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"The columns are stapolygon crypto chartnding on a base that consists of three levels--or steps.""In the same manner we will identify three levels in the bases of society. The most basic level is what we may call society's conditions of production. In other words, the natural conditions or resources that are available to society. These are the foundation of any society, and this foundation clearly determines the type of production in the society, and by the same token, the nature of that society and its culture in general."
"You can't have a herring trade in the Sahara, or grow dates in northern Norway.""You've got it. And the way people think in a nomadic culture is very different from the way they think in a fishing village in northern Norway The next level is the society's means of production. By this Marx meant the various kinds of equipment, tools, and machinery, as well as the raw materials to be found there.""In the old days people rowed out to the fishing grounds. Nowadays they use huge trawlers to catch the fish.""Yes, and here you are talking about the next level in the base of society, namely, those who own the means of production. The division of labor, or the distribution of work and ownership, was what Marx called society's 'production relations.' ""I see."
"So far we can conclude that it is the mode of production in a society which determines which political and ideological conditions are to be found there. It is not by chance that today we think somewhat differently--and have a somewhat different moral codex--from the old feudal society.""So Marx didn't believe in a natural right that was eternally valid.""No, of course not."
"Kierkegaard also said that truth is 'subjective.' By this he did not mean that it doesn't matter what we think or believe. He meant that the really important truths are personal. Only these truths are 'true for me.' ""Could you give an example of a subjective truth?""An important question is, for example, whether Christianity is true. This is not a question one can relate to theoretically or academically. For a person who 'under-stands himself in life,' it is a question of life and death. It is not something you sit and discuss for discussion's sake. It is something to be approached with the greatest passion and sincerity.""Understandable."
"If you fall into the water, you have no theoretical interest in whether or not you will drown. It is neither 'interesting' nor 'uninteresting' whether there are alligators in the water. It is a question of life or death.""I get it, thank you very much."
"So we must therefore distinguish between the philosophical question of whether God exists and the individual's relationship to the same question, a situation in which each and every man is utterly alone. Fundamental questions such as these can only be approached through faith. Things we can know through reason, or knowledge, are according to Kierkegaard totally unimportant.""I think you'd better explain that.""Eight plus four is twelve. We can be absolutely certain of this. That's an example of the sort of 'reasoned truth' that every philosopher since Descartes had talked about. But do we include it in our daily prayers? Is it something we will lie pondering over when we are dying? Not at all. Truths like those can be both 'objective' and 'general,' but they are nevertheless totally immaterial to each man's existence.""What about faith?"
"You can never know whether a person forgives you when you wrong them. Therefore it is existentially important to you. It is a question you are intensely concerned with. Neither can you know whether a person loves you. It's something you just have to believe or hope. But these things are more important to you than the fact that the sum of the angles in a triangle is 180 degrees. You don't think about the law of cause and effect or about modes of perception when you are in the middle of your first kiss.""You'd be very odd if you did.""Faith is the most important factor in religious questions. Kierkegaard wrote: 'If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I do not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith.' ""That's heavy stuff."
"Many had previously tried to prove the existence of God--or at any rate to bring him within the bounds of rationality. But if you content yourself with some such proof or logical argument, you suffer a loss of faith, and with it, a loss of religious passion. Because what matters is not whether Christianity is true, but whether it is true for you. The same thought was expressed in the Middle Ages in the maxim: credo quid absurdum.""You don't say."
"It means I believe because it is irrational. If Christianity had appealed to our reason, and not to other sides of us, it would not be a question of faith.""No, I understand that now."
"So we have looked at what Kierkegaard meant by 'existential,' what he meant by 'subjective truth,' and what his concept of 'faith' was. These three concepts were formulated as a criticism of philosophical tradition in general, and of Hegel in particular. But they also embodied a trenchant 'social criticism.' The individual in modern urban society had become 'the public,' he said, and the predominant characteristic of the crowd, or the masses, was all their noncommittal 'talk.' Today we would probably use the word 'conformity'; that is when everybody 'thinks' and 'believes in' the same things without having any deeper feeling about it.""I wonder what Kierkegaard would have said to Joanna's parents.""He was not always kind in his judgments. He had a sharp pen and a bitter sense of irony. For example, he could say things like 'the crowd is the untruth,' or 'the truth is always in the minority/ and that most people had a superficial approach to life.""It's one thing to collect Barbie dolls. But it's worse to be one.""That brings us to Kierkegaard's theory of what he called the three stages on life's way.""Pardon me?"
