Saturday, June 19, 2010

Amazing May 13

Kierkegaard continued.

May goes to considerable lengths, repetition and forceful language, to point out that truth-as-relationship principle does not in the slightest way reduce the importance of objective truth. This simply is not the point. Our Man, Kierkegaard, is not a subjectivist or an idealist. He is rather, someone who managed to get below the subject-object split, and in doing so opened up the subjective world without losing objectivity. In fact Kierkegaard and Nietzsche took the natural, objective world very seriously indeed. May gives a good example of where the subject-object relationship or, if you like, where truth is relational is operative very clearly. I will quote his words to catch the full clarity involved:

An objective discussion of sex, for example, may be interesting and instructive, but once one is concerned with a given person, the objective truth depends for its meaning upon the relationship between the person and the sexual partner, and to omit this factor not only constitutes an evasion but cuts us off from seeing reality. (Ibid., 71)

May also points out that Kierkegaard’s insights into the truth as relational is also a forerunner of theories advanced by other psychological and psychiatric experts, viz., the concept of “participant observation” of Sullivan. “The fact that the therapist participates in a real way in the relationship and is a inseparable part of ‘the field’ does not, thus, impair the soundness of his scientific observations.” (Ibid., p. 72)

Another important contribution of our pioneer, Kierkegaard, to depth psychology or dynamic psychology lies in his emphasis upon the necessity of commitment. We cannot even see a truth unless we have some commitment to it. It is a well known fact in therapy that patients can talk till doomsday, or as we Irish often put it “until the cows come home,” about their problems, and not be affected, and certainly never improve unless they have some commitment to solving their problems themselves. This is what Kierkegaard means by “passion” or “commitment.”

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