Partially Examined Life – Kierkegaard on the Self, 32 min

A philosophy podcast & blog. Enjoy!

Discussing Soren Kierkegaard’s “The Sickness Unto Death” (1849).

This is a 32-minute preview of our vintage 1 hr, 56-minute episode which you can buy at or get for free with PEL Citizenship (see You can also purchase the full episode in the iTunes Store: Search for “Partially Kierkegaard” and look under “Albums.”

What is the self? For K. we are a tension between opposites: necessity and possibility, the finite and the infinite, soul and body. He thinks we’re all in despair, whether we know it or not, because we wrongly think we’re something we’re not, or we reject what we are, or we just don’t pay attention to this dynamic at all: we just go along with the crowd. So we need to keep self-examining and (he thinks) ultimately embrace our subservience to God.

Joined by guest podcaster/Kiekegaard’s lawyer Daniel Horne, we consider K.’s 3-step self-help program and whether there’s anything to be gotten here if you don’t subscribe to K’s Christianity.

Read the text free online or buy the book.We also devote some discussion to Fear and Trembling.

End song: “John T. Flibber,” from Happy Songs Will Bring You Down by the MayTricks (1994). Get the whole album free.

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard—often considered the first existentialist—was born 200 years ago this past Sunday in Copenhagen. Writing under pseudonyms like Johannes Climacus and Johannes de Silentio, Kierkegaard attacked both the idealism of contemporary philosophers Hegel and Schelling and the bourgeois complacency of European Christendom. A highly skilled rhetorician, Kierkegaard preferred the indirect approach, deploying irony, ridicule, parody and satire in a paradoxical search for individual authenticity within a European culture he saw as beset by self-important puffery and unthinking mass movements.

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