National Collegiate Honors Council



Joseph Swanson

Date of this Version

Fall 2003


Published in Journal of the National Collegiate Honors Council 4:2, Fall/Winter 2003. Copyright © 2003 by the National Collegiate Honors Council.


Søren Kierkegaard was a nineteenth-century Danish philosopher whose primary concerns were tied to the individual and Christianity. He felt that the ‘Christendom’ of his day was hollow, and that its hollowness led to inauthenticity among those people who might otherwise have been true individuals and authentic Christians. He was wary of the ‘crowd’, viewing it as an abstraction of modernity, and he was skeptical of any attempts to reconcile the Judeo-Christian God with reason. He firmly believed that the depths of God could not be plumbed with rationality, and that the individual’s relationship to God must correspondingly be based in faith, which he saw as perpetually linked to suffering and to dread. He felt that it was his duty to “reintroduce Christianity . . . into Christendom” by promoting the development of the inwardness of Christianity: a capacity for self-reflection and a tendency to struggle against the crowd. Kierkegaard felt that by this, the individual is born.