I wrote yesterday as an aside in the sermon for this week that I think Soren Kierkegaard is the philosophical grandparent of the Millenial generation, or the post-mods, or whatever you want to call them. I say this because they are not as blithely Kantian as my generation, or do not seem to want to be, at least. They are looking for something a bit less individualistic/isolationist and Kant loses out to the melancholy Dane in this regard.
I think someone who had the forum to explain this generation to itself could do some great good. My youngest son is doing research for his doctoral dissertation on why the males in his generation seem so feeble compared to the males of prior generations, so perhaps he is the one to begin the explanation.
It is certainly not me, though I have some thoughts on the subject. My interest begins with this assertion; that to understand (or, failing to understand, at least to know) one’s philosophical ancestor helps a person or a generation to understand itself. My generation of Moderns came out of our rebellion against general conformity. In the fifties, people could do the group-think thing, wear short sleeve white shirts with skinny black ties (the men) and sit in long rows of seats, elbow to elbow, never questioning why or how they got there. Barely ten years later my generation had reverted to the Forest. The Hippies disdained hygiene, wore our hair long, made our clothing a fashion statement for rebellion, changed the music forever and would never sit still in a row of chairs for a concert or a speech.
We were ripe for Kantian thought. We accepted his pre-scientific notion that all Truth is just information filtered through one’s own needs and ability to discern. Kant fed our individualism, which in turn, informed our tendency to stress our own individual opinions over against the previously accepted cultural authorities, government, school, church. We did not end up as good rebels. Most of us are virtual (or actual) Tea Party Republicans and very few of my generation were able to maintain any kind of left-wing, anarchistic rebellion. Tis could have been predicted by anyone who read Kant or his fellow thinker Hume. Each thinker was trying to answer the “Liberalism” of his day in order to maintain order. Kant wandered farther from God than previous thinkers and, so, opened the door to later movement away from the Divine but neither Kant nor Hume wanted to see the end of authority or order. They just sought to explain sources of authority in a different way.
Kierkegaard entered the fray later, of course, his thought made necessary by the invalid presuppositions of Hume and Kant on the matter of religion. I say there presuppositions were invalid, though there were, as usual, honest reasons to suppose what as they did given the religiosity of their respective times. The Church had entrenched itself in the State, there to be lashed about by the winds of political necessity, lashed to the main sail of their times. Their Church had lost its superstition, or sacrificed its Cultic Myth. Hume and Kant noted the shift, with its attendant loss of real force and seized the day for human reason, insistent that this one of the five basic means of knowing would be dominant.
And, hundreds of years later, my generation bought into Kantianism, hook, line and sinker. No one could know better than us, or me, though some could be better informed. Their access to better information did not mean they knew better than I, only that they had superior information for the moment. Education became our totem. We poured billions, then trillions of dollars into education, removed traditional values, inserted new math and morality, inserted a billion more and then discovered what went on at home was more important than what happened at the schoolhouse, only to discover there was not much going on at home any more.
And, now I am out of writing time for today. I am getting eyed by later customers at Starbucks who want my choice seat and I have not even got through Kant to get to Kierkegaard. And today I turn 60 years of age, a number I have never put next to my name. The result is I tend to overthink and overstate all things, which demonstrates why I am not the one to write this opus on Millenials and Kierkegaard, only the one to suggest that someone with a platform write it, so that the two of us who care now can read and agree with your work and you can be called a prophetic voice later when others catch on and you are long dead.
I will return to this subject and try to finish the thought later. Now I have to pursue the other side of the thought of Athens. You remember, “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” I have already shot one of those, so all I do now is remedial anyway.