Cryonicist's Horizons

Rate this Article

1 - Didn't like it | 5 - Very good!

Thank you for your feedback!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Not ready to sign up for Cryonics yet?

Support Biostasis research by becoming a Tomorrow Fellow. Get perks and more.
Become a Fellow

Existentialism in the Philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard

The profound philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard and the world of existentialism.

Existentialism is a prominent philosophical movement that originated in the 19th and 20th centuries. It explores the nature of human existence, emphasizing individual experience, freedom, and responsibility. One of the key figures associated with existentialism is the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. His ideas have had a profound impact on the development of existentialist thought. In this article, we will delve into Kierkegaard's philosophy, examining his understanding of existentialism, his biography, his key concepts, his influence on later thinkers, and the criticisms and controversies surrounding his ideas.

Understanding Existentialism

Existentialism encompasses a wide range of philosophical ideas and perspectives. At its core, it is concerned with the subjective experience of individual existence. Existentialists believe that human beings are responsible for creating meaning and purpose in their lives, in spite of the inherent ambiguity and absurdity of existence. They emphasize the importance of personal freedom and the idea that individuals have the power to shape their own destinies.

Existentialism is not just a philosophical movement, but a way of life. It encourages individuals to question the meaning of their existence and to take responsibility for their actions. It challenges the notion that there is a predetermined path or purpose in life, and instead promotes the idea that each person has the freedom to create their own meaning. This can be both liberating and daunting, as it places the burden of choice squarely on the individual.

Definition and Key Concepts of Existentialism

Existentialism can be defined as a philosophical movement that focuses on individual existence, freedom, and responsibility. Key concepts within existentialism include authenticity, absurdity, anxiety, and the search for meaning. Existentialists encourage individuals to confront the challenges and uncertainties of life with courage and self-reflection.

Authenticity is a central concept in existentialism. It refers to the idea of living in accordance with one's own values and beliefs, rather than conforming to societal expectations or norms. In a world filled with pressures to fit in and conform, existentialists argue that true fulfillment comes from being true to oneself.

Absurdity is another key concept within existentialism. It refers to the inherent contradiction and meaninglessness of life. Existentialists argue that life is fundamentally absurd, as there is no inherent purpose or meaning to existence. However, they believe that it is through the recognition of this absurdity that individuals can find the freedom to create their own meaning.

Anxiety is a natural response to the uncertainties and challenges of life. Existentialists argue that anxiety is not something to be avoided or suppressed, but rather something to be embraced and explored. By confronting our anxieties, we can gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our place in the world.

The search for meaning is a fundamental aspect of human existence. Existentialists believe that each individual must grapple with the question of meaning and purpose in their own lives. This search is deeply personal and can take many forms, whether it be through relationships, creative expression, or the pursuit of knowledge.

young woman with tattoo and pierced tongue
Existentialism centers on individual existence, freedom, and authenticity, embracing challenges, including absurdity and anxiety, while seeking personal meaning.

Existentialism's Place in Philosophy

Existentialism emerged as a response to the changing social and intellectual landscape of the 19th and 20th centuries. It challenged traditional philosophical and religious beliefs by emphasizing the importance of subjective experience and individual choice. Existentialism has had a profound influence on a wide range of fields, including philosophy, psychology, literature, and art.

In philosophy, existentialism has sparked debates and discussions about the nature of existence, the meaning of life, and the role of personal freedom. It has provided a framework for examining the human condition and the struggles we face in a complex and often chaotic world.

In psychology, existentialism has influenced the development of therapies that focus on personal growth and self-actualization. Therapists who draw from existentialist ideas help individuals explore their values, confront their anxieties, and take responsibility for their own lives.

In literature, existentialism has inspired countless works that explore the themes of individuality, freedom, and the search for meaning. Writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Franz Kafka have delved into the depths of human existence, grappling with the complexities and contradictions of life.

In art, existentialism has provided a lens through which artists can examine the human experience. Painters, sculptors, and filmmakers have used their mediums to explore existential themes, creating works that provoke thought and challenge conventional notions of reality.

Søren Kierkegaard: A Brief Biography

Søren Kierkegaard, born in 1813, was a Danish philosopher and theologian. He is considered one of the key figures in the development of existentialist thought. Kierkegaard's life was marked by personal turmoil and existential struggles, which heavily influenced his philosophical writings.

Let's delve deeper into the fascinating life of Søren Kierkegaard and explore the experiences that shaped his unique perspective.

Early Life and Education

Kierkegaard was born into a wealthy and prominent family in Copenhagen, Denmark. His upbringing provided him with ample opportunities for intellectual growth and exploration. From a young age, he displayed a remarkable intellect and a deep curiosity about the world.

His education was rigorous, encompassing a wide range of subjects including philosophy, literature, and theology. Kierkegaard's insatiable thirst for knowledge led him to immerse himself in the works of influential thinkers of his time, such as Socrates, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Søren Kierkegaard.

