Lecture 7.1 The Development of the Pseudonymous Works

The years 1844 to 1846 were perhaps the most productive in Kierkegaard’s entire life. In this lecture we explore the series of famous works that he penned during this time, among others, the Philosophical Fragments, The Concept of Anxiety, Prefaces, Stages on Life’s Way and the Concluding Unscientific Postscript. These books present a complex series of works ostensibly authored by different pseudonyms, each with his own agenda and intentions. At first glance, this might all look like a playful chaos or a straightforward kind of madness on Kierkegaard’s side. But in this lecture we try to make sense of Kierkegaard’s plan with these works and their complex relations to one another. We see that many of the main motifs concerning Socrates that Kierkegaard originally treated in The Concept of Irony now reappear in different contexts in these later works. This is particularly interesting when we consider that these works treat important Christian concepts such as the incarnation, the revelation, faith, sin, and forgiveness. Many people might think that it is outrageous to believe that a pagan philosopher can help to understand these Christian concepts. Here we can catch a glimpse of the radicality of Kierkegaard’s thought. He believes that Socrates has some important insights for Christians today. This lecture also continues the biographical narrative by highlighting Kierkegaard’s polemic with Johan Ludvig Heiberg and his conflict with the satirical journal, The Corsair. The lecture ends with a discussion of the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, which Kierkegaard believed would be his last work before he died. We explore Kierkegaard’s conception of a parallel authorship that features a series of pseudonymous works that run parallel to a series of signed works, which are intended to treat the same topics but in different ways.

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