Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was the son of a wealthy Dutch businessman.
Michael Kierkegaard believed that he lived under a great weight of guilt and that his life was accursed because of it.
His guilt may have been related to a curse he made to heaven in his youth or because an affair he seems to have had with Soren mother before marrying her.
But whatever the reason he passed this melancholy along with his intelligence and piety to his son.
Themes of guilt, remorse, pain and anguish are constant in Kierkegaard’s work.
The other major event that plays out repeatedly in his work is his engagement to Regina Olsen.
He and Regina fell in love and the young Kierkegaard proposed and she accepted.
Just under a year after their engagement Kierkegaard broke off the engagement…Only he knows why
Or perhaps not even he knew for sure.
In part, he seems to have thought that his melancholy made him unsuitable as a spouse.
But he also seems to have magnified the decision whether to marry her or not into a question of what form of life he would lead.
Seen by many people as the founder of existentialism, Kierkegaard took his melancholy and anguish and started a path of self-discovery.
What he discovered was truth not only about himself but also about the human condition.
He was one of the first to develop in an extended way central existential themes such as the absurdity and forlornness in life.
Also his themes encompass the importance and weight of choices and the need to live passionately and authentically.
He developed all these themes in a radically new kind of Christian context.
He rejected the traditional systematic answers of both philosophy and the Orthodox Christianity.
Instead he embraced a vision of faith in which belief is considered a real choice and one that can’t be validated or justified by reason.
More than anything what makes him one of the two founders of existentialism is the way he made philosophy personal.
The big have meaning only in the way they are lived individually by each person.
Reasoned calculations or church commandments can’t answer questions about how to live.
You must answer these concrete questions in the depths of your individual soul.
You must answer questions about how to live and what to do in your loneliness and isolation deep from your inner self.