Soren Kierkegaard was a famous Danish philosopher, theologian and religious author. He was well known for his criticism of the philosophies of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel. His philosophical work generally deals with the issues of living as a “single individual” and giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking. His work in theology focuses mainly on Christian ethics and institution of the Church. It also deals with the difference between the purely objective proofs of Christianity and a subjective relationship to Jesus Christ. Kierkegaard was also interested in human psychology and his psychological work explores the emotions and the feelings of individuals when facing situations in life. His intellectuality was influenced by Socrates and the Socratic Method. Kierkegaard’s earlier works were mainly written under various pseudonymous characters, presenting their own distinctive viewpoints and interacting with each other.
Soren Kierkegaard Childhood & Early Life
Soren Kierkegaard was born on 5th May, 1813 in an affluent family in Copenhagen. His father, Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard was a stern man with an ardent imagination. His mother, Ane Sorensdatter Lund Kierkegaard was a quiet, plain lady with no formal education. In 1830, he attended the School of Civic Virtue, Ostre Borgerdyd Gymnasium. In this school, Kierkegaard studied history and Latin among other subjects. He went to the University of Copenhagen to study theology but was reluctant to study historical works and philosophy. He didn’t want to be a traditional philosopher and was also not interested in preaching Christianity. On 8th May, 1837 he met Regine Olsen and the two were instantly attracted towards each other. He formally proposed her on September 8, 1840, but following his delusions about the prospects of marriage, he broke off the engagement on August 11, 1841. It was said that the two were mad in love but Kierkegaard considered his “melancholy” made him unsuitable for marriage. Still there was no clear reason for the abrupt end of the relationship. Later, Kierkegaard started concentrating in his examinations. On September 1841, he came up with, “On the Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates”, which the university panel considered thoughtful and noteworthy. This thesis dealt with the irony and Schelling's 1841 lectures and but was taken as too informal and witty for a serious academic thesis. Kierkegaard completed his graduation from university on October 20, 1841 with a Magister Artium which is now known as Ph.D.
Later Life & Works
Kierkegaard used pseudonyms to publish some of his works, whereas in others signed his own as author. For example, his first book, “De omnibus dubitandum est” was written in between 1841-42 was written under pseudonym, “Johannes Climacus”. Unfortunately this book was published only after his death. On February 20, 1843, Kierkegaard published “Either/Or” which was written during his stay in Berlin. His next publication “Two Upbuilding Discourses, 1843” was released under his own name. On October 16, 1843 he published his three books, among which “Three Upbuilding Discourses, 1843” was the only one written under his own name. The other two books namely “Fear and Trembling” and “Repetition” were published under pseudonyms Johannes de Silentio and Constantin Constantius respectively. The same year, he published another book, “Four Upbuilding Discourses, 1843” published under his own name. The following year in 1844, he published “Two Upbuilding Discourses, 1844”, and “Three Upbuilding Discourses, 1844” using his own name. The next book to come out was “Philosophical Fragments” written under the pseudonym Johannes Climacus. His next book, “The Concept of Anxiety” was published under two pseudonyms Vigilius Haufniensis, with a Preface, by Nicolaus Notabene. In the final book of the year, “Four Upbuilding Discourses, 1844” he used his own name.
In the early 1845, he published two books, “Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions”, under his own name and “Stages on Life's Way” which was edited by Hilarius Bookbinder. Kierkegaard then took a short break in Berlin. On his return, he published all his discourses from 1843-44 together in a volume, “Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses” on May 29, 1845. Following an article from Peder Ludvig Moller, contributor and editor of ‘The Corsair’, who in his article had questioned about the coherency of the works of Kierkegaard, to which the latter responded heavily. Kierkegaard published two small articles in his response. The first piece, “The Activity of a Traveling Esthetician” was focused on insulting Moller’s integrity while in the second piece; “Dialectical Result of a Literary Police Action” Kierkegaard criticized about The Corsair’s journalistic quality and reputation. This was followed by a series of mocking attacks by The Corsair on Kierkegaard’s appearance, voice and habits. Nevetheless, this didn’t have any effect on Kierkegaard who kept his habit of writing under pseudonyms intact. On February 27, 1846 Kierkegaard published “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments”, under his first pseudonym, Johannes Climacus. His next book “Two Ages: A Literary Review”, was published under his own name.
After a gap of one year, Kierkegaard started writing again in 1847. “Edifying Discourses in Diverse Spirits” was his first work of this period and included, “Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing” and “Works of Love”. After knowing that the people were discussing about his status of Christianity upon his pseudonyms, he wrote “Concluding Unscientific Discourses” where he openly admitted to be the author of the books. In the year 1848, Kierkegaard published “Christian Discourses” under his own name and “The Crisis and a Crisis in the Life of an Actress” under the pseudonym Inter et Inter. The same year he wrote, “The Point of View of My Work as an Author” which was an autobiographical explanation of his use of pseudonyms. Unfortunately, this book couldn’t get published during his lifetime. The next year in 1849, Kierkegaard published the second edition of “Either/Or” and “The Lily of the Field and the Bird of the Air”. Later in the year, he published other books, “The Sickness Unto Death” under the pseudonym Anti-Climacus and “Three Discourses at the Communion on Fridays” under his own name. In 1850, Kierkegaard came up with “Practice in Christianity” which was published under the name Anti-Climacus. In his final years, he took a sustained, straightway attack on the Danish National Church by the help of newspaper articles published in The Fatherland (Fædrelandet) and a series of self-published pamphlets called “The Moment” (Ojeblikket).
Before publishing the tenth issue of “The Moment”, Kierkegaard collapsed on the street and was taken to hospital. After staying in hospital for over a month, he died on November 11, 1855 .He was buried in the Assistens Kirkegård in the Norrebro section of Copenhagen.