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Søren Kierkegaard

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Sarah Nickel

on 1 October 2010

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Transcript of Søren Kierkegaard

Søren Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855) Søren Kierkegaard was a Danish philospher and writer known as "the father of existentialism"
Main Ideas Existentialism Kierkegaard considered that an individual has the right to make his own choices and is soley responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living it passionately and fully despite of of obstacles such as angst, absurdity, alienation and boredom. The Individual and Existence Came to be regarded as the first existentialist and was the first to clearly express existential questions in his philosphy. Before his time, views were mainly nihilistic (what will be will be), but Kierkegaard introduced the idea of living with passion. For Kierkegaard, there was no meaning unless passion. He came up with an idea known as levelling - the process of suppressing individuality to a point where the individual's uniqueness becomes non-existent and his or her life possesses no meaning. Nihilism Kierkegaard generally argued against levelling and its nihilist consequence, but believed that people who overcame levelling were stronger for it and one step closer to "finding true self" Three Stages of Life believed that what truly mattered was human experience, not things like facts, math and science. One of Kierkegaards major contributions to philosphy was his idea about the three stages of life: aesthetic, ethical and religious. Simplified, these are the pursuit of enjoyment, the thought of having duty to society, and the obedience to a Creator. These stages were reflections of the mental and spiritual growth of individuals. He believed that not every person would experience all three stages. Aesthetic individuals are all about experiences. These experiences include life approaches dedicated to personal gratification. These people think that life is to be enjoyed in the here and now, without regard to consequences. For individuals in the aesthetic stage, everything is relative only to themself, without greater meaning. For the aesthetic, life eventually becomes boring, they start to believe that everything just is, and this is when despair takes hold. Ethical individuals realize the despair of the aesthetics and want to find a greater meaning in life. These people develop a system by which they build relationships and make decisions. By learning about others, they learn about themselves. Religious individuals experience suffering and faith. Only at this level does one truly understand themself. According the Kierkegaard the despair experienced that leads one from one stage to another is sin. By concentrating on the individual, Kierkegaard lay down the foundation for future existentialists. The individual, the self, was everything to Kierkegaard. His opinion was that each self was independent from all other knowledge or "truths" defined by other individuals. One of the recquirements of Kierkegaards existentialism was an abandonement of Hegel's "absolute idealism." Kierkegaard regarded Hegel's work as purely aesthetic and in fact most of Kierkegaard's work was directed entirely upon criticising Hegel. Kierkegaard was a devout christian and at all times remained focussed on his religious beliefs.
However, he was very critical of the church in his time, particularily it's involvement with the government.
Kierkegaard recognized that he was faithful by choice, not out of logic. He felt that all should be responsible to God out of choice and faith, and not because of politics. The problems of boredom, anxiety and despair Kierkegaard spent most of his writing addressing what he believed were three of humanity's biggest problems - boredom, anxiety and despair. Influences Hegel - ironically, Kierkegaard's constant critique of Hegel ended up being a major influence on his writing and thinking.
Socrates Influenced Heidegger
Marcel (the first to use the term 'existentialist')
literally every existentialist out there How Kierkegaard influenced the thinking of today Boredom: When people are not entertained or stimulated, they become bored and relief from such boredom is only fleeting. Boredom is not just a nuisance, but an actual issue that we must overcome in order to be psychologically healthy. Anxiety: Anxiety can be caused by a number of things. For instance conflicts between ethics and religion and making hard choices. The tension created by these things create anxiety, and only if one escapes anxiety and boredom can one be truly happy. Despair: Despair is the result of the tension created by humans being afraid of dying, but also afraid of existing forever. Kierkegaard believed that all would die, but also that all had an immortal soul, which would live forever. Boredom and anxiety can be relieved in many ways, but despair can only be relieved with true and total faith in God. Kierkegaards opinion was that it was extremely difficult to escape despair and put full trust in faith, and yet he believed that it must be done. Kierkegaards influence is recognized in existentialism, postmodernism, nihilism and many other psychological strands. Many philosphers draw on his ideas, particularily those of despair and of the importance of individual choice. Created the foundations for christian psychology, existential psychology and therapy.
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