Commitment in Soren Aabye Kierkegaard's Philosophy: Implication for Leadership

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Obaweki, J.O
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This work argues the thesis that the adoption of Kierkegaard’s notion of commitment can bring about a responsive and responsible leadership in human society. This means that, with the right commitment, the absence of responsive and responsible leadership in the polity can be laid to rest. Kierkegaard’s ethical philosophy, which is embedded in his theory of stages, provides an insight into the analysis of the concept of commitment. The work is a critical study of the problem of commitment in political leadership in recognition of the fact that the best ideology will forever remain mere paper work if it finds itself in the hands of an uncommitted political leadership. Thus the thesis of this work buttresses our supposition as an attempt to solve an existential problem: the problem of commitment in political leadership. Commitment is intended to address the absence of commitment to an authentic cause, and failure to apply same towards national development. The study involves a concrete interpretation of Kierkegaard’s theory of stages – aesthetic, ethical and religious - on existential discourse in order to evolve a concept like commitment to address the problem of commitment in political leadership. Epistemologically, Kierkegaard’s notion of commitment as a means of attaining a responsive and responsible leadership will be an uphill task if not properly understood in its existential sense. The interpretation, however, allows one to choose the ethical within the three levels of human existence because there one lives a life that involves making a principled commitment to duty. To a great degree, Kierkegaard, a profound and provocative existential thinker, through his existentialism and his notion of commitment expressed in his three stages of human existence, has unwittingly provided the panacea to the problem of commitment in political leadership in a socio-political state. Although his ethical philosophy which is anchored on his theory of human existence, has been criticized on the ground that humans will always want to settle for an easy way out for the sake of pleasure, it is against this background that “COMMITMENT” is stressed. This is the gap in literature which the work aims at filling and has filled. Notwithstanding the perceived flaw, Kierkegaard’s notion of commitment has its merits in being more or less a guide to human behaviour, especially among political leaders and in the re-ordering of society. Thus, it is important to stress here that the notion of commitment in this work is in the “existential” sense, and that it is, as Soren Aabye Kierkegaard emphasizes in his ethical philosophy, embedded in his three stages of human existence. The term embraces, among other things, the capacity to choose and commit oneself to a particular course of action to bring about the moral, social and spiritual development of the individual which is relevant to the attainment of a responsive and responsible leadership, especially political leadership. The word “existential” is stressed to indicate that commitment must be lived, that is, it must show in our daily living. We therefore submit that responsive and responsible leadership on the political realm is a product of choosing the “ethical.” This work identifies the foundation of such a choice of the “ethical” in what is called “Kierkegaard’s Ethical Stage” which epitomizes his theory of commitment. The ethical stage is where one lives a life that moves one beyond the egotistic motives of the self to set oneself to duty through principled commitment. It is due to this lack of principled commitment from political leaders to qualitative leadership that Nigeria has witnessed the absence of a responsive and responsible leadership resulting in underdevelopment, insecurity, social instability, and low utilization of the human capital. This thesis has now addressed the problem.
A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos
Kierkegaard’s notion of commitment , Leadership , Human society , Political Leadership , Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION::History and philosophy subjects::Philosophy subjects::Theoretical philosophy
Obaweki, J.O (2012). Commitment in Soren Aabye Kierkegaard's Philosophy: Implication for Leadership. A Thesis Submitted to University of Lagos School of Postgraduate Studies Phd Thesis and Dissertation, 465pp.