Welcome to the online Commentary on Kierkegaard's Writings. Information on every published work and article, including many unfinished writings and journal entries, is presented here with publication data, quotes, detailed commentary, and images. Within the Commentary works are linked together in chronological order. You will find the works listed by English title, Danish title, pseudonym(s) if any, year of publication (or year of authorship if posthumous), and volume number in Kierkegaard's Writings (KW), Søren Kierkegaards Skrifter (SKS), Samlede Værker (SV), or other Danish source. See Bibliography for more on these sources.
If you know the name of the work you are studying you may use the alphabetized droplist below. Or you may scroll down and browse the works in chronological order. There you may view an abstract or go straight to commentary. Clicking on an "Abstract" link reveals a brief abstract, while clicking it again hides it.
First Period: Works of Youth (1834-42)
This period consists of Kierkegaard's earliest full work From the Papers of One Still Living, an unfinished play, The Battle Between the Old and the New Soap-Cellars, journal notes, and the dissertation. Kierkegaard would also engage in his first of three literary battles. His literary opponents were Orla Lehmann and Johannes Hage. In these exchanges accusations against each included indictments against papers of rival political persuasion. Lehmann and Hage supported the liberal press, while Kierkegaard indicted the entire liberal movement.
Another Defense of Woman's Great Abilities Abstract
This is Kierkegaard's first published article. It is a witty response to an article by P. Lind. In this work, we can see the beginnings of SK's hyperbolic and prolix style of composition.
Our Journalistic Literature Abstract
Here Kierkegaard counters the view that the press was responsible for many of the advances in political reform. This paper reflects Kierkegaard's abiding antipathy toward the press, against reform that was merely political in nature, and against the bloodthirsty aspects of some political reform.
The Morning Observations Abstract
Kierkegaard would engage in three literary battles during his lifetime. This was the first article in his first battle. This early work was a criticism of the press, namely Kjøbenhavnsposten, and a criticism of so-called reform as proffered by Orla Lehmann.
On the Polemic of Fædrelandet Abstract
Kierkegaard continues his early assault on the press and political reform. By this time he has countered some of the more popular liberal writers of his circle and has made a mark as a witty and polemical agitator.
To Mr. Orla Lehmann Abstract
This is Kierkegaard's last early article countering the liberal writers who proffered reforms that were solely political in nature.
From the Papers of One Still Living Abstract
This work is arguably Kierkegaard's first real work of substance, though he himself reckoned Either/Or to mark the beginning of his authorship. This work was a newspaper serial published while Kierkegaard was a student. It is a review of the novel Only a Fiddler (Kun en Spillemand, 1837), by Hans Christian Andersen, 1805-1875, a Danish writer of fairy tales, poet, novelist, and dramatist. Kierkegaard writes that Andersen "completely lacks any philosophy of life". Kierkegaard also criticized Andersen's statement that "Genius is an egg that needs warmth for the fertilization of good fortune; otherwise it becomes a wind-egg". Even in this early work one can see Kierkegaard's emphasis on the individual and the rejection of Romantic ideology, so much a part of nineteenth century thought. He counters the belief that environment determines genius. According to Kierkegaard, each person needs an idea for which he might live. He would return to this genre in his Two Ages.
The Battle Between the Old and the New Soap-Cellars Abstract
Kierkegaard's only attempt at a play was left unpublished and uncompleted. In this play he portrays a young man with an identity crisis, Willibald (probably Kierkegaard himself), who tries to find his way intellectually, but is misled by bad philosophy.
The Concept of Irony Abstract
This early work was Kierkegaard's dissertation, and addresses irony, particularly Socratic irony. Part one is on Socratic irony as exhibited by Plato, Xenophon, and Aristophanes, with a closing section on Hegel. Part two is on irony in Fichte, von Schlegel, Tieck, and Solger. The judges at its defence agreed that it was an intelligent and noteworthy work, but were concerned about its style, which some thought to be ambling, wordy, and idiosyncratic.
Notes on Schelling's Berlin Lectures Abstract
Kierkegaard attended the Berlin lectures of Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling (1775-1854). He was overjoyed (at first) at Schelling's assault on the then very influential Hegelianism. These are journal entries from that event.
