Living in a sphere

16th February 2016 By malcra 0

Kierkegaard outlined 3 spheres of life, Aesthetic, Ethical and Religious.

My interpretation. The Aesthetic is the person who lives for personal pleasure and gain, typified by the businessman. The ethical individual sets up a life mission and agenda, with some level of purpose and one that he then aspires to. Kierkegaard saw the Religious sphere as the highest level, where a higher being (aka God) guides you on the right way. The Ethical Sphere is where you believe in something (as it’s something tangible that exists), the Religious sphere involves faith and more specifically faith in God. As you cannot definitively say if God exists (no evidence really) then you need faith, not belief.

A more in depth interpretation.

To move between Ethical and the Religious sphere\ requires a “leap of faith”, where belief in what you can measure extends to faith, in something you can’t. For many, this faith in God or something else which cannot be measured, brings either increase anxiety (due to the lack of tangible) or a satisfaction through faith. Having faith in something is to acknowledge that you cannot influence what will happen and there is some uncertainty about it also. If you believe something will happen, that’s because you’ve good reason, through evidential assessment, that something will happen.

However, an individual might not just occupy a single sphere at a particular time, though there might be a dominant one. The businessman (or salesman, a more tangible example for this observer) will live predominately in the Aesthetic sphere, but many people (lets say developers, engineers etc) might have career or lifestyle choices made on what they see as Ethical grounds. In the case of Red Hat employees (and it’s always an interesting organisation to look at, see, many people have was they see as Ethical reasons to work there; they believe that the model Red Hat has for open source software is the right one, based on fact and their own experiences. Some people seem to have a more religious view about the company, where the follow the mantra and messages of the organisation closely and are its leading advocates. However, to Kierkegaard, the Religious life is something very personal and that a church or other organisation isn’t needed, but a strong belief in ones self. Whilst everyone can be an Aesthetic, following pleasure and self-gratification selfishly, people can aspire to an Ethical way of life, where the greater good is more important, but obtaining the Religious Life is virtually impossible.

All 3 spheres are focused on the self, looking inward to what oneself is and that external guidance isn’t going to be helpful.

You might find this video interesting as it provides a quick understanding on the spheres, or stages or life.