Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 48 (3):416 - 448 (1986)

Kierkegaard, the advocate of the individual—an opinion, currently held of Kierkegaard, which is not untrue in itself, but which is incomplete, because it is onesided. A true and complete picture must include what Kierkegaard has to say of the individual's relation with the other (God and the other man). One may even say that in Kierkegaard's thought community is the beginning and the end. In between lies the path of life with its different stages. This path is the simultaneous development of both individuality and community : both intensify. At the esthetical stage man takes his first step, when he breaks free from a given community ; he becomes an individual. New and veridical relationships are not possible at this stage, where man ultimately seeks himself. They are possible if the individual becomes ethical. Then, he is an absolutely responsible being ; it all falls on his shoulders ; hereby individuality intensifies. Simultaneously he is absolutely committed to the entire community of mankind, because what comes down on him is this communi ty. He is for the other. Although this absolute demand, this commitment, is recognized by the individual in the essence of his being and as his very essence, he is aware of his inability to realize his essence. Religion offers 'help', it claims that indeed it is in her sphere that the individual finds his full measure. In learning and accepting this measure the individual is before God in an extreme loneliness, because the relation with God is a particular one ; he cannot speak like the ethical individual, who finds himself in the sphere of the common. Being before God is not to dwell in contemplation, but to receive His command and to be exhorted to fulfill it in the world, in the community : to be for the other
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