The Dual of the Philosophers: The Best Way to Live
Human beings are constantly living in a world that consists of choices that are influenced by will and knowledge. Professor Louis Levy, in Crimes and Misdemeanors, furthers this by saying that “ we are in fact the sum total of our choices”. The Danish philosopher Kierkegaard would agree in the belief that life is a series of choices. However, both differentiate when it comes to choosing the best path to live. When judging the choices that Judah had made during the film, what advice might each have given him? Kierkegaard would suggest that to best live, one must establish a set of codes that govern how to act in relation to others. By taking such a path, one must be rational and sacrifice personal interests. However, Professor Levy holds an opposite view in which choosing utilizing love in life will ultimately be the best way to live.
In Fear and Trembling Problem 1, Kierkegaard separates personal religious deeds and heroic actions through religious and ancient Greek stories. He specifically describes a scene where Agamemnon sacrificed his daughter Iphigenia so that the Greeks could win the Trojan War. Agamemnon’s sacrifice of his personal attachment to the daughter proves that this tragic hero overcame his pain and has accomplished an “outward sacrifice” that “remains within the ethical”.
With this in mind, in some twisted way, Judah would be called some sort of hero and as living the most ethical life. This stems from the fact that although he ordered to kill Delores, he in return protected his family, friends, and work from being emotionally distressed and hurting their happiness. Although many may argue that he was only acting out of self-interest, he still had feelings for Delores but he knew, through reason, that was the best option so that his wife wouldn’t get upset and ruin the good family that he had. In this regard, “ the ethical relation between daughter and father”, or man and girlfriend, “has a dialectic in its relation to the idea of morality.” So, by killing Delores the most people benefited. However, Kierkegaard would say that Judah is living an ethical life where he thinks about what’s good for him as well as for others through ethics and law. If Judah could have not defined the set of codes in the context of his own situation, he would be living in the best way.
In Crimes and Misdemeanors on the other hand, Professor Levy suggests a life is best lived through the irrational feeling of love. He explains how “happiness is not included in the design of creation” for unknown reason. Therefore, it is only our capacity to love that “gives meaning to the indifferent universe”. If this is the case then to best live life one must always try to love and surround them with it. If we think of Judah’s action in this way we might conclude that Judah had really killed Delores because the love of his family and work outweighed the love he had for Delores. After killing her, he felt guilty but because Professor Levy states that most human beings have the ability to keep trying, Judah moves and “creates sympathy from “family, work, hope that future generations might understand more”. So, Judah’s irrational emotions can lead him to living the best life in Professor Levy’s opinion.