Date of Award

Spring 1973

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Philosophy

Abstract

In the late Eighteenth and early Nineteenth centuries, philosophic thought was dominated by the movement of Idealism in Germany. It is important to have a basic understanding of this movement, because it is the soil from which Soren Kierkegaard sprang. He was greatly influenced by this type of thought, but at the same time he was in strong opposition to this movement. Most of his writings are directed against the Idealists to some degree, so an overview is in order. German Idealism has some characteristic traits which take it a distinct movement in philosophy. The outstanding trait of these philosophers is their methodology. The method of the Idealists is speculation. This means that they believed that ideas existed in a spaceless and timeless world, and man must project himself away from the real work-a-day world to think on this abstract level. This spaceless timeless world, however, is only abstract from the human point of view. Objectively it is more real than the human world. Another characteristic of the Idealist movement is that its scheme is the system. Just as one would say that the scheme of the Greek philosophers was the dialogue so in the same sense one could say that the scheme of the Idealists is the system. This is the form in which their ideas are communicated. After Kant had split the world into noumena and phenomona, the Genian Idealists were trying to put it back together again in a systematic fashion. They built their systems with Kant's critiques as their foundation. This movement reached its culmination point in the philosopher Friedrich Hegel. This man brought his speculation under a complete and total system. His system encompassed everything, and explained it all as a process of history, in which the real world Wirklichkeit, and the spaceless timeless world Geist were gradually moving closer together into a synthesis. History was the process within his system where this movement was taking place. This process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis was all encompassing, and man was only a part within the movement. Kierkegaard was the first to radically challenge this system. He used as his Archimedean point a new category, something outside the system, 'the individual'

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