Existence, Thought, Style: Perspectives of a Primary Relation: Portrayed through the Work of Søren Kierkegaard

By G. Heath King; Timothy Kircher | Go to book overview

Chapter VII

1. Remaining in the primary mood of silence. The revaluation of the virtue of valor and its exegetical potential

Now if one understands Nietzsche's reference to the "infinite" quality of the sea not only in the sense of the space-time continuum, but also as an allusion, be it conscious or unconscious, to the eternal in its transcendent sense, the particular appearance this trope takes on in his writings again reveals more than the surface intention of its author. This deeper dimension becomes accessible if we ask a further question: from what quality of the sea other than its infinitude does Nietzsche recoil? The answer to this question may be found in the fourth book of The Gay Science, where he speaks of the "desolate silence" of the ocean.1 If we see these two aversions in their actual interrelation to one another, the field of associations pointed to above takes on its full coherence. For throughout the history of religious thought it is precisely the state of silence which has been regarded as the pre-condition for man's relation to the infinite, to the transcendent.2 Hence, for example, Meister Eckhart invokes silence as that state which makes audible the inner word of God.

This word lies hidden in the soul unnoticed and beyond our ken, and were it not for rumours in the ground of hearing we should never heed it; but all sounds and voices have to cease and silence, perfect stillness, reign.3

Certainly, there are other levels of the spiritual life in which silence has been invoked. Writing from the clamour of the large city Schopenhauer has described noise as "the most impertinent of all forms of interruption."4 But for this modern thinker noise is imper-

____________________
1
Nietzsche, The Gay Science, p. 275 ( "Sanctus Januarius," IV278).
2
Concerning this cf. Gustav Mensching, Das Heilige Schweigen in: Religions- geschichtliche Versuche und Vorarbeiten, v. 20, ed. L. Malten und O. Weinreich, Giessen, 1925/ 1926, ch. 2.
3
Eckhart, Sermon 19: "Sta in porta domus et loquere verbum" ( Jer. 7:2) in: op. cit., p. 95.
4
Schopenhauer, Parerga, ed.cit., "On Din and Noise," pp. 642-43.

-157-

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Existence, Thought, Style: Perspectives of a Primary Relation: Portrayed through the Work of Søren Kierkegaard
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • Editor's Introduction IX
  • Chapter I 1
  • Chapter II 19
  • Chapter III 63
  • Chapter IV 79
  • Chapter V 127
  • Chapter VI 145
  • Chapter VII 157
  • Bibliography of Cited Works 173
  • Index of Names 183
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