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Kierkegaard: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Kierkegaard: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) [Kindle Edition]

Patrick Gardiner
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Gardiner's text continues to offer an excellent and beautifully written introduction. (The Interuniversity Kierkegaard Research Group, Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie)

Product Description

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55), one of the most original thinkers of the nineteenth century, wrote widely on religious, psychological, and literary themes.

This book shows how Kierkegaard developed his views in emphatic opposition to prevailing opinions. It describes his reaction to the ethical and religious theories of Kant and Hegel, and it also contrasts his position with doctrines advanced by men like Feuerbach and Marx. Kierkegaard's seminal diagnosis of the human condition, which emphasizes the significance of individual choice, has arguably been his most striking philosophical legacy, particularly for the growth of existentialism. Both that
and his arresting but paradoxical conception of religious belief are critically discussed, and Patrick Gardiner concludes this lucid introduction by showing how Kierkegaard has influenced contemporary thought.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 558 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (21 Feb 2002)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005FVPG1W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #230,073 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is an excellent introduction not only to Kierkegaard, but to the subsequent existentialist movement, concurrent philosophies and progressive influences on Kierkegaard's thought. It convincingly argues the latter were a combination of biographical, psychological and political and philosophical reactionism. For anybody interested in how existentialism developed and was arguably later corrupted, this book provides an intelligent and clearly written account. Strongly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Helpful, Quick Overview 5 Sep 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very clear, quick overview of the salient points of Kierkegaard's philosophy. I've read other books by and about Kierkegaard but wanted a refresher. This one covers the most important of K.'s philosophical insights. Offers a useful though slightly dated bibliography.
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10 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Danish Patsy 17 April 2009
Soren Kierkegaard's philosophy was largely neglected during his lifetime (1813 -1855) partly because he wrote in Danish and partly because his ideas, which were spread across a variety of disciplines, did not find a philosophical home until the theory of existentialism became fashionable in the 1920's and 1930's.

Convinced his thinking would be universally accepted in the long term, Kierkegaard was highly critical of the society in which he lived, in particular of the role of the Lutheran Church and attempted to revitalise the Christian faith as he understood it. Later commentators have interpreted him, with varying degrees of accuracy and success, as individualist, post modernist and neo-othodoxist.

His "strange and complex disposition" was influenced by his father's dominant personality which demanded of his children "absolute obedience" in an atmosphere of "gloom and religious guilt", arising from his father's morbid belief the family would suffer divine retribution for past sins. Physically weak, Kierkegaard use the strength of his superior intelligence coupled with a "sharp and wounding tongue" to defeat his enemies. He likened himself to Janus, the two faced god, laughing with one and weeping with the other. In between he felt "profoundly dissatisfied with the emptiness of his existence".

Unlike his predecessors, Hume and Kant, Kierkegaard, was not concerned with speculation. Both had argued that reason alone could not be used to prove Christianity as such proof depended on the miraculous.
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2 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars a VERY cursory intro to Kierkegaard 10 Feb 2010
By Nikki
This book has proved moderately useful, but in general skims over the subject without any real degree of detail. a real disappointment, but better than some of the very short introduction series
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.9 out of 5 stars  8 reviews
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Neither a thinker nor a feeler but a Christian 16 Mar 2010
By Duane M. Johnson - Published on
I disagree with some of the easy complaints voiced in other less sympathetic reviews of this book and I welcomed Gardiner's approach to Kierkegaard as being an antidote to the widespread tendency to view this writer as an impish yet melancholy anti-philosopher. Unfortunately Kierkegaard has been reduced through decades of superficially motivated and self-seeking interpretations to the status of a finger-in-your-eye trickster who conducted lifelong guerrilla warfare against institutionalized religion and academic philosophy. And, even though his quarrels with bishops and professors are well-known, in the hands of those who would appropriate Kierkegaard for their own variously anti-intellectual and/or breast-beating approaches to life, these same episodes have been reduced to a historical theatrics, the contrived symbolism of those who habitually confuse defiance with authenticity.

