LEV SHESTOV \ Speculation and Revelation \ Karl Jaspers

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     Jaspers has superbly described the philosophical position of "omnitude" with regard to the exception and thereby has made clear to us why Kierkegaard rushed from Hegel and the Greek symposium to Job and why Nietzsche exchanged Socrates for the blonde Bestie. Reason is able and willing to give nothing to the exceptions: for the exceptions only the inexorabilities remain. So long as a person is astonished, he has reason on his side; but when despair possesses him, reason not only abandons him but finishes him off in every possible way. "For an incurable person one should not wish to be a doctor" and "That which is falling should also be pushed," we read in Nietzsche. Where did he learn these commandments, who suggested them to him? Whence came to him - this man who was good and gentle in his life (of this his letters give sufficient testimony) - the attacks of that frenzied, rabid cruelty about which his books tell us? And whence came Kierkegaard's "cruel Christianity," which brings him so close to Nietzsche's atheism?

     Regrettably Jaspers, for some reason, avoids speaking of the fanatical preaching of cruelty that breaks through in all the writings of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard, although he mentions Nietzsche's "masks" as well as Kierkegaard's "indirect communications." However, it is necessary to assume that fanaticism in both of them is that which does not reveal but rather conceals their deepest and most cherished thoughts. By the way, in the philosophia perennis also not everything was so openly exposed to the reader as is usually supposed. Even Kant, who always so rigorously defended the commandment "You shall not lie," asserted that a man is not at all obliged to say everything that he thinks - that our duty is only not to say what we do not think. From this it is only a step to the "mask." And in the Phaedo, in which philosophy is defined as "training or exercise in death (melête thanatou)," Socrates says, "Those who occupy themselves in the right way with philosophy, might well, without indeed letting this be noted by others (lelethênai toûs alloûs), strive after nothing else than to die and to be dead." Perhaps Socrates also concealed what was most important to him, in order not to be pushed out of "omnitude" and not to find himself deprived of the protection of the laws. For, as we have already seen, reason, even though it boasts that it is prepared to listen to and examine everything with sympathy, sees and hears only what is subject and obedient to it. "Human cowardice fears especially the explanations of the insane and the dying," says Kierkegaard (Gesammelte Werke, Wiederholung, p. 182). Here crede experto is necessary: the "exceptional" experience of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche revealed to them that the terrors of life do not, as it were, exist for reason. Reason avoids them, for it guesses with a sure feeling that if it were to look them openly in the eye it would have to deny itself. Here is to be sought the meaning of the intoxicated, one could almost say inspired, glorification of cruelty that is so stunning and repulsive to "all of us" in Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. There where reason imperiously demands that one halt before the eternally hidden and solemnly robe himself in the toga of the deepest silence ("The ultimate of thinking as of communication is silence," [8] Jaspers, p. 82) - there "people who have fallen out of the general" raise their voices, as if they wished to tease "all of us" and put us to the test, and, sometimes openly and sometimes under the cover of "indirect communication," hurl their final challenge to the truths hallowed by age-old tradition.

     Will the "satisfaction in ideas" of the philosophia perennis pass such a test? Can reason still "orient," and be a guide for, a man who was compelled to look madness and death in the eye, who did not merely see in another (as we see a tragedy on the stage), but felt through his own experience, all the irreparability of despair? "Not from me is my cruelty," Kierkegaard continuously repeats - and it is as if Nietzsche always echoed him. Only despair arouses in a man his highest powers - and both Nietzsche and Kierkegaard do not pass on any opportunity to remind their readers of this. Contemplative, speculative philosophy, which with its music so entices "the many," arouses in Kierkegaard (as well as in Nietzsche) just as severe a hatred as does reason, which gives rise to it. Kierkegaard, who was brought up on Hegel, who honored Hegel as a brilliant philosopher, and who was horrified at his shame and misfortune in not understanding the great man, in his Philosophical Fragments already sarcastically calls the contemplative, speculative thinkers "speculators" and seeks to learn how "to think" from a private thinker, Job. More than this, he goes to the biblical Abraham, who also found himself in the situation of being an "exception," and he threateningly demands the "suspension of the ethical," as if he agreed with Nietzsche, proclaiming his "beyond good and evil."

