Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard

Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard

by Clare Carlisle


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Philosopher of the Heart is the groundbreaking biography of renowned existentialist Søren Kierkegaard’s life and creativity, and a searching exploration of how to be a human being in the world.

Søren Kierkegaard is one of the most passionate and challenging of all modern philosophers, and is often regarded as the founder of existentialism. Over about a decade in the 1840s and 1850s, writings poured from his pen pursuing the question of existence—how to be a human being in the world?—while exploring the possibilities of Christianity and confronting the failures of its institutional manifestation around him.

Much of his creativity sprang from his relationship with the young woman whom he promised to marry, then left to devote himself to writing, a relationship which remained decisive for the rest of his life. He deliberately lived in the swim of human life in Copenhagen, but alone, and died exhausted in 1855 at the age of 42, bequeathing his remarkable writings to his erstwhile fiancée.

Clare Carlisle’s innovative and moving biography writes Kierkegaard’s life as far as possible from his own perspective, to convey what it was like actually being this Socrates of Christendom—as he put it, living life forwards yet only understanding it backwards.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374231187
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/05/2020
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 56,537
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Clare Carlisle is Reader in Philosophy and Theology at King’s College London. She is a regular contributor to the Times Literary Supplement and has written dozens of articles on philosophy for The Guardian. Her book, On Habit, was named an Outstanding Academic Title of 2014 by Choice, and she has recently edited George Eliot’s translation of Spinoza’s Ethics. She grew up in Manchester, studied philosophy and theology at Cambridge, and now lives in Hackney.

Table of Contents

Preface xi

The Life of Søren Kierkegaard: Key Events and Major Publications xix

Part 1 May 1843: Return Journey

1 Living the Question of Existence 3

2 'My Regine!' 15

3 In Defiance of Pseudo-Philosophers 29

4 Following Abraham Home 43

Part 2 1848-1813: Life Understood Backwards

5 Learning to be Human: Lesson One 57

6 'Come Unto Me' 73

7 Aesthetic Education 91

8 Living without a Life-View 112

9 The Socrates of Christendom 130

10 Repetition: A New Philosophy of Life 147

11 How to be Anxious 165

12 Life's Labyrinth 180

Part 3 1849-1855: Life Lived Forwards

13 At Odds with the World 205

14 'This is How it is with Me' 219

15 The Last Battle 233

Kierkegaard's Afterlife 249

Notes 265

Acknowledgements 321

Index 323

Illustration Credits 337

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