We have regarded several European philosophy trends based on empirical or rational approaches and have seen what they can bring to. Now another irrational mode of thinking needs to be considered. Generally speaking, the irrationalist philosophy existed always. In the Middle Ages it was represented mainly by mysticism. Such mysticists as Boehme and Eckhart may be mentioned in this connection. In the New time the most famous philosopher-irrationalist was J.J. Rouseau the French philosopher of the 18th century. But during the 17─18th centuries the irrationalist philosophy was left aside from the main directions of the philosophical thought development. The situation changed in the 19th century. The might flux of irrationalism start pouring into the ocean (or bog) of the European thinking.
7.1. The irrationalist philosophy of Kierkegaard
One of the most considerable that time irrationalist philosophers was the Danish philosopher S. Kierkegaard. It was spoken of him that he lived as he philosophized and philosophized as he lived, passing from freethinking to the fanatic faith and back from the faith to doubts and irony. In his youth he studied theology and led a dissolute life but being surfeited with it he passed to ethical rigorism and even asceticism. He canceled his engagement with his 17-yeared bride and devoted the rest of his life to literature and philosophy. No strict distinction between his philosophical and purely literature texts is. He didnít favor reason and intellect saying that heís endowed with such colossal intellect in order to put down any intellect. He invented an epitaph ďA single is buried hereĒ for his tomb-stone. Kierkegaardís philosophic ideas were extravagant in the same measure as all his life. The main of them can be singled out as follows.
Human in its individual development passes three stages: aesthetic, ethic and religious ones. The first is the aesthetic stage. Here a man is directed towards the external world, i. e. the world of sensitive pleasures. He aspires to taste all sorts of pleasures from the rude to the subtle ones such as art, theatre, poetry, science etc. The symbol of this stage is Don Juan (as a hero embodying main qualities of this stage). The constant problem of the stage is that having achieved the desired the man gets a surfeit and boredom. He starts seeking something new and so all the time. The constant seeking lasts until the boredom and satiety will possess all his being and the man will realize the illusiveness and unreality of any pleasure at all and wish some other life. This realization means the transition to the next, the ethic stage of development.
On this stage the sense of duty replaces the desires of pleasures. The man gives up the game of feelings and submits voluntarily to the moral law. He realizes himself as a moral creature, refuses from the aesthetic profligacy and marries. The symbol of this stage if Socrates. However, the ethic stage isnít final either. Its flaw consists in that that the man aspires to happiness but happiness is something limited as well as that he submits to the moral law which is something outward and strange to him (i. e. he ceases to be himself in the full measure).
Having realized it the man passes to the third the final, the religious stage. Here he doesnít subordinate to the common law and norms but communicates directly with the personal deity which is the true Absolute for him. The symbol of this stage is Abraham the Bible prophet who having heard the Godís voice commanding him to sacrifice his only son (born when Abraham was 90 and his wife Sara 80 years old and they had lost completely any hope for posterity) didnít doubt any moment to fulfill the command. So strong was his faith. He was ready to do so in spite of all social laws, norms, the robust sense and his own horror. So strong was his faith. Kierkegaard calls Abraham the knight of faith. And only at the last instant the God sent an angel to stop Abraham. On the religious stage human encounters at first the paradox and absurd of life. The faith ought to overcome the absurd for the human could touch truth. The truth according to Kierkegaard is quite subjective, something becomes true because somebody believes passionately in it and accepts it with all his entity. Thus the truth becomes an equivalent to the faith and the faith (in particular the Christian one) turns out to be a paradox and absurdity.
The transition from stage to stage occurs not gradually but instantly. Itís, said Kierkegaard, some sort of a dialectic leap. Itís made because of no logic choice but of oneís will act. Human feels a fear before it. Itís the fear before nothingness, non-being. In the moment of it the veil of everyday routine falls down from the humanís eyes and the human encounters its own entity face to face. Itís possible to acquire own I and freedom only having done the leap. Namely because of these ideas Kierkegaard was called later a predecessor of existentialism. The idea of dialectic leaps made a great impact on N. Bohr the Dane physicist, one of the quantum mechanics creators, who borrowed this idea for his atom model where electrons go over from orbit to orbit in result of similar spontaneous leaps as well.