However, life took an unexpected turn for Kierkegaard when his father passed away. This event plunged him into a period of deep reflection and spiritual questioning. He began to grapple with the existential dilemmas that would come to define his philosophical journey.

Søren Kierkegaard, a Danish philosopher, theologian, and key figure in existentialist thought, drew from personal struggles to shape his philosophy.

Major Works and Contributions to Philosophy

Kierkegaard's intellectual pursuits culminated in the creation of groundbreaking philosophical works that challenged conventional wisdom and traditional modes of thinking. His writings explored the depths of human existence, dissecting themes such as anxiety, despair, and the nature of faith.

"Fear and Trembling" is one of Kierkegaard's most influential works. In this profound piece, he delves into the story of Abraham and Isaac, examining the ethical and religious implications of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his own son. Kierkegaard's exploration of the concept of faith in this work is thought-provoking and continues to captivate readers to this day.

In "The Sickness Unto Death," Kierkegaard delves into the intricacies of human despair. He dissects the various forms of despair that plague individuals and offers insights into how one can overcome this existential affliction. His analysis is both profound and deeply personal, reflecting his own struggles with despair throughout his life.

Another notable work by Kierkegaard is "Either/Or," a collection of philosophical reflections presented through the voices of two fictional characters. This work explores the complexities of human existence, the choices we face, and the consequences of those choices. Kierkegaard's profound insights into the human condition make "Either/Or" a captivating read for anyone seeking a deeper understanding of life's dilemmas.

Through his writings, Søren Kierkegaard left an indelible mark on the world of philosophy. His exploration of existentialism and his profound insights into the human condition continue to resonate with readers and thinkers alike.

Kierkegaard's Existentialist Philosophy

Kierkegaard's philosophy can be characterized as a form of Christian existentialism. He emphasized the role of subjective experience and personal relationship with God. Kierkegaard argued that true faith requires a leap of faith, as it goes beyond rationality and the limitations of human understanding.

The Concept of Subjectivity

Central to Kierkegaard's philosophy is the concept of subjectivity. He believed that individuals must confront their own subjectivity and take responsibility for their choices and actions. Subjectivity, for Kierkegaard, is the foundation of human existence and the source of individual freedom.

The Idea of Despair

Kierkegaard explored the concept of despair extensively in his writings. He argued that despair arises from a sense of disconnection from oneself, others, and God. However, he also believed that despair can serve as a catalyst for personal growth and self-discovery.

The Notion of Faith and the Absurd

For Kierkegaard, faith encompasses an acceptance of the absurdity and paradoxes of existence. He argued that true faith involves a willingness to embrace uncertainties and contradictions, trusting in a higher power despite the inherent absurdity of life.

man praying with despair
Kierkegaard's Christian existentialism emphasizes subjective experience, personal faith, and the acceptance of life's paradoxes and uncertainties.

Kierkegaard's Influence on Existentialism

Kierkegaard's ideas had a significant impact on later thinkers and contributed to the development of modern existentialism. His emphasis on subjective experience, individual freedom, and the importance of personal choice resonated with many philosophers, writers, and artists.

Impact on Later Existentialist Thinkers

Kierkegaard's philosophy inspired numerous existentialist thinkers, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus, and Martin Heidegger. These thinkers built upon Kierkegaard's ideas, further developing the concept of existential freedom and exploring its implications for human existence.

Kierkegaard's Legacy in Modern Existentialism

Kierkegaard's legacy in modern existentialism can be seen in the continued exploration of themes such as authenticity, anxiety, and the search for meaning. His writings continue to resonate with individuals grappling with the complexities of existence in the modern world.

Criticisms and Controversies

Despite his influence, Kierkegaard's existentialist philosophy has not been without its critics. Some argue that his emphasis on subjective experience and individual choice overlooks the role of social, cultural, and historical factors in shaping human existence. Others criticize his reliance on religious faith as a solution to existential struggles.

Critiques of Kierkegaard's Existentialism

Critics of Kierkegaard's existentialism argue that his philosophy lacks a coherent ethical framework and fails to provide practical guidance for navigating the complexities of life. They suggest that his ideas can be overly individualistic and disregard the interconnectedness of human existence.

Debates and Discussions Around Kierkegaard's Philosophy

Kierkegaard's philosophical ideas have sparked ongoing debates and discussions among scholars and philosophers. These debates often center around the nature of faith, the role of reason, and the relationship between individual freedom and social responsibility.


Søren Kierkegaard's philosophy played a pivotal role in the development of existentialism. His emphasis on subjective experience, individual freedom, and the challenges of faith continue to resonate with individuals seeking to understand the complexities of human existence. Despite the criticisms and controversies surrounding his ideas, Kierkegaard's legacy as an existentialist thinker remains significant.

Tomorrow Bio is the worlds fastest growing human cryopreservation provider. Our all inclusive cryopreservation plans start at just 31€ per month. Learn more here.