The Basics of the Philosophy of Existence

Boško Pešić (University of Osijek)

1. Introductory Remarks

That something as a doctrine of existence could immediately and without inhibition be called the philosophy of existence would bring into question the very purpose of this study. It is also thereby certain that the expression “doctrine of existence” is somewhat inadequate for this philosophical tradition. And although it comes out of it, the subject to be discussed here questions those possible sources of the philosophy of existence on the basis of its clearest excerpts which are here and quite temporarily called the “doctrine of existence”, situated in the post-Hegelian period of the 19th-century philosophy. It should immediately be said that the concept of “doctrine” in this thematic intent does not reflect a traditional philosophical meaning which accidentally it could have, but needs to be understood strictly unpretentiously and operably – as a totality of demonstrated knowledge which always results from consideration of an object of thinking.[1] Thus, possible controversies concerning the definitive meaning of the “philosophy of existence”, which are not the primary concern of this study, will try to be avoided.

2. Historico-Philosophical Beginnings

The beginning of this study inasmuch has to approach the basic meaning of existence and the very concept of existence by following the guiding principle of its previous clarification in the history of philosophical thinking. This historical assembling of opinions about existence has the intention to show that its concept taken as a sign of a whole philosophy is not merely coincidental. The history of the concept (Lat. Existentia from existere, ek-sistere = become, be, arise, emerge, come out, appear) reveals existence as a philosophical phenomenon that has been interpreted in a wide range of meanings, from existence in general to the authentic man’s existence, subsistence, Being-there (Dasein).

In the early medieval philosophical and theological texts, the concept of existence is used as an approximate translation of the Greek word ὕπαρξις in order to emphasize an ontological difference from the concept of οὐσία, which is based on the Stoic tradition of considering Aristotelian differentiation of the subsistent relation between the thing itself and its ideal Being. The concept of existence comes into wider theoretical use as early as in medieval scholastic philosophy and begins to be interpreted as the actualization of essence, therefore as the actualized essence which, in Aristotelian terms, carries itself out from its potentiality (potency) in being’s actuality (act). The exception in that sense is the divine being, in whom, according to that doctrine, existence and essence are united and understood identically.

The mentioned comes to the fore especially in the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, philosophy which places the identity of existence/essence in the base of every so-called real composition. Some time later John Duns Scotus in his work develops the conception of “esse essentiae” and “esse existentiae” in which the concept of existence begins to be independently used through a terminological separation of Being from being.

In the modern age, the concept of existence assumes different features: Descartes and Spinoza interpret existence as an integral part of some attribute; Leibniz sees a principle, i.e. a degree of essence, in existence; for Kant, since it does not belong to the content of the concept, i.e. as the position of what is meant in the concept, existence does not have the status of a real predicate; Hegel follows the same path as he defines existence as the idea of absolute subjectivity which knows itself, but he does not assign it a meaning of true reality.

The contemporary concept of existence begins to develop in the later Schelling’s and particularly Kierkegaard’s philosophy, in which existence takes center stage. Namely, Kierkegaard associates the concept of existence exclusively to man’s existence, whose individual realization presents its unique climax. Through his criticism of Western cultural heritage and the revaluation of all values, Nietzsche calls for a return to man’s original, “innocent” existence. That is yet to be discussed in what follows.

When historians of the philosophy of existence talk about its complicated understanding, while considering the second half of the 19th century as its formative period, they generally point out its three fundamental traits which range from the Christian to the Marxist extreme: (1) the orientation towards man, the so-called “humanistic” approach, (2) the situation of anxiety as its central problem, and related to it, (3) the concept of emptiness of the world. This third characteristic has crucial influence on Schopenhauer’s philosophy.

3. Arthur Schopenhauer and Metaphysical Voluntarism

Many agree that Arthur Schopenhauer is not a typical representative of the philosophy of existence, if he can even be considered as such. However, we start here with the thesis that his role in the emergence of the philosophy of existence is not negligible, especially considering the influence his work in that sense had on Kierkegaard’s and Nietzsche’s thought. Thus, it is impossible to deny the elements of his philosophy which possibly provide the reason for such a direction. The following interpretation will try to illuminate those very elements.

