Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (/ ˈ s ɒr ə n ˈ k ɪər k ə ɡ ɑːr d / SORR-ən KEER-kə-gard, also US: /-ɡ ɔːr /-gor; Danish: [ˈsœːɐn ˈkʰiɐ̯kəˌkɒˀ] (); 5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic, and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher.
- PHILOSOPHY - Soren Kierkegaardyoutube.com
- Søren Kierkegaard | Abraham and Anxiety | Philosophy Core Conceptsyoutube.com
- Søren Kierkegaard | Abraham's Story and Faith | Philosophy Core Conceptsyoutube.com
- From the Aesthetic to the Leap of Faith: Søren Kierkegaardyoutube.com
Søren Kierkegaard, in full Søren Aabye Kierkegaard, (born May 5, 1813, Copenhagen, Den.—died Nov. 11, 1855, Copenhagen), Danish philosopher, theologian, and cultural critic who was a major influence on existentialism and Protestant theology in the 20th century.
Kierkegaards life is more relevant to his work than is the case for many writers. Much of the thrust of his critique of Hegelianism is that its system of thought is abstracted from the everyday lives of its proponents. This existential critique consists in demonstrating how the life and work of a philosopher contradict one another. Kierkegaard derived this form of critique from the Greek notion of judging philosophers by their lives rather than simply by their intellectual artefacts. The Christian ideal, according to Kierkegaard, is even more exacting since the totality of an individuals existence is the artefact on the basis of which s/he is judged by God for h/er eternal validity. Of course a writers work is an important part of h/er existence, but for the purpose of judgement we should focus on the whole life not just on one part. Given this problematic in this social context Kierkegaard perceived a need to invent a form of communication which would not produce stereotyped identities. On the contrary, he needed a form of rhetoric which would force people back onto their own resources, to take responsibility for their own existential choices, and to become who they are beyond their socially imposed identities. In this undertaking Kierkegaard was inspired by the figure of Socrates, whose incessant irony undermined all knowledge claims that were taken for granted or unreflectively inherited from traditional culture. In his dissertation On the Concept of Irony with constant reference to Socrates Kierkegaard argued that the historical Socrates used his irony in order to facilitate the birth of subjectivity in his interlocutors. Because they were constantly forced to abandon their immediate answers to Socrates annoying questions, they had to begin to think for themselves and to take individual responsibility for their claims about knowledge and value. Hegelianism promised to make absolute knowledge available by virtue of a science of logic. Anyone with the capacity to follow the dialectical progression of the purportedly transparent concepts of Hegels logic would have access to the mind of God (which for Hegel was equivalent to the logical structure of the universe). Kierkegaard thought this to be the hubristic attempt to build a new tower of Babel, or a scala paradisia dialectical ladder by which humans can climb with ease up to heaven. Kierkegaards strategy was to invert this dialectic by seeking to make everything more difficult. Instead of seeing scientific knowledge as the means of human redemption, he regarded it as the greatest obstacle to redemption. Instead of seeking to give people more knowledge he sought to take away what passed for knowledge. Instead of seeking to make God and Christian faith perfectly intelligible he sought to emphasize the absolute transcendence by God of all human categories. Instead of setting himself up as a religious authority, Kierkegaard used a vast array of textual devices to undermine his authority as an author and to place responsibility for the existential significance to be derived from his texts squarely on the reader. Kierkegaard draws attention to Christianitys inverted dialectic, which demands that we exercise double vision, to see in worldly things their spiritual opposites, such as hope in hopelessness, strength in weakness and prosperity in adversity. The inverse dialectic also requires that we reduplicate our thoughts in our actions, but in so doing that we work against ourselves. This was aimed at subverting our focus on worldly goals in order to refocus on other-worldly goals. Kierkegaards rhetorical play with the inverse Christian dialectic was designed not to make the word of God easier to assimilate, but to establish more clearly the absolute distance that separates human beings from God. This was in order to emphasize that human beings are absolutely reliant on Gods grace for salvation. While most commentators regard Kierkegaards view to be that sin is what separates human beings absolutely from God, thereby lending weight to the view that Kierkegaard endorses a particularly dour version of Christianity, a more defensible interpretation is that it is the transcendent Gods capacity to forgive the unforgivable that marks the absolute difference. Our