Saturday, April 02, 2005

Kierkegaard on Origination

Kierkegaard teases Hegel when he writes: "Suppose someone wanting to learn to dance said: 'For hundreds of years now one generation after another has been learning dance steps, it's high time I took advantage of this and began straight off with a set of quadrilles'" (Fear and Trembling, p. 75). Here Kierkegaard is criticizing Hegel's progressivist historicism, and thus he writes:
However much one generation learns from another, it can never learn from its predecessor the genuinely human factor. In this respect every generation begins afresh, has no task other than that of any previous generation.... This authentically human factor is passion. (FT, p. 145)
If we think of a past "generation" as the prior history of actual occasions in process metaphysics, does Kierkegaard's point raise any questions about what (or how much) must be "built-in" to each actual occasion in order for such a general notion to be adequate to all possible human experiences? Conversely, does the burden on the subject in Kierkegaard's conception rely too much on the indepedent origination of such passion (i.e., love and faith), so that it would seem more plausible to relate any account of this "human factor" to its precedents in human history?


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