...That it was an age of disintegration, an esthetic, enervating disintegration, and therefore, before there could be any question of even introducing the religious, the ethically strengthening, Either/Or had to precede, so that maieutically a beginning might be made with esthetic writings (the pseudonyms) in order if possible to get hold of men, which after all comes first before there can even be any thought of moving them over into the religious, and in this way it was also assured that in the sense of reflection the religious would be employed with dialectical care. That it was an age of disintegration — that "the System" itself signified, not as the systematicians were pleased to understand, that the consummation had been achieved, but that "the System" itself, as an overripe fruit, pointed to decline. That it was an age of disintegration — and consequently not as the politicians were pleased to think, that "government" was the evil, an assumption which would have been a curious contradiction from the standpoint of "the single individual," but that "the crowd", "the public," etc. were the evil,* which corresponds consistently with "the single individual."
* In margin: Note. And now in 1848 it presumably is well understood, now when the one thing needful, indispensable, can be named in a single word: government.
That it was a time of disintegration — that it was not nationalities that should be advanced but Christianity+ in relation to "the single individual," that no particular group or class could be the issue but "the crowd", and the task: to change it into single individuals.
+ In margin: Note. Even now in 1848, up to the present time, it does indeed look as if everything were politics, but it will no doubt appear that the catastrophe corresponds inversely [changed from: the future will correspond inversely] to the Reformation: then everything appeared to be a religious movement and became politics; now everything appears to be politics but will become a religious movement.
That it was an age of disintegration — all existence as if in the clutch of a dizziness induced and in intensification fed by wanting continually to aid the movement with the momentary, that is, with finite cleverness and with the numerical, which simply feeds the sickness, a dizziness induced and fed by the impatience of the moment demanding to see effects at the moment, whereas what was required was the very opposite: the eternal and "the single individual". That it was an age of disintegration — a crucial age, that history was about to take a turn, that the problem was to have heard correctly, to be in happy rapport with the times and the turn which was supposed to be made: that it was the ethical, the ethical-religious, that should be advanced, but that above all the problem was to watch, with what one could call the self-love of the true or real for itself and its heterogeneity, lest the ethical again get garbled up with the old,++ which meant particularly that it hinged not on teaching the ethical but on accentuating the ethical ethically, on again mounting the qualitative force of the ethical — in qualitative contrast to the system, informational instruction, and everything pertaining to them — and at the same time to support it with personal existing, which, however, at the time meant to hide in the circumspect incognito of an idea.
++ In margin: Note. This is expressed (just to mention one pseudonym), but of course in character, therefore humorously, in Johannes Climacus's standing motto: 'Better well hung [strung up from a noose to die by hanging] than ill wed,' which he himself comments upon, saying: Better well hung than by an unfortunate marriage to be brought into systematic affinities with all the world.
This, all of which is implied in "the single individual" as well as in the use made of this category, places the writing into another sphere, for "that single individual" will become an historical point de vue.
The author does not call himself a "witness to the truth" because of this, even though in view of the fact that the whole authorship, understood as a totality, is as one thought, the thought of the religious, it could be said without falsity of the author that he qua author "in purity of heart has willed only one thing." By such [changed from: "witness to the truth"] is not meant everyone who says something true; no, thanks, then we would have enough witnesses for the truth. No, in a "witness to the truth" consideration must be given ethically to personal existing in relation to what is said, whether the personal existing expresses what is said — a consideration which, it is altogether true, the systematic and informational instruction and the characterlessness of the age have altogether wrongly abolished. The author's life has indeed expressed rather accurately that which was ethically accentuated: to be an individual [changed from: "the single individual"]: he has stood alone, completely alone, whereas in the world around almost everything was the setting up, setting down, and setting aside of committees. He has stood completely alone and labored alone on such a scale that he, the solitary person, was like an epigram over his contemporaries, whose activities in large part consisted in the setting up, setting down, and setting aside of committees. . . .
as Captain Scipio
(in the musical Ludovic)
for recollection. . . .