Public Confession Abstract
Kierkegaard, under his own name, disavows the likelihood that he has authored a number of pseudonymous articles attributed to him by some scholars. In fact, he had authored these works, but was already developing his dialectical method of indirect communication through authorial distance.
Second Period: Indirect Communication (1843-46)
In 1843 Kierkegaard began his dual authorship of pseudonymous writings on philosophical and theological subjects, and religious works penned under his own name. His purpose for the pseudonyms was mainly to undermine the Hegelian "system" and an uncritical and dispassionate view of one's relationship with God. Because of this, Kierkegaard considered Either/Or to mark the true beginning of his authorship. The religious discourses, on the other hand, were written to accompany the philosophical works, and to underscore that Kierkegaard was a religious author from the beginning—a fact which was overlooked, and which he was disposed to point out. For more on his dual authorship see Kierkegaard's Authorial Method.
Kierkegaard begins here his pseudonymous authorship, providing several essays and narratives that may seem prolix, haphazard, and rambling. Either/Or was published in two volumes amounting to over 800 pages. Indeed, Kierkegaard's style throughout his philosophical works is highly idiosyncratic. The title Either/Or refers broadly to the alternative to Hegelian philosophy, that is, the law of contradiction. Secondly, the two parts of the either/or choice are the two stages of the esthetic and the ethical. The "either" part is a collection of works expressing several types of esthetic viewpoints. The "or" part is on marriage as an expression of the ethical stage.
Who is the Author of Either/Or? Abstract
This article was published one week after the appearance of Either/Or. It was intended to increase Kierkegaard's authorial distance from his body of works, and hence emphasize the importance of content. In this article Kierkegaard begins by stating that there is no consensus as to the authorship of the work. He posits various theories on the authorship based on external and internal evidence.
A Word of Thanks to Professor Heiberg Abstract
Kierkegaard stated in his Journals that he would come to the literary aid of Heiberg, who was a great literary figure in Denmark. As can be seen, this was meant with tongue in cheek.
A Little Explanation Abstract
This short article, like "Public Confession" and "Who is the Author of Either/Or?", is an attempt by Kierkegaard to distance himself from his authorship.
Johannes Climacus Abstract
Johannes Climacus is an unorthodox philosophical work in that it is in narrative form. In his pursuit of philosophical truth Johannes Climacus set outs to "doubt everything", exploring the Cartesian and Hegelian models. Though unfinished as of 1843, Kierkegaard began it in the previous year. Here he uses the pseudonym as the subject of the work. The Latin subtitle means "One must doubt everything", and that is what Johannes sets out to do. This is meant to recall the young Descartes who began his Meditations by seeking to remove all presuppositions, except that which is unassailably self-evident. Kierkegaard questions why modern philosophy begins with doubt, and why skepticism is a superior method of knowledge acquisition.
Eighteen Upbuilding Discourses Abstract
In 1843 Kierkegaard began his dual authorship of pseudonymous writings on philosophical and theological subjects, and religious works penned under his own name. While his purpose for the pseudonyms was mainly to undermine the Hegelian "system" and an uncritical and dispassionate view of one's relationship with God, the religious discourses, written to accompany the philosophical works, served to underscore that Kierkegaard was a religious author from the beginning—a fact which was overlooked, and which he was disposed to point out. Though these works are religious in nature, they are not devoid of philosophy.
Fear and Trembling Abstract
Kierkegaard uses Genesis as his text, where Abraham is commanded by God to kill his son Isaac. But this is a deeply personal work which exists semantically on two distinct planes. Ostensibly it is about the "teleological suspension of the ethical", that is, the suspension of the moral law for the sake of a higher law. Abraham is commanded by God to kill his son Isaac. Although God must be obeyed, murder is immoral. The ethical is thus suspended for a higher goal (telos). On another level, this work is about his failed engagement to Regine Olsen. He is Abraham and she is Isaac, whom he must sacrifice, that is, divorce himself from, since he deems himself unfit for her—although some commentators reverse their roles. Kierkegaard proffers his well-known "Knight of Faith" versus the "Knight of Infinite Resignation".