     If the ethical is the highest, then Abraham is lost, Job is lost, Kierkegaard is lost, and lost also is the unknown youth (he too, is not to be forgotten, although he is unknown!) who had the folly or misfortune, instead of making the widow of a rich brewer (as everyone of "all of us" would have done) the object of his desire, to fall in love with a princess and, despite all the ideas of reason, in defiance of all the impossibilities, was unwilling to give up his beloved at any price. Needless to say that reason (in the pre-critical as well as in the critical philosophy) rejects all the demands both of Kierkegaard and of the unknown youth and opposes to them its absolute, eternal, and immutable truths and, together with the truths, the moral condemnation presupposed by them. The poor youth will never catch the princess, Regina Olsen became the wife of Schlegel, Job must be content with the consciousness of his innocence and forget forever about his herds, wealth and children. All of Job's and Kierkegaard's demands are the results of a limited, perverted individualism; all this has its origin in a false conception of man's destiny: the empirical "I" hides our true essence in a deceptive fashion.

     About this Kierkegaard, of course, had heard enough: not for nothing had he, like Nietzsche, gone for so many years to Socrates' school. "The highest good for man is to converse day after day about virtue" (Plato, Apology). But the more decisively reason insists on its demands, the bolder and more impetuous does Kierkegaard become. Not that he rejects thinking and what thinking brings with it. On the contrary, his thinking attains almost supernatural tension. But with reason he never reconciled himself. Like Job, the private thinker, for whom he exchanged the Greek symposium and Hegel, he takes up the great and decisive battle. The light, the transparency, the clarity of reason, which - even when reason, to speak as Jaspers does, "takes an attitude that just as resolutely envisages failure in the whole while it nevertheless holds firmly to its way, not knowing whither it is leading" (Jaspers, p. 73) [9] - generate those "inexorabilities" of which we have already spoken, appear to him as a delusion, a deception, a sickness, a sin, a fall (Pascal's enchantement et assoupissement surnaturel). Kierkegaard knows, knows all too well, where reason leads him. He connects all his hopes with the Absurd.

     The word "Absurd" came to Kierkegaard from Tertullian, to whom he, like many of his contemporaries, attributed the famous credo quia absurdum. Tertullian did not say such a thing, but he expressed himself far more strongly in his De carne Christi. Turning his face toward revealed truth, he proclaims: "non pudet, quia pudendum est, prorsus credibile quia ineptum est, certum est, quia impossible." It is natural that, upon hearing such a thing reason, for all its gentleness, goes into a rage. If these words contain only a grain of truth, how is one to orient himself in thinking? But Tertullian does not strive for orientation. In Athens, where Socrates was the spiritual leader, people did orient themselves. There it was necessary to look around, to take one's bearings, to ask, to adapt oneself to that which is; there it was necessary to take account of the possibilities and to bow down to the impossibilities that are as inexorable as the river Styx. "But what have Athens and Jerusalem in common with each other?" From Jerusalem there came to him another piece of news, which people called the "good" news: the impossibilia, all of our impossibilia, come from reason and only from reason. Truth, however, is given not by reason but by faith. Faith not in the sense of credit, or the trust that is rendered to elders, parents, and teachers, but the faith of revelation which places man above all impossibilities and inexorabilities.

     The history of European man contains a mysterious fact before which our reason falls down in perplexity: the highly cultured Greco-Roman world went, for truth, to ignorant Palestinian fishermen, carpenters and shepherds; exchanged Socrates and the symposium for Job; and accepted an utterly senseless new organon of thought that Tertullian expressed in the just-quoted words. With this began, or, to put it better, after this the task of philosophy changed radically: it no longer consisted, as the Greeks taught, in illuminating that which is, in accepting what is given, in being content with what the Stoics designated as that which depends on ourselves; but in seeking, in striving for what Plotinus already called "the most important" and what in Scripture is called "the one thing necessary." The inexorabilities of the given, more precisely, the given itself, which in Athens was recognized as the eternally unchangeable and insuperable and as provoking astonishment through its insuperability, collide with the "despair" of Jerusalem and lead to the de profundis ad te, Domine, clamavi. Athens knew definitely and finally that there is no one to whom to appeal, that the distant God who is enthroned above all near gods is deaf toward supplications. For the Greeks - and after them now also for us - this was and is a fateful, eternally unshakeable truth, like all self-evidences, although Jaspers attempts to weaken or mitigate the significance of self-evidence by asserting that "the evidence pertains to the understanding itself as a function of its grasp of the timeless rightness of what is universally valid" (p. 62). Man is powerless, God is deaf, and there remains for us nothing other than humbly to accept being, no matter what terrors it may promise to us.

