Kierkegaard and Heidegger: The Ontology of Existence

By Michael Wyschogrod | Go to book overview
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PHILOSOPHY for most contemporary existentialists is ontology. There was a time when theory of knowledge dominated the field. Today, ever since Heidegger, it is ontology. In one way, this is unfortunate. The ontology of the day is existential ontology, and whether such a combination is possible is a great problem. The purpose of this study is to explore this problem. While Heidegger is the father of the ontological wing of existential thinking, Kierkegaard, the father of existentialism, is ontological only incidentally. Nevertheless, I feel that an ontology is quite clearly discernible in Kierkegaard and, by first formulating it and then contrasting it with that of Heidegger, a certain insight can be gained into the relationship between ontology and the existential approach.

It is true that such a study necessarily contains an element of afterthought since to read Kierkegaard essentially for ontology is to read him through Heidegger. Kierkegaard's challenge was essentially other than ontological. It had to do with the individual and his religious life. And yet, the form in which this challenge entered the stream of European thinking, at least to the extent represented by Heidegger, was that of ontology. If, therefore, this study adopts the problem of Being as the point of view from which to understand Kierkegaard as well, it is not because I feel that Kierkegaard's challenge is best approached from that direction, but because I feel the ground on which the argument


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Kierkegaard and Heidegger: The Ontology of Existence


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