struggle to accept divine forgiveness can become mired in despair, including the second-order despair over the impossibility of forgiveness of our sins and the demonic despair of defiance in which we refuse to accept forgiveness. On the other hand, faith in divine forgiveness can manifest in joy, at the realization that for God anything is possible, including our rebirth as spiritual selves with eternal validity. But Kierkegaard did not want to abandon aesthetics altogether in favor of the ethical and the religious. A key concept in the Hegelian dialectic, which Kierkegaards pseudonymous authorship parodies, is Aufhebung (sublation). In Hegels dialectic, when contradictory positions are reconciled in a higher unity (synthesis) they are both annulled and preserved (aufgehoben). Similarly with Kierkegaards pseudo-dialectic: the aesthetic and the ethical are both annulled and preserved in their synthesis in the religious stage. As far as the aesthetic stage of existence is concerned what is preserved in the higher religious stage is the sense of infinite possibility made available through the imagination. But this no longer excludes what is actual. Nor is it employed for egotistic ends. Aesthetic irony is transformed into religious humor, and the aesthetic transfiguration of the actual world into the ideal is transformed into the religious transubstantiation of the finite world into an actual reconciliation with the infinite. The ethical position advocated by Judge Wilhelm in Equilibrium Between the Aesthetic and the Ethical in the Composition of Personality (Either-Or II) is a peculiar mix of cognitivism and noncognitivism. The metaethics or normative ethics are cognitivist, laying down various necessary conditions for ethically correct action. These conditions include: the necessity of choosing seriously and inwardly; commitment to the belief that predications of good and evil of our actions have a truth-value; the necessity of choosing what one is actually doing, rather than just responding to a situation; actions are to be in accordance with rules; and these rules are universally applicable to moral agents. The choice of metaethics, however, is noncognitive. There is no adequate proof of the truth of metaethics. The choice of normative ethics is motivated, but in a noncognitive way. The Judge seeks to motivate the choice of his normative ethics through the avoidance of despair. Here despair (Fortvivlelse) is to let ones life depend on conditions outside ones control (and later, more radically, despair is the very possibility of despair in this first sense). For Judge Wilhelm, the choice of normative ethics is a noncognitive choice of cognitivism, and thereby an acceptance of the applicability of the conceptual distinction between good and evil. Kierkegaards ultimate advocacy of divine command metaethics is tempered somewhat by his detailed analyses of the nuanced ways individuals need to relate to Gods commands. These analyses amount to a subtle moral psychology, which borders on virtue ethics. It is not enough simply for God to issue a command; we need to hear and obey. But obedience is not straightforward. We can obey willingly or begrudgingly. We can refuse altogether. We can be selectively deaf, or be so filled with our egotistical desires that we are altogether deaf to our duties. In order to obey we first need to cultivate faith, since obedience to a divine command is nonsense unless we at least believe the command has come from God. To cultivate faith in a transcendent, eternal, omnipresent God, who allegedly became incarnate in the form of a particular human being who was put to death, requires one to overcome the offense to ones reason and to adopt a tolerance for paradox. To imagine the enormity of the consequences of sin, yet to relish the possibilities of freedom, engenders anxiety. We need to learn to navigate the treacherous maelstroms of despair, to recognize the self-absorption of demonic states, to veer away from prudence and vanity, and to avoid mere conformity to social mores. We need to cultivate hope, patience, devotion, and above all love. But we also need to be vigilant about our capacity for self-deception and be prepared to suffer for love and for our ultimate spiritual identity. Kierkegaard styled himself above all as a religious poet. The religion to which he sought to relate his readers is Christianity. The type of Christianity that underlies his writings is a very serious strain of Lutheran pietism informed by the dour values of sin, guilt, suffering, and individual responsibility. Kierkegaard was immersed in these values in the family home through his father, whose own childhood was lived in the shadow of Herrnhut pietism in Jutland. Kierkegaards father subsequently became a member of the lay Congregation of Brothers (Brødremenighed) in Copenhagen, which he and his family attended in addition to the sermons by Bishop J. P. Mynster. For Kierkegaard Christian faith is not a matter of regurgitating church dogma. It is a matter of individual subjective passion, which cannot be