     Here lies the source of the paradoxicality of what Jaspers calls Nietzsche's and Kierkegaard's "dogmatic": so long as reason with its inexorabilities rules on earth, boundless cruelty will be the law of life, and only despair in regard to the terrors of existence will be able to arouse man's highest powers and lead him to the bold decision to shake off the burden of the self-evidences. "Nothing is true: everything is permitted!" - to "omnitude" this appears as the most terrible thing; in this it sees the most extreme expression of unbelief. Nevertheless, we hear from Kierkegaard something similar in different words: "God means that nothing is impossible." Both Nietzsche and Kierkegaard stand beyond our truths as well as our good. And both of them not only are not afraid of this, but set their final hopes in it. Their fears are not engendered by the "arbitrariness of God." God's arbitrariness for them is the inexhaustible source of that which is called in Holy Scripture "very good"; it is true freedom. Everything "fearful" lies hidden in "the law and order of being," which are revealed in the light of reason. Not by any kind of exhortations or admonitions would you have persuaded Kierkegaard to accept reason as the supreme principle. For him, as for Luther, reason is the bellua qua non occisa non potest homo vivere. The Lutheran non potest homo vivere is brought forward by him as an "objection" against the "inexorabilities," an objection which, of course, seems to the Hegelian logic senseless and to "omnitude" sickening, but which, in the eyes of the "exceptions," is decisive. From it originates the existential philosophy which sets itself the task of overthrowing the humble human "so it is," established by speculative philosophy, through the imperious divine fiat.

     "In this lies the greatness of Job, that the passion of freedom in him is not choked or soothed by any perverted utterance" (Wiederholung, p. 187). The exalted thoughts of his friends, which could have adorned any symposium, arouse in Job all the indignation of which he is capable. He demands and awaits a repetition - and what he seeks vainly to receive from reason and morality he obtains from God: "Job is blessed and received everything double... This is called a repetition... Who would have thought of this outcome? When did it come? Indeed, in human language this cannot be well said. When did it come for Job? When all conceivable human certainty and probability was on the side of impossibility." (ibid., pp. 190-191 [The last sentence is italicized by Shestov]).

     Here we touch upon the nerve of the existential philosophy. There where speculative philosophy halts, where, to express oneself in Dostoevsky's language, the stone wall of impossibilities arises before a person, only there is revealed for Kierkegaard the task of genuine philosophy in all its difficulty and enormity. Reason fails before the eternally hidden and buries it under silence. We could already be persuaded that Kierkegaard knows better than anyone else what the "impossibilities" are, but he does not give up the struggle, will not give it up for anything in the world. The "peace" that reason with its brightness and its clarities promises him appears to him as the greatest temptation. He does not look for peace or rest but for a storm. With a boldness that even Nietzsche could have envied him he proclaims, "What should this storm bring about? It should make me capable of being a husband" (ibid., p. 192). It goes without saying that Kierkegaard could venture to speak thus, to think thus, only under the protection of Tertullian's "Absurd" and Tertullian's novum organon with its non pudet, quia pudendum and its certum, quia impossibile. Reason, which, especially after Kant, in its pliancy and tolerance at times approaches pragmatism, denies its protection to Kierkegaard and to those like him once and for all. No kinds of thunders, either before or after the critical philosophy, will overthrow the final logic of things, and consequently Job is condemned to end his days on the dung-heap while Kierkegaard will never become capable of married life. No matter how much Kierkegaard or the Book of Job may portray the terrors of the existence of a living person who has fallen into the net of the eternal and immutable truths - this person will in no way be helped. "That which is, is": human tears and curses (lugere atque detestari) cannot shift anything in the structure and order of being. The true philosophy, the philosophy of freely searching people ("homines qui sola ratione ducuntur," to say it again in Spinoza's words) knows this definitely and assuredly. However, not only reason but science itself no longer impresses the "exceptions." They call science into question, they "suspend" science. Over against the clear and distinct judgments of reason with its inexorabilities, they place Luther's "non potest homo vivere" and Job's laments and curses as an objection. Herein consists the "method," the "logic" of the existential philosophy. "Madness!" reason exclaims. But Kierkegaard already anticipated this. He himself said that faith is an insane struggle for possibility. Jaspers asserts, "Existence only becomes clear through reason; reason only has content through existence" (p. 48), obviously paraphrasing the famous words from Kant's Critique of Pure Reason: "Ideas without content are empty, perceptions without reason are blind." But to Kierkegaard as well as to Nietzsche something different became clear: in the boundary areas of life, where fate cast them, the light of reason gives not sightedness but blindness. Just as there it does not bring freedom but takes it away. Reason whispers to man unaccountable and insuperable anxieties where nothing is to be feared - those anxieties that Kierkegaard calls "anxiety before nothingness." "The nothingness in the anxiety of the pagans is fate," he explains, that is to say, those inexorabilities before which the true philosophy "freely" bows down. This anxiety already existed in the first man, who, turning away from the Creator, sought salvation in the tree of knowledge - that is, he went where ruin awaited him.