Once again Kierkegaard presents a philosophical narrative, namely, the correspondence of a young man in love who cannot consummate the relationship in marriage because that position falls into the area of ethical duty. That would require a dedication to one person, that is, repetition. In contradistinction to repetition is recollection, which falls under the category of the esthetic. There the young man can only cherish the beloved after he leaves her, and then only poetically.
Philosophical Fragments Abstract
Kierkegaard begins here what he brings to completion in the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, namely, the subjective approach to knowledge acquisition. He is concerned with how we acquire knowledge, that is, how we learn, especially with the Christian doctrine of the incarnation. He asks how we can base an eternal happiness on an historical event. Kierkegaard seeks to ground knowledge in the ineffability of subjectivity. This directs the entire study, in that it is practical as well as theoretical.
The Concept of Anxiety Abstract
Kierkegaard examines the Christian doctrine of hereditary sin and its relation to anxiety. Anxiety preceded Adam's sin, but is not itself sin. Kierkegaard asserts that freedom itself causes anxiety, but grounds each individual's sin in his own sinfulness. The first sin for Adam and for any individual is a qualitative leap out of freedom into sinfulness. There is also an anxiety that is a manifestation of sinfulness. But all individuals are born with the same freedom and anxiety as Adam as a result of that freedom that Adam possessed, and thus we sin not because we are sinners, but we become sinners because of our qualitative leap out of freedom into sin, and hence sinfulness.
This is a series of satirical essays and reviews aimed at Copenhagen's literary society, most notably at the very influential J. L. Heiberg, in the form of eight prefaces to eight non-existent works.
Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions Abstract
This work accompanied Stages On Life's Way. Each of the three discourses represents the three stages or spheres of existence: the esthetic, the ethical and the religious: a confession, a marriage, and "At a Graveside". Thus the work, though devotional, has a correspondence with the philosophical works.
Stages On Life's Way Abstract
This is a lengthy sequel to Either/Or published two years prior. In the former work the esthetic and the ethical stages were presented, but Kierkegaard refrained from treating the religious stage, except to hint at it in the addendum. Here he returns to the first two stages, and then moves on extensively to the religious stage, which covers roughly two-thirds of the book. It's full title is "'Guilty?"/"Not guilty?' A Story of Suffering, An Imaginary Psychological Construction". It is about a young man who was in love but needed to break his engagement, as Kierkegaard in fact did. It is in some ways reminiscent of "The Diary of a Seducer" in Either/Or, but exhibits quite a different esthetic. Thus this section is about passionate commitment to the beloved in the ethical, expressed in erotic love, and commitment to God in the religious stage.
An Explanation and a Little More Abstract
This short article, like "A Little Explanation" and "Who is the Author of Either/Or?", is yet another attempt by Kierkegaard to distance himself from his authorship.
A Cursory Observation Abstract
This article continues on the subject of Mozart's Don Giovanni which was begun in Either/Or.
Concluding Unscientific Postscript Abstract
This is the lengthy sequel to the Philosophical Fragments. Here again Kierkegaard underscores the necessity of approaching truth subjectively, not by denying objective truth, but by asserting that objective truth can only be known and appropriated subjectively. The word "Concluding" has a two-fold meaning, since it refers both to the conclusion of the material first presented in Philosophical Fragments, and it was to be the conclusion of Kierkegaard's writing career, though in later years he would describe it as a turning point. As H. Hong points out, there is irony in calling this work a postscript to another work, when this is five times the size of the former. The term "unscientific" requires an explanation. Science refers to learning in general. Concerning existence itself, there can be no teacher except God. As a consequence, the work is not systematic.
Third Period: The Corsair Affair (1845-46)
This short period covers Denmark's most dramatic and well-known literary conflict of which Kierkegaard was the focus. The Corsair was a weekly satirical paper, which lampooned people of repute, and was itself considered disreputable, though it was read surreptitiously by many. Although Kierkegaard contributed only two articles to the conflict, the attack leveled against him was sustained for months.
