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Kierkegaard in 90 Minutes (Philosophers in 90 Minutes) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   93
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.01" Width: 5.03" Height: 0.31"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 1, 1997
Publisher   Ivan R. Dee, Publisher
ISBN  1566631521  
EAN  9781566631525  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
Each of these little books is witty and dramatic and creates a sense of time, place, and character....I cannot think of a better way to introduce oneself and one s friends to Western civilization. Katherine A. Powers, Boston Globe. Well-written, clear and informed, they have a breezy wit about them....I find them hard to stop reading. Richard Bernstein, New York Times. Witty, illuminating, and blessedly concise. Jim Holt, Wall Street Journal. These brief and enlightening explorations of our greatest thinkers bring their ideas to life in entertaining and accessible fashion. Philosophical thought is deciphered and made comprehensive and interesting to almost everyone. Far from being a novelty, each book is a highly refined appraisal of the philosopher and his work, authoritative and clearly presented."

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More About Paul Strathern

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Paul Strathern is author of the popular and critically acclaimed Philosophers in 90 Minutes series. Highlights from the series include Nietzsche in 90 Minutes, Aristotle in 90 Minutes, and Plato in 90 Minutes. Mr. Strathern has lectured in philosophy and mathematics and now lives and writes in London. A former Somerset Maugham prize winner, he is also the author of books on history and travel as well as five novels. His articles have appeared in a great many newspapers, including the Observer (London) and the Irish Times. His own degree in philosophy came from Trinity College, Dublin.

Paul Strathern currently resides in London. Paul Strathern was born in 1940.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
In the spirit of Kierkegaard?   Jul 12, 2007
What would Kierkegaard have thought about this book?
He would have perhaps appreciated Stathern's humor, his narrative skill, his quickness of mind, his emphasizing Kierkegaard's thought as directed not to abstraction but to 'lived life.' But he probably would have resented the effort to reduce the complexities of his thought, their contradictions and dialectical intricacies to easily digestible form.
For Kierkegaard 'difficulty' in itself has a value, and the path of the true truth seeker is not one which can be achieved readily, easily without suffering.
The essence of Kierkegaard can only be found in confronting his own complex, and highly qualified prose.
I like Strathern's books very much, but it seems to me here he chose a subject not especially amenable to this kind of treatment.
False assertions and erroneous conclusions abound  Oct 11, 2003
This book was dismal. Not only did the author fail to address Kierkegaards main ideas, he completely rewrote who Kierkegaard was disregarding or not knowing that Kierkegaard had responded to many of his "insightful" critiques. There were many false assertions in this book, but I will only list two.

(1) Paul asserts that Kierkegaard believed that humans should ethically cease to procreate so that God's work could be finished. Where did Kierkegaard ever say this? Paul draws this notion from Kierkegaard's decision to remain single in order to devote himself to writing. Kierkegaard would never have made such an idiotic absolute statement about something that he would see as relative to one's walk with God. This is one example that shows a gross misinterpretation and misunderstanding of Kierkegaard. This bias colors the whole reading experience.

(2) Paul asserts that in Kierkegaard's description of despair, Kierkegaard contradicts himself by asserting being as opposed to becoming. One can easily see the synthesis of the two if one has but a little knowledge of Christianity. An individual in him or herself is becoming and is not yet finished. An individual in God is a finished work, aka being. God according to scipture is the author and finisher of a believers faith. A believer in time is becoming. A believer in eternity is complete. Paul's confusion comes from making becoming and being logically opposed (infinite becoming vs eternal being?). Kierkegaard sees one leading to the other.

This book is a waste of time. Paul does not understand Kierkegaard as well as he would like his reader to believe. According to Paul, it is amazing that Kierkegaard had some good ideas mixed in with all of his rubbish. Unfortunately, Paul's book is pretty much pure rubish.

