About this Course
4.8
428 ratings
119 reviews
It is often claimed that relativism, subjectivism and nihilism are typically modern philosophical problems that emerge with the breakdown of traditional values, customs and ways of life. The result is the absence of meaning, the lapse of religious faith, and feeling of alienation that is so widespread in modernity. The Danish thinker Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55) gave one of the most penetrating analyses of this complex phenomenon of modernity. But somewhat surprisingly he seeks insight into it not in any modern thinker but rather in an ancient one, the Greek philosopher Socrates. In this course created by former associate professor at the Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre, Jon Stewart, we will explore how Kierkegaard deals with the problems associated with relativism, the lack of meaning and the undermining of religious faith that are typical of modern life. His penetrating analyses are still highly relevant today and have been seen as insightful for the leading figures of Existentialism, Post-Structuralism and Post-Modernism....
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Suggested: 3 hours/week

Approx. 20 hours to complete
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Subtitles: English, Portuguese (Brazilian), Czech
Globe

100% online courses

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.
Calendar

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.
Clock

Suggested: 3 hours/week

Approx. 20 hours to complete
Comment Dots

English

Subtitles: English, Portuguese (Brazilian), Czech

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

1

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Course Introduction: The Life and Work of Kierkegaard as a "Socratic Task"

In this first unit, the basic premise of the class is presented, namely, the idea that Kierkegaard used Socrates as his model. The lecture begins by taking a brief look at Kierkegaard’s early life: his family background and his education at the School of Civic Virtue in Copenhagen. We then turn to The Concept of Irony and to understand its structure and argumentative strategy. Since Kierkegaard sees himself as fulfilling a Socratic task, it is important to gain some insight into the thought of Socrates in order to determine exactly what it is that this means. So this week’s lesson looks briefly at a couple of Plato’s dialogues, Euthyphro and The Apology, which Kierkegaard studied carefully. After each analysis a brief account of Kierkegaard’s use or appropriation of the given idea is sketched....
Reading
3 videos (Total 46 min), 7 readings, 1 quiz
Video3 videos
Lecture 1:2 Course Introduction14m
Lecture 1:3 Course Introduction14m
Reading7 readings
Short Syllabus10m
Special Text that Mirrors Course Lectures10m
Grading and Logistics10m
Readings for Course10m
Extra Resources10m
Week 1 Course Assignments10m
Discussion Forum for Module 110m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Course Introduction20m

2

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Kierkegaard, Martensen and Hegelianism

Kierkegaard’s understanding of Socrates was of course based on his reading of the texts of Plato, Xenophon and Aristophanes, that is, the primary sources. But it was also largely shaped by the interpretation of the famous German philosopher G.W.F. Hegel, with whom he was in a constant critical dialogue in The Concept of Irony. Hegel’s philosophy was a highly popular trend at the University of Copenhagen in the late 1830s when Kierkegaard was a student and was writing this work. So this week explores first the presence of Hegel at the university during Kierkegaard’s time, and then Hegel’s analysis of Socrates. This provides the opportunity to revisit and build on the key topics that were introduced in the first lecture: Socratic irony, aporia, the daimon, etc. It is shown how Kierkegaard is inspired and influenced by the important historical role that Hegel ascribes to the person of Socrates. This week also continues the biographical narrative of the young Kierkegaard. It sketches his life as a young student at the University of Copenhagen and his trip to Gilleleje, where he wrote the famous journal entry about seeking a truth for which to live and die. This provides the opportunity to introduce the figure of Hans Lassen Martensen, who was a lifelong rival for Kierkegaard and an important figure in the Danish reception of Hegel’s philosophy....
Reading
3 videos (Total 54 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video3 videos
Lecture 2:2 Kierkegaard, Martensen and Hegelianism14m
Lecture 2:3 Kierkegaard, Martensen and Hegelianism18m
Reading2 readings
Week 2 Course Assignments10m
Discussion Forum for Module 210m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Kierkegaard, Martensen and Hegelianism20m

3

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Kierkegaard’s View of Socrates

The goal in this lecture is to have a look at Kierkegaard’s understanding of Socrates and to see where he agrees with Hegel and where he disagrees. We look at Kierkegaard’s analysis of Socrates’ daimon, the trial and conviction of Socrates, the relation of Socrates to the Sophists and to the later schools of philosophy. An account is also given of how Kierkegaard was quite exercised by Hans Lassen Martensen and his lectures at the University of Copenhagen. We explore Kierkegaard’s response to Martensen’s article on Faust, and Kierkegaard’s two satirical works that were aimed at Martensen and his students, namely, The Conflict between the Old and the New Soap Cellars and Johannes Climacus or De Omnibus dubitandum est. Finally, we also introduce a lesser-known Danish figure, Andreas Frederik Beck, who wrote the first book review of The Concept of Irony—a review that gives us a brief snapshot into the contemporary assessment of the work and also affords some insight into Kierkegaard’s view of it when we see his negative reaction to Beck’s comments....
Reading
3 videos (Total 51 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video3 videos
Lecture 3.2 Kierkegaard’s View of Socrates16m
Lecture 3.3 Kierkegaard’s View of Socrates19m
Reading2 readings
Week 3 Course Assignments10m
Discussion Forum for Module 310m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Kierkegaard’s View of Socrates 20m

4

Section
Clock
2 hours to complete

Kierkegaard, Heiberg and History

Kierkegaard is interested in the problem of the meaninglessness of life. He regards this as an important modern phenomenon that must be taken seriously. This lecture begins with a treatment of the second part of The Concept of Irony, where Kierkegaard examines different forms of what he calls “modern irony.” The positions that he looks at are very similar to that of the modern nihilist. We examine this analysis to see what insights it might hold for the modern problem of the absence of meaning in our 21st century world. This lecture introduces Kierkegaard’s contemporary Johan Ludvig Heiberg, who tried to alert his age to the crisis of nihilism and subjectivism in a way that anticipates some of Kierkegaard’s considerations. In this lecture we go through Kierkegaard’s critical assessment of Hegel’s understanding of Socrates and history. We try to see where Kierkegaard follows Hegel and where he strikes out on his own....
Reading
3 videos (Total 56 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
Video3 videos
Lecture 4.2 Kierkegaard, Heiberg and History18m
Lecture 4.3 Kierkegaard, Heiberg and History18m
Reading2 readings
Week 4 Course Assignments10m
Discussion Forum for Module 410m
Quiz1 practice exercise
Kierkegaard, Heiberg and History20m
4.8

Top Reviews

By ABJul 3rd 2018

An excellent course on Kierkegaard's use of irony. The teacher is great and the lectures are very interesting. I loved the interviews and the views of Copenhagen. Thanks a lot. Greetings from Madrid!

By GHAug 30th 2016

Really worthwhile and informative, in-depth review of Kierkegaard as a person, his life, and his works. Can be taken even if you've never touched philosophy before. Great production and selections.

Instructor

Jon Stewart, PhD, Dr theol & phil

Former Associate Professor
Søren Kierkegaard Research Centre

About University of Copenhagen

The University of Copenhagen is the oldest University in Denmark - founded in 1479, and with over 38,000 students and more than 9,000 employees. The purpose of the University is to conduct research and provide education to the highest academic level. Based in Denmark's capital city it is one of the top research institutions in Europe. ...

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