The Activity of a Traveling Esthetician Abstract
This was the second of three literary battles that Kierkegaard engage in during his lifetime. Denmark's most dramatic and well-known literary conflict focussed on the very person of Kierkegaard. The Corsair was a weekly satirical paper, which lampooned people of repute, and was itself considered disreputable, though it was read surreptitiously by many. Although Kierkegaard contributed only two articles to the conflict, the attack leveled against him was sustained for months. This article, published in The Fatherland, was the first of two articles attacking P. L. Møller and The Corsair. The former had carelessly and negatively critiqued Kierkegaard's Stages on Life's Way.
Dialectical Result of a Literary Police Action Abstract
In this second of two articles that he wrote, Kierkegaard again attacks the corrupt paper and its function as a gossip rag. He taunts the editor by asking, "May I ask to be abused—the personal injury of being immortalized by The Corsair is just too much". The Corsair took him up on his offer with a sustained and personal attack, which caused Kierkegaard much grief.
Fourth Period: A Prelude to The Second Authorship (1846-48)
After the contrived end of his writing career in 1846, Kierkegaard began writing again later that same year. During this period he primarily took to writing shorter works and articles, except for the lengthy Works of Love. Though most of these works were not indirect (pseudonymous), they precede the spiritual re-awakening of 1848.
Two Ages: A Literary Review Abstract
This work is a lengthy review of a novel by Thomasine Christine Gyllembourg-Ehrensvärd, entitled Two Ages. Out of this review Kierkegaard launches into a polemic, alleging that his age is merely reflective, that is, that it lacks passion. Part of this work has appeared in English as The Present Age.
Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits Abstract
This work is divided into three sections. The first contains the very popular "Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing", which has been published separately in English. Part two is "What We Learn from the Lilies in the Field and from the Birds of the Air". Part three is "The Gospel of Sufferings, Christian Discourses". The Kierkegaard scholar Eduard Geismar, speaking of Purity of Heart, said, "I am of the opinion that nothing of what he has written is to such a degree before the face of God. Anyone who really wants to understand Kierkegaard does well to begin with it."
Works of Love Abstract
This is a lengthy ethical treatment of the Christian duty to love the neighbor as the self. Kierkegaard displays insight into Biblical themes and exhibits poetic artistry in this work, which has been compared to "Purity of Heart Is To Will One Thing" in devotional substance. Kierkegaard emphasizes the works of love for at least two reasons. First, love is indescribable, since "God is love" and God is unfathomable. Second, he is concerned with the manifestations of love in the Christian life. Though he agrees with Luther that works do not earn us salvation he asserts that works, grounded in love, are a necessary outpouring of the life of a Christian.
Phister as Captain Scipio Abstract
This article is on the actor Joachim Ludvig Phister's (1807-1896) portrayal of Captain Scipio. Here, as in The Crisis and A Crisis in the Life of an Actress and Either/Or, we can see Kierkegaard's abiding interest in the theatre and the concept of reflection.
The Crisis and a Crisis in the Life of an Actress Abstract
This work is specifically on the acting abilities of Johanne Luise Pätges Heiberg (1812-1890), the wife of Johan Ludvig Heiberg, one of Denmark's leading literary and social figures.
Fifth Period: Direct Communication (1848-51)
In 1848 Kierkegaard underwent a spiritual re-awakening, calling 1848 "the richest and most fruitful year I have experienced as an author". During this entire period Kierkegaard wrote either under his own name, or, when using a pseudonym, listed himself as editor. His use of pseudonyms was no longer designed to mask his authorship or to situate the works under a philosophical rubric, but rather to show his own personal inadequacy to attain the perfection of the Christian ideal. This period is sometimes called Kierkegaard's "second authorship".
Christian Discourses Abstract
In 1848 Kierkegaard realized that his sins had been forgotten by God as well as forgiven. This experience inspired these devotional and beautiful discourses. Although Kierkegaard is most noted as an existentialist philosopher, these works abound with a poetic heart. His phrases are beautiful and full of wonderful similes. This work is the fruit of the inspired year of 1848, and shows Kierkegaard at his liquid best. Walter Lowrie said, "The third section is the first example of the polemic against self-satisfied Christianity which was to dominate Kierkegaard's late writings."
