Philosophy | Special Topics in Philosophy
P470 | 3507 | Spade
Topic: Søren Kierkegaard
Dear reader, do you doubt the philosophical maxim that the inner is the outer and the
outer the inner? You don't? What? You've never given it much thought, don't understand
it, never heard of it, much less care about it? Well, lucky you—you still have that ahead
of you! Have you never worried a little just how to become yourself? No? Oh, are you in
for a treat!
For the first time in memory, the Department of Philosophy is offering an advanced
undergraduate course on Søren Kierkegaard. We'll go well beyond the standard
"package"-presentation you may have heard before (may even have heard from us).
You'll inevitably be amazed by what's really going on, surely baffled, probably
intrigued, perhaps attracted, maybe offended—possibly even outraged. But, make no
mistake, you've never seen anything like it.
Kierkegaard was a prolific writer, and we can only scratch the surface. But it will be a
deep scratch that draws blood. We'll read his Fear and Trembling, The Concept of
Anxiety and Sickness unto Death, as well as extracts from several of his other major and
lesser works, including the classic "Diary of a Seducer." Topics will include things like:
the nature of a self, how to choose how to live, the role of factual "evidence" in that
choice, time and "eternity," the relation between ethics and religion, the notion of guilt
and especially collective guilt for things you didn't personally do—and on and on!
Students will write a series of quizzes over details and factual background, two essay-
type examinations, and a full-dress term paper consisting of a philosophical commentary
on some text, or passage from a text, that we'll not be discussing in detail in class. (We'll
suggest lots of possibilities and refer you to appropriate supplementary sources.)
This is an "advanced undergraduate" class, intended as a capstone to your undergraduate
studies in philosophy at IU. Both parts of that description are important. It will be an
advanced course, and will presuppose philosophical background. Novices who are simply
attracted by cool things and lack appropriate preparation won't last two weeks. We
presuppose no special knowledge of Kierkegaard, but do assume some philosophical
training. (If in doubt about your qualifications, by all means ask.) At the same time, the
course will be an undergraduate course; it's not open to graduate students—either for
credit (on a P590 basis) or unofficially as an audit. Graduate students who try to come
anyway will be hooted and derided, and driven from the classroom with sticks and
(1) Robert Bretall, ed., A Kierkegaard Anthology.
(2) Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Hannay trans.)
(3) Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety (Thomte trans.)
(4) Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death (Hannay trans.)
Optional (Recommended) Textbook:
Alastair Hannay and Gordon Marino, ed., The Cambridge Companion to