"Kierkegaard believed that there were three different forms of life. He himself used the term stages. He calls them the aesthetic stage, the ethical stage, and the religious stage. He used the term 'stage' to emphasize that one can live at one of the two lower stages and then suddenly leap to a higher stage. Many people live at the same stage all their life.""I bet there's an explanation on the way. I'm anxious to know which stage I'm at."
"He who lives at the aesthetic stage lives for the moment and grasps every opportunity of enjoyment. Good is whatever is beautiful, satisfying, or pleasant. This person lives wholly in the world of the senses, and is a slave to his own desires and moods. Everything that is boring is bad.""Yes thanks, I think I know that attitude."
"The typical Romantic is thus also the typical aesthete, since there is more to it than pure sensory enjoyment. A person who has a reflective approach to reality--or for that matter to his art or the philosophy he or she is engaged in--is living at the aesthetic stage. It is even possible to have an aesthetic, or 'reflective,' attitude to sorrow and suffering. In which case vanity has taken over. Ibsen's Peer Gynt is the portrait of a typical aesthete.""I think I see what you mean."
"Do you know anyone like that?""Not completely. But I think maybe it sounds a little like the major.""Maybe so, maybe so, Sophie ... Although that was another example of his rather sickly Romantic irony. You should wash your mouth out.""What?"
"All right, it wasn't your fault.""Keep going, then."
"A person who lives at the aesthetic stage can easily experience angst, or a sense of dread, and a feeling of emptiness. If this happens, there is also hope. According to Kierkegaard, angst is almost positive. It is an expression of the fact that the individual is in an 'existential situation,' and can now elect to make the great leap to a higher stage. But it either happens or it doesn't. It doesn't help to be on the verge of making the leap if you don't do it completely. It is a matter of 'either/or.' But nobody can do it for you. It is your own choice.""It's a little like deciding to quit drinking or doing drugs."
"Yes, it could be like that. Kierkegaard's description of this 'category of decision' can be somewhat reminiscent of Socrates' view that all true insight comes from within. The choice that leads a person to leap from an aesthetic approach to an ethical or religious approach must come from within. Ibsen depicts this in Peer Gynt. Another masterly description of how existential choice springs from inner need and despair can be found in Dosfoevsfcy's great novel Crime and Punishment.""The best you can do is choose a different form of life."
"And so perhaps you will begin to live at the ethical stage. This is characterized by seriousness and consistency of moral choices. This approach is not unlike Kant's ethics of duty. You try to live by the law of morals. Kierkegaard, like Kant, drew attention first and foremost to human temperament. The important thing is not what you may think is precisely right or wrong. What matters is that you choose to have an opinion at all on what is right or wrong. The aesthete's only concern is whether something is fun or boring.""Isn't there a risk of becoming too serious, living like that?""Decidedly! Kierkegaard never claimed that the ethical stage was satisfactory. Even a dutiful person will eventually get tired of always being dedicated and meticulous. Lots of people experience that sort of fatigue reaction late in life. Some relapse into the reflective life of their aesthetic stage."But others make a new leap to the religious stage. They take the 'jump into the abyss' of Faith's 'seventy thousand fathoms.' They choose faith in preference to aesthetic pleasure and reason's call of duty. And although it can be 'terrible to jump into the open arms of the living God,' as Kierkegaard put it, it is the only path to redemption."
"Christianity, you mean.""Yes, because to Kierkegaard, the religious stage was Christianity. But he also became significant to non-Christian thinkers. Existentialism, inspired by the Danish philosopher, flourished widely in the twentieth century."
Sophie glanced at her watch."It's nearly seven. I have to run. Mom will be frantic."
She waved to the philosopher and ran down to the boat.Marx