In the second volume, in chapter 46 (“On the Vanity and Suffering of Life”) of his main work The World as Will and Representation Schopenhauer writes:

But against the palpably sophistical proofs of Leibniz that this is the best of all possible worlds, we may even oppose seriously and honestly the proof that it is the worst of all possible worlds. For possible means not what we may picture in our imagination, but what can actually exist and last. Now this world is arranged as it had to be if it were to be capable of continuing with great difficulty to exist; if it were a little worse, it would be no longer capable of continuing to exist. Consequently, since a worse world could not continue to exist, it is absolutely impossible; and so this world itself is the worst of all possible worlds.[2]

According to Schopenhauer, the impulse for philosophy arises from the bad and evil in the world, because if life were infinite and painless, no one would question it; it would be self-explanatory. Thus, philosophy is to discover the fallacies of humanity – e.g. abstract cognition creates doubt, hence also fallacy, on the theoretical level, which reflects in the practical as concern and unrest. Failure to realize this leads to self-deception, which first of all shows in the theoretical accumulation of systems. Individual systems, Schopenhauer says, bring to mind soap bubbles: as soon as they touch the ground – they burst. Schopenhauer says that his philosophy is not suitable for professors of philosophy because professors live on philosophy, and he, Schopenhauer, lives for philosophy.

Schopenhauer divides the aforesaid The World as Will and Representation into parts that study the world as will and as representation. So the first and the third book analyze the world as representation (epistemology and aesthetics), while the second and the fourth analyze the world as will (metaphysics i.e. the philosophy of nature and ethics). In epistemology, among other things we learn that every epistemological subject-object relation is unnecessary, because the world we apprehend in consciousness is only representation[3] that starts from will, which is blind and appears in its basic form as the will-to-live. Will is that for itself.[4] In its “objectification” it passes stages of Being: from the inorganic, where tendency appears as weight and density, through animal and vegetable life, in which it appears as the life force, to man, where tendency objectifies itself through the need for knowledge. What is specific about will is that it always wants to be, namely be here, and as the will-to-live. The right knowledge of will takes place through the stages of dissociation from it. Will first of all has to be separated in a series of objectnesses (ideas) so at the stage of cognitive intellect a multitude of objectifications in space and time would constitute, from whose intuitions philosophers can temporarily dissociate intellect from will.

Yet Schopenhauer regards ethics as superior to the other three parts because that part of the consideration concerns “human actions, a subject that immediately affects everyone, that cannot be foreign or meaningless to anyone, with which man according to his nature connects everything else.”[5] Thus, Schopenhauer exceeds the traditional theoretical framework of ethics by making its central subject “with the attainment of self-knowledge, affirmation and denial of the will-to-live.”[6] Those are the main sources that testify to Schopenhauer as a philosopher of existence, starting from the reason he indicated as early as in his dissertation On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, from which one can discern that his philosophy presents the place where metaphysics and ethics appear as unique in relation to being wrongly separated until now, the same as man being separated into body and soul. That very part of Schopenhauer’s philosophy is important for this consideration.

The first subject of ethics is freedom. Schopenhauer divides freedom into intellectual and physical. Since there is no so-called “freedom of will” (but there is freedom of will for itself generally as a possibility of the one mentioned before), man can find himself in the situation of freedom only in a limited sense which means to be able to agitate in accordance with one’s own essence (by volition) with no obstacles of external influence.[7] Voluntary acts are inasmuch not free, but necessary. Specific kinds of necessity are determined by the mutual relationship of character and motive. Namely, character determines motive, having in mind that, according to Schopenhauer, character itself is marked by four important features: it is constant (invariable), innate (inherited from the father[8]), individual (individual differences prevail over common characteristics of the species), and empirical (subject is gradually acquainted with it). Schopenhauer goes on to distinguish four basic types of the elementary form of character: (1) the affirmation of one’s own individual (egoism), (2) the denial of other individuals (cruelty, malice), (3) the affirmation of other individuals (philanthropy, sense of justice), and (4) the denial of one’s own individual (holiness, asceticism).

