L5_KierkegaardSummary - PHI 310 Lecture 5: Kierkegaard....

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PHI 310 Lecture 5: Kierkegaard. Short Summary . 1. Kierkegaard (1813-1855) can rightfully be considered to be the Father of Existentialism . Kierkegaard's existentialism follows a progression from existence to a pursuit of pleasure, to a pursuit of society, and finally a pursuit of spirituality. In basic terms, the existence precedes the awareness of self. By concentrating on the individual, Kierkegaard was laying the foundation for future existentialists. 2. Kierkegaard’s philosophy, as opposed to the abstraction of Hegelian philosophy, would return us to the concreteness of existence. But he was interested in the concreteness of individual human existence (not of things in the world). I can think and say many things about myself – ‘I am a teacher, I am a woman, I prefer chocolate to vanilla.’ Yet, when I am done talking and thinking about myself, there is one thing remaining that cannot be thought – my existence , which is a ‘surd’ (an irrational residue). I cannot think it; rather, I must live it. My lived existence, according to Kierkegaard, is equated with passion, decision, and action. None of these categories can be exhausted by thought. But Kierkegaard is not saying that there is no connection between existence and thought. What kind of thought? – Not objective, but subjective thought, for which there exist no objective criteria of truth (such as values of ethical and religious claims which do not have any objective standards that could be appealed to in order to be proved). 3. The central notion of his philosophy is the individual , the self. According to Kaufmann, Kierkegaard hoped to elevate the individual to a new philosophical level. The self is a series of possibilities; every decision made redefines the individual. This concept was further developed by Sartre. The knowledge that "I" define the "self" results in "the dizziness of freedom" and "fear and trembling." It is a great responsibility to create a person, yet that is exactly what each human does -- creates a self. This self is independent from all other knowledge and "truths" defined by other individuals. For Kierkegaard, the self (individual) is essentially subjectivity, and subjectivity is constituted by the individual’s commitment to his or her subjective truths. The authentic self , for Kierkegaard, is one that ‘chooses itself’ by a form of self-reflective activity that both clarifies and creates values while assuming total responsibility for those values. Kierkegaard further stated that the highest form of subjectivity was passion . To think like an existentialist is to contemplate the self, the Creator, and the universe with passion. According to this philosophy, all objective truth is to be questioned, as the Creator is the only entity with knowledge of absolutes.
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2010 for the course PHI 310 taught by Professor Bykova during the Spring '10 term at N.C. State.

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L5_KierkegaardSummary - PHI 310 Lecture 5: Kierkegaard....

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