What Can Be Said About Eternal Happiness?


But concerning the eternal happiness nothing can be said except that it is the good which is to be attained by risking everything.
 (2009-05-28). Kierkegaard: Concluding Unscientific Postscript (Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy) (p. 358). Cambridge University Press. Kindle Edition.


15 thoughts on “What Can Be Said About Eternal Happiness?

  1. Where “eternal happiness” implies a state of mind during which life, your life, is undeniably, inexorably affirmed. Would that we could all have such experiences, but we don’t. Regarding the risking of everything – it seems to imply that perhaps we all made this consideration before we “fell”, doesn’t it? I wish I could remember when I was faced with the choice… “Marge! get L. Ron Hubbard on the line.”

  2. I don’t know what ‘everything’ is. Gaining the Happiness eternal by risking Earthly delights, pleasures, possessions, status? Or selling my soul to gain those same things? It’s tough out there.

  3. Kierkegaard has always been “Christian guy who thought out of the box” to me so the presence of “fallen ones” in biblical scripture highlights the quote.

    Everything is Being itself.

    So you stand on the edge and look down, you blessed angel you. Death is there, as is the chance of the return to eternal bliss if you straighten things out down there, just flat luck out, learn to love God again, save the whales, whatever is required. Is it worth the risk? You make your decision. You jump. Then you’re a squalling, blood soaked infant ready to be thrashed about by chance.

    (A pretty intense tremor felt here in Mira Loma, just as I was typing “thrashed about”! People going, “did you feel that?” Get me back to the other side of the San Andreas, driver, it’s a prelude to the Big One. Fuck a zombie apocalypse.)

    But this is all in the abstract. Nothing to do with real life — and don’t worry, you can’t sell what you don’t possess, because it doesn’t exist, never has, never will! But there are those who are pleased that you feel your “soul” is something that can be bought and sold. They would own you with those beliefs — chains which tether you to their thrones.

      • Am not. I am? What do you mean I’m right? I’d not intended to be right. Just spouting off pseudointellectual semi-nonsense from diverse perspectives trying to antagonize you…sniff…trying to fill a void (not sexually) I don’t care enough about anything to be right about it… but you say I’m RIGHT? Are you sure? My face.. it’s red… shock, embarrassment, rage … hot tears flow down my reddened cheeks — what do I do now? WHAT DO I DO NOW??? I DON’T WANT THIS. I DO NOT WANT TO BE RIGHT. precisely what was I right about NO I DON’T WANT TO KNOW. No, you are wrong. I am wrong. YOU are right. You are right. Yes. You, sir, are right. Thank you for your kind correction. I am clearly wrong, as you have stated. And you are right. I am wrong. I am apt to ask: How were you able to determine the fallacy (not phallically) in my assertions? No, I’d prefer it remained a mystery. phew … I’m ok … I’m alright … … … Ooooooohhhhhh now I see you were being ironic. Touché.

  4. Mikey says:

    He’s got a fun sounding name and people have heard of him, but he can’t just go round bandying stuff like that about can he? I mean – eternal happiness sounds pretty good. Unfortunately I need to risk everything to get it. Before I do that, could I ask just one or two questions? Oh no, I see, “nothing can be said” except that I need to risk everything. It would be nice to have at least a vague feeling about how to proceed in this all-out risk-a-thon I’m about to get involved with though.

    • if you find yourself limiting your risk in order to feel safe, then you know you are not pointed towards eternal happiness. that’s easy to say, right? Not deliberately mystifying. Just hard to do.

      • Mikey says:

        No, the problem is that there might be any number of ways of abandoning yourself to total risk, and most of them would just end in disaster. He’s not saying that any attitude of total risk is going to lead to happiness, is he? Like, you might interpret that as murdering your wife, while I might interpret it as throwing myself off a building. But as soon as you start saying “which way is best?” you’re breaking the rules.

  5. The person who throws himself off a building — is he risking everything? Or is he in a position of psychological pain which he hopes to end by throwing himself off the building and therefore pursuing a (dubious) strategy for avoiding discomfort? Does the person who devotes his life to serving his fellow man and ends up poor, does his life “end in disaster”? What SK says is “the only thing that can be said” about eternal happiness is “it’s what you get by risking everything”. In other words it’s the metric for your entire life as lived without guarantees, not a special prize for a particular kind of outlandish behavior. He’s saying it because he thinks there’s a human tendency to try to avoid commitment, and that when it’s applied to the project of leading a life as a whole it’s a disaster. It’s fine for evaluating whether to shop at store A or store B, it is not a good idea for deciding if you want to live your life as a consumer or not. Particularly we avoid commitment by a certain kind of generalizing, guarantee-seeking thought which he calls “objective thought”. If you turn around and say “in all cases whenever I take a risk that’s good and in all cases whenever I forego a risk that is bad” you may be engaging in objective thought, and probably to get out of the discomfort of making an ultimate commitment.

  6. Still thinking about risk. If you don’t risk somethng, you have nothing anyway. And does it always have to be right or wrong? I can give two similar real time examples of the following scene. Rainy dark Friday afternoon. Headed for shul, injured cat in the street. UH OH – – What’s the risk to you. Make you late? Hate cats? Find a vet? It’s probably going to die anyway? Can’t find a place to turn around? OR Call an emergency animal service tell them where cat is and say, “Well. I’ve done my part.” Then proceed to your destination offering you hope of eternal happiness for your phone call? Or do you have a cat wrapped in your coat on the passenger seat? Sometimes Risk can simply be levels of discomfort, can’t it?

  7. Well as the poet says “he who kisses the winged joy as it flies, lives in eternity’s sunrise”. Your point is correct — if you ignore the cat to hurry to shul, do a little for the cat, or take the cat with you — each choice defines who you are. It’s a soul-defining choice. What your soul is is your portion of eternity. A scary way to see that is that our lives could actually end at every moment. So whatever you do with the cat could be the very last thing you do. But that’s a scary way to look at it — a gentler way to say the same thing is that all the ways you live your life make up who you are and that has eternal signficance. Because often what looks like discomfort is really joy.

    • Mikey says:

      I find it scarier the other way round. Because I am naturally inclined to gamble, so I’d just say “Oh, forget the cat. I probably won’t die tonight.”

      On the other hand, if every decision you make is part of your eternal life, well it puts a kind of terrifying light on all the millions of mediocre and banal decisions I’ve made. Almost makes me want to drive around looking for cats on my way to shul.

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