From that horizon Schopenhauer carries out a criticism of the ethics of need: character does what it wills, and not what others think it should will. That to will means nothing else but an empirical expression of the character.[9] In the sense of regret for the committed deeds, Schopenhauer differentiates remorse from the restless state of mind. Remorse is the reaction to a deed not in accordance with the character concerned (in terms of criminal law, that corresponds to diminished capacity). The restless state of mind is the reaction to realizing the immutability of one’s own character, and such people cannot distance themselves from the committed deed.

Man is the highest stage of the will objectification as his inner essence.[10] He is a being of need, so the concern to stay alive is the basic guidance of life. It produces a new need, which in turn produces another one, and so on ad infinitum, from which Schopenhauer concludes that the essence of life is boredom. True human happiness is conceived in freedom from pain.

The central subject of the section on ethics is on life. If the will-to-live first and foremost affirms life, does this remain so with the achievement of self-knowledge? In this study, Schopenhauer comes to a negative result and, thus, to the conclusion that it would be better if the world was not. The aforesaid is later introduced in literature as the pessimism of philosophy. Because it appears as tendency, endeavor, craving, life is in its essential manifestation a ceaseless suffering, because happiness or well-being consists in achieving what is craved, while unhappiness and suffering consist in not achieving it. Which of the two prevails is easily verifiable in experience.

Since according to Schopenhauer true volition is identical to action, in that sense he soteriologically proposes a comprehensive denial, one that is not only a denial of the world as representation, but which results in a denial of the world as will (nirvāna).

To conclude this section, it is interesting to mention Schopenhauer’s challenge to the ingrained primacy of mind in the Western tradition. For Schopenhauer, mind firstly (and mostly) “serves the organism it belongs to, i.e. it serves pre-rational tendency and emergence. Will is ontologically primary, and intellect is secondary. Will develops it from a specific stage of objectification in order to achieve its own purposes – securing individual existence, finding food, reproduction etc. – more successfully”.[11] In that way representation develops as the object of the knowing subject. Representations as intuitive individual things are “secondary objectifications”, and Schopenhauer understands time and space as principum individuationis, therefore all that is in some sense subject to the principle of reason occurs only in space and time.[12]

4. Søren Aabye Kierkegaard and the Significance of Existential Ownness

What especially distinguishes Kierkegaard as a philosopher of existence is the fact that he, as is rarely attested in the history of philosophy, finds the source of his philosophy in his very existence, which is why his philosophy is sometimes recognized also as “expressionist” philosophy.[13] One’s own existence consumed with despair, Kierkegaard says, is a particular “sickness unto death”. Such a condition arises with the knowledge that the objective situation is disgusting, and that the expression for the objective disgust constitutes tension and a measure of adequate interior, whose manifestations will be discussed later.

Kierkegaard defines man first of all as spirit[14] that in its independent and individual form time and again appears as the self and that in its ownness as a phenomenal concretion relates itself to itself, directing that relation to itself, so that from it, it would be able to have a relation to another self.[15] In such a process, man has the potential to know himself as a synthesis, a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity.[16] Such constellation of relations within ownness necessarily results in a complication in contradictions which are, once again, man himself. So, according to Kierkegaard, man is in an eternal crisis. The endeavor to overcome the crisis leads to seeking individual truth of the self which in turn, striving for its ownness, realizes what is universally human, the absolute. What makes man take the path of ownness is nothing else but the despair over oneself. Despair is not determined by this or that situation, but according to Kierkegaard it should be understood in its absoluteness as a despair of spirit,[17] its permanent sickness. The sickness of the self that is dying, but still by killing death does not die.[18] Life then goes on devoid of its own reality, with no knowledge that there would be no desperation if man did not have the eternal in himself.[19] Because of that, the torment of despair is inasmuch never complete. Such despair appears in three basic forms in which the man in despair is not conscious of the self,[20] or in despair does not will to be himself,[21] or in despair wills to be himself.[22]

