Sunday, August 27, 2017

A Guide to Søren Kierkegaard's Philosophy

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is a profound and somber philosopher whose poetic writings mark an important turn in the history of modern thought. 

Kierkegaard's philosophy is on the one hand a complete rejection of Hegel and on the other hand the groundwork for existentialism. Kierkegaard takes from Hegel the need for considering our own position in relation with the absolute but he denies the thought that this is a matter of objective detached rational thought. What Kierkegaard wants is a more Romantic personal contemplation that seeks a subjective truth rather than an objective one.  
Unlike later existentialists, Kierkegaard is a deeply religious philosopher and much of his philosophy engages with questions of faith. The focal point of his interest in Kierkegaard's early writings (such as Either-Or, Repetition (1843) and Stages on Life's Way (1845)) is the contrast between the religious "ethical" lifestyle and the secular "aesthetic" one. in Fear and Trembling (1843) Kierkegaard famously examines the story of Abraham's binding of Isaac as a metaphor for the contradiction between the ethical and godly decrees.

One of Kierkegaard's main targets for criticism was Hegelian philosophy and the notion of an objective science of the human spirit. in Philosophical Fragments (1844) and Concluding Unscientific Postscript) Kierkegaard asserts that Hegelian science does not leave room for Christian faith since it diminished the individual perspective that is the source of meaning and faith. Kierkegaard rejection of Hegelian objectivism and the start of subjective existentialism in which the individual is the source meaning. 

Kierkegaard wants to position the philosopher within the objective of his inquiry, examining existence from within and not as object. The problems that Kierkegaard's philosophy engages are not and cannot be purely intellectual, they must be first and foremost personal ones.