In This Article Søren Kierkegaard

  • Introduction
  • Primary Sources
  • Introductory Works
  • General Overviews
  • Anthologies
  • Biographies
  • Fundamental Questions of Interpretation
  • Hegel and the German Context
  • Socrates and the Greeks
  • Subjectivity and the Self
  • Human Thought and Communication
  • Love, Friendship, and Society
  • Reception and Influence

Philosophy Søren Kierkegaard
by
Daniel Watts
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 October 2015
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 May 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396577-0218

Introduction

Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (b. 1813–d. 1855) left behind an extraordinary body of work that has had a major impact on European philosophy, and that continues to inform major debates within analytic philosophy as well. Utterly distinctive and often dazzling, Kierkegaard’s writings typically confront the reader with an enigmatic interplay between seriousness and jest and they bristle with original ideas. The range and sheer volume of these writings is difficult to take in: the output published in Kierkegaard’s lifetime alone extends to over seventy books and articles and he left besides a voluminous collection of drafts, notes, and journals. Often billed as the “father of existentialism,” Kierkegaard’s influence is in evidence not least in the work of Heidegger, Adorno, Sartre, and Merleau-Ponty (but Heidegger, for one, was notoriously slow to acknowledge the debt). His work was also studied seriously by Wittgenstein, who learnt Danish for the task and went so far as to rank Kierkegaard first among 19th-century thinkers. The most obvious arena of his on-going influence is the philosophy of religion, where his work continues to inform debates around such central topics as the problem of evil, the role of evidence in religious belief and the phenomenology of religious experience. But in other areas of philosophy, too, Kierkegaard’s work has been fruitfully brought to bear; on topics such as the nature of selfhood and subjectivity, love and friendship, death and mourning, the role of literature in moral philosophy and the limits of language and thought. While his writings notably tend to cut across academic subject-divisions (and have certainly made their mark on other disciplines, too), this bibliographical entry aims to provide a guide to Kierkegaard’s reception by philosophers.

Primary Sources

Kierkegaard’s writings are currently being published, in their entirety, in Kierkegaard 1997–, a new, state-of-the-art Danish edition under the auspices of the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre in Copenhagen. Two well-established series of books, edited and mostly translated by Howard and Edna Hong—Kierkegaard 1978–2000 and Kierkegaard 1967–1978—continue to make up the most widely used English translations, and they include fine historical introductions, notes, and appendices. The Hongs’ translations are usefully complemented, however, by Kierkegaard 1996, a relatively selective translation of Kierkegaard’s journals and papers by Alastair Hannay; and also by recent English translations of some of the philosophically richest among Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous texts, represented here by Kierkegaard 2006, Kierkegaard 2009a, and Kierkegaard 2009b. These newer translations are recommended especially to undergraduates and newcomers to Kierkegaard for their accessibility and readability. Kierkegaard 2000– is the first truly comprehensive translation of Kierkegaard’s journals, notebooks and papers, currently in progress, and is based on Kierkegaard 1997–, the new edition of his writings.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Søren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers. Edited and translated by Howard V. Hong, Edna H. Hong, and Gregor Malantschuk. 7 vols. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1967–1978.

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    An extensive if by no means exhaustive selection of Kierkegaard’s notes, journals, and papers, arranged alphabetically by topic. Based on Søren Kierkegaards Papirer, edited by P. A. Heiberg.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Kierkegaard’s Writings. 26 vols. Edited and translated by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1978–2000.

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    This firmly established series of translations amply covers Kierkegaard’s literary career, from his earliest polemical writings to late reflections on his authorship and attacks on Danish Christendom. The series includes cycles of Kierkegaard’s “edifying” or “upbuilding” discourses, published under his own name, as well as pseudonymous works such as Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, and Philosophical Fragments.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Papers and Journals: A Selection. Edited and translated by Alastair Hannay. London: Penguin, 1996.

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    An elegantly translated selection of Kierkegaard’s notes and papers. A more manageable point of entry into the mass of material covered in Kierkegaard 1967–1978 and Kierkegaard 2000–.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter. Edited by Niels Jørgen Cappelørn, Joakim Garff, Johnny Kondrup, Tonny Aagaard Olesen, and Steen Tullberg. 55 vols. Copenhagen: GAD, 1997–.

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    A definitive Danish edition of everything written by Kierkegaard, supported by a full scholarly apparatus and detailed annotations. Organizes Kierkegaard’s output into four categories: (1) works he published in his lifetime; (2) works close to being publishable at the time of his death; (3) journals, notebooks, and loose papers; and (4) letters and biographical documents. Freely available online.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Kierkegaard’s Journals and Notebooks. Edited and translated by Niels Jørgen Cappelørn, Alastair Hannay, David Kangas, et al. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000–.

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    A new translation, currently in progress, of Kierkegaard’s journals, notebooks, excerpts, and loose papers, in their entirety. Based on the new Danish edition of Kierkegaard’s writings (Kierkegaard 1997–). Supported by a full scholarly apparatus and detailed annotations.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Fear and Trembling. Translated and edited by C. Stephen Evans, and Sylvia Walsh. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

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    Remarkably, this is the sixth English translation of Frygt og Bæven, Kierkegaard’s self-styled “dialectical lyric” on the Genesis narrative of Abraham and the binding of Isaac. Includes a helpful introduction by C. Stephen Evans.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to the Philosophical Crumbs. Edited and translated by Alastair Hannay. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2009a.

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    Written in clear, lively English, this translation is especially recommended for newcomers to this important, enigmatic, and often very funny work.

  • Kierkegaard, Søren. Repetition and Philosophical Crumbs. Translated by M. G. Piety. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009b.

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    A readable recent translation of two relatively short pseudonymous texts that Kierkegaard published in 1843: Gjentagelsen (Repetition) and Filosofiske Smuler (Philosophical Crumbs; traditionally translated as Philosophical Fragments). Usefully includes page correlations in the margins to Kierkegaard 1997–.

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