mediated by the clergy or by human artefacts. Faith is the most important task to be achieved by a human being, because only on the basis of faith does an individual have a chance to become a true self. This self is the life-work which God judges for eternity. Christian dogma, according to Kierkegaard, embodies paradoxes which are offensive to reason. The central paradox is the assertion that the eternal, infinite, transcendent God simultaneously became incarnated as a temporal, finite, human being (Jesus). There are two possible attitudes we can adopt to this assertion, viz. we can have faith, or we can take offense. What we cannot do, according to Kierkegaard, is believe by virtue of reason. If we choose faith we must suspend our reason in order to believe in something higher than reason. In fact we must believe by virtue of the absurd. Much of Kierkegaards authorship explores the notion of the absurd: Job gets everything back again by virtue of the absurd (Repetition); Abraham gets a reprieve from having to sacrifice Isaac, by virtue of the absurd (Fear and Trembling); Kierkegaard hoped to get Regine back again after breaking off their engagement, by virtue of the absurd (Journals); Climacus hopes to deceive readers into the truth of Christianity by virtue of an absurd representation of Christianitys ineffability; the Christian God is represented as absolutely transcendent of human categories yet is absurdly presented as a personal God with the human capacities to love, judge, forgive, teach, etc. Kierkegaards notion of the absurd subsequently became an important category for twentieth century existentialists, though usually devoid of its religious associations. One of Kierkegaards main interventions in cultural politics was his sustained attack on Hegelianism. Hegels philosophy had been introduced into Denmark with religious zeal by J.L. Heiberg, and was taken up enthusiastically within the theology faculty of Copenhagen University and by Copenhagens literati. Kierkegaard, too, was induced to make a serious study of Hegels work. While Kierkegaard greatly admired Hegel, he had grave reservations about Hegelianism and its bombastic promises. Hegel would have been the greatest thinker who ever lived, said Kierkegaard, if only he had regarded his system as a thought-experiment. Instead he took himself seriously to have reached the truth, and so rendered himself comical. Kierkegaards tactic in undermining Hegelianism was to produce an elaborate parody of Hegels entire system. The pseudonymous authorship, from Either-Or to Concluding Unscientific Postscript, presents an inverted Hegelian dialectic which is designed to take away readers presumed knowledge rather than add to it. This authorship snipes simultaneously at German romanticism and contemporary Danish literati (with J.L. Heiberg receiving much acerbic comment). However, it also draws heavily on the work of these authors, especially by taking seriously their framing of philosophical and theological problems. For example, Kierkegaard engaged with the early German romantics notion that modernity is to be understood primarily by contrast with antiquity, which in turn is to be understood mainly in terms of classical Greek thought. Classical Greek art, in particular, is taken to be the gold standard by which artistic perfection is to be measured. However, Kierkegaard and the German romantics and German idealists share the view that classical Greek art lacks inwardness or subjective spirit. Modern art, by contrast, while unlikely to match the formal perfection of classical Greek art, contains the potential to explore subjective spirit. One crucial dimension of subjective spirit is freedom, which becomes a distinctive preoccupation of modern art and post-Kantian philosophy. Kierkegaards concept of individual freedom, ultimately understood in terms of becoming as nothing before God, engages critically with the concepts of freedom in Kant, Hegel and Schelling, as well as with the theologies of Jacobi, Lessing and Schleiermacher. Kierkegaard presents a distinctive phenomenology of freedom by means of fictional case studies in a method he calls experimenting psychology. He uses narrative points of view, pseudonyms, vignettes, character sketches and case studies from life and literature to illustrate how dialectics of moods, emotions and spirit can both disable and enable individual freedom. Moods such as melancholy, boredom and irony can become demonically self-perpetuating, but they also have the potential to lift the individual to a state of self-reflection that amounts to higher order consciousness, thereby enabling the individual to see his or her former existence as what Wittgenstein called a limited whole. The highest order of consciousness for Kierkegaard is God-consciousness, which enables the individual to see himself or herself as both a sinner and as open to divine grace. The path to this ultimate freedom requires will, imagination, faith, love, penitence, patience and a humble kenosis, whereby the self is emptied of will to become receptive to Gods will.
