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Extra resources for Natural philosophy of cause and chance

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In recollection, the 36 T H E ETH I CA L actuality of life merely provides the occasion o f an aesthetic reflection, offering a pleasure snipped from reality like a dried flower that can be savoured for all eternity in a poem or paint­ ing, a diary or a daydream. For an aesthete, a love affair, life itself, is always e ssenti ally over, shipped off to eternity before it even has a chance to start, in which the b eloved conveniently provided the 'occasion' of an aestlletic reverie. Repetition, on the other hand, presses forward, producing what it repeats as the effect of its repetition, the way a vow is kept by being repeated every day.

What goes ultimately amiss in Kierkegaard is that he b elieves temporal existence does not have the stuff, the substance, the wherewithal to withstand eternity if ever eternity makes an unconditional demand upon it, as God here demands the absurd of Abraham. In interpreting Fear and Trembling, a lot turns on the expres­ sion 'in virtue o f the absurd' that de Silentio uses in this extract and whether Kierkegaard is being led by his critique of Hegelian 'Reason' to embrace an outright irrationalism.

The aesthete lives in and for the moment, for its p assing, ephemeral and accidental pleasure s . Even when he invests time, as when Johannes waits for hours for Cordelia to pass by - or even if he waits fifteen years in a Romantic novel - it is for the sake of the instant which vanishes no sooner than it appears . Eternity for the aesthete is well illustrated by the Romantic poet Keats's ' O de on a Grecian Urn' , a poem about a depiction of two TH E E T H I C A L 35 lovers forever poised t o kiss whose lips will never meet, for­ ever young, forever anticipating a kiss that never takes place.

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Natural philosophy of cause and chance by Max Born


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