©2011 NewFoundations

The Educational Theory of Soren Kierkegaard

Risa Della Rocca,
Michael Foley and
Colin Kenny


edited 8/18/11

1. Theory of Value: What knowledge and skill are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of education?

Søren Kierkegaard advocated the development of one's cognitive processes rather than the end products of such processes. They are the only thing worth knowing. Ultimately, Kierkegaard postulates that truth is subjective. Human generated conclusions are erroneous or fleeting at best; thus, one must focus on the processes utilized to obtain the conclusion.

From an educator's perspective, Kierkegaard's emphasis is on meta-cognition or thinking about the way one thinks. He also asserts that every individual must make an existential choice to live this process in order to experience truth in both a teleological as well as an ethical manner. One should not strive to teach "truths" that are ultimately unattainable. Intimating that procedural knowledge trumps declarative knowledge and advocating the importance of experience, both personal as well as vicarious, Kerkegaard denigrates that aspect of liberal education that tries vainly to know or pursue objective truth.

Educators, instead, must concern themselves with the efficaciousness of this "truth" and the discovery of "a mode of existing in the world, that has to be practiced at each instant, and the goal of which is to transform the whole of the individual's life," (Gary, 2007, p. 151). Ultimately, knowledge is about a process that is lived, practiced, and actualized rather than an end product reached through esoteric reasoning. This, for Kierkegaard, is the sort of thing that is worth knowing.

Kierkegaard's educational philosophy, stated succinctly, is that doing is qualitatively different than knowing. In short, educators must realize should is practiced by a subjective agent. And it not transmitted to a pupil who is a neutral vessel lacking vicarious or personal experience and subjectivity. Moreover, "education focused exclusively on critical thinking erroneously assumes that if one simply knows or can critically appraise an ethical ideal or rational course of action then he or she can freely accept, embrace, and live it."

The alternative that Kierkegaard presents in an absurd world where little objectivity exists and where, "ethical truth is only true when it is appropriated or lived. Liberal education, viewed simply as acquiring critical thinking skills for individual autonomy, ignores the qualitative leap between knowing and willing … ." (Gary, 2007, p.151).

For Kierkegaard becoming educated "a way of life [that] involved a deep, personal, and internal transformation. The lived virtues that gave way to it (are) cultivated by a vigilant and demanding spiritual practice," (Gary, 2007, p.152). Thus, little is worth knowing except for the processes by which one arrives to a subjective truth through a particular way of life.

2. Theory of Knowledge: What is knowledge? How is it different from belief? What is a mistake? A lie?

In the majority of his works, Kierkegaard divides knowledge into objective and subjective knowledge. According to Evans (1998), Kierkegaard refers to knowledge as either the declarative knowledge found in history, science and mathematics (objectivity) or a broader concept revolving around ones own feelings and experiences (subjectivity) (p. 164). In his own work, Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments, Kierkegaard (2000) separates the two concepts with a simple statement: "Objectively the emphasis is on what is said; subjectively the emphasis is on how it is said" (p. 206). He then furthers this distinction, explaining that objectivity refers to the facts, while subjectivity refers to the centrally important issue of how a person internalizes, interprets and accepts those facts for himself.
            While he frequently refers to objective knowledge, Kierkegaard does not seem to have much faith in it. In fact, much of his work seems to suggest that he does not believe in objective certainty at all. Evans (1998) states that Kierkegaard believes, instead, that there is always some form of doubt involved in the acceptance of knowledge outside the self, and therefore, no information from the outside world can be accepted as an absolute given (pp. 169-170). Across his works dealing with truth and knowledge, Kierkegaard (2000) frequently refers to the concept of doubt, and how it immediately comes into play whenever we absorb any sort of sensory information (p. 222).
            Instead, Kierkegaard's focus is on subjectivity being the only true knowledge. A religious philosopher, Kierkegaard puts a great deal of emphasis on faith and belief. To him, belief and knowledge are heavily intertwined, as no true knowledge can come without a leap of faith. His view is that a person cannot gather information from the outside world without faith or belief (Evans, 1998, p. 165). Therefore, it is introspection and the willingness to believe in things you cannot objectively prove to be truths which form Kierkegaard's definition of knowledge.
            Furthermore, Mooney (2007) describes a concept of intimacy in Kierkegaard's definition of true knowledge. Kierkegaard maintains that the moment a person comes across something that appears to be objective knowledge, he begins to create personal connections to it. One cannot really know something without it having touched you on a personal, internal level (pp. 82-83). Therefore, even the objective can only be considered true knowledge after one has created an intimate, subjective bond with it.

