconcile those two views? Well, I'm not sure. However, Kierkegaard gave a clue about a possibility of reconciliation:If you cannot reach the point of seeing the aesthetic, the ethical, the religious as the three great allies, if you do not know how to preserve the unity of the different expressions everything acquires within these different spheres, then life is without meaning and you must be accounted fully justified in your pet theory that one can say of everything: do it or do not do it, you will regret both.An immensely rich read.

  • Callistus
    2019-02-24 18:35

    Favorite quote: “Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”

  • Ime1
    2019-01-25 15:33

    Dear Mr. E,I leave this review here in case you ever find yourself perusing this section of my reading list. It's also a place I will refer to in our discussions when I did not expand adequately on my thoughts on Kierkegaard."Either/Or: A Fragment of Life" is a beautifully written book. It is not a book one loves but one lusts. In the words of the author "for what distinguishes love from lust is its having the stamp of the eternal. For the sensual is the instantaneous. It seeks instant satisfaction, and the more refined it is, the better it knows how to make the moment of pleasure into a little eternity."The book has inspiring instantaneous insights into human thinking and feeling patterns. While reading it at times I felt I was gazing at a new wonderful lush archipelago of ideas in the middle of the Ocean of the Unknown. Perusing their shores I felt like living in a romantic era warmed by quaint galanteries, small communities and simple living. Though at times uncomfortable whiffs of male superiority embittered my palate. The entire mixture wouldn’t have been too sordid of an affair as - relative to Kirkegaard’s presentation - the 1800s social circumstances were of a much darker tinge. Unfortunately the author fails to cover his archipelago of ideas with a coherent structure that can be expanded upon by future generations of thinkers. It is very likely that these great mids - I include Nietzsche here - were necessary personas that pushed the growth of human understanding. But their deep insights are starting to turn into shallow grooves next to the canyon being built by the slow grind of careful, objective observational methods. Again I go back to the works of behavioral scientists (like Kahneman) and in more recent time neuroscience and artificial intelligence. These slow advances are paving a road that will lead to a much more solid understanding of what consciousness is and why we feel the need to ask what is the reason for our existence. To answer the questions Kirkegaard asks I suggest not squandering your time with his works and instead focusing on more recent books.As an appropo check out Michael Graziano’s theory of how consciousness evolved - this is a slightly more arid archipelago of ideas - not as quaint and jovial as Kirkegaard’s but set up so that everyone who feels so inclined can contribute to for the good of everyone else.Not to end on a too disapproving note here are a few quotes that caught my attention (these are for my reference also).*** On money - as we have had long discussions on the nature of money - he makes the interesting point that:“Money is an excellent means of removing any [human] relationships [from a transaction].”[That is to say after money has been exchanged any feelings of reciprocation are significantly diminished].*** On married life or long term relationships:“[...] one must be strangers enough to each other for familiarity to be interesting, familiar enough for strangeness to form a titillating resistance.”*** On character [insight that can be used when developing characters for a story]:“Pride [and courage] lend [themselves] superbly to representation, for what is essential in pride [and courage] is not succession in time but intensity in the moment. Humility is hard to represent just because it is indeed successive, and while the observer need only see pride [and courage] in [their] culmination, so in the case of humility he really requires what poetry and art cannot provide, to see it in its constant process of becoming, for it is essential to humility that it is present constantly.”*** And back to long term relationships:“Romantic love lends itself superbly to representation in the moment; not so married love, for an idealized [spouse] is not a [spouse] once in [their] life but they are every day.”*** If Kierkegaard was a rapper:"cool their hot blood with the breeze of your wit"*** On education:"In education what matters is not that the child learns this or that, but that the spirit is matured, that energy is aroused."One final note - if I hear one more time Don Giovanni this or Don Giovanni that I am going to burn this book.