     Now here is an astonishing fact over which all of us, regrettably, have pondered insufficiently. Kant recognized quite calmly, I might almost say joyously, with a feeling of relief, through his reason, the "indemonstrability" of the existence of God, of the immortality of the soul, and of freedom of the will (all that he considered the content of metaphysics) and found that they had to rest content with a faith based on morality and that they also fulfilled their task excellently in the capacity of modest postulates. But the thought that the reality of "things outside ourselves" could rest on faith brought him unfeigned horror. "So it always remains a scandal for philosophy and general human reason that the existence of things outside ourselves... must be accepted only on faith [italicized by Kant] and, if it occurs to anyone to doubt it, not to be able to set before him any sufficient proof," Kant writes in the preface to the second edition of his Critique. And in the same preface he explains with regard to the basic problem of metaphysics, as if nothing else had happened: "So I had to deny knowledge in order to obtain place for faith." For God, for the immortality of the soul, and for freedom of the will, there is no proof and can be none - and this is no misfortune: they could make do with faith, for it is not a question about any kind of important powers. But as far as "things outside ourselves" are concerned, for them faith alone is insufficient. Here knowledge is necessary, and if after the Critique, as was clear to everyone, the assertion that "things in themselves" exist contains a contradiction, it was considered better to manifest inconsistency for one time than to deny or even doubt the existence of the external world.

     Why is this so? Why should God, the immortality of the soul, and freedom of the will make do with faith and postulates, while das Ding an sich is favored with scientific proofs? The answer to this question is again given by The Critique of Pure Reason: "The belief in a God and in another world is so interwoven with my moral sentiment that, as little as I run the danger of losing the latter, just as little do I fear that the former can ever be taken away from me." Does this not mean that God, as well as the immortality of the soul and freedom cannot make a claim to independent being and are only a universally understandable, figurative form of expression of that which Kant calls moralische Gesinnung, "moral sentiment"?

     To be sure, in the last chapters of the Critique Kant was sometimes overly obliging to his readers, and, in the desire to set them at rest, at times went too far and almost crudely mixed up the sensuous with the super-sensuous, whereby he provoked severe reproaches among his followers. But it is necessary to see in this only an external pliancy, which, though undesirable, is nevertheless only external. Like Socrates, Kant was firmly convinced that everything "sensuous" must be rooted out of high human ideals and that, finally, God and immortality and freedom are to be understood in a quite different sense than that which Scripture reveals to us: "The highest good for man is to converse day after day about virtue." God, immortality of the soul, and freedom are for Kant not only connected with his "moral sentiment" but are nothing other than this "moral sentiment" itself. His inspired digression on duty in The Critique of Practical Reason is evidence of this. It is altogether as in Spinoza: "beatitudo non est proemium virtutis, sed ipsa virtus." And just as in Spinoza - although Kant went into a rage when people compared him with Spinoza or even set up any similarity between them - the identification of God with morality in Kant arises out of the deep certainty of reason and the firm knowledge that a revealed God, indeed the very idea of a "revealed" truth, belongs entirely in the realm of Schwärmerei and Aberglauben. Reason, "the touchstone of truth," knows for certain that there is no "revelation" and cannot be, just as it knows for certain that the existence of things outside ourselves cannot be subject to the slightest doubt. In the domain of reason knowledge rules over everything, both before as well as after the critical philosophy - and where knowledge rules, morality takes the place of God. Zurück zu Kant in our time has produced the same consequences as in the 1860s. In the language of Nietzsche: We have killed God. In the language of Kierkegaard: Christians have killed Christ.


