KIERKEGAARD, Soren
(1813 - 1855)
Copenhagen

The solitary Dane’, often identified as the father of Existentialism, because of his focus on individuals and the choices they make. He identifies three stages of life, aesthetic, ethical and religious. The aesthetic is transcended by an assumption of responsibility, which actively decides to go beyond the fascinations of the immediate moment, however compelling in, for instance, their peer conformity or erotic distraction. Instead, in the ethical stage, moral willing chooses to do things differently. In turn, that ethical stage is properly transcended by deference to the higher religious end, which entails more personal encounter with God. Whether that encounter might for a Christian lead to an obedience to a divine command to sacrifice a beloved son, as in the Abraham and Isaac story, as Kierkegaard appears to suggest, raises questions for other Christians. They wonder why they appear to be being encouraged to abandon their God-given moral compass in the name of a freedom, whose consequence is death not life.


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