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LPHI 3044 - Kierkegaard

This seminar offers an introduction to the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55). The course will focus on Kierkegaard’s influential diagnosis of modernity. His authorship assumes that because traditional value systems and cultures have broken down, the modern individual experiences itself as fragmented and fractured just underneath the veneer of everyday life. According to his prophetic analysis of mass culture, we may feel a greater sense of freedom from the limitations of tradition, but we also find ourselves to be anxious and in despair about the choices we have to make in the absence of authoritative values. Despite this reality, Kierkegaard thinks that every human being is confronted with the existential task of “becoming a self”. Kierkegaard’s examination of this struggle for meaning takes an unusual form. His works are as literary as they are philosophical and explore uncharted philosophical terrain, such as the phenomena of boredom, despair, irony, humor, and love. Kierkegaard is sometimes called the first existentialist, since he was highly influential on figures such as Heidegger, Sartre and Camus; but by publishing many of his works under the names of fictional pseudonymous characters, and thus destabilizing his own authority as author, he is also recognized as a precursor to “postmodernists”, such as Derrida and Deleuze. The central texts of the course will be Either/Or, Repetition, Concluding Unscientific Postscript and Sickness unto Death.
Liberal Arts, Open to Non Majors
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Fall 2018
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