Free «Kierkegaard’s Subjective Truth» Essay

Kierkegaard’s Subjective Truth

To understand better why Kierkegaard underlines the paramount importance of subjective truth, one should be aware of his attitude toward subjective and objective knowledge. Believing that the modern world is too rationalized, Kierkegaard claims: “Objective knowledge and reasoned action are not sufficient to reach the absolute truth” (Kierkegaard: Leap of Faith n. p.). For him, objective truth does not provide a deeper meaning, i.e. “the idea for which he is willing to live and die” (Kierkegaard: Leap of Faith n. p.). The philosopher draws a distinctive line between subjective and objective truths. Objective truth looks only for a connection with the right object within an independent reality, while subjective truth establishes a certain kind of relationship between the knower and the object itself (Kierkegaard: The Passionate Individual n. p.). From this standpoint, how we believe matters for Kierkegaard more than what we believe. However, I disagree with this statement for a number of reasons. Firstly, what I believe is more important than how I believe because it gives me more personal freedom. Secondly, I am not obliged to fulfill some zealots’ prescriptions. Last but not least, the relationship between the knower and the object itself is not important for me. I would rather pay more attention to the mere fact that something is really true.

The first reason concerns the issue of personal freedom. It seems to me that if a focus is made on the essence of somebody’s belief, i.e. what a person believes, this gives to him or her the freedom of choice, which implies that he or she can believe in different things at the same time. The fact that one can have many beliefs is not weird since there are many realities in our world, to which people have their own attitude. In this case, the criterion of “how” seems inapplicable because it presupposes that any belief can be considered as such only if it is firm enough, from which follows that not strong beliefs are not beliefs at all. Perhaps, this delusion is caused by a common knowledge that if people fervently believe in something or strive for it, they will get it. Although this is true in many cases, the given premise is insufficient to claim that not firm beliefs should be disregarded. It should be born in mind that the outside world poseses many obstacles to every human as a thinking being, which makes people doubt the correctness of definite beliefs. That is why it is quite normal that people may have unshakable and weak beliefs, so the only thing that matters here is what a person believes.

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Secondly, it cannot be denied that firm beliefs impose a certain degree of pressure upon a person who strongly believes. For instance, it is a widespread phenomenon or, to be more precise, an obligatory prescription, that deeply religious people must visit temples and display their strong beliefs there. Likewise, deeply or truly religious people should follow many other prescriptions that are meant to prove whether a person believes strongly enough or not. Proceeding from this standpoint, one may reasonably claim that the criterion of “how” transforms a person into a slave of his or her beliefs while the criterion of “essence” allows people to believe rationally, i.e. to that extent, which is shaped by the outside reality.

Finally, I disagree with the notion of Kierkegaard’s subjective truth because of the ambivalence in his argument that “only when the how of the individual’s relationship is in truth, is the individual in truth, even if he is thus related to the untrue” (Kierkegaard: Leap of Faith n.p.). The simple fact that something is true is enough for me, which infers that I tend to accept objective truth and analyze it in accordance with definite circumstances.

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