Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Underground Man

I am done with reading Dostoevsky's "Notes From The Underground" and it is as much a classic (contradictory as it sounds, existentially speaking of course) as Kaufman says it is. It was eye-opening - after reading Nietzsche (my favorite existentialist) not everything that comes your way impresses you. You sit back with an enlightened, heightened consciousness trying to come to terms with this, for the lack of a better word, education. After the initial excitement of reading and comprehending (atleast partly and with repeated reading) one of the seminal works in existentialism, you actually think and apply your own filters to this lode. There are some themes - of alienation, torment and hatred - which I will explore in another post. I urge those who can and want to read it.

The next existentialist in Kaufman's taxonomy is Kierkegaard. I have no immediate wish to read up on Kierkegaard's works, so I will stick to Kaufman's expose on Kierkegaard's flavor of existentialism. Watch this space for more.

6 comments:

Ryan Chan said...

Kaufmann made lots of mistakes interpreting Kierkegaard. Thank goodness recent scholarship has done much to discredit Kaufmann.

Emperor Frost said...

Hi ryan, thanks for stopping by. I am not aware of Kaufman's misinterpretations of Kierkegaard, thanks for bringing it to my notice. I know for sure Kaufman is all over Nietzsche and as far I have seen, has gotten Dostoevsky right too. His interpretations of the two of them are pellucid and when it comes to Nietzsche, his presentation and interpretations are marvellous.
But then again, I am only a self schooled individual and possess no command whatsoever on these matters to judge. So, I am interested in knowing your citations to the recent publications that have discreited Kaufman - just so that I get it right by reading right :-)

Emperor Frost said...

Hi ryan, thanks for stopping by. I am not aware of Kaufman's misinterpretations of Kierkegaard, thanks for bringing it to my notice. I know for sure Kaufman is all over Nietzsche and as far I have seen, has gotten Dostoevsky right too. His interpretations of the two of them are pellucid and when it comes to Nietzsche, his presentation and interpretations are marvellous.
But then again, I am only a self schooled individual and possess no command whatsoever on these matters to judge. So, I am interested in knowing your citations to the recent publications that have discreited Kaufman - just so that I get it right by reading right :-)

Ryan Chan said...

Hi Emperor! Kaufmann is a very good interpreter of Nietzsche. Although newer scholarship today is discreding Kaufmann because of his whitewashing Nietzsche's supposed influence on Nazis. The books "Why we are not Nietzscheans" and "Nietzsche: Prophet of Nazism" are the first books of the New Nietzsche.

As for Kierkegaard, "The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard" is a great book, so is "The Philosophy of Kierkegaard" by George Pattison. Michael Watts' "Kierkegaard" is an excellent beginner guide too.

Emperor Frost said...

Hi Ryan,

Thanks for those references, I will look them up.

As for Nietzsche's supposed influence on the Nazis, they only took what they wanted from the wealth of literature he churned out. I can't possibly see what his commentary on tragedy, dionysian, apollonian, his uber mensch etc have anything to do with Nazi ideology. If the Nazis were influenced by a particular aspect of his writing, it can hardly be attributed to his character at large. By the same logic, Wagner might very well turn out to be the bigger Nazi. The influence of his operas on Hitler is noted in literature but that hardly makes him a Nazi.

Do you have a blog or some corner of the internet that you call your own? please do leave the URL in the comments.

Matt Scofield said...

Do yourself a favor and read Kierkegaard in his own hand (translated to english of course). The man is quite simply one of the best philosophy writers ever, I found it fun discovering how he structured and termed his works.