Call for Papers

Acta Kierkegaardiana VI: Kierkegaard and Human Nature


One of the key charges Kierkegaard makes against “Hegel”, “Hegelians”, “objectivists”, and “speculative thinkers” is that their views are deficient with respect to our natures as human beings. Specifically, the above views are said to leave us wanting with regards to our natures as creatures subject to: “existence”, “actuality”, and “the ethical”. Yet, Kierkegaard’s alternative conception of human nature is not immediately evident from his writings.

Indeed, throughout the history of Kierkegaard’s reception, commentators have differed markedly when it comes to the question of his view of human nature. From those who gave him the label ‘the father of existentialism’, and widely took him to hold man to have no nature at all other than what he makes for himself, to those that have taken him to hold a realist, atomistic, and essentialist view of the theological nature of human beings.

The question of Kierkegaard’s conception of human nature is brought to the fore by recent historical work, which suggests that Kierkegaard’s views are essentially related to his immediate intellectual, cultural, and theological context. Key in this respect is the question of whether Kierkegaard’s work contains a conception of human nature separable from his Christian theological motivations, commitments, and agenda. Can a purely philosophical, naturalistic, and secular conception of human nature be found in his work, and if so just how far can it get us in explaining his ideas? (The figures of Socrates, and the pagan philosophers, would seem to suggest the presence of such a conception, but is the matter so clear cut?) Or is Kierkegaard’s conception of human nature theological ‘all the way down’?

The aims of this volume are: to attempt to bring clarity to Kierkegaard’s conception of human nature; to outline his views on this front; and to determine, as far as possible, the nature of human nature in Kierkegaard’s thought. This, it is hoped, will make a lasting contribution to the continuing debate about the nature, significance, and legacy of Kierkegaard’s thought and work to our own self-understanding.

Extended Deadline: 1st December 2011.

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