Kierkegaard, Søren

Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) was a Danish theologian, social critic, and philosopher, Kierkegaard is viewed by many as the most important existentialist philosopher. His work dealt largely with the idea of the single individual. His thinking tended to prioritize concrete reality over abstract thought. Within this construct, he viewed personal choice and commitment as preeminent. This orientation played a major part in his theology as well. He focused on the importance of the individual’s subjective relationship with God, and his work addressed the themes of faith, Christian love, and human emotion. Because Kierkegaard’s work was at first only available in Danish, it was only after his work was translated that his ideas proliferated widely throughout Western Europe. This proliferation was a major force in helping existentialism take root in the 20th c.

Kierkegaard’s key contributions

  • Explored the idea of objective vs. subjective truths, and argued that theological assertions were inherently subjective and arbitrary because they could not be verified or invalidated by science;
  • Was highly critical of the entanglement between State and Church;
  • First described the concept of angst, defining it as a dread the comes from anxieties over choice, freedom, and ambiguous feelings.

Kierkegaard’s Key Work

  • The Concept of Dread (1844)
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