Gerhard Richter, Drei Kerzen, 1982

Introduction to Kierkegaard: Existentialism, Faith, and Death (In-Person)

Instructor: Michael Stevenson
Goethe-Institut New York
30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Søren Kierkegaard—Hamlet’s equally melancholic Danish counterpart—is frequently regarded as the father of existentialism for his exploration of concepts such as subjectivity, anxiety, and absurdity. This course will be an introduction to the main ideas of the nineteenth-century philosopher and theologian. How did Kierkegaard—through puzzles, pseudonyms, and ruminations on mysteries—challenge and in turn influence systemic philosophy? What is the appeal of existentialism today?  

This course will explore Kierkegaard’s analysis of the “aesthetic” and “ethical” attitudes toward life—that is, the attempts to make life meaningful through artistic expression and moral commitment, respectively, as well as his claims that both are ultimately self-defeating and must necessarily end in frustration and despair. We will then consider why Kierkegaard believes these failures necessitate a “leap of faith” into the religious sphere, and also discuss his influential critique of the emptiness and conformism of modernity. Readings will be taken from his major works, including Either/Or, The Concept of Anxiety, Fear and Trembling, The Sickness Unto Death, and Present Age.

Course Schedule

Tuesday, 6:30-9:30pm ET
June 13 — July 05, 2023
4 weeks
The final class will meet Wednesday, July 5th.


Registration Open

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