Hr Library

How not to be a phony: Kierkegaard on the two main ways people lose their true selves

People can lose their authentic selves when they don't honestly confront life's potential, according to the philosopher Soren Kierkegaard

By | Jonny Thomson |

  • According to Soren Kierkegaard, we are each pulled in two directions: toward the “finite” or the “infinite.” 
  • When we lean too far in either direction, we risk living stagnant and inauthentic lives. 
  • To be a human is to accept that we are both finite and infinite. We must walk the middle bridge that lies between the two chasms that risk consuming who we are.

n terms of making meaningful and authentic decisions, we are a species walking a narrow bridge with two chasms framing our way: the finite and the infinite. On the finite side lie the fixed conditions of everything we are. These are the facts of our existence that force us to live in certain ways: the needs of our body, the wiring of our brain, and the pull and push of necessity. On the infinite side lies a universe of potential — all the things we think we might someday do or become, a future full of possibilities with no set course laid out.

Both sides have their sirens’ calls that beckon us with promises of comfort, and both risk rendering us unable to move forward authentically in our lives. For the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard, the wise but hard task of life is to walk the path between these two abysses: to be neither finite nor infinite but find the middle way.

Becoming a cipher

Right now, you have innumerable desires, cravings, worries, phobias, or dreams tugging you this way and that. For most of your life, you’ll give in to them. You’ll scratch an itch, drink some water, smile at a good-looking girl, go to bed, nurse a wasp sting, and so on. In these moments, you live in the finitude of your existence — the reality and necessity of life.

Click here to read the full article

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button