  • Caitlin
    2019-02-10 19:32

    This is a strange, interesting read. Kierkegaard has a thoughtful, and complex philosophy and it is hard to know what the man believes since he couches it in characters like the Aesthete and Judge Wilhelm.If the book were written in the 20th century it would probably be considered post-modern because while I think it is often classified as a novel, it has a unique structure. The first part of the book is by the Aesthete character. He expounds upon Mozart's "Don Giovani" and is praising the eponymous hero and his shenanigans. I found the first part of the book boring and was relieved when the Aesthete moved on to talking about how boredom is the root of all evil, not idleness. This resonated with me because I have often felt idle and like I have no purpose. This character made me feel as though idleness actually provides opportunities to develop myself and pursue hobbits and talents and not be bogged down with work so that I am morally exhausted at the end of each day. The rest of the Aesthete's section is reprehensible, it is called "The Seducer's Diary" and is his journal telling how he sets up and draws out a seduction until he gets what he wants, which is ultimately social control. He hurts a friend who has true feelings for the girl, and he hurts the girl by his tricks. What was so unsettling about this section was how easily it could be a real situation. The lack of compassion and feeling for other people is troubling and you can see how the aesthetic lifestyle brings pain to others and a lack of fulfillment to himself. The next section of the book is three letters written to the Aesthete by his older friend, Judge Wilhelm. I found this to be the heart of the book and the philosophy that Kierkegaard was promoting. The first letter is a defense of marriage. Wilhelm claims that it is marriage, not infatuation that offers a real aesthetic and ethical value. That living ethically does not mean that there is no aesthetic sense in life, but that it is subsumed and made appropriate by the ethical. It is an eloquent argument but a bit dry and long-winded. The second letter is more interesting and also more complicated. In this letter Wilhelm is talking about what it means to live ethically. He talks about how you have to "choose yourself" which he equates to the ancient doctrine of "know thyself." One must actively choose oneself and make decisions based on who we are. We create the moral world around us because we are paradoxically the universal and the individual. We are our own responsibility but we also have an ethical responsibility to others'. He also talks about how people think they have chosen themselves but they are still influenced by outside sources which are shallow. For example, Wilhelm condemns the idea of comparing our accomplishments to other people's. Wilhelm discusses complex ideas and I hope that I understood it correctly, although I may have missed some deeper aspects. The third letter is a sermon that Wilhelm thought applied to the subject of his previous letters. I liked the book and thought it was a good introduction to a complicated philosopher. The most offensive part to me, even over the "Seducer's Diary" is the way Wilhelm leaves women out. He blatantly says that women do not have the need, nor the capacity to philosophize or to have to choose to live ethically, that we are already moral and bring the finite and reality to the lives of men who are looking for the infinite. This is deeply offensive, especially in our day and age where women (at least in the West) are educated and make our own life choices. But even women who lack those options are still human beings and capable of thinking deeply and choosing between and aesthetic and ethical way of living. But like the introduction says, maybe there is no "Either" "Or" that we have to live by, maybe it isn't black and white.

  • Renxiang Liu
    2019-02-04 16:50

    This is a fantastic demonstration of Kierkegaard's conception of the aesthetic and the ethic stages. Each has a corresponding avatar, both of which are interesting in unique ways.The aesthetic man exhibits an obsession with immediacy. Worldly concerns are suspended in order to enable a pure experience of enjoyment. The seducer, i.e. the "author" of the Diary, is keen on the experience of love, which, unstable as it were, can only be found in the process of seduction. When the seduction reaches its goal, however, love is disenchanted, so that the only thing the seducer can do is to withdraw from it. This reminds me of the psychoanalytic model of desire, for which the object is impossible while the pleasure lies in the delusory pursuit.For Kierkegaard, however, this is not the end of the story. For the aesthetic man only instantiates one mode of temporality, of "having time". This is what the ethic man calls "romantic love": that which concentrates itself so much within a particular moment that it cannot extend itself over time. The eternity it claims to seek to supposed to be found in nature, which makes that "eternity" essentially temporal. Hence though the aesthetic man promises eternity in love, that eternity is but an intention of extension; and because he is actually unable to extend his identity in time - his attention to immediacy makes him change all the time - the promise of eternity can never be fulfilled.The ethic man, on the other hand, is by no means one of the kind that the aesthetic man despises, namely the people of mediocre morality. He attends to the eternal as well, yet neither in calculation like the mediocre man, nor in whimsical promises like the aesthetic man. He has the patience of realizing eternity in time. In other words, he does not dismiss temporal, successive devotion to love because of the superficial gap between the temporal and the eternal, for he understands that eternity is another kind of temporality, and, for that matter, can be present everywhere in temporal efforts.As love is always in becoming, it is not a refutation of it if it fails to be represented atemporally. More important than a seemingly eternal expression is the inner enjoyment - and at the end of the day it is only this that is able to endure time. The aesthetic man always fails in his delusory pursuit of eternal love, because the "object", the ideal of love, is itself already dead for him. In trying in vain to "return" to some ideal love, the agent forgets that the ideal can also change, and is changing all the time. The solution is thus the ability to wait, to make room for the inherent creativity of time.The continuity of life history, therefore, can only be realized by means of constant renewal: the renewed is the past in a sense, and is the future in another.Corresponding to the ethic man's new notion of temporality is a new attitude towards duty. Unlike the aesthetic man, who dodges duty lest it threatens his freedom, the ethic man finds freedom in duty. For the latter, duty is a self-imposed intention to extend one's moral identity in time, a resolution. This is the genuine sense of the "shall" - an imperative not from the outside, but from within. By contrast, it is revealed that the aesthetic man, in his avoidance of duty, bears a deep inconfidence in his love, so that he does not dare to let his love confront anything that seems hostile, and in this inconfidence he is bound to lose it.The "stages" of life are initially intended to denote successive periods or states that lead into the next. However, in this book we can also interpret them as dramatic stages, each with its own character, its own mode of experience, and its own temporality.