     Kant considered the moral proof for the existence of God, with which he replaced the ontological (which, by the way, is essentially not at all distinguishable from the moral) irreproachable, and in the eyes of reason it is, indeed, if not irrefutable, nevertheless in a certain sense acceptable. But Nietzsche was driven "beyond good and evil," while Kierkegaard had to "suspend the ethical" from which he carefully guarded his "secret" and to which he could not decide to entrust his fate. Kant would never have admitted that such a thing is possible. Not without reason did he so passionately adjure people not to scorn reason. But Nietzsche and Kierkegaard were deaf to Kant's adjurations. To everything that he said they had only one answer: with reason, together with its "knowledge" and its "God morality," non potest homo vivere. This, of course, Kant did not suspect. He was deeply "convinced" that reason and its knowledge are the beginning of life and not of death. The biblical account of the fall into sin was for him a myth, whose significance has already evaporated and that no longer says anything to us - as Jaspers also writes, "Once the myth has passed away, no will can restore it" (p. 97). Horace's line of verse, "vitiis nemo sine nascitur," which Kant took as the motto for a chapter of his Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone, is much closer and understandable to him. And indeed, is Luther's "non potest homo vivere" an "answer" or only the lion's roar of Job brought very slightly into form? To Kierkegaard it is all the same: he already fears neither Hegel nor the symposium. He does not even interrogate being, he does not question in general. He went to Job, to Abraham, precisely because for them neither reason nor science nor morality are the highest, because for them the near God overcomes the distant one and the relationship to the near God is determined not by laws and norms that cannot be stepped over but through the totally unlimited freedom which Kierkegaard, following Holy Scripture, calls faith. The concept opposite to sin is not virtue, but faith, the concept opposite to sin is freedom, Kierkegaard proclaims. However, freedom is not possibility. Possibility is there where, according to the final and irrevocable decision of reason, all possibilities have an end, where complete irreparability rules.

     This is insanity!, people will say. "The idea of man cannot be projected too high so long as the absolutely impossible, that which contradicts his finitude in time, is avoided," writes Jaspers (p. 77). Kierkegaard does not even object, but, in frenzied, almost wild triumph, in the very highest tones of his mighty voice, cries out, In order to find faith it is necessary to lose reason! And - what is for "all of us" even more incomprehensible, more unacceptable - he undertook his desperate struggle against reason not, as a philosopher was supposed to, sub specie aeternitatis, but for the "finite," for the sake of Regina Olsen condemned to dissolution in time through her finitude, as if he were thereby carrying out Nietzsche's behest: "Bleibt mir der Erde treu, o meine Brüder."

     If I had had faith, Kierkegaard repeats tirelessly in his diaries, Regina would have been mine. But who cares whether Regina became the wife of Kierkegaard or Schlegel? And what audacity is required to connect with the exalted idea of God and of faith in God such an insignificant matter as the breaking of the engagement of the Danish candidate of theology. But Kierkegaard - without asking or making inquiries of anyone - declares that this is extraordinarily, infinitely important and that one can reject Hegel's philosophy only because no place was found in it for the Danish candidate of theology. Job attracted Kierkegaard only by the fact that his affairs were just as insignificant and finite and earthly as those that, according to the teaching of the speculative philosophers, it is forbidden even to recall when it is a question of the great and final mysteries of being. He asks Job for permission to join him, to consider their affair a common one - for, although he has not lost so much, he has nevertheless lost everything, and this is sufficient to call the universe to account. So also it is with Abraham. Instead of admitting that Abraham forever and finally stabbed Isaac (as we, qui sola ratione ducimur, understand the word "sacrifice"), Kierkegaard prefers to declare that, even if Abraham had stabbed Isaac, God, for whom everything is possible, would have restored him to life. And here, again without asking anyone, he adds, "What one is to understand by Isaac, every man has decide for himself" (Furcht und Zittern, p. 64). In other words, he believes that Regina Olsen can pass for Isaac, and that God will return her to Kierkegaard, as he returned his son to Abraham.