3. Theory of Human Nature: What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human potential?

   To Kierkegaard a "human being" begins life as an "aesthetic". That is, one starts out as being "able to entertain in imagination different possible ways of looking at life, but [...] essentially irresponsible" (Emmet, 1941, p. 260). Irresponsibility, in this sense, is to say that one neither has nor desires control over one's environment or what happens to him. A child, for example, is born into this life without enough conscious awareness of his surroundings to make choices regarding what happens to him.

For Kierkegaard it is possible to go entirely through one's life in this state -- capable of seeing and appreciating the beauty of one's surroundings, but without ever making the choices to determine one's own fate. What makes an individual a "person" or human being is "choice of oneself". Choosing oneself is a process that, according to Emmet (1941), begins out of the despair of the realization that one is responsible for oneself, of "one's existence over against the crowd" (p. 261). This is what Kierkegaard identified as "dread".
            For Kierkegaard, the question is not primarily whether or not one is a "person", but whether or not one is capable of consciously choosing, of following one's own subjective ethical compass, of following the path of "right". When one is choosing between alternatives, making difficult decisions, that is when one's "personness" is most complete.

For Kierkegaard the question was not one of simply being a "person", but of choosing oneself -- of critical self-reflection and self-conscious choice. According to Stack (1973), "one can refuse to seek self-knowledge [...]. But the life of such a being is not the life of a person nor of an authentically existing individual" (p. 109). That is to say that until one has chosen oneself, one is not truly a complete person.
            In order to understand the "existential" definition of what it is to be an "actualized individual", one must understand that according to Kierkegaard, the "self" is comprised of various parts of the individual. It is a synthesis of the choices that one makes.

Also the self is both finite and infinite. It is finite in the sense that an individual is bound by the physical constraints of his or her body, environment, society. It is finite in the sense that it is bound by its "facticity", or by its natural state. At the same time, the "self" is infinite in that it is partly composed of the "possibility" of the individual. What one can imagine, within the constraints of the finite restrictions of one's reality, one can become (Elrod, 1973, p. 225).
            According to Stack, "the self is, as it were, a 'product' of inherited dispositions and traits [...] and our own choices, decisions, and actions". Kierkegaard recognized that human beings are products of and bound by the environments in which they exist. That is to say human beings are "natural" creatures inasmuch as they "emerge out of natural processes" and they are "dependent upon a natural world" for continued existence.

However individuals are "not so immersed in nature" that they are free from making decisions. (p. 110) In this sense, an individual person is only so as long as he is making choices. In this regard, Kierkegaard likened human children with animals, as he believed that neither were capable of choice and were, thus, at the mercy of their environments.
            "Not to choose ourselves [...] is a passive yielding of our life to a necessity which makes personal self-existence impossible" (Stack, 1973, p. 111). In other words, an individual can exist while still refusing to choose, but to live an actualized complete existence, one must make conscious and self-conscious choices.