In a less abstract manner, an understanding of Kierkegaards biography is important for an understanding of his writing because his life was the source of many of the preoccupations and repetitions within his oeuvre. Because of his existentialist orientation, most of his interventions in contemporary theory do double duty as means of working through events from his own life. In particular Kierkegaards relations to his father and his fiancée Regine Olsen pervade his work. Kierkegaards pseudonym Johannes Climacus says of Socrates that his whole life was personal preoccupation with himself, and then Governance comes and adds world-historical significance to it. Similarly, Kierkegaard saw himself as a singular universal whose personal preoccupation with himself was transfigured by divine Governance into universal significance. So the whole dialectic of the first pseudonymous authorship is recuperated by the aesthetic by virtue of its medium of representation. In fact Johannes Climacus acknowledges this implicitly when at the end of Concluding Unscientific Postscript he revokes everything he has said, with the important rider that to say something then to revoke it is not the same as never having said it in the first place. His presentation of religious faith in an aesthetic medium at least provides an opportunity for his readers to make their own leap of faith, by appropriating with inward passion the paradoxical religion of Christianity into their own lives.
The influence of Kierkegaards father on his work has been frequently noted. Not only did Kierkegaard inherit his fathers melancholy, his sense of guilt and anxiety, and his pietistic emphasis on the dour aspects of Christian faith, but he also inherited his talents for philosophical argument and creative imagination. In addition Kierkegaard inherited enough of his fathers wealth to allow him to pursue his life as a freelance writer. The themes of sacrificial father/son relationships, of inherited sin, of the burden of history, and of the centrality of the individual, human existence relationship, the old text, well known, handed down from the fathers (Postscript) are repeated many times in Kierkegaards oeuvre. The fathers sense of guilt was so great (for having cursed God? for having impregnated Kierkegaards mother out of wedlock?) that he thought God would punish him by taking the lives of all seven of his children before they reached the age of 34 (the age of Jesus Christ at his crucifixion). This was born out for all but two of the children, Søren and his older brother Peter. Søren was astonished that they both survived beyond that age. This may explain the sense of urgency that drove Kierkegaard to write so prolifically in the years leading up to his 34th birthday. Contrary to Adornos critique, it could be argued that Kierkegaards writing evinces an astute social realism, evident in myriad concrete observations and critical reflections on everyday life and on institutions such as the church, the press, the democratic movement and the womens movement. This critical social realism, along with his deep psychological and philosophical analyses of contemporary problems, and his concern to address the present age were taken up by fellow Scandinavians Henrik Ibsen and August Strindberg. Ibsen and Strindberg, together with Friedrich Nietzsche, became central icons of the modernism movement in Berlin in the 1890s. The Danish literary critic Georg Brandes was instrumental in conjoining these intellectual figures: he had given the first university lectures on Kierkegaard and on Nietzsche; he had promoted Kierkegaards work to Nietzsche and to Strindberg; and he had put Strindberg in correspondence with Nietzsche. Taking his cue from Brandes, the Swedish literary critic Ola Hansson subsequently promoted this conjunction of writers in Berlin itself. Berlin modernism self-consciously sought to use art as a means of political and social change. It continued Kierkegaards concern to use discursive action for social transformation. Many other writers have been inspired by Kierkegaard to tackle fundamental issues in philosophy, politics, theology and psychology. One major inspiration has been Kierkegaards treatment of Abraham and the sacrifice of Isaac (the Akkedah). Franz Kafka, Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida have all written extensively in response, to try to sort out the implications for ethics and faith. Gabriel Marcel, Lev Shestov, Paul Tillich, Martin Buber, Gyorgy Lukacs, Karl Barth, Georges Battaille, Rudolf Bultmann, Karl Jaspers, Michel Henry and John D. Caputo have all been influenced by, or engaged with, Kierkegaards Christian existentialism. Carl Schmitts political theology uses concepts such as the decision and the exception, which draw heavily on Kierkegaards concepts of the moment and repetition. Kierkegaard was also an inspiration for