A Monstrous Philosophy of Emotions
Through an analysis of Søren Kierkegaard’s Diapsalmata from the first volume of Either/Or, a work which exhibits strikingly contemporary ways of thinking, this paper seeks to uncover the complex and paradoxical ways in which emotions inhabit a person. The urge to explicate the complexity of emotions arose from the author’s dissatisfaction with the rudimentary schematic used in daily life wherein emotions are categorized and hastily rationalized, misconstruing their greater complexity. Emotions are often irrational, contradictory, etc., and must be considered on those terms. Thus, concession of paradox is vital in order to think through contradictory states of emotions. An aphorism from Pascal states that we are nothing but “lies, duplicity, and contradiction.” With this idea in mind, the essay proceeds to argue that the use of pseudonyms to create contradictions within Kierkegaard’s Diapsalmata show the Diapsalmata functioning as a “monstrous” philosophy of emotions. What is meant by “monstrous” differs from the colloquial use of the term and the essay’s particular usage is discussed with reference to Socrates and Typhon in Plato’s Phaedrus. The paper claims that Kierkegaard's thought as a whole is “monstrous” in the dissonance of the religious, comedic, ethical, ironic, and aesthetic stages he constructs in his broader philosophy. The monstrous philosophy of emotions developed from the Diapsalmata is argued to have a “prefatory weight” on the question of Being, i.e. “why are there beings instead of nothing?” The way in which different emotions preface this question is briefly discussed. The conclusion emphasizes the importance of understanding the complexity of emotions philosophically.