The Book on Adler Abstract
This work was written in reaction to the writings of Adolf Peter Adler (1812-1869), who was a pastor in Hasle and Rutsker, on the Danish island of Bornholm. He became an avid Hegelian and took a pastorate in 1841. He claimed to have had a "vision of light" in 1842, which turned him against Hegelianism. In this vision Jesus commanded him to burn his former books and stated that he would dictate to him a new work. Bishop Mynster suspended him in 1844. Adler was then deposed in 1845. He later conceded that his revelation was a mistake, that "revelation was perhaps too strong an expression". To make matters much worse, Adler later published other works, and declared that his former "revelation" was instead a work of genius. Kierkegaard was impressed by the issues that the case of Adler raised, being particularly interested in Adler's confusion over the categories of genius and inspiration.
Two Minor Ethical-Religious Essays Abstract
Originally Kierkegaard wrote a work entitled A Cycle of Ethical-Religious Essays (also known as The Book On Adler and On Authority and Revelation). A portion of it was published separately as "The Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle". Kierkegaard added another essay entitled "Has a Man the Right to Let Himself Be Put to Death for the Truth?" and published them both under this title Two Minor Ethical-Religious Essays. This work appeared under the pseudonym H. H., which is only one of two "higher" pseudonyms used by Kierkegaard for his decidedly religious works, and the only work published under this pseudonym. H. H. does not engage in the same level of intellectual discourse as Anti-Climacus, nor is he (apparently) the representation of idealized Christianity. Yet his voice rings of authority.
The Point of View for My Work as an Author Abstract
This is an interesting and important work for at least two reasons: it is a frank account of Kierkegaard's process of authorship. It is also, to an extent, an autobiographical document. He left this work unpublished because it seemed to be self-glorifying. His brother Peter published it posthumously. Instead, he published the much shorter work On My Work As An Author. Although Kierkegaard considered Either/Or to mark the true beginning of his authorship, he considered his religious works to be of great import.
The Single Individual Abstract
Kierkegaard wrote three works on his authorship: The Point of View, The Single Individual, and On My Work as an Author. Only the last one was published in his lifetime. The Single Individual is the earliest of the three, and was published posthumously in 1859 with the The Point of View. In relation to "the numeric masses", the individual person is of infinite importance. God deals with, saves and judges individuals. The masses have no real essence. In The Single Individual Kierkegaard repeatedly asserts that the "crowd is untruth". He begins with the subject of politics. This is especially significant because politics emphasizes the whole, while Christianity, as proffered by Kierkegaard, emphasizes the individual before God.
On My Work as an Author Abstract
Kierkegaard wrote the Point of View (above) to explain his whole method of authorship, but left it unpublished because it seemed to be self-glorifying. Instead, he published this much shorter and more guarded work. Kierkegaard was sensitive to the claim, sometimes made, that his religious and edifying works were less interesting than his philosophical works. In fact, he claimed that the pseudonymous works were written "without authority" to direct his reader to a more spiritual existence. In considering the plan behind his indirect, pseudonymous works and his direct works, Kierkegaard says that they "have ultimately the same aim: to make aware of the religious, the essentially Christian".
Armed Neutrality Abstract
This short work is important because it may be the boldest and most direct statement of Kierkegaard's position on the Church and Christianity. It is keenly bold but lacks the hyperbole of his tracts against Christendom which appeared at the end of his life. Kierkegaard states here—what he would return to in his attack upon the church—that the Christianity of the New Testament ceases to exist, is "completely abolished". It still exists in some sense, but only "as a teaching, as doctrine". As evidence that Christianity does not exist is the fact that the church is established, is the establishment, whereas the Christianity of the New Testament came into being in opposition to the secular and religious establishments. Kierkegaard then explains his particular task as an author.
