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Episode #079 ... Kierkegaard on Anxiety

2016-03-22 | 🔗

On this episode of the podcast we talk about Kierkegaard's views on anxiety. 

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
For more information about this or any episode of the philosophize. This podcast be sure to check out our website at philosophize this dot org. We got all kinds of great stuff up their additional reading, more content, transcripts of every episode links to the files, man, your dreams await you and they will be granted at philosophize this dot, org you'd like to support the show we have contribute page. We have a store with merchandise, t, shirts and stuff. Like that, you can click through the Amazon banner, if that's the kind, Person you are the buy stuff from Amazon. Small percentage goes back to the show. Every little bit helps. Additionally, we have a patriot page at some sort of a crowd funding, ask type thing: patriarch dot com, slash philosophize this. I thank you for anything that you can do. Thank you
for wanting to know more today than you did yesterday and most of all, I hope you love the show today, hello, everyone, I'm Steven West, this is philosophies this I come to you today, humbled powerful and I think about
person. Thank you for all the support Amazon Banner Patreon. If you feel like it honestly, I kept you guys waiting long enough for this episode, so I won't make you wait a second longer, let's get onto the program last time on the show, we talked about a quote from Kirke Guard that was sort of interwoven throughout the subject. Matter of the episode, maybe remember it anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. Well, we're going to talk a lot about what Kirke Guard means when he's saying that today, but I think to understand what he's saying in its entirety, it's necessary for us to look at another quote by Kirk a guard written years apart from that one in a completely different work of his and for the sake of it. Appealing to our modern ears that are accustomed to you know not talking like we're wearing coonskin
Hats in the eighteen, hundreds, I'm gonna paraphrase it a bit, and it goes like this. The biggest danger that you can face in this life is losing yourself. The reason why is because it can leave you or as Kirk arts as it can pass off in the world, without you even realizing it. It's different in that way is everything else you lose whether its five dollars or your wife or your phone, all those things since immediately evident to you that you ve lost them. When you lose them, I mean if you lose your phone like you're, you're, gettin, dear jammies, the end of the night. He be a pat down your pockets and you realize right there. Oh no. I left my phone that Applebee's. I gotta go down there and get it right. But when you lose yourself, it's different news yourself, you could go. Months or even years, without even realizing it. This is why it's a particularly near situation to be in you might not even realize that that you're in it, the Kirk regard most most people living today, probably
Words of ninety percent of the people that are alive at any given time are not actually being true to their selves. Like we talked about last time of people lost lot of people. Find themselves either lost in the finite. No conferring there identity onto social conventions or whatever culture happened, to fall into their lap when they were born or lost in the infinite stuck in a state of analysis, paralysis about the truly infinite possibilities that they can choose from, but they never really act on one of them and as you were talking about last time, truly being a self requires you to have the realisation that the other an infinite number what I can do, but it also requires you to actually make a choice and act on one of those that corresponds with who you truly are see when we find ourselves in this balancing act between the two, the finite and the infinite escaped our calls them. We experience what he calls a state of dizziness
dizziness caused by the fact that we look at the sheer magnitude of possibilities that we have to choose from, coupled with the fact that, eventually we know we gotta choose one of them. This can probably imagine in this state our heads get filled with all sorts of questions. We start catastrophes and what, if I'm wrong? What if this is a huge mistake? I'm make What, if I wake up one morning ass, a sixty year, old, retired Navy, Admiral with a prosthetic hip- and I like I did everything all wrong, and this is the essence of anxiety. Isn't it to fear some future outcome that we really have little control over anyway. You know Kerpenord said quote Anxiety may be compared with dizziness he, whose I have
