May be the ability to think through abstract ideas it sets us apart from the rest of the animals and allows us to act very intelligently, but it also puts us in a vulnerable position. Being aware of ourselves leads us to confront existential questions with no clear answer, and this uncertainty is capable of leaving us still, trapped in our own lives without knowing what to do.
Søren Kierkegaard’s thought is an attempt to provide a philosophical framework for addressing questions such as “who am I?” “What is your goal in life?” or “what should I do?”. It is a form of philosophy that emphasizes human subjectivity.
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of Kierkegaard’s existentialist theory.
Who was Søren Kierkegaard?
The philosopher Søren Kierkegaard was born in Copenhagen on May 5, 1813 into a wealthy family. He studied theology in his hometown and also studied philosophy, an area to which he ended up devoting his life.
Melancholy was one of the elements that marked the story of Søren Kierkegaard, a very emotional person who, in turn, imbued his philosophy with this characteristic. In turn, he severely criticized both the Church and Hegelian philosophy, hegemonic in Europe for much of the 19th century, as this one spoke of absolutes and set aside subjectivity.
Kierkegaard died in Copenhagen in 1855 after suffering a seizure and spending several weeks in hospital.
Kierkegaard’s existentialist theory
Below we will see what were the most notable aspects of Kierkegaard’s philosophy, in its most existentialist facet.
1. Freedom of choice defines life
Kierkegaard believed that life is all about choosing. It is through elections that we develop our existence, the one who talks about who we are and what stories we left behind.
2. Elections are inevitable
We do what we do, we must constantly decide, because doing nothing is also an option we have chosen when we are faced with a crossroads of possible actions to be taken.
3. Morality is also part of freedom
Decisions are not limited to observable actions; there are also some who they have a marked moral character. That is why we have to choose between what is right and what makes us happy.
However, for Søren Kierkegaard, the conditions under which we choose depend solely on us, and not on anyone or the context. Everything is our responsibility, because for this philosopher we have to assume that we have chosen from zero.
The above implies, for example, that neither our past nor the history of our family or our neighborhood influences it.
4. Anxiety fills us up
As we constantly switch from one choice to another, we experience varying degrees of anxiety. We would rather live without having to constantly choose, and the past times, which we see through the illusion that they were not based on decisions, seem more appealing to us than the present.
We constantly feel the weight of freedom, which makes it we feel an existential vertigo faced with the idea that nothing separates us from the void. Uncertainty gives us the impression that anything can be ruined.
Criticisms of Kierkegaard’s philosophy
The ideas of this Danish thinker are not without criticism. For example, it is common accusing Kierkegaard of being too individualisticAs he starts from the philosophical questions that have to do with the single person and not with the person in society. It is as if the outside world does not exist and social phenomena have a negligible impact on our lives.
On the other hand, it is also criticized for not taking history into account, which makes a culture whatever it is. In this way, it shows that the decisions depend on one of them, and that neither our past nor the past of our family line influences any of this. This is something that existentialists later tried to correct in order to break away from this individualism, the price of adopting a philosophy centered on the subjective.