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8. Hebrews 4:15

Kierkegaard, Søren Indiana University Press ePub

[ 8 ]

Where should we go if not to you, Lord Jesus Christ!1 Where should the sufferer find sympathy if not in you, and where the penitent, alas, if not in you, Lord Jesus Christ!

My listener, whether you yourself have been, possibly are a sufferer, or whether you have become acquainted with sufferers, perhaps with the noble motive of wanting to console, you have no doubt often heard this, which is the universal complaint of sufferers: “You do not understand me, oh, you do not understand me, you do not put yourself in my place; if you were in my place, or if you could put yourself in my place, if you could put yourself entirely in my place, and thus entirely understand me, then you would speak differently.” You would speak differently; this means, according to the sufferer, that you also would perceive and understand that there is no consolation.

This then is the complaint; the sufferer almost always complains that the one who wants to console him does not put himself in his place. No doubt the sufferer is also always somewhat right, for no human being experiences exactly the same thing as another human being, and even if that were the case, it is the universal and common limitation of every human being in particular not to be able to put himself entirely in another human being’s place, even with the best intention not to be able to perceive, feel, think quite like another human being. But in another sense the sufferer is wrong insofar as he thinks that this means that there is no consolation for sufferers, for it could indeed also mean that every sufferer must try to find consolation within himself, that is, in God. It surely was not at all God’s will that the one human being should be able to find complete consolation in the other; on the contrary, it is God’s gracious will that every human being must seek it in him, that when the grounds of consolation which others offer become insipid to him he then turns to God, following the word of scripture: “Have salt in yourselves and be at peace with one another.”2 Oh you sufferer, and oh you who perhaps honestly and with good intentions wish to console—do not fight the futile fight with each other!3 You sympathizer, show your true sympathy by not claiming to be able to put yourself entirely in the other’s place; and you sufferer, show your true discretion by not requiring the impossible of the other—there is indeed still one who can entirely put himself in your place just as in every sufferer’s place: the Lord Jesus Christ.

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Conclusion. Lessons from Physicians

Ellen K. Feder Indiana University Press ePub

Perhaps Particularly in medicine, discussions of ethics today have become increasingly difficult to distinguish from discussions concerning “legality.” Asking about what is right or good can too easily become a question of what is permissible or what constitutes culpability. Returning to ancient and early modern sources of ethics, as I have proposed in the last two chapters, may serve to remind us that, while ethical concepts or frameworks figure prominently in the law, questions concerning what is ethical or moral are not identical with those concerning what is legal. So many practices in which we engage in our lives are matters of rich ethical reflection falling outside the realm of legal regulation.

When I began researching the history of bioethics fifteen years ago, I was surprised by the incongruity between the conception of what was in medicine called “ethics” and the understanding of ethics that I had received in my training in philosophy. Many disciplines have been developed for—and are well suited to—crafting answers to questions. But philosophy is first and foremost a discipline developed to ask questions. If we do not ask why we think as we’ve been taught, or why we do as we’ve been trained or as we have become accustomed, we will take for granted that what we think is true and what we do is right. Just as important, as Socrates first demonstrated, is asking whether the questions we ask are the right questions. Do they move us to consider or investigate what is important, vital, true, consequential? Are the questions informed questions, themselves grounded in knowledge that is reliable? And, we should ask, why do we ask the questions we ask? For what purpose, to what end, and for whose benefit do we ask them?

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Chapter Ten. Husserl’s Formulation of the Nature and Roots of the Crisis of European Sciences

Burt C. Hopkins Indiana University Press ePub

We shall now highlight Klein’s uncanny anticipation in his Greek Mathematical Thought and the Origin of Algebra of Husserl’s formulation of the nature and roots of the crisis of European sciences, together with the method of historical reflection, by elaborating Husserl’s thought on these matters. We shall discuss the fragmentary nature of Husserl’s desedimentation of the origins of modern mathematical physics with a view to showing that Klein’s account of the genesis of modern algebra “desediments” precisely those aspects of Husserl’s historical analyses of the origins of modern mathematics that remain fragmentary in his Crisis.

Husserl’s investigation of the origin of the intrinsic possibility belonging to the objective unity of any meaning formation was shown in Part One to extend to the a priori structure of its genesis as an intentional unity. It was also shown that the latter holds the key to the insight that Husserl’s turn to history in his last writings is the consistent outcome of the phenomenological project of investigating the radical beginnings proper to the things themselves. Far from representing a significant departure from his early rejection of the ability of psychologism and historicism to account for these beginnings, Husserl’s late turn to history is motivated by his realization that the investigation of the origins of certain things themselves is not exhausted by uncovering the sedimented history of their genesis in the stream of consciousness. The backward reference (Rückbeziehung) to the “past history” belonging to the original presentation of the ideal meaning formations proper to mathematical and scientific objects proves unable to account for their possibility so long as the genesis of this history is “reactivated” in accord with immanent time’s a priori form. The original presentation of such meaning formations therefore transcends the limit of their temporal genesis. This limit is the general substratum of consciousness and it is uncovered in the a priori form of the continuous retentional modifications in which their objective prominence as meaning formations is maintained. Thus, the genesis of these meaning formations transcends the a priori temporal form of the individual stream of consciousness.

