Philosophy | Phenomenology and Existentialism
P335 | 14091 | Spade


Topic: Kierkegaard

Gentle reader, do you doubt the philosophical maxim that the inner is
the outer and the outer the inner? You don’t? You’ve never given it
much thought, don’t understand it, never heard of it, much less care
about it? Well then, lucky you! You still have that ahead of you!
Have you never worried just a little how to become yourself? No? Oh,
are you in for a treat!

Here is a course on Søren Kierkegaard, designed to introduce you to
all these wonders. We’ll go well beyond the standard “package”-
presentation you may have heard before (may in fact have heard from
me). 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, and will draw blood. We’ll
read all of his Fear and Trembling and Sickness unto Death, as well
as generous extracts from Either/Or and portions of several other
major and lesser works of his, including The Concept of Anxiety.
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 weekly 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
extended passage from Kierkegaard. (I’ll suggest lots of
possibilities and refer you to appropriate supplementary sources.)

This is not an introductory-level class. It will presuppose some
philosophical background. Novices who are simply attracted by cool
things and lack appropriate preparation won’t last two weeks. I’ll
presuppose no special knowledge of Kierkegaard, but will certainly
assume some philosophical training. (If in doubt about your
qualifications, by all means ask me.)

Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! For the price of a mere three
hours of tuition, learn “the difference between a genius and an
apostle”!

Required texts:

* Susan Leigh Anderson, On Kierkegaard (Wadsworth). For a
quick overview.
* Robert Bretall, ed. A Kierkegaard Anthology (Princeton).
* Søren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling, Hannay trans.
(Penguin).
* Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety, Thomte trans.
(Princeton).
* Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness unto Death, Hannay trans.
(Penguin).

Other recommended and required readings will be placed on Ereserves,
on "physical" reserve in the main library, or made otherwise
available.

NOTE: Don't be discouraged by the gloomy-sounding titles of some of
Kierkegaard's works. He also tells us about the "joy" there is in the
idea that in relation to God we are always in the wrong!