Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, The Sacrifice of Isaac

Introduction to Kierkegaard: Doubt, Anxiety, and the Human Condition

Instructor: Heather Ohaneson
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

For his exploration of concepts such as subjectivity, anxiety, and absurdity, the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is frequently regarded as the father of existentialism. In this four-week course, we will undertake a rigorous introduction to Kierkegaard’s thought by focusing on four key texts, three pseudonymous and one published under Kierkegaard’s own name. As we read, we will take up questions central to Kierkegaard’s thought—and basic to the human condition: What does it mean to be a subject, an individual, a person who lives authentically? What are the risks of being human?

We will begin with The Seducer’s Diary, a famous part of Either/Othat has taken on a life of its own and illustrates an advanced but deeply problematic stage of an ‘aesthetic’ way of life. Over and against the obsessive ruminations of Johannes the Seducer stands an analysis of Christian love, which Kierkegaard works out under his own name in Works of Love. In the third week, we’ll broach the relationship between anxiety and freedom in Vigilius Haufniensis’s Concept of Anxiety. The course will culminate with a discussion of Fear and Trembling (an imaginative meditation on the Akedah, the story of the binding of Isaac in Genesis)—Kierkegaard’s masterpiece, penned by one Johannes de Silentio.  In addition to supplying an orientation to key ideas in the work of the “Melancholy Dane,” this course will provide crucial background for understanding many significant figures in twentieth-century philosophy and theology, including Martin Heidegger, Emmanuel Lévinas, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Karl Barth.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
July 14 — August 04, 2022
4 weeks


Registration Closed

Please email us to be placed on the waiting list.

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