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Res Philosophica

Volume 90, Issue 4, October 2013

Kierkegaard on Rationality

Rasmus Rosenberg Larsen
Pages 481-501
DOI: 10.11612/resphil.2013.90.4.3

Schelling and Kierkegaard in Perspective
Integrating Existence into Idealism

Søren Kierkegaard is often considered to be one of the most vocal critics of German idealism. The present paper analyzes the philosophical similarity between Friedrich Schelling’s early idealistic work and Kierkegaard’s existential writings, endeavoring to display Schelling’s epic 1809 publication Philosophical Investigations into the Essence of Human Freedom as a possible forerunner to Kierkegaard. This juxtaposition reveals concrete similarity that supports the thesis that Schelling’s work could have been of great inspirational value for Kierkegaard, especially Kierkegaard’s core concepts such as freedom, morality and God. However, Schelling’s early work is primarily appreciated as a philosophy of nature (metaphysics), and therefore fundamentally different from Kierkegaard’s theistic-psychological writings. The present paper tentatively opposes this distinction, concluding that if Schelling really is a forerunner to Kierkegaard, then we ought to appreciate Kierkegaard’s writings as conveying more than a theological message. The conclusion suggests that Kierkegaard’s writings should be interpreted in a broader philosophical context, closer to the metaphysical idealism he is often assumed to resist.

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