The Impossibility Of The Self

1033 Words5 Pages
The impossibility for the self, after encountering God, is to remain in itself without entering into the very despair that Kierkegaard describes. The realization of self, before God, is the very call to respond to the need of the other. Emmanuel Levinas writes: No one can stay in himself; the humanity of man, subjectivity, is a responsibility for others, an extreme vulnerability. The return to self becomes interminable detour. Prior to consciousness and choice, before the creature collects himself in present and representation to make himself essence, man approaches man. He is stitched of responsibilities. Through them, he lacerates essence.1 The actualization of the self is the understanding and accepting of responsibility for other inherent to the nature of self. Many would stop at this point claiming, as Levinas does in the aforementioned quote, that coming into consciousness of self is a realization of this responsibility to the other. However, as has previously been established, the consciousness of self only comes through encounters with God that lead to the realization of the responsibility to the other. The encounter of the self with God reveals through the nature of God the endless possibilities of God 's Kingdom. The revelation of God 's Kingdom is the responsibility of the self towards the other. The willingness of the self to claim responsibility for the other determines in large part the ongoing encounter with God. Kearney writes, “If the play of eschatological possibility may indeed “save us,” it is only to the extent that we choose to respond to it by acting to bring the coming Kingdom closer, making it more possible, as it were, by each of our actions, while acknowledging that its ultimate realization is imposs... ... middle of paper ... ... responsibility of the self to the other must be understood in terms of the impact that it has on the nature of the self. Severson writes, “Responsibility is about self-actualization and the maximization of one 's potential. This does not mean that one disregards the needs of others or that responsibility does not include obligation to the neighbor. It is, rather a question of primacy. What responsibility is supreme?”8 For the Christian, in understanding the self before God, the responsibility that is supreme is the responsibility first and foremost to God. As Kierkegaard explained it is only the self relating to itself resting transparently in God that can overcome the clutches of sin and become itself. The maximization of one 's potential is to commit oneself to the ongoing encounter of God that is perpetuated through the continual response to the need of the other.
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