Kierkegaard is often described as the first existentialist, one of the nineteenth century precursors of a philosophical movement which, according to Sartre, “puts every man in possession of himself as he is and places the entire responsibility for his existence squarely upon his own shoulders.” (Sartre, Existentialism and Humanism, p. 29) Certainly there is much in Kierkegaard’s work to justify such an attribution: he shares with his twentieth century successors, such as Sartre, an emphasis on choice, subjectivity, despair, irony, anxiety, isolation, and a distrust of abstract philosophising, together with a literary and personal style of writing that is recognisably modern. And yet these themes are all worked out within the context of a theism which was not shared by later existentialists, but which has made him a central figure for subsequent Christian thought. Kierkegaard himself most often likened his position to that of a Christian Socrates, an heroically individual thinker faced with the struggle of faith.


Religious Context Civic Life Folk Religion Metaphysical Level Objective Uncertainty 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Stern

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