Kierkegaard sees overcoming such condition only through faith, which is a true justification of existence, because through it appears the consciousness of the eternity of the self through the familiarity with knowledge of the eternity of God. The crucial phenomenon in achieving one’s own individuality (ergo – existence) is the phenomenon of repetition, which assumes the withdrawal from all that is commonly human through absurd and terrible temptations, in order to regain it in repetition. The repetition of life in that way sets itself against the life of memory.[23] If repetition is not understood as a pursuit for novelty, man can make contact with antiquity as the need for the clarification of his own basis only through repetition. The whole process could be in Jaspersian fashion called the illumination of existence, which is the path, according to Kierkegaard, man should take, and which is to be intersected by three stages[24]: the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious, as well as two so-called inter-stages, irony and humor, which represent borders between the stages.

The aesthetic stage (or way of life) is determined by infinite sensuous pleasure and it represents the most widespread way of life.[25] No responsibility affects it and the only criterion is its own comfort (pleasure) which is always found in the external. The stage is unbearable in the situation of an infinite accumulation of pleasures, which results in a melancholic void and boredom, in the manner of entanglement in them. The way out of that entanglement, as the end of the aesthetic stage, is accomplished with the help of irony through the revelation of the aesthetic existence’s paradox (a well-known historical case is that of Socrates) by indicating a higher ideal – the ethical stage.

In the ethical stage man lives properly in the sense of customs and morality, according to the institutions that shape such principles.[26] In such a way of life, man always feels somewhat deprived of the universal, e.g. in attaining beatitude and holiness that he is generally denied, so now through humor he is shown all the tragicomedy of his existence, what impels him to opt for the religious as the final stage.

According to Kierkegaard, the religious stage of existence is determined by suffering, and there are two types of religiousness, one – in which the Self for the will of the eternal is completely annulled, and the second – which assumes the absurdity of God in time and where it shows how “existing” is exclusively human, time category, by recognizing the fact that God does not exist – God is eternal.[27] Only in the religious stage man becomes himself through the irreplaceable experience of all three stages which, as has been shown, has despair as a continuous driving force.

It is clear from all of the above how Kierkegaard’s thinking of existence time and again finds its reason in the individuality which wants nothing else except itself and which is opposed to general anonymity. Existentiality of his concept of existence is nothing but a possibility to choose one’s own existence, a possibility that by choice becomes the possibility of self-determination. Only inasmuch can Kierkegaard’s omnipresent and constantly emphasized repulsion to great philosophical systems (first of all, to Hegel’s!) be understood, presupposing them existence, as an emphasis on the individual, irreducible to the universal of any system. In that sense, Kierkegaard says: “A logical system can exist, but there is no and there will be no system of existence.”[28] Kierkegaard even replaces the fundamental ancient postulate that philosophy begins in wonder and speculation in doubt with despair as the fundamental existential determinant of his philosophy, which is in its effort nothing but life itself.

Finally, as Hannah Arendt says, only to the extent that it contains a cause for the philosopher’s rebellion against philosophy, Kierkegaard’s thinking remains essentially philosophical.[29] In everything else, his so-called positive, completely non-institutional theology gives an impression of a personal Christology, which is not at all crucial because Kierkegaard in any case remains unusually important considering his influence in contemporary philosophy which is really omnipresent.

5. Friedrich Nietzsche and the Problem of Humanity

In order to avoid all kinds of controversy that could be related to Nietzsche’s philosophy,[30] the goal of this section is only to refer to some of its aspects, which could be purposefully understood as the central point of his thinking in thinking existence generally. In that sense, there are two most important such aspects: the problem of overman as a need to overcome human morality and the criticism of Christian morality and culture.[31]

