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Kierkegaard

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 20 March 2008

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the rich and radical ideas of Soren Kierkegaard, often called the father of Existentialism.

In 1840 a young Danish girl called Regine Olsen got engaged to her sweetheart – a modish and clever young man called Søren Kierkegaard. The two were deeply in love but soon the husband to be began to have doubts. He worried that he couldn’t make Regine happy and stay true to himself and his dreams of philosophy. It was a terrible dilemma, but Kierkegaard broke off the engagement – a decision from which neither he nor his fiancée fully recovered.

This unhappy episode has become emblematic of the life and thought of Søren Kierkegaard - a philosopher who confronted the painful choices in life and who understood the darker modes of human existence. Yet Kierkegaard is much more than the gloomy Dane of reputation. A thinker of wit and elegance, his ability to live with paradox and his desire to think about individuals as free have given him great purchase in the modern world and he is known as the father of Existentialism.

With Jonathan Rée, 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.

  • Further Reading

    The Kierkegaard Reader by Chamberlain, Jane (Editor), and Ree, Jonathan (Editor), and Kierkegaard, Soren (Blackwell, 2001)

    Kierkegaard: A Guide for the Perplexed by Clare Carlisle (Continuum International, 2007)

    Humour and Irony in Kierkegaard's Thought by John Lippitt (Macmillan, 2000)

    Kierkegaard and Fear and Trembling by John Lippitt (Routledge Guidebooks to Philosophy). (Routledge, 2003)

    Edna H. Hong, Howard V. Hong, and Nathaniel J. Hong, Cumulative Index to Kierkegaard's Writings (Princeton, 2000)

    The Essential Kierkegaard, ed. by Howard V. Hong and Edna H. Hong (Princeton, 2000)

    George Pattison, Kierkegaard's Upbuilding Discourses: Philosophy, Theology, Literature (Routledge, 2002)

    Papers and Journals: A Selection (Penguin Classics) by Soren Kierkegaard (Author), Alastair Hannay (Translator), (Penguin, 1996)

    Kierkegaard: A Very Short Introduction by Patrick Gardiner (Oxford, 2002)

    John D. Caputo, How to Read Kierkegaard (London: Granta, 2007)

    Alastair Hannay and Gordon Marino (eds), The Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997)

    Joakim Garff, Søren Kierkegaard: a biography, trans. Bruce H. Kirmmse (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005)

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