Kierkegaard and the Danish-Norse Context

Kierkegaaad includes regular, if not very frequent, references to the old pagan Nordic world. Ragnarok, the end of the word and the Norse pantheon, and Loki, the trickster god, feature for example. Loki seems very appropriate to Kierkegaard’s own sense of constant irony. Ragnarok is appropriate to the sense of melancholy and anxiety. References to Danish literature are frequent in Kierkegaard, particularly Heiberg, and sometimes Hans Christian Anderson. There is a great sense in some of Kierkegaard’s texts of the physical geography of Copenhagen and its surroundings, as in the coach journey featured in the preface to Either/Or I. The criticisms of Hegel establish a Danish perspective on the issues discussed by Hegel. Danish subjectivity is contrasted with German objectivism, though in an indirect way. Kierkegaard certainly creates the sense that Danish Christian thought is marked by the earlier pagan Nordic world. Kierkegaard belongs to the ‘Danish Golden Age’ which included the institution of Danish as an academic language instead of Latin and as the literate and literary language instead of German. Kierkegaard’s texts are full of a struggle with German idealist universalism, and the irreducibility of subjectivity and of particularity to objectivity and universality. Kierkegaard is taking up Germanic tradition: Luther in religion; Kant, Ficthe, Schelling and Hegel in philosophy and creating something focused on individuality. We see Kant from the perspective of Loki and Ragnarok.

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