What did Soren Kierkegaard deem his main vocation in life?

Kierkegaard felt his main vocation was "to reintroduce Christianity into Christendom." For him, Christianity was a way of existing. He thought that only humans existed, because they have "internal reality," in contrast to God, who has "external reality." Faith for him was an inward leap in answer to one burning question about God.

Why did Soren Kierkegaard believe Friedrich Hegel did not write to him?

First of all, Kierkegaard did not take seriously Friedrich Hegel's (1770-1831) claim to have written the system of everything. Kierkegaard thought that everything could be viewed as a system by God, but that no human thinker, who is himself incomplete, could have such a perspective. He also rejected the tradition on which Hegel built that posits intellectual doubt as the beginning of philosophy. Kierkegaard thought that the beginning of philosophy was wonder. Also, he didn't think that real doubt could be solved intellectually, but that it required an act of will. Finally, Kierkegaard did not think that God or the Absolute could be imminent in the world, because God is instead the ultimate "Other," defying rational understanding.

Kierkegaard's biggest complaint about Hegel was that he was like a man who had built a palace but lived outside it in a miserable hovel. He meant by this that in constructing his grand and elaborate system, Hegel had neglected his own immediate existence as a concrete individual.

What was Soren Kierkegaard's burning question?

For Kierkegaard, the most important question was whether there was a God, and thereby an afterlife. He did not think that question could be answered by any marshalling of the appropriate facts or through an intellectual process of any kind. It was a rational question, but there was no answer to it. The only acceptable answer was an actual leap of faith within and by the individual. Furthermore, insofar as the facts of the world rendered the possibility of God and an afterlife absurd, this absurdity itself is a test of faith. The more absurd something seems to be, the greater the faith necessary to believe it. Kierkegaard thought that great faith was the key to being a Christian. To this end, he deployed the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. God commands Abraham to take Isaac up a mountain and then sacrifice him. This act is pathological in ordinary terms, but in religious terms, for Kierkegaard, it is the quintessential example of a leap of faith.

What were Soren Kierkegaard's "stages of life's way"?

Kierkegaard claimed that faith required choices in self-development through three "stages on life's way." Each stage is a different viewpoint on life. First, there is the aesthetic life, lived in the moment, dedicated to the satisfaction of desire, and, in its refined form, to the appreciation of the arts. Lacking in this life is commitment. Commitment is found in the second stage in the ethical life, which seeks a unified self over time. The third stage is the religious life.

Was Kierkegaard "cursed"?

Kierkegaard had a self-fulfilling way of being cursed. There was not only the matter of Regine Olson—after he broke off his engagement, he spent the rest of his life tormented by her loss. There was also the "Corsair Affair" of 1845 to 1846, when, after an unfavorable review, he wrote the following in "Dialectical Result of a Literary Police Action":

With a paper like The Corsair, which hitherto has been read by many and all kinds of people and essentially has enjoyed the recognition of being ignored, despised, and never answered, the only thing to be done in writing in order to express the literary, moral order of things— reflected in the inversion that this paper with meager competence and extreme effort has sought to bring about—was for someone immortalized and praised in this paper to make application to be abused by the same paper.... May I ask to be abused—the personal injury of being immortalized by The Corsair is just too much.

And abused he was, in a campaign so bitingly satiric and mocking of all his personal weaknesses and defects—he was short and frail, and had been born with a hump on his back—that he described himself as apprehensive of everyone with whom he came into contact, "even the butcher boy." This was not self-indulgent paranoia because Kierkegaard experienced the modern phenomenon of a celebrity degraded by the gutter press everywhere he walked in Copenhagen. It was a catastrophe for him because walking and talking to people in all stations of life had been his principal diversion.

Was there only one kind of religious life for Soren Kierkegaard?

No, Kierkegaard distinguished between two. In the first, the individual relates to God, using his idea of God to deal with guilt. In the second, there is a "teleological suspension of the ethical," as in the story of Abraham and Isaac. The implication of this transcendence of the ethical is that real religion is higher and more important than what is accepted as goodness in society.

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