Soren Kierkegaard

Portrait of Soren Kierkegaard

Soren Kierkegaard was a Danish theologian, philosopher, poet, social critic, and religious author widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on 5th May 1813 and died there on 11th November 1855 aged 42.

Major Works

“Fear and Trembling” (1843)
“Philosophical Fragments” (1844) 
“The Concept of Anxiety” (1844) 
“Sickness unto Death” (1849)

Biography Timeline

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was born on 5th May 1813 in Copenhagen, Denmark. His father was a successful and self made merchant, who was a devout Christian and very strict. His mother, Ane Sørensdatter Lund was orginally a servant and was illiterate although a very kind person. Kierkegaard was educated at the University of Copenhagen.

1821: He attends the Østre Borgerdyd Gymnasium (School of Civic Virtue) where he studied Latin amongst other subjects.

1837: Kierkegaard and Regine Olsen meet on 8th May and he instantly falls in love with her.

1838: Death of his father on 8th August.  

1840: He formally proposes to Regina on 8th September.

1841: He breaks off the engagement on 11 August with no explanation although he felt he was not the suitable type to marry. On 29 September defends his masters thesis at the Ubinversity of Copenhagen. It is entitled “On the Concept of Irony with Continual Reference to Socrates“. It deals with irony and Friedrich Schelling’s although the panel thought it was too light hearted to be serious academic work. 

1843: On 16th October Kierkegaard publishes his major work “Fear and Trembling” (under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio).

1844: He also writes other books under an assumed name. “Philosophical Fragments”, “Prefaces”, “The Concept of Anxiety” and “Four Upbuilding Discourses”. 

1845: On 22 December “The Corsair”, a satirical magazine, published a bad review of Kierkegaard’s book “Stages on Life’s Way” by Peder Ludvig Moller. He began to fight back in several new articles but this severely damaged his reputation in Denmark.

1846: He publishes “Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments” (under the pseudonym Johannes Climacus) which was an attack on the German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and his science of logic. He also published “Two Ages: The Age of Revolution and the Present Age, A Literary Review“. 

1848: He publishes “Christian DiscoursesMuch of his writing at this period concerned the dialectic of Christian faith.

1849: He publishes “The Sickness Unto Death“.

1850: He publishes “Practice in Christianity“. 

1851: He publishes “For Self-Examination” and “Two Discourses at the Communion on Fridays“. In the latter he discusses sin, forgiveness and authority.

In his final years Kierkegaard opposes the Lutheran Church of Denmark and the merging of church and society. In October Kierkegaard collapses in the street in Copenhagen and spends a month in hospital.

Soren Kierkegaard died in the Royal Frederiks Hospital, Copenhagen on 11th November 1855 and was buried in the Assistens Churchyard, Copenhagen, Denmark.