Why Bother With Commitment?
I’m finishing up chapter 10 of this book right now, it’s on Kierkegaard’s three “stages” of life. One of the issues that I always find interesting (and fundamental to Existentialism) is related to this question: why bother making fundamental life commitments? Why decide that you are this or that kind of person, and then force yourself to abide by that decision? For Kierkegaard, this decision to “be” marks the passage from the “aesthetic” to the “ethical” — to him it’s the movement from essentially living a aesthetic life of “rotating” from one pleasure to another (to escape boredom) to an “ethical” life of deciding to be a kind of person (on a side note, I also like that ethics here is not about what you do, but how it is done). Two questions:
1. The aesthete wants to know: why bother? If we’re going to die anyway, what’s the point? Instead, shouldn’t we just party like it’s 1999?
2. Is “fundamental commitment” to being a certain type of person just a high-falutin’ way of “rotating” to something that you find interesting (read: pleasurable)? Is commitment aestheticism?