Kierkegaard on Why Busy People Are Ridiculous

Saga Foss

July 3, 2023

Kierkegaard on Why Busy People Are Ridiculous

In our fast-paced and productivity-driven society, being busy is often seen as a mark of success and importance. However, the Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard had a different perspective on the matter. Kierkegaard argued that busy people, far from being admirable or praiseworthy, are actually ridiculous. In this article, we will explore Kierkegaard’s insights and delve into his critique of busyness as a reflection of our existential condition.

The Cult of Busyness

In Kierkegaard’s time as well as in our contemporary world, busyness has become something of a cult. Many people wear their busyness as a badge of honor, boasting about their packed schedules and overwhelming to-do lists. This obsession with busyness, according to Kierkegaard, is rooted in a desire for social validation and a fear of facing existential questions.

Kierkegaard’s Critique

Kierkegaard believed that the obsession with busyness stems from a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature. He argued that being constantly occupied with external tasks and distractions prevents individuals from engaging in self-reflection and pursuing the deeper questions of existence. In his view, true fulfillment and meaning can only be found through introspection and reflection on one’s own existence.

The Irony of Busyness

One of the central ironies that Kierkegaard highlights is that busy people often end up accomplishing very little of real value. They may appear productive on the surface, but their busyness often serves as a distraction from more important and meaningful endeavors. Kierkegaard believed that this constant activity was a way of avoiding the anxiety and existential dread that arise when one confronts the deeper questions of life.

Kierkegaard observed that many people fear boredom and silence. They fill their lives with constant activity and noise to avoid facing their inner selves. In this constant busyness, they hope to drown out the existential anxiety that arises when one is confronted with silence and the absence of distractions. However, Kierkegaard argued that it is precisely in these moments of silence and introspection that we have the opportunity to discover our authentic selves.

For Kierkegaard, the path to authenticity and true self-discovery requires solitude and self-reflection. It is in these moments of quiet contemplation that we can confront our own fears, doubts, and uncertainties. By embracing stillness and allowing ourselves to be bored, we open the door to self-awareness and the possibility of genuine transformation.

The Paradox of Freedom

Kierkegaard believed that busyness is often a response to the overwhelming freedom we possess as human beings. In a world filled with endless possibilities, individuals can feel paralyzed by choice. Rather than confronting this existential burden head-on, people fill their lives with tasks and distractions to avoid confronting the existential anxiety that accompanies true freedom. In doing so, they sacrifice their potential for personal growth and self-actualization.