  • Johann Tabua
    2019-02-15 21:30

    Having now read “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” the world is not the same. I think it fair to say at least for myself that this book brought me both better clarity and greater confusion on the living of one’s life. I’d like to say I understood everything expertly after the first read, but it would be disingenuous to make such a claim. “Either/Or” is one of the most thought provoking books I have ever consumed as a reader. The language is amazing. I learned new words. I also learned how to meditate on my thoughts to make them produce more written word of my own, and I discovered this technique from reading the ethicist’s portion of the book, wherein one can see him (if paying attention) begin again from the first sentence of the former paragraph. This kind of repetition might seem obvious to another dreamer-author wishing to better their head and hands for the task of writing, but it was a new and powerful thing for me, because the best motivation for writing understandably stems from the initial thought that put the pen in your hand to begin with, so to begin with let me repeat myself. Having now read “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” the world is not the same. Kierkegaard has opened my eyes to a suspicion I had, but one of which I was not skilled enough as a thinker to properly state for the record, which is that either and or should become one word, which is either/or, but I digress.What I really want to ramble about where it concerns this book is that it gives me the impression of my own duality as a reader, because I can relate to both the aesthete’s and the ethicist’s point-of-view. Kierkegaard has operated on my consciousness with this work of brilliant taking apart and putting together. If any one book ever written dissected the human mind from the soul and then repaired them again “Either/Or” is that book. Well, either this or the Bible, but never mind me thinking this, because either and or are one word now, they are together, this is either/or. Now, to talk more about this book I wouldn’t even dare to discredit it by calling it a philosophical text, because it goes beyond philosophy. “Either/Or” seems to me to be a work of unconditional love using understanding as a sort of tether between two life-views. The ethicist (the good judge and mere practitioner) tends to appear hard on the aesthete, but then again A is always welcome in his house. Does this imply something greater in the ethicist’s self? Does it imply something hopeful in the aesthete’s character? I have not thought through it enough to be able to offer any sound analysis I’d believe was concrete, but I bring it up just to give an example of how intriguing this magnum opus (if one should call it that) is.Now, to talk more about this book I wouldn’t even dare to discredit it by calling it a subjective text, because at least for me it has bones. Of course, you are not to know what that means, when a book has bones, but let me explain. A book has bones when it is firmly connected to the reader in every which way when one reads then afterward during one’s reflection. You see, a book that doesn’t have bones always can be detached from one’s reflection during and after the sitting, but a book with bones means something, and maybe it means something that is inexpressible in some way, something that is almost beyond the analytical mind to process. I often felt that way when reading the ethicist’s letters. Maybe I am myself an ethicist in spirit, or felt the judge’s scorn, I cannot say. All I can surmise is that however I feel about the words on the page they by no means even delve deeply enough into my experience of reading this book, because my experience was a jar opening, the content being stirred, and of a jar closing, the content being shaken, and of a jar breaking, the content being whirled, and I don’t think you can accurately put such an experience into words, because something is always lost in the translation, but it was like that, or the wearing of many hats, and the settling without a hat.When I read “The Seducer’s Diary” I felt a guilty pleasure trying on the mind of A in his approaches, but what does it mean that I felt guilty? Do I feel like A is unethical? The escritoire’s letters offered confounding question-thoughts like these. Imagine the circular spin of mind I was under as I read, but read I did continue.And what of the dissection of Don Giovanni was not interesting? It was all so