Despairing over the Present Age

by Brodie John Gilchrist

Institution: Boston College
Year: 2009
Keywords: Kierkegaard; Modernization
Record ID: 1854437
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2345/706


19th Century Danish thinker Søren Kierkegaard believed society alienates individuals from their true selves. Kierkegaard entitles this concept "despair." As such, despair deals not only with Kierkegaard's interpretation of the individual but also of the evolution of societies. While arguing that despair has existed throughout human history, this paper is an exploration of the ways in which modern or "Present Age" societies uniquely exacerbate despair according to Kierkegaard. This work begins with an in-depth look at Kierkegaard's interpretation of the individual and of the self and then addresses the difference between modern and pre-modern societies. Analysis of Kierkegaard's works concludes with a discussion of modern social institutions and their contributions to the problems of the present age.