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Soren Kierkegaard
BY Felipe Alarcn


Historical and Personal Background . 3
Kierkegaard philosophy analysis.5
Famous saying5
Three main work synopsis. 6
Kierkegaard's philosophy applied to current events. 6
Work cited. 7

Historical background
Soren Kierkegaard was born on May 5, 1813 in Copenhagen. He was the youngest child
of seven, born to parents of Jutlandish descent. Soren Kierkegaard lived the majority of
his life alone. He left his native city, Copenhagen, only three time, each time to visit
Berlin, and never married, though he was engaged for a short time. Despite his solitary
existence, Kierkegaards writings are some of the most passionate and controversial in
all of philosophy. He is sometimes called a poet-philosopher in honor of both his
passion and his highly literary experiments in style and form. Kierkegaard is known for
his critiques of Hegel, because his passionate analysis of the Christian faith, and for
being an early precursor to the existentialists. Kierkegaard was born in 1813, the year
Denmark went bankrupt. Although Kierkegaards father had personally managed to
escape financial ruin, Denmark as a nation struggled for much of the early to mid-
1800s. The people put increasing pressure on the monarchs to institute a democracy,
and a free constitution was finally established in 1848. The changes leading up to the
governmental restructuring resulted in an explosion of wealth and learning and afforded
citizens like Kierkegaard the leisure and environment necessary to pursue a life of
writing and thinking. However, democratization also helped inspire one of
Kierkegaards most enduring philosophical themes: freedom could actually lead to fear.
While the new religious and social freedoms available in Denmark brought many
positive changes, they also had psychological repercussions that deeply concerned
Kierkegaard. He felt that having the freedom to choose inevitably involved feeling
anxiety over which path to choose, even as it simultaneously inspired joy. Kierkegaard
also worried that too many people wasted that freedom by blindly following public
opinion. Kierkegaard was born onto a wealthy and respected family. His mother was an
unassuming figure: quiet, plain, and not formally educated. Kierkegaards father, on the
other hand, was miserable, anxious, religious, and very intelligent. Kierkegaards father
believed that a youthful denunciation of God had brought a curse upon his family and
that all his children would die before the age of thirty-four (a fate that only Soren and
his brother Peter escaped). Kierkegaard ended up inheriting a great deal of his own
intellectual and psychological character from his father. In 1830, he enrolled at
Copenhagen University and began to study theology, due to his fathers wishes. He
didnt take his theological studies very seriously, though he was reading a great deal of
literature and philosophy. Kierkegaard was highly social during this period, attending
dinners, concerts, and the theater, and becoming well known for his wit and good
humor. When his father died in 1838, however, Kierkegaard settled down and devoted
himself to the study of theology. Kierkegaard received his doctoral degree in theology
in 1840. He had inherited a large amount of money from his father, and as a rich,
accomplished, young man, Kierkegaard was considered one of Copenhagens most
eligible bachelors. He became engaged to the beautiful Regine Olsen, the seventeen-
year-old daughter of a politician, but later broke their engagement. Despite their deep
love for one another, Kierkegaard apparently believed that his life as a thinker made
him unsuitable for marriage, particularly to a young, inexperienced girl. Kierkegaard
had strong feelings for Olsen throughout his life, despite her having married another
man and leaving Copenhagen with him. His relationship with Olsenlike his
relationship with his fatheris a major biographical influence on his philosophical
work. After breaking his engagement with Olsen, Kierkegaard retired to a solitary life
of writing, publishing a extraordinary amount of work over the next few years.
Kierkegaard published his first major book, Either/Or, in 1843 and his last, The
Changelessness of God, in 1855, the year of his death. Between these two books,
Kierkegaard produced over 30 volumes of philosophy, theology, and criticism. In
addition, Kierkegaard is often noted as being the father of existentialism, though his
work long predates the term itself. Kierkegaard rejected Hegels historical dialectic,
which Kierkegaard felt was overly systematic and deterministic. Kierkegaard was
heavily influenced by the ancient Greek philosophers Plato and Socrates and by the
rhetorical methods they adopted to convey their arguments. Socrates believed that the
knowledge of most experts and wise men was based on poor reasoning. To expose
these misconceptions, Socrates would pretend not to understand them, forcing these
wise men to explain and examine their own beliefs. Often, when applying this tactic,
Socrates would find that these people had simply adopted the dogma from earlier
generations without properly questioning this received wisdom. In this way, Socrates
highlighted the discrepancy between the appearance of possessing wisdom and actually
possessing it. In his texts, Plato often employed dialogues, wherein various characters
would debate all sides of an issue, often not coming to a coherent conclusion. The
purpose of Platos dialogues was much the same as Socrates method of persistent
questioning: to get readers or listeners to consider the issue for themselves. Instead of
claiming to know the answers, Plato and Socrates sought to find the proper questions.
Kierkegaard employed similar tactics in his writing. He didnt believe he had all the
answers, but he wanted to engage and provoke his readers so that they, in turn, would
seek answers for themselves. Kierkegaard employed satire, parody, and irony in his
writing as well as techniques that disoriented and potentially confused readers.
Kierkegaard wanted his readers to question his authority as much as anyone elses.
Kierkegaard's philosophy analysis:

