Apr 19, 2011

To Have a Cause

To Have a Cause

A. Lower forms

  1. Because it seems good in the eyes of men, a sign of earnestness, etc., one speaks uninterruptedly about having a cause, about wanting to work for the cause, everything for the cause — and he has no cause except that of wanting to please men by his talk about having a cause. Such people have no cause but dress something up, a display mannequin which they coddle as if it were a child.
  2. One has a kind of cause — but the cause, however, is consequential only to the point of gaining one's own advantage by having the cause.
  3. One has a cause but supports it in every possible way by clubbing together etc.; one is happy when someone, even through misunderstanding, joins up, for although one has a cause, he wants to spare himself as much as possible, i.e., one wants to have a cause as little as possible.

B. Higher forms

  1. Ethical irony and intellectual, unselfish interest, which have a cause to the degree that it is hidden in order to prevent the misunderstanding of being of help to someone.
  2. The martyrs who suffer for the cause. They need have no fear at all of getting the support of men, because where there is suffering, men flee. But in any case, they are still careful to parry assistance through misunderstanding, if it should be offered, because the cause is to them unconditionally the absolute, the I unconditionally nothing. This is what it is to have a cause in the highest sense.

— Kierkegaard, 1851 (4 years before his death)

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