The Lily of the Field, the Bird of the Air Abstract
These three discourses appeared roughly a year after the religious experience of 1848, and are similar in tone to Christian Discourses. Like the three discourses that were published under the title Three Discourses on Imagined Occasions, which accompanied Stages On Life's Way, these three discourses seem to coincide with Kierkegaard's three stages of life—also known as spheres of existence. The first discourse is in part on silence as communication, and specifically how the birds and lilies speak and are comprehended as opposed to how the poet speaks and is comprehended. The poet would naturally represent the esthetic stage. The second discourse is on obedience, which of course epitomizes the ethical stage. The last discourse is on joy, which is a transcendant quality—or, perhaps better put, a transcendant experience—and thus would suggest the religious sphere.
The Sickness Unto Death Abstract
This is a companion piece to the Concept of Anxiety, and is also a "psychological" work, moving beyond the earlier preliminary psychological considerations of anxiety. Here Kierkegaard considers the spiritual aspects of despair. As anxiety is related to the ethical, despair is related to the religious, that is, to the eternal. Despair is anxiety in the face of the eternal. Kierkegaard addresses two broad types of despair: First, "the despair that is ignorant of being despair, or the despairing ignorance of having a self and an eternal self". Second, "the despair that is conscious of being despair and therefore is conscious of having a self in which there is something eternal." This second type is again divided into two types: First, the soul does "not will to be itself", or second, the soul "in despair wills to be itself".
Three Discourses at the Communion on Fridays Abstract
This work contains the three discourses "The High Priest", "The Publican", and "The Woman taken in Sin". They are similar in tone to Christian Discourses. The first discourse has as its scriptural text a passage from the Epistle to the Hebrews 4.15, "For we have not a high priest who is unable to feel compassion with our infirmities, but one who in all points was tried in like manner, yet without sin." The second discourse is entitled "The Publican", and is based on the Scripture passage in Luke 18.13. There Jesus compares two kinds of attitudes a person can have toward one's own sin. The third and final discourse is one of Kierkegaard's more moving pieces. It is on the woman who was a sinner, taken from Luke 7.47, a text which he would use on at least three occasions.
Practice in Christianity Abstract
The express purpose of Practice In Christianity is to provide a means whereby Christianity may be reintroduced into Christendom, since the latter had departed so far from the Christianity of the New Testament. In this sense this work is both polemical and homiletical. Kierkegaard considered this to be his "most perfect and truest" work, and thought it to be, with The Sickness Unto Death, most important. Frithiof Brandt says, "In The Sickness Unto Death the subject is the Christian before God. In Practice in Christianity it is the Christian before Christ." Kierkegaard examines the inherent offense of Christianity and its nature, as well as how the established church seeks to remove that offense to accommodate itself to the world. He bluntly proposes that Christendom be revitalized with nascent, that is, offensive Christianity.
An Upbuilding Discourse Abstract
This beautiful discourse is entitled "The Woman that was a Sinner", and is based on Luke 7.37ff. It is on the nature of love and forgiveness. "From a woman thou dost learn the hushed, profound, God-fearing sorrow which is silent before God, from Mary; for it is true that the sword pierced through her heart, as was prophesied, but she was not in despair, either at the prophecy, or at its coming to pass. From a woman thou dost learn concern for one thing needful, from Mary the sister of Lazarus, who sat silent at the feet of Christ, with her heart's choice, the one thing needful."
An Open Letter to Dr. Rudelbach Abstract
This article is quite revelatory of Kierkegaard's position on Christianity. It was published on January 31, 1851. Andreas Gottlob Rudelbach (1792-1862), with N. F. S. Grundtvig, who had been officially censured in Denmark, began a Theological publication in 1825. This publication, with its assault on rationalism, appealed to H. L. Martensen, whom Kierkegaard would later oppose openly. But sensing that this alignment would be prohibitive, Rudelbach broke away from Grundtvig. Rudelbach later propounded reformation of the church. While Kierkegaard surely noted the need for reformation of the church, he objected to Rudelbach because he suggested political means of reformation, whereas Kierkegaard would later write that the church needs to be dismantled and rebuilt anew on spiritual terms.
