Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, and the posthumous genius philosopher.
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Life begins in media res, so to speak, or as Heidegger might put it, Daesin has a thrownness towards its "being-in-the-world." As the cliche goes we are thrown into life with no instruction manual. So is this true? Well not quite actually. Many religious texts and philosophers have spent thousands upon thousands of hours trying to figure out this existential mess called life. As someone who enjoys the study of philosophy and theology I think religious texts in all the worlds major traditions contain wisdom in them to a greater or lesser degree. I also think great philosophers (and artists of all kinds for that matter) have much to offer in our understanding of our existential predicament. The problem arises though when these great religious sages, and philosophers come they are often "untimely" as Nietzsche might put it. Well what could this mean? As my friend Nic recently introduced me to Beach Boys song "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" explains, it succinctly expresses how great thinkers are often "untimely." They aren't necessarily luddites but the philosophical and religious genius doesn't quite fit in with their contemporary milieu. Nietzsche was a very sick, lonely and ultimately mentally ill man. Kierkegaard seemed to struggle with depression for most of his life also, and was ridiculed mercilessly by the press during the Corsair affair. Heidegger was actually probably a luddite and a man deeply out of step with the modern world. Marx and Luther both deeply challenged the status quo of their societies, and well, Jesus obviously had some, shall we say, slight trouble with the authorities during his lifetime. Often greatness for truly great men (and women) is delayed in their lifetime. As Nietzsche put it "some men are born posthumously." Even great journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Chris Hedges get overshadowed by the bigger names in the mainstream media who have more money and exposure. For every Luther there is an Erasmus, for every postmodernist there is an Nietzsche, and for every Jesus there is a John the Baptist. Greatness in philosophy and religion (and art) comes at a price and that price is frequently a life of loneliness, despair, and just not fitting in. In the Gospel of John Jesus says, "For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country.” So this blog post is for the misfits, the rejects, and the Charlie Browns of the world, because if you are an intellectual misfit you might just be in the company of philosophical greatness.