The rotation method is a concept used by the philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in Either/Or to describe the mechanism used by higher level aesthetes in order to avoid boredom. The method is an essential hedonistic aspect of the aesthetic way of life.
Kierkegaard likens the rotation method to the crop rotation used in agriculture, in which the soil is constantly rotated in order to maximize the use of nutrients for the crops. For the aesthete, one constantly changes what one is doing in order to maximize the enjoyment and pleasure derived from each activity.
A consequence of the rotation method would be the aesthete's lack of commitment to any one thing. Commitment requires one to constantly repeat an activity; however, for the aesthetic, repeating an activity leads to boredom, as this activity is no longer novel.
The rotation method, Kierkegaard argues, would eventually lead aesthetes to a state of despair, because all activities, no matter how unique or new, will eventually become boring:
- I don't feel like doing anything. I don't feel like riding – the motion is too powerful; I don't feel like walking – it is too tiring; I don't feel like lying down, for either I have to stay down, and I don't feel like doing that or I would have to get up again, and I don't feel like doing that, either. Summa Summarum: I don't feel like doing anything. – Either/Or, p. 4
The aesthete, Kierkegaard predicts, realizing and responding to the futility of one's hedonistic finite aims, will yearn to experience a more meaningful life.
- Kierkegaard, Søren. Either/Or. Princeton, 1985. p. 4.
- Watts, Michael. Kierkegaard. Oneworld, 2003. p. 198.