For existentialists, the human being is the human choosing, and the human choosing is the human becoming. For Kierkegaard and those who came after him, the point of living is to choose consciously because deliberate choice is "the act by which an individual may become a person" (Stack, 1973, p. 112). Existentialists believe that an individual can live out his entire life and possibly never become "actualized." Making the choices is what makes the person.
            Kierkegaard looked toward an establishment of the "self" as the primary reason for existence and for choosing and knowing oneself. In contrast to the Socratic notion that "it is by no means necessary that everyone become a man", Kierkegaard believed that "it is by no means necessary or inevitable that one become a person or an integral self" (Stack, 1973, p. 115). But "resolute, rational choice hones the character of the individual" (Stack 1973, p. 116). An individual who can see, or imagine, all of the possibilities of his own future is then liberated to pursue those possibilities through the making of conscious choices. Individuals represent a "synthesis" of necessity (determined by his environmental and societal surroundings) and possibility (limited only by his own imagination). (p. 117)
            For Kierkegaard and the other proponents of existentialism who followed him, to be a human is to become, or at least to strive to become, an actualized individual who is self-conscious, self-critical, and self-determined. (Stack, 1973, p. 125). Put simply, "existence precedes essence."

4. Theory of Learning: What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?

For Kierkegaard, "the main duty of a teacher is not that of simply providing facts or delivering a lecture" (Walters, 2008, p. 112). The role of a teacher is to aid his students in developing an understanding of the material with which they are being presented. That is, a teacher is more of a facilitator of learning.

Also for Kierkegaard, learning is more than just the understanding of facts as they are presented. This is due, in large part, to the Kierkegaardian principle that "human existence is a mode of being in which subjectivity is the truth and [...] such truth cannot be communicated directly" (Broudy, 1961, p. 225).

Remember that for Kierkegaard, the human experience is unique to each individual and there is no "objective truth." Every person can only understand things from his or her own perspective. Nevertheless, there are certain empirical fields for which this is less true. In mathematics, for example, evidence supports the so-called "golden ratio." So Kierkegaard would agree that, as such, it can be considered to be fact. In empirical fields such as mathematics and the physical sciences, where there is detailed evidence to support the facts, things are not as likely to be viewed subjectively. Hence, learning these things is pretty direct and objective.
            Subjectivity is most important in learning the "soft" sciences, such as psychology and sociology. It is even more so in learning subjects such as art, literature, and even history (because even accounts of historical events are colored by those who have remembered and written about them).
            For Kierkegaard learning is more or less subjective and its primary function is not necessarily the transmission of facts from one generation to the next, but the development of individuals. Learning, then, is a transformative process in which individuals participate collaboratively to gain a richer understanding of not only the subjects that they are studying, but of themselves.

Learning is, for Kierkegaard, "the active sharing of views between learner and facilitator" (Walters, 2008, p. 113) and between learners as a path to knowledge. If learning is a process and the educator's role one more of "facilitator" than "teacher", it is easy to see how didactic teaching -- the recitation of facts and direct communication -- would be better suited to the teaching of science and mathematics. All other subjects require a more indirect method of teaching, in order to facilitate learning. As Broudy puts it, "Direct communication, with its goal of unambiguous reference, is a clumsy tool wherewith to convey the ambiguous" (Broudy, 1961, p. 229).
            We see, then, that for Kierkegaard, the most important form of learning is that which contributes to the understanding and the definition of oneself. Transformative learning "foster[s] life experience, critical reflection, and personal development" (Walters, 2008, p. 113). In order to engage in learning of this type, learners must feel safe and secure, so that they are able not only to explore the material presented but also so that they feel comfortable enough to make choices that will contribute to a deeper and more meaningful understanding of the "self" (ibid, 2008).
            Subjectivity is key to this type of transformative learning, and in order for students to feel comfortable participating in it, it is necessary that the value of each individual be clear in regard to their importance in the learning process.

In order for true learning to take place, "education must offer more than 'instruction', more than the mere offering of facts" (Walters, 2008, p. 114). Education must recognize the importance of the individual and appreciate the subjectivity of the material which is being presented. Each learner in the classroom will approach the same material -- the same supposed 'facts' -- from a different perspective based upon his or her own life experiences, the social climate of the area in which he lives, and the value which he feels is brought to the classroom by his or her participation. The relationships that are created between educator and learner in the classroom, and the relationships that exist between learners, must all work in harmony to create an environment in which the free exchange of ideas is possible without the fear of judgment, if real learning is to occur.
            According to Walters (2008), Kierkegaard would argue that the true purpose of learning is discovery of the "self" and "the freedom of being self defining" (p. 116). For Kierkegaard, existential learning through the use of choice, through the use of communication and the understanding of subjectivity, can expand the vantage of learning to allow for the development of "individual transformations" leading to "existential being" (Walters, 2008, p. 117).

