Anti-semitism in Kierkegaard - with constant regard to his individualism

Wulff, Elsebeth (2010). Anti-semitism in Kierkegaard - with constant regard to his individualism. PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000100ac

Abstract

Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55), the Danish Philosopher, is known for his advocacy of the moral responsibility of the individual as well as his adverseness towards systems, especially the Hegelian system, and the authority of the State over the Church.

From all these points of view, it is surprising to find the oeuvre interspersed with anti-Semitic remarks. The Journals must be regarded as belonging to the oeuvre and they constitute the main part of the evidence, although the works are equally compromised.

The first half of the thesis is providing a historical background and partly forestalling the remark that in those days 'they were all at it1. It also sets up premises, definition and methodology used, in preparation for the second half.

The second half of the thesis presents the evidence which falls into three categories: Biblical, social, biological (racial) anti- Semitism. It then discusses the evidence, before, in the last chapter, it addresses the exculpatists and the surprising fact that Kierkegaard today is seen as a spokesman for the minorities. It also looks at later writers who are deeply influenced by Kierkegaard1s ideas, many of them Jewish.

In the Conclusion, there is a brief discussion of the implications of the results of this research. Can Kierkegaard go on being seen as a champion for the wronged and suppressed? Can his readers go on ignoring the sheer volume of anti-Semitism in his writings? Can one make oneself blind to parts of a philosopher's texts? Is it either/or?

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