Continental Philosophy

Søren Kierkegaard

Why did Søren Kierkegaard believe Friedrich Hegel did not write to him?

First of all, Kierkegaard did not take seriously Friedrich Hegel’s (1770–1831) claim to have written the system of everything. Kierkegaard thought that everything could be viewed as a system by God, but that no human thinker, who is himself incomplete, could have such a perspective. He also rejected the tradition on which Hegel built that posits intellectual doubt as the beginning of philosophy. Kierkegaard thought that the beginning of philosophy was wonder. Also, he didn’t think that real doubt could be solved intellectually, but that it required an act of will. Finally, Kierkegaard did not think that God or the Absolute could be imminent in the world, because God is instead the ultimate “Other,” defying rational understanding.

Kierkegaard’s biggest complaint about Hegel was that he was like a man who had built a palace but lived outside it in a miserable hovel. He meant by this that in constructing his grand and elaborate system, Hegel had neglected his own immediate existence as a concrete individual.


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