Decadent humanity as an expression of the post-revolutionary civil society, to which the idea of Christian humanity needs to be added, Nietzsche ascribes first of all to Rousseau, whom he calls a “freak on the threshold of the new era”[32], an “idealist and scum”[33] in the same person. As such, decadent humanity, according to Nietzsche, degrades man to the herd animal, which is a key piece of evidence of an utter crisis of the proud European culture. By mocking such a situation, Nietzsche creates an image of the “last man” in Zarathustra.[34] He opposes the “last man” to the idea of overman, as a philosophical conception of overcoming nihilism. According to Nietzsche, overman is really an exception whose condition is the very “mediocrity” of the majority, because the “animal leader” appears together with the “herd animal”. Overcoming of mediocrity presents in the full sense overcoming of man and that, as an indispensable need, has to happen in the situation of the so-called death of God.[35] In order to radically overwhelm Christian humanity (its idea of unity and equality of men), Nietzsche reaches for antiquity. That is necessary because the existing idea of humanity as well as its reactionary counterpart, intolerance “in equal measure do not understand the true nature of man: his misery and his greatness, his frailty and his stability.”[36]

There lies the reason for Nietzsche’s vehement attacks on Christianity. According to Nietzsche, as a paradigm, the self-concept of a Christian man in the sense of the causality of suffering is especially problematic. “A Christian explains his suffering by sin, which means that he is looking for a meaningful reason for his discomfort, because ‘reasons relieve’ and ‘if man has a Why to live, he can bear almost any How’. Appropriate to such a foundation of suffering, Christianity has out of the world deprived of the sense of sin produced a world of sin; it turned the ‘patient’ into the ‘sinner’ who is guilty.”[37] Therefore, Nietzsche says, one should approach the revaluation of all values of the pagan world which were produced by Christianity, give man back his true, innocent existence and “beyond good and evil again connect it to the natural cosmos of eternal recurrence of life.”[38]

Whether in such an understanding of things establishing the Dionysian as a climax of modernity is the only solution for the “rediscovery of Christianity” remains open. The rediscovery of Christianity really shows how Nietzsche does not consider Christianity as worthy of true, genuine religion, i.e. faith that would be held in the cultural framework by a particular immoralist pillar. Nihilism of all existing values inasmuch does not have to be observed differently than as a mature attempt, mediated by despair, to get from the existing “Nothing” to the future “Something”.

Nihilism is preceded by pessimism as a preparatory state and it is possible to draw a valid parallel here between Nietzsche and Schopenhauer. The positive of Schopenhauer’s thinking which entered Nietzsche’s philosophy is the attitude of philosophy on the eternal recurrence of essentially the same in the apparent changing of the historical world.[39] What is completely different is Nietzsche’s Dionysian “yes, despite suffering” contrary to Schopenhauer’s “negation of the will-to-live.”[40]

But let us linger a moment longer on the concept of nihilism. In the philosophy of existence, the very consideration of the phenomenon of nihilism is crucial for understanding its status in the history of philosophy. The nihilism Nietzsche talks about, it needs to be said, carries nothing mystical in it – as was already indicated, every mystification in this case would necessarily fall into pessimism. By contrast, nihilism time and again refers to the fact that we lost a firm life foothold. But it does not appear only at the individual level. For Nietzsche, nihilism reveals itself in all its appearance only in the collectivity, in the most sensitive place for the human sense – the culture.

Namely, the point is that the totality of spiritual and material values which we usually call the culture really lacks a solid foundation. By recognizing something as such, at the same time we also genealogically discover our nihilistic situation which cries for the revaluation of all values as the only possible “solution”. Although Nietzsche perceives no consequences of such a venture, the revaluation utterly remains without an alternative. Nietzsche always emphasizes nihilism as an antipode to all kinds of rooted worldviews, which are basically nothing but a universal feeling of the real non-affiliation with the world. In that self-affirming movement (the other term for the will to power) which was until now disputed by metaphysics, the human existence is now able to gradually grow through life affirmation by self-overcoming.