     But this is still not enough for him. As if his words should ceaselessly shine before us in fiery letters, he draws not only Job and Abraham but God Himself into his affair. Everyone considers as the most terrible and stupendous of all the events in the New Testament that moment when Jesus cries out, "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?" This is indisputably horrible. But even more horrible is that God, who is love, at the sight of His son's torments, cannot even respond to them: His immutability fetters His love. And Kierkegaard immediately remembers his own affair: I, a miserable man, have - to be sure, remotely, very remotely - experienced the same thing that God experienced when He listened to the cries of His crucified son: in me also immutability paralyzed all my powers and I was compelled to crush Regina Olsen and could not even move so as to offend high morality. The inexorabilities have power over God, not, of course, over the distant God who only demands but gives nothing, but over that near God who Himself taught men to pray: Give us this day our daily bread. God is in the same situation as man: He also has fallen out of the general, is expelled from being, is transformed into an exception.

     But the more insistently reason and morality dissuade Nietzsche and Kierkegaard from the insane venture of making the impossible possible, the more stubbornly do they continue to insist on having it their own way. They refuse obedience to the truths to which all men subject themselves uncomplainingly, and there where all are enchanted and have an attitude of reverence, they curse and blaspheme. "In every philosophy," says Nietzsche, "there is a point where the 'conviction' of the philosopher appears on the stage, or to say it in the language of an old mystery - adventavit asinus pulcher et fortissimus." Kierkegaard is not behind him - we recall that he does not feel embarrassed to call the speculative philosophers "speculators." Incidentally, Kierkegaard's "double," Dostoevsky, does the same thing.[10] With an audacity characteristic of all "exceptions," he shows his tongue and fist to that which "all of us" call "exalted and beautiful" and mocks people who, while the earth cracks under their feet, continue to sing their solemn hymns.

     Limited space, unfortunately, does not permit me to cite further extracts from Nietzsche and Kierkegaard (to which should be added corresponding quotations from Dostoevsky's works, which remind one so much of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche that they seem borrowed from them) in which they drag in the mud everything that generations honored as true and sacred. I would only say that one must marvel at the patience and meekness of reason which makes supernatural efforts to tear the last "exceptions" out of the power of the Absurd and to bring them back into its bosom. In this respect Vernunft und Existenz ["Reason and Existence"] is a truly splendid book. Jaspers is prepared to make all possible and impossible concessions in order to establish a modus vivendi between those very many who enjoy the protection of the laws and those few who have been forgotten by the laws. He renounces absolute truth, he defines truth in terms of communicability, he recognizes a plurality of truths, he limits the power of the law of contradiction (which for Aristotle is the most unshakeable of all principles), he even speaks about philosophical faith - not about faith in a revealed truth and not about atheism, between which philosophy finds its own way (for Kierkegaard, of course, such a faith is the summit of unbelief; for Nietzsche it means that we have killed God) - and he even admits the possibility that a philosopher one fine day will prostrate himself before God or rush into atheism. In short, he is prepared to do everything to tame, to soothe, or at least to mollify the enraged "exceptions." He asserts that every polemic is alien to true philosophy, that it is amicably, even sympathetically disposed with regard to all who think otherwise. But here he already lays claim to more than his intellectual conscientiousness, his honesty, can give and wishes to give. In the end he is forced to banish both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche from the realm of true philosophy. "Since it wishes to be not a philosophy of the exception but of the universal, it only regards itself as true if it is capable of translation into the reality of many" (p. 103). He also does not forget to add here that true philosophy "in view of the exception (angesichts der Ausnahme)... must make sure again of the ground of its own philosophical faith." And then there remains for him nothing other than to declare: "But on these paths of philosophizing it is as though we sought anew the quietude of Kant and Spinoza, of Nicholas of Cusa and Parmenides, turning away from the ultimate unrest of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche" (p. 103).

