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Kierkegaard's Existential Theory of the Political.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Thomas Wolstenholme
Publication date2014
Number of pages360
Awarding Institution
Place of PublicationLancaster
  • Lancaster University
Electronic ISBNs9780438571549
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Few, if any scholars have seriously investigated whether Kierkegaard had a theory of the political or not. This thesis questions the absence of this literature. The central argument of this thesis is that Kierkegaard developed a theory of the political which was principally grounded in his existentialist concerns and commitments. I shall argue, furthermore, that Kierkegaard's existential theory of the political is; systematically laid out; intriguing and original; comprehensive and detailed; theoretically grounded; consistent throughout the authorship (and with other key concepts of Kierkegaard's philosophy); justifies an existentially-motivated kind of political activism; and hence that is non-trivially responsive to external change; and that is inextricably linked with Kierkegaard's social theory. These arguments contribute to Kierkegaard scholarship by clarifying exactly what the 'political elements' of Kierkegaard's thought are. Furthermore, the thesis responds to numerous critics of the political dimension to Kierkegaard's work, who would claim that either Kierkegaard's political insights are 'scattered' and unsystematic, 'essentially individualistic', or 'impotent with regards to worldly change'. I also contribute to Kierkegaard scholarship by arguing that any and all of Kierkegaard's involvements with politics can be seen as deriving from his principal existentialist concerns. Aside from contributing to Kierkegaard scholarship, this thesis also opens up the possibility of bringing Kierkegaard into contemporary debates concerning theories of the political. 'How might Kierkegaard's existential theory of the political inform contemporary political thought' is but one example of the kinds of questions that are raised by this thesis.

Bibliographic note

Thesis (Ph.D.)--Lancaster University (United Kingdom), 2014.