This must occur through processes of exploration, rather than didactic teaching, where the individual is allowed to experience and subjectively process the material with which he is presented, he will take advantage of those opportunities to engage in meaningful questioning and self-conscious decision making which will further develop his definition of the "self", which is the very purpose of existential learning.

5. Theory of Transmission: Who is to teach? By what methods? What will the curriculum be?

  Kierkegaard contends that while factual information is important, a lifestyle guided by the conscious choosing of oneself is essential to the transfer of knowledge. Consequently, the acquisition of objectified knowledge, which is commonly the goal of many educational practices, is relatively meaningless. Worse still, the process of obtaining this knowledge by making a series of "objective" choices is the apotheosis of Kierkegaard's theories.

The search for purely objective knowledge is absurd according to Kierkegaard because there is a neutralization of the agent involved meaning that one would not use their own experiences, either personal or vicarious, to make a decision regarding lifestyle. Conversely, the process of obtaining this lifestyle through choice is essentially the knowledge to be gained because the agent gains insight, either personal or vicarious, that aids in the ability to make decisions.

Kierkegaard challenges mere questioning in order to gain objective knowledge. He favors a student living with a group of people and making choices in order to understand the process of learning. This is exemplified by Buddhist monks, for example, who encourage pupils to learn through experience and, in effect, choose themselves.

Ultimately, if one is not choosing a lifestyle or vocation it neutralizes the humanity and decision making of the agent. In short, for Kierkegaard the process of learning is more important than pursuing a particular answer because the process involves a personal choice, and that is where education begins.
            Attempts to transmit objective knowledge are absurd according to Kierkegaard because it causes the agent to become static. He stresses "that the agent changes as part of the process of moral decision-making, with personal experience and insight integral parts of that process," (Warren, 1982, p.221). This means that a person experiences a qualitative difference in their education when a particular esoteric notion is experienced or lived. Simply utilizing oratorical discourse to discover objective truth will not catalyze a change in the person either spiritually or educationally. One can undergo such an 'education' without making an actual choice. Therefore, real education cannot occur because there is a lack of experience either personal or vicarious.
            Kierkegaard's view of education is novel because it holds people accountable for their choices and lifestyle and includes the former and the latter as essential for education. "Kierkegaard wished 'to create difficulties everywhere,' and so he would not have been satisfied with filling [educational] gaps that people wished to be filled," (Warren, 1982, p.222).

Kierkegaard refused to give answers to people, but rather kept them in a state of disequilibrium in order to promote the student making a choice. Kierkegaard criticized the notion that thinking made someone exist. The act of choice is what constitutes a person's existence and consequently his or her education. The practice and process of education are essential to Kierkegaard's philosophy, which claims that education is the process, lifestyle, or choice consistently utilized and lived every second of the day.

6. Theory of Society: What is society? What institutions are involved in the educational process?

In considering Kierkegaard's idea of "society" one must consider what makes a society. The Oxford English Dictionary defines society as "1. the fact or condition of being connected; a connection". In this context it is easy to see why Kierkegaard perceives society as playing an integral part in the formation of the "self" by way of the opportunities it presents for the making self-defining choices. However, trying to derive an understanding of Kierkegaard's definition of society as a group of individuals, rather than a condition of one's existence, is slightly more difficult.