the early Wittgenstein, who reportedly said Kierkegaard was by far the most profound thinker of the [nineteenth] century. Kierkegaard was a saint. Subsequent Wittgensteinians, such as Stanley Cavell, James Conant and Cora Diamond, have all engaged with aspects of Kierkegaards work, including how we should understand the distinction between sense and nonsense in the context of claims about religious authority and revelation. Alastair MacIntyres reading of Kierkegaard in After Virtue and A Short History of Ethics opened up a vigorous line of inquiry into Kierkegaards relevance for ethics in contemporary analytic philosophy. This has produced quite a debate about the relevance of Kierkegaard for developing narrative accounts of the self, with notable contributions by Anthony Rudd, John Davenport, John Lippitt and Patrick Stokes. Paul Ricoeur and Judith Butler have also been influenced by Kierkegaard, especially regarding his use of rhetoric and narrative point of view to critique systematic philosophy.
Kierkegaards (broken) engagement to Regine Olsen has also been the focus of much scholarly attention. The theme of a young woman being the occasion for a young man to become poeticized recurs in Kierkegaards writings, as does the theme of the sacrifice of worldly happiness for a higher (religious) purpose. Kierkegaards infatuation with Regine, and the sublimated libidinal energy it lent to his poetic production, were crucial for setting his life course. The breaking of the engagement allowed Kierkegaard to devote himself monastically to his religious purpose, as well as to establish his outsider status (outside the norm of married bourgeois life). It also freed him from close personal entanglements with women, thereby leading him to objectify them as ideal creatures, and to reproduce the patriarchal values of his church and father. The latter included viewing women in terms of their traditional social roles, particularly as mothers and wives, but also in their traditional spiritual roles as epitomes of devotion and self-sacrifice. Nevertheless, whatever ones life circumstances, social roles and gender, Kierkegaard regarded everyone as equal before God under the aspect of eternity.
Kierkegaard sought to provide a similar service for his own contemporaries. He used irony, parody, satire, humor, and deconstructive techniques in order to make conventionally accepted forms of knowledge and value untenable. He was a gadflyconstantly irritating his contemporaries with discomforting thoughts. He was also a midwifeassisting at the birth of individual subjectivity by forcing his contemporaries to develop an inner life through critical self-reflection. His art of communication became the art of taking away since he thought his audience suffered from too much knowledge rather than too little. Kierkegaard distanced himself from his texts by a variety of devices which served to problematize the authorial voice for the reader. He used pseudonyms in many of his works (both overtly aesthetic ones and overtly religious ones). He partitioned the texts into prefaces, forewords, interludes, postscripts, appendices. He assigned the authorship of parts of texts to different pseudonyms, and invented further pseudonyms to be the editors or compilers of these pseudonymous writings. Sometimes Kierkegaard appended his name as author, sometimes as the person responsible for publication, sometimes not at all. Sometimes Kierkegaard would publish more than one book on the same day. These simultaneous books embodied strikingly contrasting perspectives. He also published whole series of works simultaneously, viz. the pseudonymous works on the one hand and on the other hand the Edifying Discourses published under his own name. Kierkegaard also uses aesthetic devices, including pseudonyms, in his second authorship, that is, those published after Concluding Unscientific Postscript. These works include those by Anti-Climacus, who represents the Christian point of view par excellence, beyond where Kierkegaard placed himself. Kierkegaard also used many biblical figures and stories with poignant and striking effect in the religious writings he published under his own name. As a poet of the religious Kierkegaard was always preoccupied with aesthetics. In fact, contrary to popular misconceptions of Kierkegaard which represent him as becoming increasingly hostile to poetry, he increasingly referred to himself as a poet in his later years (all but one of over ninety references to himself as a poet in his journals date from after 1847). Kierkegaard never claimed to write with religious authority, as an apostle. His works represent both less religiously enlightened and more religiously enlightened positions than he thought he had attained in his own existence. Such representations were only possible in an aesthetic medium of imagined possibilities like poetry.
