Humans are unique among living creatures in that we attribute meaning to events and to objects. Attributing meaning involves complex functions such as memory, emotion, reflection and speech. For some, every other object (humans included) are meaningful only as extensions of Me, Myself and I. This is true for many in our generation. Consider how products are sold by playing to such narcissism. Burger King made a fortune by telling the individual customer: "Have it your way!"
The question of my importance has been taken up by many philosophers. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche address the question from different outlooks on life. They agreed that anything meaningful must come from within the individual. In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling and in Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals, each explores the importance of ego and the role of human freedom, but they come to different conclusions.
For Nietzsche the “will to power” is the secret of life and the destiny of humanity. He wrote, "The strong men, the masters, regain the pure conscience of a beast of prey; monsters filled with joy, they can return from a fearful succession of murder, arson, rape, and torture with the same joy in their hearts, the same contentment in their souls as if they had indulged in some student's rag.... When a man is capable of commanding, when he is by nature a "Master," when he is violent in act and gesture, of what importance are treaties to him?..."
Nietzsche's "Messiah" will bring perfection to the world by predation and biological engineering (eugenics) of human populations. He will replace traditional morality with concepts borrowed from zoology: the taming of a beast and the breeding of a more advanced species. Nietzsche's savior is a narcissist, who according to Nietzsche's ethical view, believes that "No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself. " This amorality of the animal kingdom is what constitutes freedom for Nietzsche.
Kierkegaard takes a different approach to human freedom. For him, freedom involves surrender to God-initiated events. Drawing on John Climacus’ understanding of spiritual enlightenment, Kierkegaard argues that learning involves a mysterious change that takes place in the learner at a specific moment of his existence - a moment of enlightenment. In this moment, the learner is absolutely certain that he/she has grasped eternal knowledge. Kierkegaard maintains that this is miraculous and supernatural because it can only be initiated by God through a series of historical/temporal events. This learning (or enlightenment) is highly individual and subjective, and it is unique for every learner. Kierkegaard argues further that individuals are unable to know anything that is certain except through this supernatural intervention in history. So while the individual is important, the individual's freedom involves relationship with the source of enlightenment.
Where Nietzsche admits nothing greater than himself, Kierkegaard holds that his own greatness depends on One greater than himself. What do you think?