Existentialism Philosophy

Kierkegaard as a Political Man

How can anyone be considered apolitical when his earliest writing was a polemic against women's liberation? Could he be depicted as a nineteenth century misogynist or is his intuition well-founded for the ages? In “Another Defense of Woman's Great Abilities”, using the pseudonym “A”, Kierkegaard “paints exaggerated pictures of transformations that, in his opinion, are likely to occur in the wake of female liberation. He resorts to ridicule […] and pokes fun at the woman presumptuous enough to cross the boundaries naturally allotted to her sex”.

According to Dera Sipe, professor of philosophy: “Kierkegaard’s pseudonym A. presents woman by way of irony as Western patriarchy has traditionally done: he mocks woman for her lack of philosophical inclination, her domestic nature, her nagging tendencies, and her supposed connection to nature. He does so in such a way that the naïve reader might actually believe that he is praising woman for these attributes, when in actuality he draws the stereotype of woman in such a negative light that no one would consider emancipating her.” No wonder that crude ‘radical libs’ love to castigate dear old Soren. For isn’t his middle name Aaby!

So how does one reconcile his record as an untiring champion of "the single individual" as opposed to "the crowd", with his fear that the opportunity of achieving genuine selfhood was diminished by the social production of stereotypes? What greater cliché is there than woman! If you judge by modern standards of the popular culture, every female is unique, while in unity with the ubiquitous sisterhood. Maybe this explains the tendencies for violating nature that keeps womanhood in self induced bondage.

Liberation in politics originates with self awareness. The adverse consequences that results from a false sense of one’s own self, and gender; can and does lead to social chaos. Welfare of the individual is quite different from a feminist society. Femininity need not be derided if it conforms to a sane rational paragon and sound emotional balance. When professor Sipe states: “the existential feminist philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir is to a great extent a result of a Kierkegaard legacy, the matriarchal sorority should take note.

In the Politics of Statehood vs. A Politics of Exodus, Mark Dooley critiques Kierkegaard. “The most pernicious consequence of Christianity being confused with Christendom, for Kierkegaard, was that it would take the sting out of the liberating impulses of religion. By this he meant that the only form of religion which could keep a critical check on the state power, was one which underscored what was most offensive to the ears of the established orthodoxy. Kierkegaardian religion is one which is practiced on the margins of the state or of the ethical”.

For feminists their religion is social superiority. Becoming the orthodox cochlea, wearing licensed earring, is their version of parity. Taking the line that victimhood merits political ascendancy through liberation combat - means - only gaining the seats of power will do. Woe is me, for all those who defy mother nature! Even when that environment contradicts the true nature of the universe.

Mr Dooley continues: “Kierkegaard’s politics of exodus suggests that the most effective way to keep political structures from freezing over is to keep an eye on those whose singular tales of woe are bound to offend the policy makers and guardians of the law”. The essential question deserves an answer. What happens when the nagging wench becomes the magistrate? Whore politicians is an indistinguishable proviso for the vocation. So when the pseudonym bears a courtesan fragrance, the anguish of men becomes the agony for society.

Kierkegaard’s quarrel with Hegel over the New Testament has profound significance. More from Mr Dooley: “Kierkegaard endeavors to rescue religion, and especially the Christ-figure, from the labor of the negative in Hegel’s speculative account of consciousness; his belief is that philosophy will become genuinely useful only after its supposed superiority over religion is discredited. His objective is to allow philosophy and religion to bleed into one another so as to ensure that singularity is never consumed by universality, or, and this amounts to the same thing, that ethics keeps metaphysics in check”.

Not surprising another pseudonymous authorship from Kierkegaard, Either-Or to Concluding Unscientific Postscript, is penned. It presents an inverted Hegelian dialectic which is designed to lead readers away from knowledge rather than towards it. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy indicates: “While Kierkegaard greatly admired Hegel, he had grave reservations about Hegelianism and its bombastic promises. Hegel would have been the greatest thinker who ever lived, said Kierkegaard, if only he had regarded his system as a thought-experiment. Instead he took himself seriously to have reached the truth, and so rendered himself comical.”

Doesn’t this same assessment apply to radical liberation feminists? Are they not droll dolls claiming they are not fragile, while moaning at every impediment to their instant satisfaction? In describing Fear and Trembling, Dera Sipe offers a different message coming from a Kierkegaard pseudonym - Johannes de Silentio. Silentio asks, Who was as great in the world as that favored woman, the mother of God, the Virgin Mary?

Sipe concludes: “The blessing God bestowed on Mary was also a curse; no one else was aware of the divine nature of her pregnancy, and so to the world she must have been thought of as a woman of ill repute. She was pregnant and not yet married, and only she was certain of her own virginity. As a result of this “blessing,” Mary suffered the anguish of Abraham, and also shared his faith.”

In the bewilderment of electoral franchise, we are warned that all votes are equal. In order to believe in this fantasy, one needs a faith greater than the virgin birth. The former is a creed based upon a primacy of humankind, while the latter professes a reliance upon a reality rooted within a mystery beyond human consciousness. “Much of Fear and Trembling turns on the notion that Abraham's would-be sacrifice of his son Isaac is not for the sake of social norms, but is the result of a "teleological suspension of the ethical". That is, Abraham recognizes a duty to something higher than both his social duty not to kill an innocent person and his personal commitment to his beloved son, viz. his duty to obey God's commands.”

For a proper perspective on womanhood within politics, should tradition be discarded, mosaic law and new testament rejected? Since the Torah and the Christian Bible conflicts with present day Talmudic politics, it’s no shock that feminists are eager to join the ranks of Pharisee dissemblers. Misogyny has been replaced with Misanthropy. In Genesis 3:15, God described to Adam and Eve the consequences of their sin. "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed." It can be said that Kierkegaard sought to shake people out of their Hegelian slumber and awaken them to existential Christianity.

Even Dera Sipe yields, by citing Léon and Walsh: “Was Kierkegaard a feminist maieutically pretending otherwise? When all is said and done, does Kierkegaard teach us anything that can be useful for feminist theorizing, or for women interested in finding themselves outside the maze of patriarchal constructs? The answer is yes, insofar as his writings expose prejudices against women, subvert typically masculine modes of behavior and discourse, and, by privileging a disembodied, authorial voice, not only value, but also inscribe, the feminine. But it is also yes when emancipation is opposed, when equality is in(de)finitely postponed, when woman is depreciated, dichotomized, discarded, excluded, or spoken for, when stereotypes and essentialist statements about her nature are taken up and embraced.”

The charge for both the rabid radical and apolitical feminist is to examine the essential nature of their creation. Their duty is to adjust to the elements of their differences with men. And their responsibility is to welcome their specific roles intended by the almighty. Politics is an imperfect struggle, as is our flawed human condition. Knowing and accepting our given purpose allows for constructive civic input. An authentic - Defense of Woman's Great Abilities - lies within that understanding.

SARTRE - November 21, 2004

posted by SARTRE at 11/19/2004 |

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