HIST 356: Spring 2008
May 5, 2008
On the fifth of May, 1813, Soren Aabye Kierkegaard was born in the capital of Denmark,
Soren’s father, a strict Lutheran, was a wealthy merchant whose dramatic and
guilt-ridden imagination had a profound influence on Soren.
Soren inherited his father’s
melancholy, his sense of guilt and anxiety, and his pietistic emphasis on the dour aspects of
He also inherited his father’s talents for philosophical argument and creative
Soren attended the University of Copenhagen where he studied theology and
He encountered Hegelian philosophy at the university and strongly reacted against
While attending the University of Copenhagen, Soren shed his practice of Lutheranism, and
led a self-indulgent social life becoming a well known figure in the cafe and theatrical society of
However, in 1838, after the death of his father, Soren decided to resume his
studies in theology.
In 1840, Soren became engaged to Regine Orlson, only seventeen at the time, but soon
after he began to suspect that marriage was incompatible with his complicated nature, brooding,
and his growing sense of a philosophical occupation.
In 1841, he called off the engagement, an
episode from which he never fully recovered and took on great significance for him as he
continuously alluded to it in his writings.
At this moment, Soren realized that he did not want to
become a Lutheran pastor and he decided to devote his time and energy to writing, something the
inheritance from his father allowed to pursue.
In the following fourteen years until his death,
Soren had produced more than twenty books.
William McDonald, “Soren Kierkegaard,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
. 2006 ed.
“Soren Kierkegaard,” Encarta Online Encyclopedia,