Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Kierkegaard on Marriage

Marriage was a central topic for Kierkegaard, both personally and philosophically, that is found throughout his writings. A combination of his own failed engagement to Regina Olsen and the Romantic attitude of his time led Kierkegaard to some deep considerations of the concept of marriage. Against the lessening of social norms regarding marriage Kierkegaard holds the Eros, the aesthetic principle of love, can only be fully developed and realized within marriage. In fact, Kierkegaard thought so highly of marriage as the complete harmonious realization of the aesthetical and ethical elements in humans, that he himself gave up on achieving such perfection. Perhaps this is the source of his famous quote about marriage in "Either/Or": 

“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Believe a woman, you will regret it; believe her not, you will also regret it… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”