There’s always times when you feel the urge to sit down and think about the world and life that happens around you, or in other words, philosophical thoughts. Those thoughts and questions bothered me so much at times that I would just sit down and think for minutes, can you feel how time-wasting that was? Lately those thoughts came more often, probably because I’ve finally finished reading Sophie’s World, and reading it was such a sheer delight! Go find one and read it, it’s a very good novel to introduce you into philosophy. One of the brilliant concept I’ve come to learn from reading it is Kierkegaard‘s three stages.
Søren Kierkegaard, 19th century Danish philosopher and theologist, had introduced the three levels of individual existence that determines one’s connection to the philosophical life: Aesthetic, Ethical, and Religious stage.
Aesthetic stage is where most people are, embracing life on mere earthly enjoyments and sensuous desire, particularly on arts. Varied degrees exist on the aesthetic stage, but most people stay on the least reflective sort of the stage where their lives are mostly guided only by daily tasks and concerns. At the top of the stage, people become more reflective and tend to move on to the next stage.
Ethical stage starts at the point where an individual realizes his true direction in life, becoming fully aware of good and evil and commits themself for the betterment of the world. In this stage people exhibit the consistency which they lacked on the previous stage. They feel the need to take responsibility of their lives and the world around them. The most commited ones will move to the next and highest stage.
Religious stage, as the name suggests, implies a fully-commited individual who has a strong connection to his religion, totally surrendering life to serve on the way of God. People on this stage embrace their works under the name of God, and seek truth in their religion. Note that this stage is important but not highly necessary, as ethically devoted people could be irreligious, but religious people always have the ethical side to serve and help others. Kierkegaard defined this as the most reflective stage on a human life.
Over time, people will come and go through stages because you know, it’s tiring to help others all the time isn’t it? People could be on the ethical stage but drop back to the aesthetic at times when they need to take a break. Now you’re asking me, which stage am I on? Well of course the aesthetic, oh my individualistic self! How about you? Did you ever feel the need to go out and help people? Which stage are you on?