People Never Change

For ages thinkers have been lamenting the common people for their lack of passion in their lives. For example, here’s a quote from Søren Kierkegaard’s Concluding Unscientific Postscript (originally published in 1846, translation by Alistair Hannay):

Every human being is fitted by nature to become a thinker (all honour and praise to the God who created man in his image!). God cannot help it if habit and routine and want of passion, and affectation, and gossiping with neighbours next door and opposite little by little ruin most people so that they become thoughtless – and base their eternal happiness on one thing and then another and then something else – not noticing the secret that their talk about their eternal happiness is an affectation precisely because it is devoid of passion, which is why it can also be so excellently supported by matchstick arguments.

I encountered this quote when reading Torsti Lehtinen’s book Eksistentialismi1. It’s an overview of existentialism and the main thinkers behind it. All the existentialists found despicable the complacent, petit bourgeois mode of existence. While I don’t have any quotes ready, I’m sure that these thoughts aren’t new. Surely you can find ancient Greeks saying similar things.

This makes me wonder: have there been any philosophers who thought the opposite? Maybe humans aren’t created to be thinkers - maybe the human nature is to be petit bourgeois?

  1. If you’re interested in the subject and you’re able to read Finnish, I highly recommend the book. It was a great introductory read. ↩︎

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