Kierkegaard Bleg

Jason Kuznicki

Jason Kuznicki is a research fellow at the Cato Institute and contributor of Cato Unbound. He's on twitter as JasonKuznicki. His interests include political theory and history.

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23 Responses

  1. ASKlein says:

    Fear & Trembling is fantastic and not too much to digest at one point.Report

  2. The Sickness Unto Death is fantastic.Report

  3. I think I started with the anthology that Robert Bretall put together. A wide view might be nice, since K.’s concerns shifted over the years. But for a relatively quick read, I’ll second ASKlein on Fear and Trembling.Report

  4. Robert Cheeks says:

    Here’s a review I wrote of a recent and excellent book on Mr. K. I hope it will be of assistance:

  5. MFarmer says:

    “but can anyone recommend another of Kierkegaard’s texts as a good starting point?”
    No doubt.Report

  6. Buce says:

    I’m not sure how old you are, but you may be coming to this too late. I think K is one of those authors best read at about 19 when you have not yet lost patience with vainglorious self-absorption. I grant that some people will /talk/ about him with respect in later years–perhaps as late as their first divorce–but I suspect that a lot of them are remembering what they picked up in graduate school. Corollary: a lot of what people remember are the forceful and dramatic anecdotes like Abraham-and-Isaac or the tortured poet–but these at this point have been pretty often excerpted and left to stand on their own.

    This said, if you want to give him a low-expense try, you might look for a short item called /The Present Age/. It is insightful in its way and it includes at least one of those memorable anecdotes though in this case, one I have not often heard repeted.Report

    • Max in reply to Buce says:

      I have to vehemently disagree with this. Maybe I’m just not old enough to see it yet, but for me Kierkegaard has only gotten better with time. I’ve certainly had the semitragic experience of feeling that works I once thought were great have diminished over time, but none of Kierkegaard’s books are among them.Report

      • MFarmer in reply to Max says:

        Max, What about Kierkegaard’s ideas has caused you to be faithful?Report

        • Max in reply to MFarmer says:

          I wouldn’t try to lay claim to the mantle of faith, certainly not as Kierkegaard defines it.

          I felt rather that Kierkegaard was the best “next step” for those of us who do not have faith. The kind of militant atheism popular with my cohort is such a dead-end from a philosophical standpoint…Kierkegaard was a way for a nonbeliever to reopen the conversation with the faithful, a radical reconception of faith as an end itself rather than a means to an end.

          Undoubtedly I have all kinds of misconceptions about what Kierkegaard actually meant (I’m always finding new ways to correct myself when I return to his work), but the central victory he had over me was to force me to reassess the value of faith, and to at least consider it as an aspiration (if only on good days.)

          And of course, he also happens to be a particularly gifted and clever writer. Come for the ideas, stay for the prose.Report

  7. Chris says:

    You really should read Either/Or first, as Fear and Trembling is about what comes after Either/Or, and makes the most sense in that context. Sickness Unto Death is very good, but it doesn’t have the same scope. The Concept of Anxiety is right out, though a must read down the line.

    If you’re dead set against starting with E/O, then I will break from the consensus a bit and recommend Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing. It’s short, it can stand alone, ad it’s a good intro to K.’s style of writing (which can be sublime) and thinking.Report

  8. Daniel says:

    For what it’s worth, the philosophy podcast The Partially Examined Life recently concluded a show on Kierkegaard, focusing primarily on The Sickness Unto Death. If you’re curious, give it a listen:

    A more concise podcast episode on Kierkegaard was recorded on the BBC radio program, In Our Time. You can find that episode here:

    Between those two broadcasts, you might get a sense of where Kierkegaard was coming from, and which of his books you might want to read first (or last). Frankly, I think starting with an anthology might be more rewarding than just any one of his books. This is because K. had several good points to make over his body of work, but his style is not for everyone. He has some brilliant turns of phrase, and was a talented aphorist. But in terms of developing a thesis, he has a tendency to go on and on. An anthology will focus on the meat of K.’s arguments, which is what I suspect you’re most after. Anyway, consider The Essential Kierkegaard, from Princeton University Press. (It’s available through

    Good luck with it!Report