Kierkegaard is often interpreted as having been a staunch individualist, given his emphasis on the "self," his questioning of the ability of individuals to be truly objective, and his view that everything that an individual experiences is colored by his or her personal history. Moore notes, specifically, that it has been asserted that Kierkegaard "remained a lonely and uncompromising individualist, who was painfully insensitive to social dimensions of human existence" (p. 15). However, he goes on to detail how Kierkegaard was not an individualist, but simply viewed relationships with other individuals as meaningful only so long as the "self" of either individual was not lost to the relationship. In other words, two individuals can feel a kinship toward one another and can have a close friendship or even a love relationship, as long as both individuals continue to pursue a self-conscious definition of the "self".

Kierkegaard's arguing that "erotic love as preferential love is really a form of self-love" and that "the beloved and the friend" are simply versions of "the 'other-self'" (Moore, 1969, p. 19) make it seem as though he saw little or no value in person-to-person relationships, but that is not true. Kierkegaard appreciated the ability of individuals to contribute to the development and understanding of the "self" in one another, as long as those individuals remained themselves within the bounds of the relationship.

Kierkegaard thought that the societal nature of life allowed for interactions with other individuals at little risk to the "self" as long as one maintains the ability to not get lost in the crowd, as it were. In fact, Kierkegaard saw the danger in becoming too much the individual and lamented the fear that he may become too far detached from society in his journals (Moore, 1969, p. 23).

As much as Kierkegaard was able to recognize the need for interactions with other individuals, however, he feared the "hive mind" mentality that had the capacity to overcome the individual in groups. For him this is where the question of authority arose. Where the religious institutions are the primary "authorities" as they were in Denmark in the late 19th Century, there was the question -- for Kierkegaard, at least -- of where that authority derived from. In a society such as the one in which Kierkegaard lived, one had a choice to either accept what one was told or to question it.

The problem with questioning religious authority is that, unlike empirical sciences, there are no "experts" to defer to for factual confirmation. The question then becomes one of how to check supposed facts or whether to take a leap of faith because "authoritative claims do not have the kind of content that permits demonstration" (Whittaker, 1999, p. 84).

As much as man is a product of the environment in which he exists, it is his individual choices that determine his "self". The subjectivity of each individual's experiences makes it difficult at best to determine a Universal Ethic or a Universal Morality. Emmet (1941) asserts that Kierkegaard believed that when faced with a moral or ethical dilemma, one should choose but where the socially accepted ethical choice conflicted with one's own subjective belief of "right and wrong", one should defer to the accepted norm. The ability to do so is a determining factor in the establishment of one's character and the determination and identity of the "self", which was Kierkegaard's main concern (p. 267). In this regard Kierkegaard, with his emphasis on the "self" and "choice" and the ways in which these concepts relate to the environment in which one exists, could accurately be considered an "individualist". However, when one considers that ever person subjectively processes every decision that he must make and that a determining factor in the very nature of his subjectivity is the society in which he lives, one must see that Kierkegaard's views of society were integral to his views of the self.

7. Theory of Opportunity: Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?

Kierkegaard believes that Man creates his own opportunity. In his many works, Kierkegaard writes frequently on choice and freedom, focusing on the ability of the individual to use self-reflection to grow as a person. With this concept in mind, Kierkegaard would seemingly view education as an opportunity that man makes for himself. To Kierkegaard, man makes his own possibilities and is, therefore, responsible for creating his own opportunities with regards to education and life. While this philosophy may seem enlightened in a modern setting, Kierkegaard's views on women (a likely bi-product of both the time he lived and his religious affiliations), suggests that he does not necessarily believe that all people are deserving, or even capable, of educational opportunity.