Gardiner lets us in on the simple fact that Kierkegaard does not--even in the light of his own undeniably original genius--stand on his own. And if the Dane chose to write at length about, say, the dizzying prospect of real human freedom or the ineluctable pull of the infinite in our finite persons, then it was because such themes were still very much in the air in those days. For example, people need to be reminded that Hegel's philosophy, far from freezing intellectual or religious life, was an unbelievably stimulating development, and yes, contrary to the popular picture of Kierkegaard as a morbidly introspective but entertaining soul, this most unusual man wrote expressly in reaction to the issues that Hegel had raised and the answers he was providing.

And Gardiner's CONTEXTUALIZING of Kierkegaard is immensely valuable because it helps the reader to see in a clearer and more balanced manner just why it is that this man's writings continue to be so provocative and influential to our own day. If Kierkegaard was at loggerheads with the idealist metaphysics of the professors, it was because he was able to see and willing to confront the implications of that line of thinking vis-a-vis the unavoidable demands of Christian faith. Gardiner is not at all interested in downplaying this aspect of the man or in consigning it to the sidelines as an almost arbitrary detail (some Kierkegaard interpreters do end up treating his faith as a more or less incidental aspect of the man or even as a necessary quirk in his character): rather the author places it front and center because Christian faith--contrary to that modern prejudice which would have us assume the opposite--is more than just a set of personal convictions that must take a backseat to just about anything else.

For those who prefer to view Kierkegaard as some kind of countercultural anti-philosopher (read: modernist hero/individualist freethinker before his time, etc.) Gardiner reminds us that his uniquely challenging assertions had as much to do with his inner Christian convictions as they did with the defiant stands he made against the likes of Kant, Hume or Hegel. And any book which allows the reader to re-think the ideas and the debates in which so original a creation as Kierkegaard's emerged is worth the time and the effort it takes to read, understand, and appreciate how it all happened.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The example of the authentic individual 16 Feb 2005
By Shalom Freedman - Published on
Gardiner chooses to focus on Kierkegaard's difficulties and dilemnas in his own time. He tells the story of S.K.'s great renunciation of his Regina( The famous follow- up is his years later remark, " Had I had faith I would have married Regina") and speculates briefly on the motives. But there is tremendously more to be said about this including a question about Kierkegaard's real meaning for what he called ' his thorn in the flesh'. One logical but I agree not very pleasant speculation might have to do with S.K.'s sense of his own physical inadequacy given the terrible insults and sufferings he had been subject to because of his dwarfish physiognimy.

Gardiner outlines Kierkegaard's quarrel with the Church and his effort to define an authentic Christianity based on true inwardness. He also mentions the odd and ironic eulogy by Kierkegaard's older brother at his funeral where he on the one hand praises his brother's writing and on the other condemns him for the very crusade against false Christianity that S.K. dedicated himself to.

The description by Gardiner of Kierkegaard's first major work 'Either-Or' is excellent and he gives a deeper sense of the meaning of the ' aesthetic' and ' ethical ' for Kierkegaard. He too gives a good background to the revolt against Hegelianism, and shows how S.K. was not alone in this in his own time.

The great literary originality, the play between philosophy and literature, the invention of , and focusing on new religious categories are all parts of S.K.'s legacy to the world.

This book gives much, but only skims the surface of a thinker who with every reading is deeper and more complex and more ambiguous.

He is nonetheless for many in the world still , the example not only of the individual as authentic Christian, but the individual as authentic individual. .
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great overall introduction 7 Jun 2013
By Ryan - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
For someone with a liberal arts academic background but a spotty knowledge of philosophy, I thought this was an engaging and informative overview of Kierkegaard's work. The book took pains to explain the historical context of K's work- the influence of Kant and Hegel and various other philosophers who he both imitated and argued against.

I have yet to read a bad book in this series.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 4 May 2013
By Ji - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It does a wonderful job in positing Kierkegaard in context. LOVE the Oxford short Intro series :) I know very little philosophy (I threw down the English translation of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason in frustration, that's how little I know), but I had little difficulty understanding the basics of Hegel and Kant Gardiner sets out in this book as contextualization. Definitely recommend for those who want to get a general grasp of the man and his thoughts.
4.0 out of 5 stars when what you want is a very short introduction... 7 Feb 2014
By Reta U. Whitlock - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book gives a concise and for the most part accessible overview of Kierkegaard's work. It by no means goes into any depth, but it left me with a working knowledge to sum up "Who was Kierkegaard." I also know from reading it where to turn in his works to study my topic further. This was exactly the overview I was looking for.
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