Nietzsche wants to understand the will to power as a totality of the world and life in which it devastates both the ‘phenomenal’ and the ‘real’ world, destroys God, and finally destroys man himself. Paradoxically set, embodying the idea of overman, it calls for the affirmation of life through the affirmation of life denial. In other words, the negation has to go in its direction in order to come to its highest affirmation – overman. As an active product of nihilism, for Nietzsche overman presents the highest possible form of self-overcoming which is as self-established beyond good and evil, i.e. beyond morality as such. In that way, once again we arrive at the already mentioned Dionysian perspective as the most prominent expression of the will to power by identifying it with life. The eternal recurrence of the same should here be understood as the need of the will to power for its own constant perfection ad infinitum, beyond every teleological (thus, also eschatological) world constitution. Nietzsche’s ʻyes’ to life despite its known nothingness shows itself as a constitutive element of his philosophy of existence, which can be in good faith considered precisely as such. The revival of the spiritually dead man shows Nietzsche’s request of any future philosophy of existence which, unlike the classical philosophical abstraction of man, it has to follow and in doing so fulfill.

6. Conclusion

Man abandoned in the world is the image Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche, each in his own way, but with the same intensity, realize as the most primary and not nearly overcome challenge for today’s philosophy of existence. It is not right to historically identify that philosophy with existentialism, as is too often done due to misunderstanding. While existentialism in itself maintains the attempt of man’s determination which is in a series of its manifestations not only placed in a literary, ideological and/or political environment,[41] but is often emphatically called on its engaged declaration as the external form of the internal directive incentive, the philosophy of existence, although it “implies” all the so-called anthropological definitions of man, is theoretically interested in man as the totality of non-given manifold possibilities.[42]

Taking the aforesaid in account, one can inasmuch better understand Heidegger’s maneuver against existentialism which is sublimated by the attitude that the “sentence ‘The human being ek-sists’ is not an answer to the question of whether the human being actually is or not; rather, it responds to the question concerning the ‘essence’ of the human being.”[43] Whether problems of the philosophy of existence can inasmuch be understood as the question of philosophy in general remains a separate subject which is only later legitimately delivered to the history of philosophy by Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, each in his own range of philosophical thinking.


