Philosophical Radio Fragments
It's not like me to plug someone else's programme, but Melvyn Bragg's "In Our Time" -- essentially a weekly tutorial on intellectual history every Thursday morning on Radio 4 -- was particularly interesting this week. (Listen again here.)
The philosophers Jonathan Rée, Clare Carlisle, and John Lippitt are Melvyn's conversation partners in this programme which examines the life and work of Søren Kierkegaard. Few have exerted more influence on the development of contemporary religious thought than Kierkegaard. He is sometimes described as the father of existentialism, a connection which almost dates him these days. In fact, postmodern theologians often turn to Kierkegaard's writings in exploring contemporary questions and many are taken by his sense of irony and his willingness to challenge long-supposed dichotomies in reasoning.
Here's Melvyn Bragg''s introduction to the programme:
"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."