interesting to discover what the musical meant to this Kierkegaard pseudonym, and I think of this book as written by the pseudonyms involved, because as the author intends, and, yes, another reason why I consider this above a philosophical text is because Kierkegaard seems more literary than philosophical, but what do I know? That’s just the way it seems to me, but I digress. It is the pseudonyms who wrote the pieces of this puzzle of a book. I’ve read it and I know it’s going to need more than one read-through, and maybe more than a hundred a read-through. It is a truly thought provoking book. It requires dedication, even discipline, and I’m not sure one can read this masterpiece and get it in its entirety on the first read-through. “Either/Or” is a labyrinth for the reader, and its twists are soul-shocking.Having now read “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” the world is not the same. I am not the same, and yet I am the same, but maybe I have chosen the right path. Still, maybe I am in the wrong out of love for the map, which this book seems to have become for me. I recently bought one of Kierkegaard’s other admired works “The Sickness Unto Death” and am going to read that at a later date. “Either/Or” has been a book after my own love. In some ways I feel like I could have and never could have written it myself. I’m left dumbfounded that there was one person among the (what I’ll refer to as) ancient stars that did write it, but maybe the writing of such a book as “Either/Or” has something to do with the pseudonyms. Do you think it could have been written any other way? I am not positive it could. This book shows absolute genius or it reveals absolute self-honesty, or it does both. I am not an intellectual. Like the ethicist I am a mere and humble practitioner of even thinking about such things, and I’m dumber than the ethicist. I know that.Having now read “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” the world is not the same. A fragment of life means something and maybe it means different things to different people, but I prefer to think it means a period of alienation where the boy becomes a man, or boy becomes fraud, or becomes lost, or dies, or just is revealed for the man he always was, or the soul he always thought he was. I’ll leave it for you to decide. I’m just happy I got through so many pages without losing my mind, because this book is a difficult read especially for someone of our modern times. I’m glad I can say I’ve read it. I look forward to the day when I can say I read “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” five times, because that would be a worthy challenge, and I feel also that it might be necessary to fully understanding this work of true fiction, because it in the pseudonymous sense can be considered a work of fiction, or works of fiction. If you want to call it a philosophical work, too, go ahead, but I like to think of it mainly as a work of truth. There is that other book of Kierkegaard’s I have not read yet wish to entitled “The Crowd Is Untruth”, and maybe the pseudonyms each possess truth, but the mixing in the mind of the reader create a sphere of confusion, a far-fetching ball that bounces in the chambers of one’s mind, where the answer never truly becomes specific because it is being universal. Time has yet to tell me this is an unforgettable book, but my soul tells me the reading of “Either/Or: A Fragment of Life” leaves an unforgettable feeling. Peace.

  • David Miller
    2019-02-12 14:47

    This book is frustrating. On the one hand it is entertainingly clever, frames many important questions in interesting ways, and is a fascinating kind of literary composition, set up as a "conversation" between pseudonymous characters representing particular viewpoints. I'm a sucker for that sort of thing. But when I get down into the particulars, can't help but note that the two principal voices in the book are a creep and a bore, and it's not always obvious which is which.All of it takes for granted that Christianity is superior to any other religion; none of it ever supposes that women are people in the same sense that men are. The gap between the basics of Kierkegaard's worldview and my own are simply too vast for me to ever be on board with his philosophy, no matter how interestingly he may present it. Either/Or was most interesting to me as a portrait of Kierkegaard's nineteenth century intellectual world; if that sort of thing interests you, you may enjoy giving this book a read.