  1. E.g. just as the concept of phenomenology means the study of phenomena.
  2. “Sogar aber lässt sich den handgreiflich sophistischen Beweisen Leibnitzens, daß diese Welt die beste unter den möglichen sei, ernstlich und ehrlich der Beweis entgegenstellen, daß sie die schlechteste unter den möglichen sei. Denn Möglich heißt nicht was Einer etwan sich vorphantasiren mag, sondern was wirklich existiren und bestehen kann. Nun ist diese Welt so eingerichtet, wie sie seyn mußte, um mit genauer Noth bestehen zu können: wäre sie aber noch ein wenig schlechter, so könnte sie schon nicht mehr bestehen. Folglich ist eine schlechtere, da sie nicht bestehen könnte, gar nicht möglich, sie selbst also unter den möglichen die schlechteste”, A. Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung II. Zweiter Teilband, Diogenes, Zürich 1977, p. 683. As quoted in: A. Schopenhauer, The World as Will and Representation, Volume II, Dover Publications, Inc., New York 1966, p. 583.
  3. Similar, but not the same as Kant’s concept of appearance.
  4. A. Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung I. Erster Teilband, Diogenes, Zürich 1977, p. 233.
  5. A. Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung I. Zweiter Teilband, Diogenes, Zürich 1977, p. 343.
  6. Precisely this is the subheading of the fourth book of the second part of the first volume: “Bei erreichter Selbsterkenntiß Bejahung und Verneinug des willens zum Leben”. Cf. A. Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung I. Zweiter Teilband.
  7. Ivi, pp. 377-388.
  8. …while, e.g., intellectual abilities are inherited from the mother, according to Schopenhauer.
  9. A. Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung I. Erster Teilband, p. 210.
  10. Ivi, pp. 307; 332.
  11. J. Salaquarda, »Arthur Schopenhauer«, u: O. Žunec, Suvremena filozofija I, Školska knjiga, Zagreb 1996, p. 50. Also, cf. K. Broese, M. Koßler, B. Salaquarda (eds.), Die Deutung der Welt: Jörg Salaquardas Schriften zu Arthur Schopenhauer, Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2007, p. 62.
  12. A. Schopenhauer, Über die vierfache Wurzel des Satzes vom zureichenden Grunde. Eine philosophische Abhandlung, Hofenberg, Berlin 2016, p. 89.
  13. Cf. about that e.g.: A. Hannay, Kierkegaard and Philosophy, Routledge, New York, p. 12; R. A. Furtak (ed.), Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript. A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press, New York 2010, p. 199.
  14. With Kierkegaard, unlike Hegel’s concept of spirit as the abstract self-establishment of absoluteness, spirit is that which in the changes of thinking of one’s own existence always appears as a concrete self that in its concreteness turns out as freedom. Cf. about that: S. Kierkegaard, Ili – ili, Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo 1990, p. 626.
  15. Cf. about that: S. Kierkegaard, Bolest na smrt, Velika edicija ideja, Beograd 1980, pp. 11-12.
  16. Ivi, p. 11.
  17. S. Kierkegaard, Ili – ili, p. 607.
  18. S. Kierkegaard, Bolest na smrt, p. 15.
  19. Ivi, p. 17.
  20. Ivi, p. 33.
  21. Ivi, p. 36.
  22. Ivi, p. 38.
  23. Cf. S. Kierkegaard, Ponavljanje, Grafos, Beograd 1975, p. 6. In that sense Kierkegaard gives examples of “knights of faith” and “tragic heroes”.
  24. The stages also present individualized ways of life. Kierkegaard says that despite the major differences among them, the stages are equal in that spirit is not defined as spirit, but is visualized immediately. Cf. S. Kierkegaard, Ili – ili, p. 594.
  25. Ivi, p. 604.
  26. Ivi, pp. 635-636.
  27. S. Kjerkegor, Brevijar, Moderna, Beograd 1990, pp. 33-35.
  28. Ivi, p. 52.
  29. Cf. H. Arendt, Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954: Formation, Exile, and Totalitarianism, Schocken Books, New York 1994, p. 45.
  30. This should include all “benevolent”, yet completely arbitrary interpretations which by approaching Nietzsche’s philosophy in such manner do nothing but uncritically change the sign.
  31. Cf. excellent studies on Nietzsche in Karl Löwith’s book Od Hegela do Nietzschea, Veselin Masleša, Sarajevo 1988.
  32. F. Nietzsche, “Götzen-Dämmerung (1889)”, in: Philosophische Werke in sechs Bänden. Band 6., Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 2013, p. 265.
  33. Ibid.
  34. F. Nietzsche, Tako je govorio Zaratustra, Mladost, Zagreb 1983., p. 13 et seq.
  35. Here, briefly, I leave room for some future possible discussion with those interpreters of Nietzsche who claim that man in search for himself really does not need God, which is why Nietzsche speaks: “God is dead!” Contrary to such considerations, it certainly seems successful, in my opinion, to interpret Nietzsche as the one who in God only sees a symbol of the Christian Western culture (he also calls him the God of philosophy and theology) in which and with which exactly such a thing happened: namely, the decadent lifestyle shaped by such culture leads to a complete aberration in the relation to God, what Nietzsche symbolically calls the death of God, while describing churches and temples as his tombs.
  36. K. Löwith, Od Hegela do Nietzschea, p. 330.
  37. Ivi, p. 373.
  38. Ivi, p. 374.
  39. In terms of this problem, one could in the same way set a thesis on Kierkegaard’s influence on Nietzsche by way of illuminating Kierkegaard’s concept of repetition. Cf. p. 7 of this paper.
  40. Even though he does not hide his disappointment later on, in 1860 Nietzsche declared himself “Schopenhauer’s student” and he dedicated his work The Birth of Tragedy to his “exalted predecessor”.
  41. Cf. about that: O.F. Bollnow, “Deutsche Existenzphilosophie und französischer Existentialismus”, Zeitschrift für Philosophische Forschung 2-3 (2/1948), p. 233.
  42. Ivi, s. 235.
  43. M. Heidegger, Über den Humanismus, Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 18.


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