Reader's Encyclopedia

Søren Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855)

Danish philosopher. The early years of Kierkegaard 's life were dark and cheerless, his home a lonely, gloomy place. Kierkegaard published his first philosophical works under pseudonyms. In contrast to Hegel 's objective philosophy, he proposed, in such works as Stadier paa Livets Vej (Stages on Life's Way, 1845) and Gjentagelsen (Repetition, 1843), a system based on faith, knowledge, thought, and reality. In Enten Eller (Either-Or, 1843), he discusses the razor - edge decision made by man's free will, which determines his personal relation to God. In 1846 events in his private life led him to experience a deeper commitment to Christianity and to attack with new vigor orthodox, organized religion. For Kierkegaard the relation with God must be a lonely, agonizing experience of a man 's inner solitude. During his lifetime he was not recognized in Denmark as a genius, a rebel against secure bourgeois morality, he was mocked and reviled for his unorthodox views and for the strange, ungainly figure he cut on the cheerful streets of Copenhagen. The 20th century revival of Kierkegaard was initiated by the German philosophers Heidegger and Jaspers, and furthered by members of the French existentialist movement, notably Sartre and Camus.

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