Kierkegaard, Søren (Aabye)

Kierkegaard, Søren (Aabye)

biographical name


Søren Kierkegaard, drawing by Christian Kierkegaard, c. 1840; in a private collection.—Courtesy of the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs

(born May 5, 1813, Copenhagen, Den.—died Nov. 11, 1855, Copenhagen) Danish religious philosopher, regarded as the founder of existentialism. He studied theology at the University of Copenhagen. He is remembered for his critique of systematic rational philosophy, particularly Hegelianism, on the ground that actual life cannot be contained within an abstract conceptual system. With this stance, he intended to make possible an adequate consideration of faith and, accordingly, of religion—specifically Christianity. His works include Either/Or (1843), Fear and Trembling (1843), and The Sickness unto Death (1849). He insistently attacked the organized church in his later years; exhausted by the strain, he died at age 42. His work strongly influenced 20th-century Continental philosophers and theologians, including Karl Barth, Karl Jaspers, Martin Heidegger, and Martin Buber.

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