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Kierkegaard lived during the nineteenth century in a time of rapid technological advances. For him the era of advancement caused conflict. It was a way of making every part of life easier yet also choice-less, and within religious matters Kierkegaard felt ease took from the significance. This view of religious life led him to a closer examination and explanation for life’s purposefulness and all out meaning. The journey toward the meaning of life plays out, according to Kierkegaard, in three levels or stages. The first is the level Kierkegaard regards as the stage most universal. It is an aesthetic, somewhat atheistic, stage in which life is only lived for the sake of pleasure. A person is the aesthetic stage basically lives on their senses; that is why Kierkegaard says the best way of expressing the experiences of this stage is music, which is a simply an enjoyable experience which only exists in the present. A prime example of someone on this level is the famous literary character Don Juan, who lives from one immediate satisfaction to the next. The problem of this stage Kierkegaard says is that it always leads into boredom or anxiety. Therefore the person ends up in a sort of desperate despair for something else, and the second stage takes hold. It seems to contain more meaning yet unfortunately leads to despair as well.
This second higher stage is an ethical stage of personal commitment. Here one understands only to some degree the need of something personal and deeper for meaning rather than just the external facts of live. Thus, this stages largest focus would be to develop meaning in something bigger than oneself. So it will consist of people who have learned, for example, that just because it feels good it may not be wise to partake in alcohol. Yet their understanding of purpose is evolved to a completely faith based understanding, and individuals of this stage focus on the rights and the wrongs but still will find a lack of self understanding in the...
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