Would you create multiple social media accounts so that you could fight yourself in the comments? Well, Søren Kierkegaard created multiple pseudonyms to disagree with himself.
Born in 1813, Søren Kierkegaard was a great Danish(and thoroughly Christian) philosopher, widely said to have been the first existentialist in the world. Having a bone to pick with other philosophers such as Hegel and Schlegel, this Great Dane resorted to bringing forth the philosophy of his confabulation; individual choice, faith, and subjective truth. After a tempestuous existence which lasted a mere forty-two years, in 1855, he met his end due to spinal disease or Potts, collapsing on the street.
Kierkegaard was a tremendously compelling, scandalous figure, which many tend to disregard. While living off the inheritance of his melancholy father, he wrote under multiple names to disagree with his other writing. He was an odd, eccentric and quite unconventional individual, who never cowered in the face of humiliation- which happened frequently. Compared to the other ‘gun-point held’ philosophers of the time, such as Hegel or Schlegel, Kierkegaard was scandalous and always in search of contradictions in his ideologies.
In 1849, globally-known Swedish feminist and author F. Bremer wanted to meet our eccentric genius to discuss affairs but received a blunt, quite awful, refusal. His reasoning?
"Let no one invite me, for I do not dance.”
Quite rude! His reply remained famous for decades until the last twenty years or so, when a simple “no” became the overbearing force, crushing Kierkegaard’s subtlety. Bremer got her sweet revenge by later mocking him in a renowned Danish magazine (p.s he couldn’t care less).
Spot og fortræd- How Kierkegaard mocked himself in the papers with his other haters
Kierkegaard was controversial. He was in a hate-or-love situation with most Danes at the time. In 1845, an editor for the satirical havoc called The Corsair wrote a harsh critique of Kierkegaard’s writings. He was flung into desperation; his career was over to him. Gangs of children or Gamins would chuckle at him on the street and throw stones at him. He even went as far as to describe himself as a "martyr of laugh".
However, for our dear Søren, this cunning mockery wasn’t the end. He would soon devise a plan which would make his eccentric nature visible to the public - requesting public humiliation. They complied. For months on end, he was tormented by the papers; they would criticise his appearance, his way of talking and his actions. He was a laughingstock for the whole of Denmark. He would later write, when closer to death, that this encounter with isolation would draw him closer to individual Christianity, just as he wished it. It was a hell of a brave move to dare the most powerful satirical papers of the country to ridicule you while you patiently take the critique.
Filosofi over min kone!- Kierkegaard bails out on his wedding
What other shenanigans has this misery-man committed, one might ask? This edition couldn’t contain them all. However, around 1840, Kierkegaard was engaged to a darling girl, Regine Olsen. He was devoted and never unfaithful; what is about to be presented is on behalf of his belief that a writer's life and married life can never intertwine. He called the engagement off. Delightful. He wrote to her tenderly to forgive him and understand his reasoning. It was a better decision to end things this way than jilt her midway. His writing quality and quantity boosted suddenly after calling off this affair. However, Regine longed for her Søren. Even so, it was not long before she was hurled into a marriage with Schlegel (not his opposing philosopher).
Years later, towards his death, Kierkegaard viewed that wretched, terminated engagement as a fulfilled and happy marriage, so he turned to the extreme. He willed all of his possessions to Regine. As any woman accosted by her ex, she politely refused these objects.
It is quite gloomy that she was the only woman he ever somehow loved in his odd ways. Besides her, he only had one other chance encounter with a partner. It is so melancholy that he went through his fourty-two years in this painful isolation and during his last moments, he chose to hand over his most prized possessions to a woman he hadn’t spoken a word to for years; he chose her because he knew no one else and was regretful.
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
“When one has once fully entered the realm of love, the world — no matter how imperfect — becomes rich and beautiful, it consists solely of opportunities for love.”
“I had my thorn in the flesh, and therefore did not marry.”
For more information on Søren, check these books and resources out:
‘Kierkegaard; his Life and Thought’ - E.L. Allen (1935) and Kierkegaard’s writing including his papers and journal and ‘Fear and Trembling’.