Guilt and Forgiveness

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One of our friends who is a supporter of our project send me this note, to offer some guidance and light on our journey. It is a real gift to have backers who challenge us to dig deeper and elevate the quality and richness of what we hope to send out to the world, through our project. I though it was extremely inspiring and educational so I am posting it here.


Great stuff, Rafal,
I’ve always thought that contemporary philosophical thought (for my generation, at least) began with the Dane, Kierkegaard, because he was one of the very early existentialists. Not that the same anguish wasn’t felt by, say, Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, but Kierkegaard faced the idea that we had finally become smart enough to kill not just ourselves, but obliterate the entire planet if so provoked.
That is to say that he would be a great starting point for a 21st century discussion of guilt and forgiveness because the war and the bomb are the seminal events of our lives.
Ken Goffard

It took me on quite spin, and I had to go back an rediscover these three iconoclastic philosophers:

Søren Kierkegaard


Søren Aabye Kierkegaard  (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author. He wrote critical texts onorganized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology and philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables.

He is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a “single individual”, giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. He was a fierce critic of idealist intellectuals and philosophers of his time, such as Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel, as well as Danish pastors Jacob Peter Mynster and Hans Lassen Martensen and Danish poet Johan Ludvig Heiberg.

His theological work focuses on Christian ethics, on the institution of the Church, and on the differences between purely objective proofs of Christianity and the individual’s subjective relationship to Jesus Christ, the God-Man, which came through faith. Much of his work deals with the art of Christian love. He was extremely critical of the practice of Christianity as a state religion, primarily that of the Church of Denmark. His psychological work explored the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices. 
Kierkegaard’s early work was written under various pseudonyms whom he used to present distinctive viewpoints and interact with each other in complex dialogue. He assigned pseudonyms to explore particular viewpoints in-depth, which required several books in some instances, while Kierkegaard, openly or under another pseudonym, critiqued that position. He wrote many Upbuilding Discourses under his own name and dedicated them to the “single individual” who might want to discover the meaning of his works. Notably, he wrote: “Science and scholarship want to teach that becoming objective is the way. Christianity teaches that the way is to become subjective, to become a subject.”

The scientist can learn about the world by observation but Kierkegaard emphatically denied that observation could reveal the inner workings of the spiritual world. In 1847 Kierkegaard described his own view of the single individual:

God is not like a human being; it is not important for God to have visible evidence so that he can see if his cause has been victorious or not; he sees in secret just as well. Moreover, it is so far from being the case that you should help God to learn anew that it is rather he who will help you to learn anew, so that you are weaned from the worldly point of view that insists on visible evidence. (…) A decision in the external sphere is what Christianity does not want; (…) rather it wants to test the individual’s faith.”

Some of Kierkegaard’s key ideas include the concept of “Truth as Subjectivity”, the knight of faith, the recollection and repetition dichotomy, angst, the infinite qualitative distinction, faith as a passion, and the three stages on life’s way. Kierkegaard’s writings were written in Danish and were initially limited to Scandinavia, but by the turn of the 20th century, his writings were translated into major European languages, such as French and German. By the mid-20th century, his thought exerted a substantial influence on philosophy, theology, and Western culture.

Arthur Schopenhauer



Arthur Schopenhauer (22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher best known for his book, The World as Will and Representation, in which he claimed that our world is driven by a continually dissatisfied will, continually seeking satisfaction. Influenced by Eastern thought, he maintained that the “truth was recognized by the sages of India”; consequently, his solutions to suffering were similar to those of Vedantic and Buddhist thinkers (i.e. asceticism); his faith in “transcendental ideality” led him to accept atheism and learn from Christian philosophy.

At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four distinct aspects of experience in the phenomenal world; consequently, he has been influential in the history ofphenomenology. He has influenced a long list of thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Wagner, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Erwin Schrödinger, Albert Einstein,  Sigmund Freud, Otto Rank, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell, Leo Tolstoy, Thomas Mann, and Jorge Luis Borges.


Friedrich Nietzsche


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philosopher, poet, composer, cultural critic, and classical philologist. He wrote critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy, and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony, and aphorism.

Nietzsche’s key ideas include the “death of God,” the Übermensch, the eternal recurrence, the Apollonian and Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, and the will to power. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life-affirmation”, which involves questioning of all doctrines that drain life’s expansive energies, however socially prevalent those views might be. His influence remains substantial within philosophy, notably in existentialism, post-modernism, and post-structuralism, as well as outside it. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, especially in the continental tradition.

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. In 1869, at the age of twenty-four he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel (the youngest individual to have held this position), but resigned in the summer of 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life. In 1889, at the age of forty-four, he suffered a collapse and a complete loss of his mental faculties. The breakdown had been ascribed to atypical general paresis attributed to tertiary syphilis, but this diagnosis has since come into question. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897, then under the care of his sister until his death in 1900.

His sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche acted as curator and editor of Nietzsche’s manuscripts during his illness. She was married to a prominent German nationalist and antisemite, Bernhard Förster, and she reworked some of Nietzsche’s unpublished writings to fit her husband’s ideology, often in ways contrary to Nietzsche’s opinions, which were strongly and explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism (see Nietzsche’s criticism of anti-Semitism and nationalism). Through Förster-Nietzsche’s editions, Nietzsche’s name became associated with German militarism and Nazism, although some twentieth-century scholars counteract the abuse of Nietzsche’s philosophy by this ideology.

(above quoted from Wikipedia)Thank you Ken, you are always a teacher to me, Rafal.

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