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Existentialism: Soren Kierkegaard

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Greg Joseph

on 15 September 2012

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Transcript of Existentialism: Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard: (b.1813 d.1855) Philosophico-Religous Development of Man His existential critique consists in demonstrating how the life and work of a philosopher contradict each other. This position becomes highly relevant to his life development as a philosopher, writer, and theologian. Kierkegaards Life Development Choices "Subjectivsm" and "The Single Individual" ... "Inverted Dialectic" and "Faith" What fundamental concepts did Kierkegaard create that would designate a new category in philosophical discourse?
Is existentialism a philosophical position or a cultural movement that highlights social commentary about being unattached?
What are we separating from and for what purpose ? Through the course of this presentation we will explore these concepts to better understand Kierkegaard's critique on the individual: In what ways does Kierkegaard designate priority to the concrete human reality over an abstraction? The Existentialist "Choice" - Subjective Model Gives Birth to a Strong Libertarian View of Free Will "Alienation"| "Dis-relationship" "Pain of Despair" | "Withdrawal" His tactic in undermining Hegelianism was to produce an elaborate parody of Hegel's entire systems (Either/Or)
Inverted Hegalian dialectic with the the end goal of leading readers away from knowledge
It is here that we recognize his passion for satire and ultimately parody of Hegel's work
Shift: "objective conditions" of the material world in their manifold aspects to the "subjective experience" ---> Subjectivity is Sorens contribution to this movement
Hegels System ----> Pattern of Synthesizing external and internal human attributes
Parody of Hegelianism to Create Positive Christian Discourses GOD "The Concept of Anxiety"
"Concluding Unscientific Postscript"
"Either/Or"
"Fear and Trembling"
"Journals and Papers"
Philosophical Fragments"
"Sickness Unto Death"
"Training in Christianity"
"Works of Love"
[Cont'd..]

Each of these discourses is intended to renew Christian Faith within Christendom. In some way or another he presents key biblical figures and their modern relevance in church politics. Kierkegaard's Works God and Sense of Individualism (Distance from events) Faith, Simultan. Reflect on the Self "So, Kierkegaard only Gave God, the power to offer humanity grace in ONES RELIGIOUS MINDSET. And at each stage, the individual must choose willingly to move and make a leap of faith"(Mosley, 120)".

SN: This preservation of the individual and detachment from this ethical system still heavily asserts dualism and in no way should be confused with the same prescription detachment in Buddhist philosophy.


Faith is the most significant individual subjective passion according to Kierkegaard. And only on the basis of faith [repetition of faith becomes a medium] re-instates a commitment to the self. Again, faith is the necessary condition for spiritual self- discovery.

Basic convictions of Kierkegaard:
Sin is no only a realization of the distance that separates man from himself, it is at the same time consciousness of the distance that separates man from God. Strain of Luther Pietism - Why Faith is Ones Chance at A True Self Against Hegel: Kierkegaard argues that truth dwells in the innermost parts of man and you do not go outside your self. If your are far from yourself you cannot draw near to God. This notion of descending into the self is consistent with Kierkegaards theme of the subjective experience yet the dualism is accessed in a different way than what has been traditionally argued in a platonic model.


TRUTH IS SUBJECTIVITY. TRUTH MUST CONCERN THE SELF AS IT IS AND ALSO WHAT IT HOPES TO ACHIEVE. Enthusiasm is replaced by a persisting low level of discouragement and thus Human relations are situated in a satisfactory orientation for reasons that no one understands.
Describing oppressive structures is not an adequate understanding of alienation and they should be distinguished as such: Oppression restricts freedoms and rights where as alienation attacks ones personality
Similarly, unhappiness does not provide and exclusive designation of self alienation or symptoms of alienation A person becomes alienated when bitterness extends from loss so that it "corrodes their soul", giving up living life in a "thoughtful and purposeful way", taking what comes and goes, with few complaints and little joy. CONDITIONS OF ALIENATION: (Just Being OK but Not Good) 1. Marx's 4 conditions of "Alienated Labor", where the worker is separated from the work process and its product. Further, the Marxian tradition is referenced in "Capital" which claims that capitalism confuses us about our power to change the social system

2. Additional commentary by existentialists on social conditions is one where a subjective experience begets alienation. The claims presented here are that the human experience can be empty, without meaning or direction, and about human beings that who are aimless, depressed or, unhappy. (Schmitt)

So, Estrangement is a matter of feeling. We feel alienated from someone , we say , because we no longer trust a former friend and we close off from people.

" A negative social result is that alienation allows for unsure notions of self, which then leaves people to depend on expert advise on how to be happy or satisfied. In dissatisfaction, we have learned to commodity ourselves so that we can reproduce the image of living the good life with tangible goods and consumerism." (Schmitt)

Does anyone agree with this? Discussions of Alienation tend to be Directed in two orientations with respect to Kierkegaard and Karl Marx: 1960s - Often associated with select groups of rebels that part take in demonstrations to actively show contempt for society an all efforts to correct it or improve it.

This is not to be confused with nihilists dissafiliates but a productive dissatisfaction where people opt out of society and assert their reasons for discontent and the kinds of values from which they wish to withdraw from.

I.e. There is a big difference between opting out of the real world and social systems through use of marijuana or LSD as a means of personal revolution from Kierkegaards notion of detachment

"Hip American Existentialism" vs. Heideggars "Square Existentialists"
Share disdain for systematization but value directed to different ends. On Rebels and Hipster Existentialism - Norman Mailer " For Kierkegaard , existence mean realizing yourself through your choices: the individual separating himself from sensuous pleasures (the aesthetic Life) then from the crowd and commonality of universal ethics (the ethical life), to face God alone. His commitment was to truth, freewill, and individualism that accentuates the removal of the self from the community; situated against the background of the world, others, ethical systems, religion and God

Brand of Existentialism is for the aim of educating the spiritual self:
1. Self discovery shold be the aim of education
2. Doing more than learning the truth but living the truth
3. Existence is a task that needs to be finished therefore man discovers for himself the importance of a God-Relationship
4. More than intellect it is the sense of freedom that needs to be cultivated
5. Becoming a seeker of truth.

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