Kierkegaards method of indirect communication was designed to sever the reliance of the reader on the authority of the author and on the received wisdom of the community. The reader was to be forced to take individual responsibility for knowing who s/he is and for knowing where s/he stands on the existential, ethical and religious issues raised in the texts.
The figure of the aesthete in Either-Or (Part One) is an ironic portrayal of German romanticism, but it also draws on medieval characters as diverse as Don Juan, Ahasuerus, and Faust. It finds its most sophisticated form in the author of The Seducers Diary, the final section of Either-Or (Part One). Johannes the seducer is a reflective aesthete, who gains sensuous delight not so much from the act of seduction but from engineering the possibility of seduction. His real aim is the manipulation of people and situations in ways which generate interesting reflections in his own voyeuristic mind. The aesthetic perspective transforms quotidian dullness into a richly poetic world by whatever means it can. Sometimes the reflective aesthete will inject interest into a book by reading only the last third, or into a conversation by provoking a bore into an apoplectic fit so that he can see a bead of sweat form between the bores eyes and run down his nose. That is, the aesthete uses artifice, arbitrariness, irony, and wilful imagination to recreate the world in his own image. The prime motivation for the aesthete is the transformation of the boring into the interesting.
This type of aestheticism is criticized from the point of view of ethics. It is seen to be emptily self-serving and escapist. It is a despairing means of avoiding commitment and responsibility. It fails to acknowledge ones social debt and communal existence. And it is self-deceiving insofar as it substitutes fantasies for actual states of affairs. From Kierkegaards religious perspective, however, the conceptual distinction between good and evil is ultimately dependent not on social norms but on God. Therefore it is possible, as Johannes de Silentio argues was the case for Abraham (the father of faith), that God demand a suspension of the ethical (in the sense of the socially prescribed norms). This is still ethical in the second sense, since ultimately Gods definition of the distinction between good and evil outranks any human societys definition. The requirement of communicability and clear decision procedures can also be suspended by Gods fiat. This renders cases such as Abrahams extremely problematic, since we have no recourse to public reason to decide whether he is legitimately obeying Gods command or whether he is a deluded would-be murderer. Since public reason cannot decide the issue for us, we must decide for ourselves as a matter of religious faith.
But in order to arrive at a position of religious faith, which might entail a teleological suspension of the ethical, the individual must first embrace the ethical (in the first sense). In order to raise oneself beyond the merely aesthetic life, which is a life of drifting in imagination, possibility and sensation, one needs to make a commitment. That is, the aesthete needs to choose the ethical, which entails a commitment to communication and decision procedures.
The individual is thereby subject to an enormous burden of responsibility, for upon h/er existential choices hangs h/er eternal salvation or damnation. Anxiety or dread (Angest) is the presentiment of this terrible responsibility when the individual stands at the threshold of momentous existential choice. Anxiety is a two-sided emotion: on one side is the dread burden of choosing for eternity; on the other side is the exhilaration of freedom in choosing oneself. Choice occurs in the instant (Øieblikket), which is the point at which time and eternity intersectfor the individual creates through temporal choice a self which will be judged for eternity.