Two Discourses at the Communion on FridaysAbstract
The first discourse, entitled "To Whom Little is Forgiven, the Same Loveth Little", uses the text of Luke 7.47. Kierkegaard used this same text for An Upbuilding Discourse. It is the story of the woman worshipping at Jesus' feet. The second discourse is entitled "Love Shall Hide the Multitude of Sins", and is taken from 1Peter 4.8. Kierkegaard focuses on the individual, especially the individual's conscience and his sense of sin. These direct religious discourses are accompanied by a brief explanation of Kierkegaard's prior pseudonymity.
For Self-Examination Abstract
Kierkegaard returns to the theme of the inward and personal, that is, to the individual before God. In the preface, he recommends that the book be read aloud. The three sections of this work comprise a sort of trinity. Part One is entitled "What is Required in Order to Look at Oneself with True Blessing in the Mirror of the Word?" Part two is entitled "Christ is the Way". Part three is called "It is the Spirit Who Gives Life". This work is very direct and is meant to re-orient the reader to God.
Judge for Yourself! Abstract
This work is very closely linked to For Self-Examination (above). It is primarily on the imitation of Christ and suffering. In the preface Kierkegaard addresses this work to "the individual". "What does it mean to be and to will to be the single individual? It means to have and to will to have a conscience." The work is divided into two chapters, the first being "Becoming Sober". The text is from 1Peter 4.7. Kierkegaard begins by addressing the Pentecost scene. The Holy Spirit descends upon the disciples, who are heard to speak in the languages of many men. Some of the onlookers scoff and say they are drunk. Kierkegaard uses this passage to call his reader not only to soberness, but to see the contrast between the world and the Spirit.
Sixth Period: The Attack Upon Christendom (1854-55)
Kierkegaard would engage in three literary battles during his lifetime. The first was an encounter with Orla Lehmann and Johannes Hage, when Kierkegaard was in his early twenties. The second battle was the so-called Corsair Affair. This final battle would be the so-called Attack Upon Christendom which concluded with his death. This battle occurred after the silence of the years 1852-54, through which Kierkegaard became a self-proclaimed critic of the established church, writing sarcastic and hyperbolic tracts against formalized Christendom, that is, the state Lutheran Church.
Articles from the Fatherland Abstract
Kierkegaard's final literary battle would be the so-called Attack upon Christendom which concluded with his death, in which he became a self-proclaimed critic of the established church. Kierkegaard wrote 21 articles in The Fatherland beginning in late 1854, in which he makes a concerted and harsh assault on the established Church.
This Must Be Said—So Let It Be Said Abstract
This tract was written near the end of the articles published in The Fatherland. Kierkegaard alleges that the church is so corrupt that it is better not to attend than to attend, and thereby make a fool of God.
The Moment Abstract
Kierkegaard published ten tracts that followed the articles in The Fatherland, in which he was sole writer/editor. These were published at roughly one- to four-week intervals until his death. Amazingly, they outstripped the circulation of The Fatherland. Each installment contained several articles, all by Kierkegaard, and continued his hyperbolic assault on organized Christianity.
What Christ Judges of Official Christianity Abstract
This tract was published soon after Kierkegaard starting publishing The Moment. He again decries the established church in the role of a detective, not in a spiritual, much less official, capacity, calling the clergy freethinkers and perjurers for not keeping their sacred oaths.
The Changelessness of God Abstract
This work, though called a religious discourse, was actually a sermon that Kierkegaard preached in the Church of the Citadel on May 18, 1851. It's preface is dated May 5, 1854, Kierkegaard's forty-first birthday. It was published in August 1855, during the height of Kierkegaard's attack on Christendom, just two months before his death, between installments 7 and 8 of The Moment. The text used is James 1.17, a favorite verse of his: "Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow."
Other (Posthumous) Works
This section consists of Kierkegaard's correspondence and journal entries. Note: All separately published posthumous works which were found among the journals and papers are listed separately in other parts of the Commentary.
Letters and Documents Abstract
These are letters written by or to Kierkegaard, including documents of historical interest.
Journals and Papers Abstract
Kierkegaard left behind thousands of pages of journal notes, some of which were posthumously published as coherent works. Beyond these works, there are thousands of entries that are of personal, religious, literary, and historical concern. Here are excerpts from those entries.