To pinpoint this notion of levelling I shall compare it with two others, both of which, besides being distinguishable from it, are relevant in our Kierkegaardian context.

One kind of levelling, also abstract, is that of the Stoics in their strategic withdrawal from the vicissitudes of the world. But it is strategic and thus not abstract in the sense of Kierkegaard’s levelling. The aim of the Stoics was to cultivate a kind of self-immunization from what they considered to be irrational responses that embraced all forms of guilt and regret. Their aim was the edifying one of impassivity in the face of the ups

and downs of direct personal engagement. You could indeed call the result of this form of levelling a kind of apathy, but unlike the apathy Kierkegaard mentions in the above quotation, the cultivated ‘apathy’ of the Stoic is not an indolence, such as Kierkegaard says people in his time are prone to. Apathy with the Stoics is due to strenuous efforts of self-cultivation on the part of individual levellers.