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Understanding Kierkegaard Dialectics

Dialectic is the practice of arriving at the truth by the exchange of logical arguments. Soren Aabye Kierkegaard was a Danish philosopher, theologian and religious author who lived in the nineteenth century.  He was born in Copenhagen in 1813. Kierkegaard’s mother had an impact on his writings.  His father was a stern man. Kierkegaard loved a lady by the name of Regine Olsen.  He proposed to her in September 1940.  But he broke the engagement in August 1941.  These events had a major influence on his work.  He was very interested in human psychology.  Some people are of the opinion that his dialectics are refined, brilliant and rich in poetic sentiment.  

His philosophical works deal with how a person lives as a single individual, giving priority to reality over abstract thinking.  They also highlight the importance of commitment and personal choice.  His theological works focus on Christian ethics, church and relationship with Jesus Christ.  Kierkegaard was influenced by Socrates.  It is very much evident in his psychological works, which mainly deal with feelings and emotions faced by individuals while dealing with choices offered by life.  Many of his writings are under various pseudonyms (like Johannes Climacus), each presenting their own viewpoints.  Their interactions have resulted in complex dialogue.  His dialectical method of examining various concepts is praised by experts. 

Kierkegaard wrote a book titled “The Sickness Unto Death” in 1849.  It is about his concept of despair, which he equates with the Christian concept of original sin.  The discussion in the first part of the book on despair, its causes and results, is a scientific description of what happens in the human psyche.  The dialectical method of examining despair is good.  

The second part of the book is about sin. It deals with what sin is, different types of sins and their varying degrees of severity.  This concept of sin and escape from despair through God are logical “leaps of faith”.  This defies Kierkegaard’s emphasis on dialectics.  It is speculative philosophy.  It enters into the realm of random musings.  They are more of his personal views on sin and Christianity.  

According to some experts, Kierkegaard’s “inverted Christian dialectic” helped in clearly establishing the distance between human beings and God.  They are of the opinion that it emphasized human beings’ dependence on God’s grace for salvation. During his final years, he attacked the Danish National Church through his newspaper articles.  He died in 1855.