Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed

Continuum’s Guides for the Perplexed (http://www.bloomsbury.com/uk/series/guides-for-the-perplexed) are clear, concise and accessible introductions to thinkers, writers and subjects that students and readers can find especially challenging. Concentrating specifically on what it is that makes the subject difficult to fathom, these books explain and explore key themes and ideas, guiding the reader towards a thorough understanding of demanding material. Soren Kierkegaard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%B8ren_Kierkegaard¬†and http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kierkegaard/ )¬†was the progenitor of existentialism, as well as a major literary figure and philosopher of ethics and religion. As such, he is a key figure in modern Western philosophy, one whose poetic, though complex, works – including the seminal Fear and Trembling – require close and careful study. Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed (2007) offers a cogent, comprehensive and authoritative account of Kierkegaard’s philosophy, ideal for students and readers coming to his work for the first time and who want to reach a full and detailed understanding of this major thinker and writer. The book explores the relationship – particularly important in Kierkegaard’s case – between his life and work. It covers the literary and philosophical challenges raised by Kierkegaard’s ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ forms of communication; considers Kierkegaard’s important critique of Hegel; opens up his ideas on subjectivity and truth; and provides illuminating commentaries on both Fear and Trembling and Philosophical Fragments. Valuably, the guide shows how Kierkegaard’s philosophical, religious, social, literary and personal concerns are integrated and unified in his works. It also assesses his influence on later philosophers, including Heidegger, Wittgenstein and Sartre. An excellent read.

If the volume above is not for you, try Kierkegaard: A Very Short Introduction (2002) by Patrick Gardiner (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kierkegaard-Very-Short-Introduction-Introductions/dp/0192802569/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1387382542&sr=8-1&keywords=kierkegaard+very+short) This book shows how Kierkegaard developed his views in emphatic opposition to prevailing opinions. It describes his reaction to the ethical and religious theories of Kant and Hegel, and it also contrasts his position with doctrines advanced by men like Feuerbach and Marx. Kierkegaard’s seminal diagnosis of the human condition, which emphasizes the significance of individual choice, has arguably been his most striking philosophical legacy, particularly for the growth of existentialism. Both that and his arresting but paradoxical conception of religious belief are critically discussed, and Patrick Gardiner concludes this lucid introduction by showing how Kierkegaard has influenced contemporary thought.

Listen to the 2008 In Our Time’¬†Radio 4 programme on Kierkegaard available as a podcast at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b009fycc¬† With Jonathan R√©e, Visiting Professor at Roehampton University and the Royal College of Art; Clare Carlisle, Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Liverpool; John Lippitt, Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Hertfordshire. Chaired by Melvyn Bragg. First broadcast Thursday 20 Mar 2008.

For a lifetime of reflection on the thought of Kierkegaard and his influence – follow the bibliogaphies in http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kierkegaard/#Bib

176 pages in Continuum paperback edition

ISBN 978-0826486110

Soren Kierkegaard agonising on whether to break off his engagement with Regine Olsen

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