            Kirmmse (1998) analyzes the push towards a more democratic Denmark that occurred during Kierkegaard's life. While many of his contemporaries were put off by this change in government, Kierkegaard embraced it, and in this embrace, one can see the formation of his theory of opportunity. Kierkegaard found great promise in his country having the chance of "developing each person into a full and responsible individual" (p. 17). Kierkegaard, then, seems to believe in a system that will allow for the full and proper development of all of its population.
            These concepts are furthered in Kierekgaard's writings on the concept of possibility and actuality. The human person can think of things that are and are not and recognize areas in which transformations are possible (Stack, 1973, p. 111). Kierkegaard defined this concept as possibility, and it is a major key in understand how he views opportunity. All men, he believes, are capable of noting possibilities in themselves and in the world, seeing chances to affect change. The problem lies in the action taken after a possibility is noted. Until an action is taken, Kierkegaard believed that man "lives as yet only in possibilities. It is 'I can'" (Sontag, 1979, p. 109). If a possibility is noted and then acted upon to create change, then man has formed his own opportunity. This is what Kierkegaard defined as "actuality". Opportunity, then, only comes about when an individual notes the possibility for change and then acts to see that change played out. This distinction limits the number of people who have opportunities, as there are many individuals who, even when noticing the potential for change, will not act upon it.
            It would stand to reason, that if the above is true, then the only boundary to human opportunity in Kierkegaard's view is one's own laziness or fear of change. Should an individual choose to turn a possibility into an actuality, then opportunity is potentially limitless. There is a major caveat in this philosophy, however, as Kierkegaard believes that "only a deliberating, self-reflective being such as man can have possibilities" (Stack, 1973, p. 111), and there is a large portion of the human population that Kierkegaard may have viewed as incapable of deliberation and self-reflection.
            In many feminist works written about Kierkegaard, his misogyny is noted time and again. While his views on women do shift from work to work, it cannot be ignored that Kierkegaard considered women to be inferior to men. Howe (1997) discusses how Kierkegaard regards women as notably different than men. He notes that Kierkegaard cites religion in these works, arguing that since women (Eve) were derived from men (Adam), they have a weaker connection to the spiritual world (227-228). It is further suggested that this change in connection creates differing abilities in men and women that will eventually link back to the concept of possibility and opportunity. Howe (1997) writes, "What we have here, then, is a fairly consistent identification of woman with the physical or natural (including instinct), and of man with spirit or reflection (consciousness)" (p. 228).
            By linking reflection with the ability to obtain possibility (a needed factor in Kierkegaard's theory of opportunity), it can easily be argued that Kierkegaard would not have believed women capable of noticing the possibilities needed to create change. Therefore, while originally his beliefs on opportunity may have seemed fairly all encompassing, in reality Kierkegaard would argue that only men could ever have true opportunity, and even then only some are capable of acting on the possibilities.