     The eternal unrest of the "exceptions," their irreconcilability, their militant aggressiveness, that determination with which they heedlessly overstep the boundaries of the possible and the permissible, their Absurd, their will to power, their immoralism, their transvaluation of all values, their glorification of boundless cruelty, their belief in revealed truth that is based on nothing and cannot be justified by anything, their unwillingness to find satisfaction in that in which the great teachers of mankind themselves found and taught others to find the highest good - these make fruitless all attempts to find even some word in peace with them. To exhortations they do not and will not yield. Whether one wishes it or not, one will have to bring them to this with force. They are not content with having conceded to them "another reality" which "is true not for it (philosophy) but for itself: before revealed religion and before atheism" (pp. 109 - 110). They do not seek to obtain private concessions, they do not ask for alms - that is why they appear always and everywhere with their entweder-oder. The reality of the "many" (the "many, all too many" of Nietzsche) is for them no argument, no objection, just as the bliss of Kant and Spinoza's quietude is no temptation for them. Ruthlessly they destroy with the heavy hammer of their mockery and doubt the places of refuge in which the great hermits of thought sought shelter. And everything that men worshipped they will smash, reduce to ashes, annihilate - until they will have obtained their goal.

     In the end reason cannot avoid seeing this, it cannot avoid understanding that with those who have fallen out of the "general," with the "exceptions," there is and can be no agreement or understanding of a voluntary nature, and that one must enter into a final and decisive struggle with them. Did not Kierkegaard himself admit that he "could not accomplish the movement of faith?" And did he not thereby forever weaken himself and his case? "With Kierkegaard, who revivified the profound formulas of theology, it may appear like the peculiar art of perhaps a nonbeliever, forcing himself to believe" (p. 21). But this can lead to nothing: "If I do not believe, then it is hopeless to will to believe: I could thereby only produce untruth and confusion in myself and my world" (p. 97). With this the ground is pulled out from under the feet of the "exceptions" at once. Faith as "an insane struggle for impossibility" and the "will to power" - that which constitutes the soul and essence of the existential philosophy - are condemned to eternal fruitlessness. One can admire faith, marvel over it, especially when it is attested through exalted feats of self-denial, through a martyr's life, through a martyr's death, as was the case with Kierkegaard and Nietzsche: "With the total staking of their whole being they are like a modern form of the martyr" (p. 23).

     But their faith does not give truth. Fantastic and powerless, it will break in pieces on the rock of knowledge which grasps "that which is." And, vice versa, the reality of the many always found and will continue to find a support in knowledge: "non potest homo vivere" will not protect the "exceptions" from the "being encompassing us," which takes no account whatever whether the professor from Basel or the Danish candidate of theology can or cannot live. No matter how much Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Pascal, or Dostoevsky may rage; no matter how much Job or even Jesus of Nazareth may cry, they will nevertheless not be able to shake the fundamental truth of our reason: that which is, is inexorably so. There can be many kinds of faith, there can be many kinds of interpretations of faith and truth, but no one can escape the power of this basic ontic truth. Nietzsche and Kierkegaard cannot bear their heavy burden, but they are also unable to cast it off. Jaspers possesses the rare courage and firmness to proclaim this urbi et orbi in view of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard who were so precious to him, as his philosophical conscientiousness (Kant's Redlichkeit) demanded. "That which is falling should also be pushed." "For an incurable person one should not wish to be a doctor." Reason, which vainly squandered all means of persuasion and became convinced that the "exceptions" will not submit to the exhortations of spiritual power, hands them over to the disposal of the worldly power of the inexorabilities in order that it may act sine effusione sanguinis [without bloodshed], according to its eternal laws, and put an end to their fruitless anxiety.

     We already know the verdict of the inexorabilities: Kierkegaard and Nietzsche leave us with empty hands and with empty hearts. On this the critical and pre-critical philosophy are equally in agreement: Kant and Mendelssohn and Socrates. The ethical, only the ethical, is the highest - this is what is proclaimed to us by the inexorabilities which, in the end, turned out to be judex et princeps omnium, although this means that Job, as well as Abraham and Nietzsche and the poor youth who fell in love with a princess, and even the biblical God who could not respond to the cries of His beloved son, are all condemned to destruction.

[8] Nietzsche says differently: "Silenced truths become poisonous."

[9] The apostle Paul says about Abraham also that he went "without knowing where he was going"; but, of course, the meaning of his words is entirely different.

[10] I speak at greater length about this in the foreword to my book Kierkegaard and the Existential Philosophy.

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