to look down into the awning of this becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eyes as in the abyss. Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom. End quote, so it's really important to make this part of Kirk Guards, thinking clear and at the risk sounding redundant. What he's is saying is that anxiety is the reaction that we have to the idea that we have free to choose from millions of options, but that we eventually have to choose one and act on it now. It's interesting this freedom that we have you'd have to acknowledge, as a fellow human being can be both a blessing and a curse at the same time, right I mean on one hand we're free hurry. We can do anything, we want, isn't it great, but on the other hand, wow I'm free to do anything. What, if I make a mistake, this is like Berry, Schwartz's lecture on the paradox of
choice right. We seem to be happier as human beings when we have less options rather than more. He gives the example of about salad, dressings and the grocery store, I think, you know imagine if there were only three Bottles of salad dressing in a grocery store only three bottles choose from when you walk down these salad dressing. I'll and the grocery store but say that there were branch boy, blue cheese and barbecue dressing, not that anyone really uses barbecue as salad dressing imagine there was actually somebody in the world it use barbecue dressing. They would walk down this high pathetical aisle in the grocery store, and they would be pleasantly surprised to find barbecue dressing, easy choice over the ranch and blue cheese. I pick barbecue, that's not the reality we live in. Is it you go down the Sal address an aisle today I mean good luck. You got you know. Barbecue spicy, barbecue, honey, barbecue, escape barbecue,
Oh fat, barbecue, Louisiana barbecue points the more options that you have, the harder that decisions gonna be to make and the more likely it is you're gonna go home and put your Louisiana barbecue style dressing on your Saladin think. Maybe I should have gotten the spicy barbecue. Instead, it breeds discontent now snap back to Kirk Guard what I'm talkin about salad dressings here we're Talkin bout, your Life and when I talk about ten choices down at the grocery store, we're talking about practically an infinite number of choices he talks about how, when we find ourselves in this weird limbo, state Queen freedom being really good for us and freedom being really bad for us. We might feel a little uncomfortable in that place. In fact, we might feel a lot comfortable. This emotional state is something that he repeatedly refers to it as a state known as dread. Now that's now I don't like to make many assumptions on the show
I'm just gonna assume for the sake of moving forward that everybody woke up this more they didn't say to themselves them in a what let's be in a state of dread. Today it sounds good dread. No dread is horrible. How could dread ever be good dread is agonizing and we're just talking statistically here what a most human beings do when they find themselves in an incredibly uncomfortable situation, like dread? Will they get away from it right? They they find a way to run from it. This is the reason many people don't exercise. This is the reason you people don't have difficult but necessary conversations with people, it's the reason most people to cook guard desperately look for some way to avoid this tough road to becoming a self. Now I like to think of this whole process that Kircher Guard laying out here of becoming a self. Sort of like a dissension down a staircase right. We started out at the top
completely lost either in the infinite or the finite and ones. Made aware of that. We took a step down the staircase to a state of dread and- and we found ourselves in that uncomfortable situation, we take another step down the staircase and a state that Kircher Guard calls despair, now despair, is where most people spend their entire life. He says: despair comes from the attempt to rid yourself of yourself think about that. He calls despair. A sickness of the Spirit They'll put me on that point. Maybe you believe in an incorporeal spirit that inhabits your body. That's responsible for your emotional state, in all sorts of other things, but for the rest of you were gone
endless monsters that it is treading water on this planet till you inevitably end up in a chain gang and one of the seven circles of health for the rest of you. The word spirit doesn't have to alienate you're right. Think of spirit in the context of how it's often used in casual conversation. You know I don't feel in good spirits today. Think of these sickness of the spirit. The Corfu guards talking about is a disease. That's afflicting your emotional state and he uses these words like sickness disease is really how can regard views. The state of despair like like a latent disease in your body, actually not a latent disease, but a disease. Symptom lists, but still is always quietly inside of you waiting to strike it's it's like having herpes of the Spirit, and we can relate this to any other undiagnosed disease.