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Chapter Thirty-two. Husserl’s Attempt in the Logical Investigations to Establish a Relationship between “Mere” Thought and the “In Itself” of Pure Logical Validity by Appealing to Concrete, Universal, and Formalizing Modes of Abstraction and Categorial In

Burt C. Hopkins Indiana University Press ePub

Husserl’s distinction in the Logical Investigations between ‘significance categories’ and ‘formal objective categories’ addresses the relation between thinking and the pure “in itself” of ideality that emerges as a result of his break with psychologism. This distinction represents Husserl’s initial attempt to account for how it is that the “in itself” of ideality enters into a relationship with thinking by distinguishing between the “mere” thinking of such ideality and the state of affairs wherein the “in itself” of ideality is intuitively rendered present as a logically pure objectivity.

Mere thinking, which occurs “in symbolic acts” (LI, 566/694), acts whose symbolic quality Husserl maintains is the “significational essence of expressive acts,” manifests what he calls an “intentional relation” (381/555). As intentional, these acts are “directed toward” something either sensibly or categorially objective in a manner that has “a priori precedence over empirical, psychological facticity.” This precedence for Husserl is exhibited by what he calls the “unity of the descriptive genus ‘intention’ (‘act-character’),” where ‘descriptive’ points to the heart of his conception of ‘pure phenomenology’ in the Investigations. Husserl explains that pure phenomenology, in contrast to empirical, psychological facticity, does not apprehend the “contingency, temporality and transience of our [psychic] acts” (175/181), but rather grasps, “in a purely descriptive understanding” (382/55), the “essential determination of ‘psychical phenomena’ or ‘acts.’ ” Descriptive understanding occurs in what Husserl calls “ideation,”73 which is a methodical procedure that compares examples of the immediate experience of something (in the case at hand, symbolic acts of thinking) in order to apprehend “the pure, phenomenologically generic idea” of these experiences as such. Such apprehension prescinds from the empirical content of the experiential examples in a manner that allows it to grasp that which, subsequent to this prescission, is inseparable from the compared experiences as such.

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1. Positivity and Historical Reversal

Peter Wake Indiana University Press ePub


Positivity and Historical Reversal

In thinking, I raise myself above all that is finite to the absolute and am infinite consciousness, while at the same time I am finite self-consciousness, indeed to the full extent of my empirical condition. Both sides, as well as their relation, exist for me [in] the essential unity of my infinite knowing and my finitude. These two sides seek each other and flee from each other.… I am not one of the parts caught up in the conflict but am both of the combatants and the conflict itself. I am the fire and water that touch each other, the contact and the union of what utterly flies apart.

—Hegel, Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion

Positivität: Either Life or Death

It is apparent from his earliest writings that, for Hegel, religions live and die. In his pre-Jena writings, the model for religious life is consistently the Volksreligion of ancient Greece. The sign of death is what he calls “positivity” (Positivität), and this characterizes the religion of Hegel’s own time. Most concretely, the “positive” elements of a religion are its statues, creeds, dogma, codified moral laws, and theologies,1 but, for Hegel, “positivity” means, in essence, artificially fixing what is inherently fluid. More pointedly, it is a kind of fundamentalism, insofar as this term refers very narrowly to the naturalizing or essentializing of “contingent, historically conditioned traits.”2 “Positive” law, as opposed to “natural” law, is not self-given but is instead posited by a dominant, external authority. It gives rise, in turn, to a broadly legalistic caste of mind. When it is not simply an automatic adherence to the law, legalistic thinking reduces duties to a kind of calculus: “a dead letter is laid down as a foundation and on it a system is constructed prescribing how men are to act and feel” (W 1:181/P 137).3 A positive liturgy, then, is one that presents rituals and texts as if they were fixed and indisputable facts.4 The practices that Hegel associates with positive religion are an insult to life: “To mouth incomprehensible prayers, to read masses, to recite rosaries, to perform meaningless ceremonies, this is the activity of the dead. Man here attempts to become a sheer object [Objekt], to allow himself to be ruled entirely by something that is foreign.”5 In sum, “a positive religion is a contranatural or a supernatural one, containing concepts and information transcending understanding and reason and requiring feeling and actions which would not come naturally to men: the feeling are forcibly and mechanically stimulated, the actions are done to order or from obedience without any spontaneous interest” (W 1:217/P 167). The letter is, as Hegel writes, dead.

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