Existentialism is a term applied to the work of certain late 19th- and 20th-century
philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that
philosophical thinking begins with the human subjectnot merely the thinking subject,
but the acting, feeling, living human individual. In existentialism, the individual's
starting point is characterized by what has been called "the existential attitude", or a
sense of disorientation and confusion in the face of an apparently meaningless or absurd
world. Many existentialists have also regarded traditional systematic or academic
philosophies, in both style and content, as too abstract and remote from concrete human
experience. Soren Kierkegaard is generally considered to have been the first
existentialist philosopher, though he did not use the term existentialism. He proposed
that each individualnot society or religionis solely responsible for giving meaning
to life and living it passionately and sincerely ("authentically").Existentialism became
popular in the years following World War II, and strongly influenced many disciplines
besides philosophy, including theology, drama, art, literature, and psychology.
Famous saying:
"Leap of Faith"
Leap of Faith: A leap of faith, in its most commonly used meaning, is the act of
believing in something without, or in spite of, available empirical evidence. It is an act
commonly associated with religious belief as many religions consider faith to be an
essential element of piety. Kierkegaard's point is that no matter how accurate your
logical system, there will always be gaps. As these gaps are logical gaps, it is pointless
to try and associate them. Instead, they can only be breached by a leap of faith. What
characterizes a leap of faith is the absolute uncertainty that underlies it. Faith is by
definition that which cannot be proven or disproved. That is why a leap of faith is
undertaken in 'fear and trembling". Kierkegaard said that making a leap of faith is
essential in order to live happily, for not having faith on anything would make us very
narrow minded and scared of everything.

Three main work synopsis:
Fear and trembling: This is one of the most recognized works of Kierkegaard. This is
definitely the most controversial and spoken publications of Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard
discusses the story from the Bible, Genesis 22:1-18, of Abraham's willingness to
sacrifice Isaac. For this deed, Abraham is normally acknowledged as the father of faith,
but in this day and age, Johannes remarks, no one is content with faith. Everyone thinks
that they can begin with faith and go further. In the "Exordium" and "Eulogy on
Abraham," Johannes suggests how incomprehensible Abraham's faith is. Abraham
didn't question God, didn't complain or weep, he didn't explain himself to anyone, he
simply obeyed God's orders. The Exordium presents us with four alternative paths that
Abraham could have taken, all of which might have rendered Abraham more
understandable, but would make him something less than the father of faith. The eulogy
asserts that there is no way we can understand Abraham, or what he did. Johannes
distinguishes between the tragic hero, who expresses the ethical, and the knight of faith,
who expresses the religious. The tragic hero gives up everything in the movement of
infinite resignation, and in so doing expresses the universal. The knight of faith also
makes the movement of infinite resignation, but he makes another movement as well,
the leap of faith, where he gets everything back by virtue of the absurd. While the tragic
hero is universally admired and wept for, no one can understand the knight of faith. In
1843 Kierkegaard published Either/Or. In this text he writes of the "aesthetic" and the
"ethical" ways of life. The aesthetic life is based in temporally situated sensory
pleasures, both intellectual and physical. The ethical life is based on moral codes, the
infinite, and the eternal. One may only enter into an ethical way of life once one
understands that an aesthetic life leads to trouble and eventually misery.

Kierkegaard`s philosophy applied to current events:
Kierkegaard has been known as the "father of existentialism". It is thanks to his major
influence as a philosopher and his philosophy that he has received, what most consider,
and honorable title. His believes and philosophy have had a great impact through
history and even now, on modern days. The "leap of faith" has been one of his most
recognized beliefs, since it is what most religions base their devotion on. It is applicable
at all times any day of the week. We all need to take a leap of faith sooner or later in our
lives, even if we do not want to, it is completely indispensable. This, and many other
believes, is what makes Kierkegaard such a major influence on philosophy.

Work cited

Sren Kierkegaard - Biography. (n.d.). Sren Kierkegaard. Retrieved May 13, 2014,

Soren Kierkegaard biography philosophy of existentialism. (n.d.). Kierkegaard
biography philosophy existentialism. Retrieved May 13, 2014, from http://www.age-of-

Sren Kierkegaard > Quotes. (n.d.). Sren Kierkegaard Quotes (Author of Fear and
Trembling). Retrieved May 14, 2014, from

Soren Kierkegaard. (n.d.). - Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Retrieved May 14,
2014, from