This May, the OUP Philosophy team are honouring Kierkegaard as the inaugural ‘Philosopher of the Month’. Over the next year, in order to commemorate the countless philosophers who have shaped our world by exploring life’s fundamental questions, the OUP Philosophy team will celebrate a different philosopher every month in their new Philosopher of the Month series.
Søren Kierkegaard (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, and the father of existentialism. At the age of 17, Kierkegaard enrolled at the University of Copenhagen where he was awarded a degree in theology. He is widely known today for his critiques of Hegel and the Lutheran state church. Kierkegaard believed Hegelianism attempted to put man in the place of God and ignore that human judgment is subjective. He rejected collective thinking and stressed the importance of the individual’s religious experience. Although little attention was paid to his work until the late 19th century, Kierkegaard’s preoccupation with the self and existence made him immensely popular in the 20th century. By affirming that one can only know God through a ‘leap of faith’ and not through doctrine, Kierkegaard is considered by many as the father of modern existentialism. His major works include Enten-eller (1843, translated as Either/Or: A Fragment of Life, 1944), Afsluttende Uvidenskabelig Efterskrift (1846, translated as Concluding Unscientific Postscript, 1941), and Sygdomen Til Døden (1849, translated as The Sickness unto Death, 1941). You can learn more about Kierkegaard’s life and major works in the timeline below:
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Featured image credit: Copenhagen, by vic xia. CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0 via Flickr.