Kierkegaard on the qualification of untruth

“There is one view in life that holds that wherever the multitude is, there too, is the truth—that truth itself needs to have the multitude on its side. There is another view of life that holds that wherever the multitude is, there is untruth, so that even if every individual, silently and separately, possessed the truth, nonetheless, if they assembled in a multitude (in such a way that the multitude had any sort of decisive, electoral, noisy, audible significance), then untruth would immediately be present.”

From The Quotable Kierkegaard edited by Gordon Marino, p.143. Appropriated from Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks, Bruce H. Kirmmse, Gemeral Editor. Vols.1-6. Princeton University Press, 2007-12.


I’m not so sure I really need to say anything more about this particular quote of Kierkegaard’s. Just that, I find it very relevant to the current political atmosphere here in the US. Why is it that people will too often forgo their own deepest values and beliefs in order to go along with the crowd? This has been a far too common event throughout human history. Do I need to recall WWII Germany to press this point? Or should I simply recall last night’s national news?

John

Seneca on writing

“I wish, my dear Lucilius, that you would not be too particular with regard to words and their arrangement; I have greater matters than these to commend to your care. You should seek what to write, rather than how to write it – and even that not for the purpose of writing but of feeling it, that you may thus make what you have felt more your own and, as it were, set a seal on it. Whenever you notice a style that is too careful and too polished, you may be sure that the mind also is no less absorbed in petty things. The really great man speaks informally and easily; whatever he says, he speaks with assurance rather than with pains.”

Seneca (2014-10-23). Letters From A Stoic: Epistulae Morales AD Lucilium (Illustrated. Newly revised text. Includes Image Gallery + Audio): All Three Volumes (Kindle Locations 7551-7556). Enhanced Media. Kindle Edition.


For me, this means getting past that sentence that sounds awkward and just keep writing. If i want to convey how I feel about a particular theme, no amount of editing, polishing, or touching up will help me get to that point. Feeling is often messy, so too its conveyance.

John

Quora: How does one go about discovering or defining purpose?

This question was originally posted here on Quora.com.

How does one go about discovering or defining purpose?

My response:

That is definitely a tough question, hence very appropriate for this venue. I will start off by simply saying, regrettably maybe, I don’t know. How do you like that for honesty? Regardless, maybe just talking about this topic can help rather than being given an answer. If we dig around some together, maybe something significant will arise. Who knows?

First, I’d like to say I love your choice of verbs, ‘discover’ and ‘define’. The ‘discovery’ of a thing suggests that it existed objectively prior to one’s search for it. Like the discovery of the Americas by the Europeans. This land was here prior to any European’s experiential knowledge of its existence.

But, when we ‘define’ a thing, especially an abstract or intangible notion such as purpose, we are usually engaged in its creation. Where once purpose did not exist, now it exists because I have chosen its creation.

Do we stumble across or create our purpose in life? I believe neither possibilities are mutually exclusive. Yes, for some, purpose falls almost randomly into their laps, while for others it is the result of dedicated research and creative activity that brings it about. Yet, even when purpose seemingly falls out of the sky and into our lives, we must still engage in sustaining its existence, in a sense, engage in its continued creation.

So it seems we have a choice. We either wait around for purpose to magically appear, or we start to engage in the process of the creation of our life’s purpose. Don’t let my tone fool you. I do sincerely believe that for some purpose does magically appear, so this is indeed a valid option in my opinion. Yet, how nerve-racking it would be to sit around and wait for something to come about that may never actually come about. And really, for those who suggest that they indeed discovered their purpose almost randomly, I have a feeling they weren’t just sitting around waiting for this to occur. I have a feeling that they were already engaged in the process of determining or defining their purpose when its discovery took place. There’s a lesson in this, I think: Purpose may come about, or be discovered, as a result of engaging in its creation, or definition.

Maybe, just maybe, start defining it and you may discover it.

So then the question becomes, “How do I define my purpose?” That’s a tricky question, really. It might even mislead some to think that the definition of purpose is an instantaneous act or event. As if the answer should be posed as something like, “I define my purpose as…” But that’s not the sense that should be expressed by that question. I do not believe the definition of purpose is an instantaneous event. Maybe the question would be better posed, “How do I start defining my purpose?” Or, “How do I engage in creating my purpose?” I think these examples better express the process involved in coming to one’s purpose.

Now that the grammar is out of the way, how does one engage in creating purpose? For me, that’s the toughest question of all. Really, it’s a daunting prospect. It takes courage and a willingness to experience failure. It means trying new things, even those things that we may find boring or trite or not worth our time. It means doing some sincere soul-searching, spending some time in solitude, asking oneself what stimulates one’s interest. It means spending time with trusted others to get their feedback as to what they think would be good for us. We need both time alone and time with others to know ourselves well.

Maybe this was not the ‘answer’ you were seeking. I rarely have them, the answers. More often, I have lots of words that may or may not lead anywhere concrete. The one thing I do believe however, is that sincere and compassionate discussion usually always helps in one way or another. I hope, at least, you found this entertaining. Be well.

In Praise of the Veil

On that edge, that fine precipice
where he might forgive us our trespasses
I’d faced an eternity of nothing
a real breath-taker, soul-shaker
and I’d determined to never to lift the veil again.

In that moment I’d come face to face with time
I’d tasted its terrible grip on mine
with all the imminence of self-destruction
lurking, surging, receding, breathing,
there bleeding, to reclaim my essence its own.

I know now that
the veil hides a monster
and the monster a god
and the god our father
and like no other
I will shudder
to stay the veil
forever worn.