Cancelled Autumn 2022 - Søren Kierkegaard and the Challenge of Existence (Example from a previous semester)

Illustration: Københavns Bymuseum

Kierkegaard and the Challenge of Existence is a course in English for all International Students offered each semester. Søren Kierkegaard is a fascinating and famous Danish philosopher/writer – in fact, the only Danish thinker of undisputed international rank and legend. Apart from being considered the“father of existentialism”, his unorthodox ideas are discussed in and can be connected to virtually every subject area within the humanities.

Kierkegaard’s works revolve around basic human experiences such as lust, despair, anxiety, love, morality, passion, absurdity and god. In particular, Kierkegaard claimed to present a complete summary of the possible ways in which we can live our lives or exist. At the same time, he analyzed and criticized these ways thoroughly in order to judge to what extent they may give us a true point of orientation.

Every lecture presupposes a short reading of not more than five pages and will provide sufficient room for discussion where we raise fundamental questions such as what we can at all know, how we should at all be and act and what we can at all hope for as finite human beings. It is the past experience and our very stimulus that students from different disciplines profit from one another.

The course also integrates a City Walk, which can be characterized as a walk through Kierkegaard’s odd personal life as well as the screening of the momentous and deeply “Kierkegaardian” Danish movie Breaking the Waves / Lars von Trier.

The lectures do not presuppose specialized knowledge and will introduce the respective themes without jargon. Kierkegaard’s ideas are original and never belong to one genre only so that the course is indeed eligible to students of all majors. Essays can be composed freely, but need to be submitted in English or in German. Individual student counselling of the lecturer will be available.

Time: Mondays from 4 to 6 p.m.

Location: 12.0.25 + 12.0.35

See Søren Kierkegaard and the Challenge of Existence at

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