“Our life always expresses the result of our dominant thoughts.”
Søren Kierkegaard, from Either/Or (1843)
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author who is widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. Kierkegaard was born to an affluent family in Copenhagen. He was highly influenced by his mother, and according to his brother Peter, preserved many of their mother’s words in his writings. Copenhagen in the 1830’s and 1840’s had crooked streets where carriages rarely went. Kierkegaard loved to walk them. He was an adamant journalist, and much of his life and work are recorded in some 7,000 pages of writing. Kierkegaard published some of his works using pseudonyms and for others he signed his own name as author. A highly devout man, Kierkegaard’s central writing on religion was Fear and Trembling (1843). Either/Or (also 1843), written in two parts, is a theory of human existence, marked by the distinction between an essentially hedonistic, aesthetic mode of life and the ethical life, and is considered to be his magnum opus. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a “single individual”, giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. His work is still studied and revered to this day.