But the choice of faith is not made once and for all. It is essential that faith be constantly renewed by means of repeated avowals of faith. Ones very selfhood depends upon this repetition, for according to Anti-Climacus, the self is a relation which relates itself to itself (The Sickness Unto Death). But unless this self acknowledges a power which constituted it, it falls into a despair which undoes its selfhood. Therefore, in order to maintain itself as a relation which relates itself to itself, the self must constantly renew its faith in the power which posited it. There is no mediation between the individual self and God by priest or by logical system (contra Catholicism and Hegelianism respectively). There is only the individuals own repetition of faith. This repetition of faith is the way the self relates itself to itself and to the power which constituted it, i.e., the repetition of faith is the self. Crucial to the miracle of Christian faith is the realization that over against God we are always in the wrong. That is, we must realize that we are always in sin. This is the condition for faith, and must be given by God. The idea of sin cannot evolve from purely human origins. Rather, it must have been introduced into the world from a transcendent source. Once we understand that we are in sin, we can understand that there is some being over against which we are always in the wrong. On this basis we can have faith that, by virtue of the absurd, we can ultimately be atoned with this being. The absurdity of atonement requires faith that we believe that for God even the impossible is possible, including the forgiveness of the unforgivable. If we can accept Gods forgiveness, sincerely, inwardly, contritely, with gratitude and hope, then we open ourselves to the joyous prospect of beginning anew. The only obstacle to this joy is our refusal or resistance to accepting Gods forgiveness properly. Although God can forgive the unforgivable, He cannot force anyone to accept it. Therefore, for Kierkegaard, there is only one guilt that God cannot forgive, that of not willing to believe in his greatness!.
Kierkegaard is sometimes regarded as an apolitical thinker, but in fact he intervened stridently in church politics, cultural politics, and in the turbulent social changes of his time. His earliest published essay, for example, was a polemic against womens liberation. It is a reactionary apologetic for the prevailing patriarchal values, and was motivated largely by Kierkegaards desire to ingratiate himself with factions within Copenhagens intellectual circles. This latter desire gradually left him, but his relation to women remained highly questionable.
Kierkegaards intriguing pseudonymous first authorship, culminating in Concluding Unscientific Postscript, received little popular attention, aimed as it was at the literary elite. So it had little immediate effect as discursive action. Kierkegaard sought to remedy this by provoking an attack on himself in the popular satirical review The Corsair. Kierkegaard succeeded in having himself mercilessly lampooned in this publication, largely on personal grounds rather than in terms of the substance of his writings. The suffering incurred by these attacks sparked Kierkegaard into another highly productive phase of authorship, but this time his focus was the creation of positive Christian discourses rather than satire or parody. Eventually Kierkegaard became more and more worried about the direction taken by the Danish Peoples Church, especially after the death of the Bishop Primate J.P. Mynster. He realized he could no longer indulge himself in the painstakingly erudite and poetically meticulous writing he had practised hitherto. He had to intervene decisively in a popular medium, so he published his own pamphlet under the title The Instant or The Moment (Øieblikket). This addressed church politics directly and increasingly shrilly.
Kierkegaards real value as a social and political thinker was not realized until after his death. His pamphleteering achieved little immediate impact, but his substantial philosophical, literary, psychological and theological writings have had a lasting effect. Much of Heideggers very influential work, Being And Time, is indebted to Kierkegaards writings, especially for its phenomenology of moods and its understanding of the constitutive role of time in the formation of the subject. Sartres equally large tome, Being And Nothingness, in which the freedom of the individual becomes the primary concept for social and political explanation, also draws on Kierkegaard. Sartres associated notions of authenticity and bad faith, and his assertion that existence precedes essence, also have Kierkegaardian origins. Adorno, on the other hand, in his Habilitationsschrift, later published as Kierkegaard: Construction of the Aesthetic, is critical of Kierkegaards politics, though Adornos indirect target was Heidegger and existentialism more generally. Adorno argues that Kierkegaards philosophy of inwardness ultimately reflects only the bourgeois interior of his time, and that Kierkegaard falls into the idealism he sought to escape because, like the existentialists, he fails to follow a concrete historical dialectic. This results in Kierkegaards subject-object dialectic positing an abstract self as counterweight to the abstractness of the universal. Kierkegaard thereby fails to understand the self in terms of its concrete historical situation and, despite his best intentions, creates a self-contradictory system of existence, which in turn prepares the ground for Heideggers ontology.
