Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Books read recently.
Best books read.
Harry Potter books.
No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life, Part I
by Robert Solomon. Lectures:
- What is Existentialism?
- Albert Camus, The Stranger, Part I.
- Camus, The Stranger, Part II.
- Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus.
- Camus, The Plague and The Fall.
- Camus, The Fall, Part II.
- Soren Kierkegaard, "On Becoming a Christian".
- Kierkegaard on Subjective Truth.
- Kierkegaard's Existential Dialectic.
- Friedrich Nietzsche on Nihilism and the Death of God.
- Nietzsche, the "Immortal".
- Nietzsche on Freedom, Fate, and Responsibility.
No Excuses: Existentialism and the Meaning of Life, Part II
by Robert Solomon.
Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, Part I
by David Zarefsky. Lectures:
- Introducing Argumentation and Rhetoric.
- History of Argumentation Studies.
- Formal and Informal Argument.
- The Emergence of Controversy.
- Resolutions and Issues.
- Stasis — The Focal Point of Dispute.
- Presumption and Burden of Proof.
- Argument Analysis and Diagramming.
- Claims and Evidence.
- Reasoning from Parts to Whole.
- Reasoning from Cause to Effect.
- Establishing Correlations.
Argumentation: The Study of Effective Reasoning, Part II
by David Zarefsky.
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855)
Kierkegaard in 90 Minutes (1997) by Paul Strathern
While much of Paul Strathern's
Kierkegaard in 90 Minutes
is about Kierkegaard's writings, about half is concerned with his personal life (his family,
his friends, his health, etc).
The tone is relatively light-hearted.
- Introduction (9 pp.). Includes:
- "Existentialism' core philosophy —
'the problem of existence' —
was considered very much a problem of the twentieth century, with its characteristic
alienation, angst, absurdity, and preoccupation with similar buzzwords.
But all this derives directly from Kierkegaard, who was born
almost a century before Sartre.
Kierkegaard ... brought about a long-overdue reexamination of one of the first
philosophical questions ever to be asked: 'What is existence?'"
- "Kant constructed a grandiose mansion in the form of an all-embracing philosophical
system based on reason, which accommodated the subjective 'I' in magisterial splendor.
Kant was followed by Hegel, who built an even more grandiose all-embracing system based
on the notion 'All that is rational is real, and all that is real is rational.'
But somehow both Kant and Hegel had lost sight of the original question.
Their systems gave no satisfactory answer to the subjective question: 'What is existence?'
A rational system presupposes a rational world.
It is merely reason's answers to reason's questions.
The subjective 'I' lies beyond reason and is not entirely a part of the world.
Kierkegaard understood this.
The answer didn't lie in constructing a perfect system which explained everything.
There was a more fundamental problem which prompted questions such as
What is existence?
What does it mean to exist?
It was Kierkegaard who set himself the task of answering these questions"
- Kierkegaard's life and work (56 pp.). Includes:
- "Despair ...
only answer was to take full possession of one's own existence and accept responsibility for it.
... Self-creation by conscious choice".
- "It is necessary to suspend our ethical standards so that we can transcend then
and fulfill a deeper purpose.
... true faith (the requirement of the religious stage)
involves divine purpose, which supersedes all mere ethical demands."
- "For Kierkegaard, existence was all that was left after everything else had been analyzed away.
It was simply 'there'. (Kierkegaard compared it to a frog that you discover at the bottom of your beer mug
when you've finished your beer.)"
- "Kierkegaard's belief in the superiority of subjective truth (to objective truth) caused him to doubt
Hume's view concerning the primacy of fact. Kierkegaard rightly sees that even so-called facts
can be determined by our attitude."
- Kierkegaard is the first writer to use (1844) "the word existentialist —
in its Danish form Existensforhold ('condition of existence, existential relation')."
- Afterword (3 pp.).
- Initially forgotten, "Kierkegaard's ideas were developed [in the early 20th century] by Husserl, the founder
of phenomenology, ... [and] by Husserl's pupil and fellow German,
- Both Husserl and
Heidegger refused to be called existentialists,
rejecting this tag on the grounds that it limited and trivialized the scope of their philosophy.
Sartre, who had no qualms about his philosophy being limited or trivial, was the first to call himself
an existentialist, in the early 1940s."
- From Kierkegaard's writing (8 pp.), including:
- "The purpose of my life would seem to be to express the truth as I discover it,
but in such a manner that it is completely devoid of authority. By having no
authority, by being seen by all as utterly unreliable, I express the truth
and put everyone in a contradictory position where they can only save themselves by making the
truth their own."
- "At each forward step philosophy sloughs a skin, and these then become
inhabited by useless hangers on.
- "If Hegel had completed his logic, and then said in the preface that the entire thing
was merely an experiment in thought, where he had even made a number of unwarranted assumptions,
then he would definitely have been the greatest thinker of all time.
As it is, he is merely a joke."
- "When we consider the truth in a subjective manner, our thought is concentrated
subjectively on the nature of our relationship (i.e., not on that to which it is related).
If this relationship itself is a true one, we subjectively know the truth,
even if the actual object of this relationship is untrue.
... Subjectivity, inwardness, is the truth — this is my thesis."
[Concluding Unscientific Postscript].
- "If science had been as developed in Socrates' time as it is now, the sophists
and those who professed to teach philosophy would have been scientists.
They would have hung microscopes outside their door to attract business,
and would have put up signs proclaiming:
'Learn and see through a powerful microscope how humanity thinks.'
(And on reading this advertisement, Socrates would have remarked:
'That is just how men who do not think behave.')"
- "Faith is an absurdity.
... The absurd is the object of faith, and the only object that can be believed."
[Concluding Unscientific Postscript].
- Chronology of Significant Philosophical Dates (4 pp.) from 6th century BCE ("The beginnings of Western
philosophy with Thales of Miletus")
to 1953 ("Posthumous publication of Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations.
High era of linguistic analysis.").
- Chronology of Kierkegaard's Life (2 pp.) from 1813 (born May 5th in Copenhagen)
to 1855 ("Dies November 11").
- Chronology of Kierkegaard's Era (2 pp.) from 1813 ("Danish state bankruptcy causes widespread ruin
(evaded by Kierkegaard senior, who has his savings in gilt-edged securities")
to 1853-1856 (Crimean War).
- Recommended Reading (1 pp.): five books (by Bretall, Gardiner, Gouwens, Kirmmse, and Poole).
- Index (2 pp.) to people and Kierkegaard's works:
- The Concept of Dread. [angst]
- Concluding Unscientific Postscript.
- "Diary of a Seducer".
- Either/Or: A Fragment of Life.
- Fear and Trembling.
- Philosophical Fragments.
- Selected Aphorisms.
- Sickness Unto Death.