Søren Kierkegaard

Oxford Bibliographies Online (2013)
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Abstract

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (b. 1813–d. 1855) left behind an extraordinary body of work that has had a major impact on European philosophy, and that continues to inform major debates within analytic philosophy as well. Utterly distinctive and often dazzling, Kierkegaard’s writings typically confront the reader with an enigmatic interplay between seriousness and jest and they bristle with original ideas. The range and sheer volume of these writings is difficult to take in: the output published in Kierkegaard’s lifetime alone extends to over seventy books and articles and he left besides a voluminous collection of drafts, notes, and journals. Often billed as the “father of existentialism,” Kierkegaard’s influence is in evidence not least in the work of Heidegger, Adorno, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty (but Heidegger, for one, was notoriously slow to acknowledge the debt). His work was also studied seriously by Wittgenstein, who learnt Danish for the task and went so far as to rank Kierkegaard first among 19th-century thinkers. The most obvious arena of his on-going influence is the philosophy of religion, where his work continues to inform debates around such central topics as the problem of evil, the role of evidence in religious belief and the phenomenology of religious experience. But in other areas of philosophy, too, Kierkegaard’s work has been fruitfully brought to bear; on topics such as the nature of selfhood and subjectivity, love and friendship, death and mourning, the role of literature in moral philosophy and the limits of language and thought. While his writings notably tend to cut across academic subject-divisions (and have certainly made their mark on other disciplines, too), this bibliographical entry aims to provide a guide to Kierkegaard’s reception by philosophers.

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Daniel Watts
University of Essex

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