Philosophy | Phenomenology & Existentialism
P535 | 28458 | Spade, Paul


Topic: Søren 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, an essay-type mid-term examination, 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.)
In lieu of a final examinaation, you will write a "peer review" of
one of your classmates' papers. That is, you will read it, comment
on it, and "grade" it. (*My* grade will be the one that counts,
though.) This will be done anonymously both ways; that is, you won't
know who is reviewing your own paper, and you won't know whose
paper you are reviewing.

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
or made otherwise available.

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!

*NOTE*: Students may not take P335 for credit more than once, even
with a totally different topic. So if you took my P335 course on
Sartre in the Spring of 2010 and are interested in taking this
course on Kierkegaard, get in touch with me. I can make arrangements
for you to take it under the P490 number. But this does need to be
set up on a case-by-case basis.

This course will meet simultaneously with P535 (section 28458).
Students taking it under the P535 number will be expected to write
appropriately longer mid-term examinations and term papers, and will
do *two* final "peer-reviews" instead of one.