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The selected passage
“Pity has a strange dialectic, at one moment it requires guilt, the next moment it will not have it, and so it is that to be predestinated to pity is more and more dreadful the more the individual’s misfortune is in the direction of the spiritual. But Sarah had no blame attaching to her, she is cast forth as a prey to every suffering and in addition to this has to endure the torture of pity–for even I who admire her more than Tobias loved her, even I cannot mention her name without saying, “Poor girl” (Kierkegaard unpaged).
A contextualization of the passage
The passage is taken from Problem 3 which is supposed to illustrate the experiences of Abraham who intends to kill his son in order to demonstrate his devotion to God. In this particular section of the book, the writer intends to speak about such a concept as pity from an aesthetic viewpoint. It should be noted that Kierkegaard pays close attention to this notion because he needs to discuss such a character as Sarah who suffered a great number of misfortunes in the course of her life.
More importantly, Kierkegaard wants to determine whether this feeling can be applicable to this person and what kind of effects this feeling can produce on an individual, his/her self-esteem, and attitude toward others. Thus, it is important to show how exactly Kierkegaard approaches this question in his discussion and how he applies his arguments toward Biblical and literary characters. The selected passage can throw a new light on the ideas of Kierkegaard, and his attitude toward many ethical issues.
An exposition of the meaning of passage
First, it should be noted that this passage illustrates the conflicting nature of pity and the reasons the influence of this feeling should be reassessed. To a great extent, the argument of Kierkegaard is supposed to highlight the idea that pity usually requires some feeling of guilt from a person.
One of the arguments that the philosopher makes is that this feeling is intolerable to an individual. To a great extent, this feeling belittles a human being, and in the long term, this emotion can only lead to the bitterness of the individual who is a subject of pity.
This is one of the reasons why later Kierkegaard wants to speak about the detrimental effects of pity by looking at Richard III who was eloquently described by William Shakespeare. This cruelty of this person can be largely explained by the fact that other people felt only pity for him, but paid no attention to other qualities of this person. This example is vital for understanding the ideas of Kierkegaard and his opinions on ethics and art.
The most important element that should be taken into consideration is that the author focuses on the so-called predestination for pity which means that the compassion is the only feeling that some person evokes. This concept is important for describing such a character as Sarah. In his opinion, this predestination can only harm an individual because he/she can be obsessed with the feeling of his/her worthlessness. In the long term, he/she can become even more alienated from other people.
As it has been said before, this experience can only embitter a person or make him/her make more miserable. This opinion is important for Kierkegaard who wants to readers to evaluate the impacts of pity on a person. To a great extent, Kierkegaard believes that this feeling only highlights the weaknesses of an individual.
This is one of the main conclusions that can be drawn from this particular passage. As it has been said before, Kierkegaard wants the readers to look at various situations describes in the Bible from an aesthetic viewpoint, and such an approach can lead to the re-assessment of various ethical principles and norms that are usually deemed to be conventional by many people.
It seems that this discussion is important for explaining the ideas of Kierkegaard who tried to present a re-evaluation of various questions related to philosophy, theology, and literature.
The significance of the passage
It seems that this passage is important for understanding the many views that Kierkegaard could have held on art, ethics, or religion. It can help readers gain deeper insights into other questions that this philosopher examines in his book. To a great extent, he wishes to show that an individual should first try to display respect for another person, rather than only pity because in this way one can better empower an individual.
The ideas of this philosopher contradict the ethical principles according to which a pity is critical for the morality of a person and his/her interactions with other individuals. Nevertheless, one should keep in mind that Kierkegaard looks at Biblical characters from an aesthetic perspective. This is one of the reasons why he presents a dramatically different discussion of many ethical norms. This is one of the reasons why this passage should not be disregarded by people who study the works of Kierkegaard, his ethical and aesthetic views.
Kierkegaard, Soren 1999. Fear and Trembling. Web.