I mean, if you dont, go in for your regular check, ups or taken inventory of your body every once in a while one day, you might just collapse on the ground and find out that you ve been living symptom lists with cancer for the last nine months of your life I find out this disease has been doing tons of damage to your body without even realizing it same thing, with despair to Kirke Guard see because when you're in a state of despair, it's not like you're, necessarily walking around the world, pouting like a seven year old kid that didn't get what he wants for Christmas. No, you can be in a state of despair and you can see like the happiest person in the world, but you still have this void of despair. Inside of you just waiting to rear its ugly head, see if despair is a disease, then the process
One is with diagnosing the disease. Not only is the person afflicted by it often unable to even know whether there are victim of it, but remember despair is that next stare on the staircase when you're running from that state of dread right people run from that sense of dread and thousands of different ways. Where do we can begin to look for despair cover? God has a great quote: that's always stuck with me. Over the years he says quote: most men are subjective towards themselves and objective towards all others
fight fully objective sometimes, but the task is precisely to be objective towards one's self and subjective towards all. Others quote. The problem is with being sufficiently selfaware and honest enough with yourself to realize what exact type of despair you've gotten yourself locked into in an attempt to avoid that state of dizziness of anxiety and dread. Now, there's no way. We have time today to go over all the different types of despair, but the one type of despair that Kirk Guard saw the most the one that he thought people were most common to fall into is what he calls a sickness of despair over something earthly. We've all seen this one before it's essentially conflating your identity or your self worth with something external you in the world that you really have no control over look. I can wax on about how Kirk Guard describes it for us
best way to help you understand what it means. It's probably just to give some examples. Right. Let's say you come of age in the world. You read some Circa guard. You realize you're lost in the finite you step down the staircase into a state of anxiety and dread. You run from it you step down to the next star and you find yourself in a state of despair. Now, when you're in the state of despair, you should be feeling intense anxiety, but to distract yourself away from this monumental task of being a true self and dealing with that anxiety. Let's say you dedicate a huge portion of your life to Swimming. Let's say you refer to yourself as a swimmer. Let's say you go down to the pool and you swim every single day. Let's say that you identify with this activity of swimming. So much that you find yourself saying. Things like man. If I got into an accident for some reason, I couldn't swim anymore. What am I at that point? I'm a swimmer I'd be nothing! That's who I am. I probably just kill myself.
Fast forward. Let's say you got into a horrible accident at the zoo, say an l and has a a seizure and falls on your legs, your legs or mangled beyond repair. The doktor asked amputate them, but what safe the sake of this example? You can never swim again. How would you feel in that moment? Well, you probably feel like your life was over, like a giant piece of your life was taken from you by an epileptic elephant you probably feel empty inside, but what Kirk Regard would Is it that emptiness that you're feeling right there that was there all along? You had just been distracting yourself away from the task of being true to yourself by attaching yourself to this earthly activity and making that into who you are. It has echoes of Buddhism. It also has echoes of the episode we did a while ago on an idea of what is enlightenment. You know it's so easy to outsource your understanding of a particular subject to a book, and then, whenever it comes up in one
station- just you know, parent lines out of that book- pretend like you're, an expert it so easy to outsource your morality to a pastor or your diet, to a diet guru on some website. What Kircher Guard saying here is that it's a really alluring concept to even outsource who we are as individuals are, our value our priorities, everything that makes you you, but if we're outsourcing it at things like swimming or hiking or or ping pong. That's not necessarily you right. You could just be using those things to run from the process running from that discomfort of the state of despair. Another interesting point, one other thing that might keep us in this state of despair longer than we might have to be Kirk Regard says, is the transient nature of things that we have no control over example. Somebody loves their significant other immensely or the love of their life.
They can't imagine their lives without they just couldn't live without ever found out. This person in their life met some tragic demise. I would, I would class with a smiling cold steel of this data and drive it deep into my breast so as to feel something one. Last time. Yeah yet another example of somebody avoiding this process of being a true individual, but imagine they didn't die. Imagine things were going great for a while. You felt whole inside, but then you guys broke up over something and you felt agony you felt empty inside. But then you guys got back together and you felt great again. You felt whole, but then you broke up again and you feel empty kirker. God would say that that emptiness that you feel that was inside of you through the good times and the bad you just didn't notice said during the good times, and that to be a true self requires you to be honest and contend with the anxiety in emptiness. Inside of you not run from it actually kind of funny. A lot of us spend tons of energy.
