Does Rationality Give Life Meaning?
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Episode 7: Does Rationality Give Life Meaning? |
(Kierkegaard: Truth is Subjectivity)
Written & Directed by: Jared Bauer
Narrator: Nathan Lowe
Animation Producer: MB X. McClain
Original Music & Sound by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Academic Consultant: Mia Wood
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Does Rationality Give Life Meaning? (Kierkegaard: Truth is Subjectivity)
Does rationality make life meaningful?
For thousands of years, rationality has been considered the hallmark of
truth. For through it, the modern age has given us fast cars, instant food, advanced medicine, immediate communication, and giant epic robots. Okay, maybe not that one yet. But still, the achievements of reason have made most all things in our lives dramatically easier.
But to Christian existentialist Soren Kierkegaard, life shouldn’t be easy. It should be made more difficult.
Whereas his contemporaries worshipped rationality in all areas of life, Kierkegaard contended that reason was only of limited value.
Sure, reason makes life more convenient, but it doesn’t give us what we really want: to live meaningful lives.
And to Kierkegaard, those who live solely by the dictates of reason are under the illusion that they are living meaningful lives. For nothing can define the meaning in my life FOR me. Not even reason. Truth cannot be mediated by society, science, or authority. I must orient MYSELF towards these things.
In his verbosely titled book Concluding Scientific Postscript to the Philosophical Fragments, he rather concisely said that: “truth is subjectivity.” But what does that mean?
Let’s say you’re in a situation in which you deliberate between saving an old man or a princess. Now, you, like most of us, may appeal to reason in order to land on an appropriate course of action. Reason may be a proper guide in making this decision, but ultimately reason is not doing the choosing. YOU are doing the choosing.
To achieve truth, according to Kierkegaard, we musn’t mediate our choices through reason, or anything else, but instead, make a passionate leap of faith towards a decision. Choose from inwardness, from subjectivity.
And if like Kierkegaard, you choose to live a meaningful life through religious devotion, you cannot do so by the dictates of rationality, for reason cannot provide a satisfactory answer to the question of God’s existence and nature. So when faced with such things that are OBJECTIVELY uncertain, one must choose subjectively.
No matter how hard it may be, Kierkegaard challenges us not to make choices from purely rational motives, but instead to choose form within. Choose passionately. Make the leap of faith.