Commencing the Journey
Trace the roots of existentialism, a philosophical ideology that held sway over Europe’s intellectual landscape in the 19th and 20th centuries, and you’ll find yourself at the doorstep of Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard. Often hailed as the ‘progenitor of existentialism’, Kierkegaard’s works have revolutionized the way we comprehend existential philosophy.
Unraveling the Essence of Kierkegaard’s Existential Philosophy
At its heart, Kierkegaard’s existentialism is a philosophy that underscores the significance of an individual’s subjective experiences. It contests the idea of an objective reality, asserting that truth primarily hinges on personal experiences and viewpoints. In Kierkegaard’s view, individual existence takes precedence, and our lives are molded by the decisions we take.
Deciphering ‘Subjective Truth’
A cornerstone of Kierkegaard’s existentialist philosophy is the notion of ‘subjective truth’. This term signifies that truth is not a rigid or absolute entity but rather a construct shaped by an individual’s experiences and perceptions. Kierkegaard contended that truth isn’t something to be unearthed; it is something to be lived.
The Significance of Faith in Kierkegaard’s Existentialism
A devoutly religious individual, Kierkegaard regarded faith as a vital element of human existence. To him, faith was an intensely personal journey, one that surpasses logic and rationale. He advocated that faith aids individuals to steer through life’s ambiguities and comprehend their existence.
Understanding ‘The Leap of Faith’
The concept of ‘the leap of faith’ is integral to Kierkegaard’s existentialism. This idea refers to the act of embracing uncertainty and venturing into the unfamiliar. Kierkegaard asserted that this leap is indispensable for individuals to truly experience life and fathom their existence.
The Individual Versus Society
Kierkegaard’s existentialism delves into the dynamics between the individual and society. He posited that societal norms and expectations often suppress individualism and obstruct personal development. Kierkegaard propagated the notion of personal authenticity, encouraging individuals to live in alignment with their own beliefs and values instead of succumbing to societal pressures.
Existential Anxiety and Despair: An Inherent Part of Life
The idea of existential anxiety and despair is another pivotal theme in Kierkegaard’s existentialism. He posited that these feelings are inherent in human existence, emanating from our consciousness of our freedom and the responsibility it brings along.
Kierkegaard’s Impact on Contemporary Existentialism
Kierkegaard’s concepts have left a lasting imprint on contemporary existentialist thinkers. His emphasis on individuality, personal liberty, and subjective truth have found resonance with philosophers like Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, steering the direction of existentialist philosophy in the 20th century.
In summation, Søren Kierkegaard’s existential philosophy provides a distinctive lens to view life, truth, and existence. By accentuating the importance of individual experiences, subjective truths, and personal freedom, Kierkegaard’s existentialism compels us to reevaluate our understanding of ourselves and our role in the world.