Trying to never have to deal with this anxiety that comes along with becoming a true self when in reality at least a Kirker guard feeling. Intense anxiety. That means that you're on the right track towards becoming a self, so you think of the staircase that we've been descending down throughout the episode. What is the point of all of these different steps? Well, it's been to get away from anxiety right the anxiety that your faced with when you find yourself needing to choose from an infinite number of options and act on one we've run away from this anxiety, the whole time but Kircher Guard thinks we should embrace it It's a necessary part of being a human being, ironically, is as negative of a connotation is. Anxiety typically has associated with it. The more in hence anxiety, you feel about making this choice the closer you probably Argo arriving at your true self. Instead of just outsourcing yourself to some culture, you can't control or some person you can't control or whatever you do and embraced your freedom,
Kirk regard sees this process of becoming an individual is sort of a baptism by fire. Yes, he will experiencing society and, yes, you will experience dread and all of these temporary feelings, but just like the discomfort, you feel when you're lifting waits at the Jim, that adversity is a catalyst for growth and a Kircher guard. It's the most important thing you could ever do in your life. Look. I know this is not a revolutionary concept. You guys are anything, but that's how I've always viewed going out for a run, nor lifting waits at the gym Elliot its direct, analogous to life itself,
the same way that you're met with resistance, and you don't want to do it and you feel like quitting, but you push through it in the gym. Well, life throws you resistance. Life throws you things that you don't want to do and I think because of that training, you're much less likely to quit when you're faced with adversity in life. Now some of you are probably at home, saying: look I'm already an individual. I got this figured out right. I don't follow anyone's rules, not even my own. I don't outsource myself in fact this whole process just sounds really easy. I can do this in a weekend who's. This Kirker Guard guy talking like he's so enlightened who I'm a self look at me. I would implore you if that's you, that's your inner monologue, not to undersell how difficult this is. In fact, Kirke Gard writes extensively about how difficult it was for him to become an individual even after he understood the process perfectly.
Becoming becoming he. He said what what I really lack is be clear in my mind what I am to do, not what I must know what matters is to find a purpose to find a truth. That is true for me to find the idea for which I am willing to live and die. That is what my soul thirst for as the african desert thirst for water and quote. Listen to that a truth. That is true for me, As weird as it seems, living in this millennium, as we do, Kirker Guard was uncovering something here in philosophy that had gone largely unexplored other
until this point in history, for so long in philosophy, we concerned ourselves with trying to use reason or our senses to try to find some sort of objective truths about this universe, that we live in, arguing the whole way about what the most reliable means of doing so is right, but, as we've learned over the course of the last eighty episodes or so, is that sense antiquity, no matter how brilliant of a person is trying to take on this, ask objective. Truth is just a very slippery thing. Not only do we not know if it's possible to attain, but would we know of the truth if we sought what it bring us any sort of enlightenment when it comes to what it means to be human, I see a huge reason why Kirk Guard did so much work talking about these things like you know the process of how we make choices or how important it is to take action on those choices or the freedom of our will that we all possess. The reason he's talking about this so much is that he's rejecting the notion that has
Hagen legislate out that, ultimately, our choices are mostly just a by product of wherever we happen to be born within the framework of that historical process of change that he talks about cook regards trying to make a case here that the choices we make our free choices and that we need to remain vigilant and keeping an inventory of ourselves, because these choices are our responsibility, not some manifestation of something out of our control. Again, as coastguard says, what is that historical process?
some change Hegel other than the conglomeration of billions and billions of individual subjective existences. This would be the first shot fired towards the target. That would eventually be called existentialist, and it's why Kircher Guard is known as the father of excess centralism. That said, if you, if you despise me right now, is the time to turn upon cast off where one else I want to. Thank you for the out pouring of support. I went hiking a couple days into the woods trying to emerge. In the other side, a better person it was some sort of new perspective on things figuratively, pushing the reset button. If you will and analysis walking along completely oblivious am by no means enough Ach chief when it comes to reading the land and by no means a skillful hiker, no matter how generous you want to get with the definition.
And I found myself coming across this black bear in the middle of the woods. It was probably forty feet away from me and it just stared at me, and I was horrified and because I'm a genius, I didn't, have any bear spray or really any idea of how to deal with the situation at all. So I just kind of stared back at it and it felt like time was moving in slow motion and that moment- and there was this bird chirping singing a song. It was crazy, like nothing was going on at all, but anyway, too long of a story for the podcast, I'm probably gonna, release like a free audio book for people to listen to. If enough people want to hear about it point is in that moment
and something changed for me. I don't think of myself as curative anxiety, but I had a thought that has made me not feel anxiety since that very moment, not even a little bit for that for you guys and for that random black bear in the middle of the wilderness. I am grateful. Thank you for listening I'll talk to you next time.
Transcript generated on 2020-09-30.