- The Edifying Discourses
- The \\"Second Authorship\\"
- References and Further Reading
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was born on May 5th 1813 in Copenhagen. He was the seventh and last child of wealthy hosier, Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard and Ane Sørensdatter Lund, a former household servant and distant cousin of Michael Kierkegaard. This was Michael Kierkegaard's second marriage, which came within a year of his first wife’s death and four months into Ane Lund’s first pregnancy. Michael Kierkegaard was a deeply melancholic man, sternly religious and carried a heavy burden of guilt, w...
Simultaneously with the publication of the aesthetic pseudonymous works, Kierkegaard published a series of works he called \\"Edifying Discourses\\" [Opbyggelige Taler]. These were written under his own name and most of them were dedicated \\"To the Late Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard, Formerly a Clothing Merchant Here in the City, My Father.\\" Although they typically take a New Testament theme as their point of departure, Kierkegaard explicitly denies that they are sermons. This is because he had not...
Works of Love was written under Kierkegaard's own name. Its subtitle places it within the genre of \\"Christian deliberations\\" - i.e. polemical weighings-up of Christian notions. It does not presuppose an existential understanding of Christian love, as it would were it an \\"edifying discourse,\\" but challenges the reader to open him or herself to the specifically Christian understanding of love. For a reader who understands love principally in terms of eros, the Christian notion of love as agape...
Kierkegaard's WritingsDanish 1. Breve og Aktstykker vedrørende Søren Kierkegaaard, ed. Niels Thulstrup, Copenhagen: Munksgaard, 1953-4. 2. Søren Kierkegaards Papirer, ed. P.A. Heiberg, V. Kuhr & E. Torsting, second edition Niels Thulstrup, Copenhagen: Gyldendal, 1968-78. 3. Søren Kierkegaards Samlede Værker, ed. A.B. Drachmann, J.L. Heiberg & H.D. Lange, second edition, Copenhagen: Nordisk Forlag, 1920-36. 4. Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter, ed. N.J. Cappelørn, et.al., Copenhagen: Gad, 1997-. 5....
Kierkegaard was born in Copenhagen, into a strict Danish Lutheran home. He inherited a melancholy disposition from his father and suffered through an unhappy youth. His frail and slightly twisted...
Jul 23, 2012 · Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a nineteenth century existentialist philosopher, and arguably both the father of existentialism and modern psychology. He is a grossly misunderstood figure, whom some argue was a mystic, an anti-rationalist, or, as is more reasonable, an anti-philosopher.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813–1855), the Danish philosopher and theologian, is often regarded as the father of modern existentialism. His major works include Either/Or, Philosophical Fragments, Fear and Trembling, Practices in Christianity, Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing, and Works of Love.
- A BROKEN ENGAGEMENT AFFECTED HIS WRITING. At 27 years old, Søren Kierkegaard was engaged to Regine Olsen, but he wrote in his journal almost immediately afterward that it was a mistake; a year later, he called it off.
- HE WILLED HIS BELONGINGS TO HIS EX-FIANCÉE. Kierkegaard saw a marriage proposal as contractually the same as a marriage, so when he died, he bequeathed his books to Olsen even though she’d married someone else years before.
- HE WROTE UNDER PSEUDONYMS IN ORDER TO DISAGREE WITH HIMSELF. A hallmark of Kierkegaard’s style of intellectual interrogation was writing under different names in order to fully examine, or sometimes contradict, the claims he made.
- HE SURVIVED COMPLETELY OFF AN INHERITANCE. Kierkegaard’s father Michael retired at the age of 40 after great success as a wool merchant. Not only did he gift young Søren with an upbringing surrounded by thinkers and cultural figures, he left him 30,000 rixdalers, which was enough for Kierkegaard to live off of (and self-publish) for the rest of his life.
- “Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard.
- “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” ― Soren Kierkegaard.
- “People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use.” ― Søren Kierkegaard.
- “Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.” ― Søren Kierkegaard , The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin.
Kierkegaard’s writings taken as a whole, whether pseudonymous or not, focus overwhelmingly on the religious stage, giving credence to his own retrospective judgment that the entire corpus is ultimately about the religious life. The personages Kierkegaard creates to embody the aesthetic stage have two preoccupations, the arts and the erotic.