8. Theory of Consensus: Why do people disagree? How is consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

To Søren Kierkegaard, the concept of consensus is tricky at best. His views regarding the importance of the individual over that of the group as well as his belief that all knowledge is in some way subjective make meeting a genuine consensus with both breadth and depth nearly impossible. While he understands the importance of majority agreements, at best Kierkegaard would likely think that only a general conformity of social norms could be met by the masses. In order to analyze Kierkegaard's views on consensus, a thorough understanding must be grasped in regards to both his beliefs on social and individual morality as well as his philosophies on finding truth.
            While considering Kierkegaard's views of social and individual morality, Warren (1982) states that typical Anglo-American morality "primarily concerns rules which facilitate the functioning of (especially the resolution of conflict among) persons in a group" (p. 231). To the majority of Western culture, benefits to the masses outweigh benefits to the individual. Kierkegaard, however, takes a different standpoint, insisting that individual morality plays a far more important role in life than social morality. Because of this concept alone, it is easy to see why the idea of consensus could be nearly unobtainable under Kierkegaard's philosophies.
            The individual morality that Kierkegaard puts so much faith in is one of self reflection and choice. While typical morality is believed to be determined by an agreed upon consensus, Kierkegaard instead believes that each individual is ultimately responsible for who they are. Stack (1973) writes, "Kierkegaard's ethics  of  subjectivity  is  primarily  an  ethics  of  self-realization and  not  an  ethics  of  duty  out  of  respect  for  universal moral laws  conceived  of  as  universal,  necessary  laws  of  nature" (p. 122). It is not how the majority weighs in on a matter that determines its validity or morality, but how each individual person views it.
            Individuals, in Kierkegaard's beliefs, are solely responsible for making choices and maintaining accountability for the choices they have made. He therefore stipulates that any human individual acts autonomously from the majority whenever a choice is made. The focus, then, is not one what fits into the norms of society, but instead on what works for the moral individual himself. Kierkegaard "tried to give a positive account of how to live (social morality aside), thus going beyond the negative dictum that one should not use oneself merely as a means" (Warren, 1982, p. 230). Decisions should be made both for the process and for how they will affect the individual; to Kierkegaard, the way in which these decisions are viewed in society's eyes is a secondary concern. Therefore, if following Kierkegaard's concept of social versus individual morality, it is quite difficult to see how a majority can come to a consensus that has any genuine depth.
            Truth, to Kierkegaard, is unsurprisingly a matter to be determined by the individual. Sontag (1979) summarized Kierkegaard's views on consensus as they regard to truth by stating, "We cannot gain truth by group effort" (p. 143). Kierkegaard views the truth as a minority concept that cannot be fully understood by the majority. Once again, the idea of consensus is shunned in favor of an individualistic, subjective reality in which people are free to reflect inward to define truth. Nevertheless, in this same section of Sontag's work, he hits on key aspects of Kierkegaard's philosophy that hint at a possible consensus, however shallow it might be.
            As a religious philosopher, Kierkegaard's philosophies on truth are intricately connected to his own Christian faith. "One is on his own, but there is an authority which must be obeyed" (Sontag, 1979, p. 144). Kierkegaard feels that the search for truth invariable should lead the individual to a relationship with God. It is through religion, then, that some form of consensus can be gained by the masses. While the interpretation of life is entirely on the individual, Kierkegaard believes that, in the end, God is there as an authority to keep mankind connected. As Sontag (1979) states, "there is a norm to conform to – if we can find it" (p. 144). Can this norm be considered a consensus? If so, it would be difficult to argue for any sort of depth in Kierkegaard's view. As individuals interpret on a case-by-case, person-by-person basis, and all of their beliefs, feelings and knowledge are subjective, one cannot help but feel that, if asked, Kierkegaard would not be able to believe in consensus as it is currently defined.


Broudy, H.S. Kierkegaard on indirect communication. The Journal of Philosophy, 58(9), April 1961, 225-233.

Elrod, J.W. The self in Kierkegaard's pseudonyms. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, 4(4), Winter 1973, 218-240.

Emmet, D.M. Kierkegaard and the "existential" philosophy, Philosophy, Vol. 16, No. 63 (July 1941), pp. 257-271. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Evans, C.S. (1998) Realism and anti-realism in Kierkegaard's Concluding Unscientific Postscript. In A. Hannay & G.D. Marino (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Kierkegaard (pp. 154-176). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Gary, Kevin. Philosophy of Education Yearbook, 2007, p151-158

Howe, L.A. (1997). Kierkegaard and the feminine self. In C. Leon & S. Walsh (Eds.), Feminist interpretations of Søren Kierkegaard (217-247). University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Kirmmse, B. H. (1998). "Out with it!": The modern breakthrough, Kierkegaard, and Denmark. In A. Hannay G. D. Marino (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Kierkegaard (pp. 15-47). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Kierkegaard, S. (2000). Concluding unscientific postscript to philosophical fragments. In H. V. Hong & E. H. Hong (Eds.), The essential Kierkegaard (pp. 187-246). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Mooney, E. F. (2007). On Søren Kierkegaard: Dialogue, polemics, lost intimacy, and time. Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Company.

Sontag, F. (1979). A Kierkegaard handbook. Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press.

Stack, G.J. Kierkegaard: The self and ethical existence. Ethics, 83(2), January 1973, 108-125.

Walters, D.A. Existential being as transformative learning. Pastoral Care in Education, 26(2), June 2008, 111-118.

Warren, V. L. A Kierkegaardian approach to moral philosophy: The process of moral decision-making. The Journal of Religious Ethics, 10(2), 1982, 221-237.

Society. Oxford English Dictionary. Retrieved from http://dbproxy.lasalle.edu:2214/viewdictionaryentry/Entry/183776.