"Philosophy and Fate"
The Protestant Era (1948)
Contesto: The union of kairos and logos is the philosophical task set for us in philosophy and in all fields that are accessible to the philosophical attitude. The logos is to be taken up into the kairos, universal values into the fullness of time, truth into the fate of existence. The separation of idea and existence has to be brought to an end. It is the very nature of essence to come into existence, to enter into time and fate. This happens to essence not because of something extraneous to it; it is rather the expression of its own intrinsic character, of its freedom. And it is essential to philosophy to stand in existence, to create out of time and fate. It would be wrong if one were to characterize this as a knowledge bound to necessity. Since existence itself stands in fate, it is proper that philosophy should also stand in fate. Existence and knowledge both are subject to fate. The immutable and eternal heaven of truth of which Plato speaks is accessible only to a knowledge that is free from fate—to divine knowledge. The truth that stands in fate is accessible to him who stands within fate, who is himself an element of fate, for thought is a part of existence. And not only is existence fate to thought, but so also is thought fate to existence, just as everything is fate to everything else. Thought is one of the powers of being, it is a power within existence. And it proves its power by being able to spring out of any given existential situation and create something new! It can leap over existence just as existence can leap over it. Because of this characteristic of thought, the view perhaps quite naturally arose that thought may be detached from existence and may therefore liberate man from his hateful bondage to it. But the history of philosophy itself has shown that this opinion is a mistaken one. The leap of thought does not involve a breaking of the ties with existence; even in the act of its greatest freedom, thought remains bound to fate. Thus the history of philosophy shows that all existence stands in fate. Every finite thing possesses a certain power of being of its own and thus possesses a capacity for fate. The greater a finite thing’s autonomous power of being is, the higher is its capacity for fate and the more deeply is the knowledge of it involved in fate. From physics on up to the normative cultural sciences there is a gradation, the logos standing at the one end and the kairos at the other. But there is no point at which either logos or kairos alone is to be found. Hence even our knowledge of the fateful character of philosophy must at the same time stand in logos and in kairos. If it stood only in the kairos, it would be without validity and the assertion would be valid only for the one making it; if it stood only in the logos, it would be without fate and would therefore have no part in existence, for existence is involved in fate.