I think I mentioned this before, but it is apparently impossible to understand Kierkegaard without appreciating the Hegelian elephant in the room, to which much of his writing is a reaction.
Hard for us to understand it today, but for quite awhile there, Hegel was The Man. He dominated philosophy like no one since -- and of course we are still living with the stinking remains of his rotting corpus in the form of end stage Marxism and all its intellectual and spiritual pathologies. (Woody Wilson, our first totally unhinged progressive president, was a huge fanboy.)
So give Kierkegaard credit for seeing through Hegel's truly cosmic self-aggrandizement and trying to take him out before he could do much damage.
This was back when people were a little more clever than, say, Stephen Colbert, in their putdowns. Shopenhauer, for example, never accused Hegel of being Hölderlin's girlfriend. Rather,
always remember that we are in Germany, where we have been able to proclaim as a great mind and profound thinker a mindless, ignorant, nonsense-spreading philosophaster who, through unprecedented, hollow verbiage, thoroughly and permanently disorganizes their brains. I mean our dear Hegel.
it was Hegel who ultimately showed the greatest audacity in dishing out pure nonsense, slapping together senseless, raving tangles of verbiage such as had only ever been heard in lunatic asylums; he became the instrument of the most ponderous, universal mystification that the world has ever seen, and this with a degree of success that will seem utterly incredible to posterity and will remain a monument to German foolishness.
That is some fine insultainment. What about his third rate followers?
the minds of the contemporary generation of scholars are jumbled by Hegelian nonsense: incapable of thought, coarse, and stupefied, they become the prey of the vulgar materialism that has crept out of the Basilisk’s egg.
I'm lookin' at you, Karl!
Oh well. Not the last time "an impudent, cocky gasbag" would be "sufficient to blow sand in Germans’ eyes."
Back to our main attractor. It seems that Kierkegaard had a similar reaction to this nightmare masquerading as philosophy. Interestingly, although writing a century or so before Gödel, he rejected Hegel's absolute idealism on grounds that would only later be formalized in Gödel's theorems:
"His fundamental dispute with Hegel was based around Hegel's claim to have developed a fully comprehensive system that could explain the whole of reality. Kierkegaard responded to this with the assertion that reality may well be a system for God, but that it cannot be so for any human being, because both reality and humans are incomplete and all philosophical systems imply completeness" (Watts).
Gödel's Theorems: 1. If the system is consistent, it cannot be complete. 2. The consistency of the axioms cannot be proved within the system. Simple as.
Note how merely remumbling these twenty words not only unknowculates you against Hegelianism (or any other such system) but frees you of the terrible burden actually reading him (except out of curiosity).
More generally, there is only so much one can read in this life. Not only can we never get to all of it, we can only take on a fraction, and assimilate even less. So one must be selective. Selective how? How can we know what to select before we even begin?
Principles, my man, principles -- two of the most important having been permanently downloaded by Gödel. In short, do not fall for any manmade system that pretends to be complete. Don't even think about becoming a materialist, a Darwinist, a Marxist. All nonstarters, because they presume a completeness that is not available to man. Thank God! For the world is a tedious place where Marx is still in charge, as on college campuses.
Of course, this was the rationale behind my approach to Ultimate Reality in the book. Let's get one thing straight at the outset: ultimate reality is O, and O is something you will never, ever contain. Rather, it contains us. End of story. Or beginning, rather. Wait -- it's both.
For, does this mean we can't know anything about O? Not at all. Rather, it is the reason we can know anything at all about anything at all: it is the ground, the vector, the destination of knowledge and truth. It "evolves" in time, but not in the impersonal, dialectical way proposed by HegelMarx.
"[B]ecause Hegel seriously believed he had reached ultimate truth, this rendered his claims comical -- whilst Hegel sought to contain all of reality in the conceptual net of his system, the actual process of existence simply slipped through its meshes" (Watts). You might say that Hegel accounts for everything. Except reality.
Reality is not an idea -- certainly not an idea in or of man. You could really take this back to the wrong turn of any philosophy that starts with ideas instead of the world -- with the subject instead of objects. Doing so is yet one more iteration of Genesis 3, and it is still very much with us today. It happens, for example, any time the left pretends it has successfully modeled the global climate, or can direct the economy from above, or inflict annoying new genders on the restavus.
Well, I suppose this means we haven't heard the last of Kierkegaard. To be continued...