Archives for November 2004

A Woeful Error

These are the correctives. It is a woeful error if he who is used for applying the corrective becomes impatient and would make the corrective normative for others. That is the temptation to bring everything to confusion. –Soren Kierkegaard

The Conservative Corrective

With regard to the “established order,” then, seeing that my special concern was “the individual,” which was the point of my polemic against the numerical, the crowd, etc., I have always done the very opposite of attacking it; I have never been in or with the “opposition” which wants to get rid of the “government,” nor have I been allied with it; but I have furnished what may be called a “corrective.” — Soren Kierkegard, “On My Work as an Author”

The Liberal Corrective

He who must apply a “corrective” must study accurately and profoundly the weak side of the Establishment, and then vigorously and one-sidedly present the opposite. Precisely in this consists the corrective, and in this too the resignation of him who has to apply it. The corrective will in a sense be sacrificed to the established order. If this is true, a presumably clever pate can reprove the corrective for being one-sided. Ye gods! Nothing is easier for him who applies the corrective than to supply the other side; but then it ceases to be the corrective and becomes the established order. — Soren Kierkegaard

Socratic Ignorance

The majority of men in every generation, even those who, as it is described, devote themselves to thinking (dons and the like), live and die under the impression that life is simply a matter of understanding more and more, and if it were granted to them to live longer, that life would continue to be one long continuous growth in understanding. How many of them ever experience the maturity of discovering that there comes a critical moment where everything is reversed, after which the point becomes to understand more and more that there is something which cannot be understood. That is Socratic ignorance, and that is what the philosophy of our times requires as a corrective…It is quite literally true that the law is: increasing profundity is understanding more and more that one cannot understand. And there once again comes in “being like a child,” but raised to the second power. — Soren Kierkegaard