Scandinavian 19: Kierkegaard and Fundamentals of Existentialism

Instructor: James Massengale

Difficult writings of Danish philosopher and kind-of-poet Søren Kierkegaard constitute singular labyrinth of pseudonyms and challenging points of view. Kierkegaard is often credited with being father of existentialism. But as convinced (not necessarily convincing) Christian author, his pseudonymic works create path ofstages leading toward–but not necessarily into–Christian faith. Along way, he challenges reader to understand more deeply how to define his or her actions, and comprehensive set of patterns emerges as guide for existence. This is existentialism not as abstract philosophical concept, but as completely practical matter: how am I to live my life? is central idea behind all of Kierkegaard’s obfuscations and posturing. Exploration of how current issues–pandemic, climate change, January 6, 2021 insurrection, and Black Lives Matter movement–relate to existential crises as Kierkegaard defined term; and how one may respond creatively when faced with existential problems.