I am mildly drunk on Kierkegaard. I read his ideas and I swear my pulse quickens and new vistas of consciousness are opened. For those who don’t know, Kierkegaard is generally considered the father of existentialism, a philosophy that seeks to understand persons as unique and concrete, existing individuals as opposed to parts of a larger system or universal category. For the existentialist what matters most is not defining humanity and then understanding the individual within that definition, but rather understanding persons as actors who must make choices in concrete and specific circumstances who then substantiate their humanity through such choices.
In calling Kierkegaard an existentialist, it is important to note that this philosophical movement took two divergent forms, one being atheistic, and the other religious. Kierkegaard is of the latter variety, and consequently central to his thinking regarding the specific circumstances of each person’s life is each person’s relationship to God. In their existential circumstances, as different and unique as it may be, each person is alienated from their essence, because the essence of each person is bound in each person’s unique relationship with God, a relationship from which each person is likewise alienated. Accordingly, this alienation is only overcome when a person, in their specific circumstances, makes the leap of faith, and thereby takes a stand in a unique relationship with God.
What makes me drunk, so to speak, when I read Kierkegaard’s ideas, is the implication that each one of us has a unique form that exists in the mind of God. In other words, when God called forth humanity into existence, he did not do so on the basis of some universal concept of what it is to be human, and from that universal begin to differentiate and individuate us. Rather, through the Word of creation, he had each one of us in mind, in our perfected state, exhibiting the unique qualities that would constitute us as individuals. In this manner there is for each one of us not a common human form that we all participate in, but rather a unique form for our specific human existence. These forms are present in the eternal Word of God, and they are enabled to substantiate each of our lives as we open ourselves to God’s actions through the incarnate and incarnating ministry of that same Word.