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Philosopher Kierkegaard

QUESTION: What impact did philosopher Kierkegaard have toward Existentialism?


“The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die" (A journal writing on August 1, 1835, by Philosopher Kierkegaard).

Soren Kierkegaard, (pronounced Kyer'-kuh-gohr) (1813-1855), was a Danish religious philosopher, passionate Protestant theist, and non-practicing ordained minister.

His legacy was his belief that our response to God should be one of unrestrained passion toward our beloved.
  • He perceived God and existence of life from a humanistic view emphasizing the total autonomy of man.

  • His postmodern writings did deeply affect Christians and philosophers. Many refer to him as the father of existentialism even though he did not even use the term.

  • His writings about man’s existence, individualism, personal choice, and personal responsibility were published before the existentialist movement became popular in the 20th century.

  • Kierkegaard’s influence is not only acknowledged for existentialism but also for postmodernism, nihilism, and different strands of psychology as well.

  • The majority of philosophers were atheists and continually challenged his belief in a Divine Creator. He spent most of his adult life in seclusion publishing his writing in a fierce crossfire of arguments and attacks against other philosophers and the church.

  • Philosopher Kierkegaard did not attend church, believing denominations were at fault for not teaching that God demanded individual commitment and a personal relationship and that no one could hide behind church membership for their salvation.

  • In an attempted to change Protestant rationalistic theology, he wrote and published his religious philosophy in eighteen Edifying Discourses for churches to adopt but met resistance by clergy.

  • During his later years, he began attacking Christendom. He argued that the church had become corrupt through secular and political involvement, that the Bible wasn’t to become a person‘s final authority until they authorize it to be by volitional choice, and that the individual is fully responsible for their faith in God without doctrinal influence.

  • Kierkegaard wrote several books and publications which remain in the library collection of existentialism philosophy. In 1834, he wrote Either/Or, Repetition, and Fear and Trembling. In 1844, he published Philosophical Fragments and the Concept of Anxiety, in 1845 Stages of Life‘s Way, and Concluding Unscientific Postscript in 1846.

  • Kierkegaard’s Christian philosophy may have been rejected by clergy, but he certainly influenced individual Christians who became enamored with his theology. Most notably are American theologians Paul Tillich and Lincoln Swain, and philosophers from Europe -- Karl Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel, Miguel de Unamuno -- and from Russia Nikolai Berdyaev.
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