Søren Kierkegaard

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Kierkegaard, Søren


Born May 5, 1813, in Copenhagen; died there Nov. 11, 1855. Danish theologian, idealist philosopher, and writer.

Kierkegaard studied philosophy and theology at the University of Copenhagen. After breaking off with his fiancée in 1841, he led the secluded life of a solitary thinker, a life filled with intensive literary work. At the end of his life he entered into stormy polemics with official theological circles. He published many of his works, such as Either-Or and Fear and Trembling (1843) and Philosophical Fragments (1844), under various pseudonyms, expounding his ideas through invented characters and often presenting them in fictional form (Diary of a Seducer).

Kierkegaard’s philosophical views were formed under the influence of German romanticism, as well as the antirationalist reaction against Hegelian philosophy. He ascribed particular importance to Socratic irony; it was to the religious and philosophical interpretation of Socratic irony (in the spirit of Protestantism) that he devoted his master’s dissertation. Kierkegaard criticized Hegel for “objectivism,” that is, the striving to understand the individual in a historically concrete system of the objective spirit. He rejected this view as surrendering the personality to the power of the “anonymous” domination of history and thus depriving it of independence and freedom. To the Hegelian objective dialectic Kierkegaard attempted to counterpose one different in principle—a subjective (“existential”) dialectic, which with Kierkegaard proves to be a means for preserving a person’s relationship to god. According to Kierkegaard, an individual passes through three qualitiatively different stages on the path to god—aesthetic, ethical, and religious. The individual living asthetically, according to Kierkegaard, achieves emotional pleasure in rejecting the process of finding the “truth” of his existence; this refusal inevitably entails dissatisfaction and “despair”; however, this is still not true despair. True despair enters with the ethical stage and leads the person to the realization of the religious meaning of his personality; according to Kierkegaard, there is no other path to god.

Kierkegaard insisted upon the radical paradoxicality and illogicality of religious experience, ridiculing the efforts at rationalizing faith in Hegelian philosophy or in the practice of liberal Protestant theology. He criticized the Reformation sharply because, in abolishing medieval asceticism, it “made life easier.” He perceived Lutheranism as a further rationalization of religion —that is, as its degradation. Kierkegaard defended the thesis of the reality of Christianity only for an elect, who would be able to realize their existential freedom.

Kierkegaard’s works, with their stylistic brilliance and inci-siveness, greatly influenced the development of Danish literature. Kierkegaard’s philosophy did not enjoy popularity during his lifetime or the decades immediately after his death. Protestant dialectical theology turned to his teachings in the 20th century, as did existentialism in the 1920’s. The style of his philosophizing has become a model for irrationalist currents of contemporary bourgeois philosophical thought.


Samlede vaerker, 2nd ed., vols. 1–15. Copenhagen, 1920–36.
Papirer [2nd ed.], vols. 1–13. Copenhagen, 1968–70.
In Russian translation:
Naslazhdenie i dolg. St. Petersburg, 1894.
“Neschastneishii.” In the publication Severnye sborniki, book 4. St. Petersburg, 1908.


Shestov, L. Kirgegard i ekzistentsial’naia filosofiia. Paris, 1939.
Gaidenko, P. Tragediia estetizma: Opyt kharakteristiki mirosozertsaniia S. Kirkegora. Moscow, 1970.
Bykhovskii. B. E. K’erkegor. Moscow, 1972.
Haecker, T. S. Kierkegaard. Munich, 1913.
Przywara, E. Das Geheimnis Kierkegaards. Munich, 1929.
Dempf, A. Kierkegaards Folgen. Leipzig, 1935.
Allen, E. L. Kierkegaard: His Life and Thought. New York-London, 1936.
Wahl, J. Etudes Kierkegaardiennes, 2nd ed. Paris, 1949.
Kassner, R. S. Kierkegaard. Heidelberg, 1949.
Hohlenberg, J. F. S. Kierkegaard. Paris [1956].
Jolivet, R. Aux Sources de l’existentialisme chrétien: Kierkegaard. Paris [1956].
Anz, W. Kierkegaard und der deutsche Idealismus. Tübingen, 1956.
Lowrie, W. Kierkegaard, vols. 1–2. New York [1962].
Heiss, R. Die grossen Dialektiker des 19. Jahrhunderts: Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx. Cologne-Berlin, 1963.
Mesnard, P. Kierkegaard, 3rd ed. Paris, 1963.
Adorno, T. W. Kierkegaard: Konstruktion des Ä sthetischen [3rd ed.]. Frankfurt am Main, 1966.
Malaquais, J. S. Kierkegaard: Foi et paradoxe. [Paris, 1971.]
Jørgensen, A. Søren Kierkegaard-litteratur, 1961–1970. [Aarhus, 1971.]


References in periodicals archive ?
Thonhauser, Gerhard (2011), Uber das Konzept der Zeitlichkeit bei Soren Kierkegaard mit standigem Hinblick auf Martin Heidegger, Freiburg/Munchen, Alber.
Con seguridad, como senala Juan Fernando Selles, el mayor logro de Soren Kierkegaard consiste en haber comprendido que, al reflexionar en torno a la persona, el metodo objetivo no es, en absoluto, satisfactorio.
August 5: Simon Munnery Sings Soren Kierkegaard, 8.
Al Anderson does not disappoint in this cogent and comprehensive, yet brief summary of the life and thought of Soren Kierkegaard.
Por ello, debemos decir que el aporte de la literatura de Sabato al entendimiento del pensamiento de Soren Kierkegaard radica en que la obra del primero permite un nivel de comprension distinto al que usamos normalmente para enfrentar un texto filosofico.
The closest treatise I know to A Vexing Gadfly is Jergen Bukdahl's Soren Kierkegaard and the Common Man--an important and relevant study Perez-Alvarez hardly notices.
Drawing on the work of Martin Heidegger and Soren Kierkegaard, Austin and Callen (2008) examine a particular threat to human experience and civil society that emerges out of ever increasing technological development.
Bernard Stiegler, and further Augustme-mfluenced work by Soren Kierkegaard and Jean-Francois Lyotard.
Danimarkali filozof Soren Kierkegaard, kuskusuz feminist bir bakis acisiyla incelenecek en problematik isimlerden birisi olarak karsimiza cikar.
THE MYTHICAL STORY OF THE energetic seducer Don Juan fascinated Europe for three centuries, stirring thinkers such as Soren Kierkegaard and Albert Camus to pen reflections on his character.
Though she works from a home library lined with tomes by Albert Camus, Soren Kierkegaard and Immanuel Kant, [Patricia Anne Murphy, who has a PhD in philosophy] takes clients outside for brisk strolls through her leafy neighborhood because Kant believed that walking helped thinking and was soothing for the soul.