Edited by Marilyn Gaye Piety (Drexel University)
|Summary||Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is generally considered to be the father of existentialism. Kierkegaard’s father, a wealthy retired merchant, was a Pietist and hence encouraged his sons Peter Christian and Søren Aabye to study theology at the University of Copenhagen. Kierkegaard received the degree of Magister Artium in 1840, though by that time his interest has shifted from theology to philosophy. He had hoped to receive an academic position in philosophy, but those hopes were never realized. He was closely tied, however, to academic circles, and was, in fact, one of the leading intellectuals of what has come to be known as the Danish “Golden Age.” Kierkegaard was primarily a polemical writer whose works were often responses to the works of contemporaries such at Hans Lassen Martensen and Johann Ludvig Heiberg. He wrote on a broad range of topics from aesthetics to psychology and employed a variety of literary styles from the novel (e.g. Repetition) to more traditional academic treatises (e.g., The Concept of Anxiety). His mature interest was in delineating the relation between Christianity and philosophy with an emphasis on precisely what was involved both cognitively and practically in being Christian. Kierkegaard is thought by many to have coined the expression “leap of faith.” In fact, this expression comes from Lessing and is used by Kierkegaard only ironically.|
|Key works||The two works most central to Kierkegaard’s thought are Philosophical Crumbs (Kierkegaard & Mooney 2009) and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs (Kierkegaard 2009), though his most famous work is undoubtedly Fear and Trembling (Kierkegaard 2006). Philosophical Crumbs introduces the distinction between what Kierkegaard’s pseudonym Johannes Climacus presents as the traditional philosophical account of the relation of the individual to the truth and the account of this relation given by Christianity. The Postscript looks in detail about what it means to become a Christian. Approximately half of Kierkegaard’s works, including those just mentioned, were published under pseudonyms. Among the works published under Kierkegaard’s own name, the most important are arguably Works of Love (Kierkegaard 1998), and Training in Christianity (Kierkegaard 2004).|
|Introductions||Introductory articles: Michelle Kosch, "Kierkegaard" (Kosch 2015) and Piety, "Kierkegaard on Rationality" (Piety 1993). Book length introductory works: C. Stephen Evans’s Kierkegaard: An Introduction (Evans 2009); Alastair Hannay’s Kierkegaard (Hannay 1982); Gregor Malantschuk’s The Controversial Kierkegaard (Malantschuk 1980), and David F. Swenson’s Something About Kierkegaard (Swenson 1945).|
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