By Deb A.
"People, in our time, because of so much knowledge, have forgotten what it means to exist."
Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Born 200 years ago today, Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be the first modern existentialist, despite having lived a good century or so before the literary and philosophical movement emerged after World War II. For many, existentialism conjures up images of Jean-Paul Sartre holding a smoldering cigarette, not the profile of a young Christian man from Copenhagen.
In honour of Kierkegaard's 200th birthday, let's take a brief look at the one thing most people tend to associate with him: the leap of faith.
As many philosophy students will be itching to tell you, Kierkegaard did not actually use this term in any of his work, but he did have something to say about the need for a leap. He rejected what he perceived to be an over-reliance on intellect and reason at the expense of our passion. Our intellectual reflection alone, he believed, could not bring us to make the choices that determine our identity. Simply thinking would lead to more thinking; it is our passion that tells us it is time to make a decision. Without it, we run the risk of pondering and researching and debating and justifying ourselves into circles... and missing out on being.
That said, for the thinkers out there, Clare Carlisle offers a wonderful introduction into Kierkegaard's ideas in her series in the Guardian's 'How to believe' section that is definitely worth a read.
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