The Existential Cowboy

Recommended Reading: Kierkegaard: A Very Short Introduction.

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Søren Kierkegaard (1813 - 1855) ~ Short Biography

The existential cowboy. Pioneer in the Wild West of Self, he saddled up his thoughts and ran to ground with those thoughts re-emerging in the works of Nietzsche, of Husserl, of Heigegger and of Jaspers and, most famousy, of Sartre.

Make no mistake: he was the true ancestor of the existentialistic movement. This Danish writer was the author of (1843; Either / Or), Frygt og Bavern (1843; Fear and Trembling), Stadier paa Livets Vej (1845; Stages of Life's Way, Afstune unviensakabelig Efterskrift (1846; Concluding Unscientific Postscript, Sygdommen til Doden (1849; The Sickness Until Death), and other texts which have become the scriptures of the movement.

Kierkegaard, a strong antirationlist, reacted against the philisophy of Hegel, which he apparently didn't know thoroughly. He opposed its logic of resolving contrarieties through a dialectical method tending toward systematization.

Kierkegaard knew far more about Christianity than he knew about Hegel, for he was brought up under the sternly religious influence of a father who had felt guilty about God since childhood. Søren Kierkegaard opposed orthodox and organized Christianity. He posited the remoteness of God and stressed the need of man to recognize himself through his individuality. Man must make decisions on his own: no immediate element in his world can help him. All is reduced to the self and its responsibilty for action.

Source: Twentieth Century French Literature

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