søren Kierkegaardquotes

1813 - 1855

Illustration of Søren KierkegaardA heavy melancholy hung over Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard’s (1813-1855) life that is said to have been inherited from his gloomy and guilt-ridden father. They believed a curse hung over the family because his now successful father had cursed God when he was a young, poor shepherd. Out of Kierkegaard’s six siblings, only one other besides himself survived past the age of 34, which seemed to offer proof of God’s punishment.

If he inherited his father’s guilt, he inherited his wealth as well and that enabled Kierkegaard to live as a freelance writer. Initially, Kierkegaard entered the University of Copenhagen to study theology but switched to philosophy. His primary interest was asking how life ought to be lived, particularly as a Christian, and he said that his writing was on the whole religious.

His first work of importance, Either/Or, considered two spheres of existence that man chooses to live within, either the aesthetic or the ethical. Later, in Fear and Trembling, he offers a third sphere, namely, the religious. In his works, philosophers have identified the beginnings of existentialism and have considered Kierkegaard the father of that movement.

Colliding often with the Church of Denmark, Kierkegaard felt that Christianity had been lost in Christendom and needed to be reintroduced (Training in Christianity). Before his death in 1855, he had written numerous short pieces attacking the church as counterfeit. Kierkegaard never married, but a broken engagement haunted him for life. He dedicated all of his works to his beloved, Regine Olsen.