Don't waste your hour and a half  Jul 24, 2001
The timelines and bibliography are good. Otherwise, I would say this book reminds me of an offhand attempt to dispose of a topic the author has little interest in or sympathy for. Just to make the series complete. Shallow. If you want to read a much better Kierkegaard intro, try Donald D. Palmer's Kierkegaard for Beginners. It takes a little longer than 90 minutes, but it's written with gusto.
Danger, Will Robertson  Jul 27, 2000
This book should have CAUTION written on it, as it is dangerous. Let me give you a few examples:

1) On page 7 it says, "Kierkegaard wasn't really a philosopher at all. At least not in the academic sense." If we say that academic philosophy does not recognize Kierkegaard as a philosopher we must also recognize that Kierkegaard thinks academic philosophy is a nest of charlatans and liars who have no right to judge his work. For Kierkegaard, Socrates is the paradigmatic philosopher. Imagine, for a moment, Plato's dialogue Protagoras. There is Socrates, who receives no money for teaching because he has nothing to teach. There are, on the other hand, the sophists, who claim to be able to teach the Sciences, real knowledge, in return for pay. Who does the academic philosopher resemble: Socrates or the sophist? Who does Kierkegaard more resemble? If Kierkegaard is not a philosopher, how is Socrates one? Certainly, Kierkegaard never claimed to be a philosopher (despite his Doctorate in Philosophy), calling himself a poet, but it must always be remembered that this is because he holds academic philosophers in contempt.

2) On page 8 is the claim that Kierkegaard invented existentialism, a claim about as absurd as Socrates invented philosophy or Jesus, Christianity. Sartre invented existentialism and then enlisted "precursors" to support the claim that he hadn't. Existentialism is one interpretation of Kierkegaard's work and is probably not the best one. Now that Post-Modernism is all the rage, Kierkegaard is being seen as Post-Modern (see Both-And by Michael Strawser). The problem is that what you bring to Kierkegaard is what you get out of him and if you are looking for existentialism in Kierkegaard, you will find it, whether its there or not.

3) In the chapter on "Life and Works" one of the most pervasive and difficult to dispell error about Kierkegaard is presented as fact. The author describes the pseudonymous authorship as Kierkegaard's attempt to disguise himself. This is true enough. The problem is that a pseudonym did nothing, in a small town like Copenhagen, to disguise his identity. Everybody in town knew who the author of Either/Or was. So clearly to say as the author did, "Once again Kierkegaard found himself in a pickle. . . .Put simply he wanted to hide behind a pseudonym, yet at the same time he wished to make it obvious it was a pseudonym"(p. 35) is disingenuous. Hello, I think everybody is going to figure out that A and B are not real names. I don't think he needs to signal people that these are pseudonyms. So what has Kierkegaard got to hide. Himself. He is trying to get free of his own history. He creates, not just pseudonyms, but characters which themselves embody philosophical ideas. By coming to understand the expressions, concerns and moods of these characters, a careful reader comes to understand a philosophical idea (for instance, in either /Or A embodies the aesthetic existence sphere and B the ethical sphere). There is a danger therefore in talking too much about Regine Olsen or Michael P. Kierkegaard as the source or meaning of Kierkegaard's pseudonymous works. Then one has a source for pat answers about Kierkegaard's meaning with no real interpretive depth. As long as one continues talking about Kierkegaard upbringing or his engagement one risks a surface interpretation displacing any hope of a deeper understanding.

I suggest Douglas Mullen's book Self-deception and cowardice in the Present Age, or Parables of Kierkegaard by Thomas Oden as alternatives.

Another interesting study by Paul Strathern  Aug 31, 1999
Strathern is a master at this kind of work, which mixes biography, critical analysis, historical context and humor all in a concise, informative & entertaining package. He lists a time line for the philosopher, his place in world/philosophic history & a selection of works for furthur reading. This series of books by Strathern is a wonderful course in Philosophy 101 without ever having to go to college, all presented in plain, easy to understand English without being bogged down with philosophy's often confusing vernacular. If you are expecting an in-depth review or complete analysis of the philosopher's life & work, read another book. This is meant to be a quick, concise overview & that's just what it provides. There's suggested readings listed in the back for people who want to investigate Kierkegaard's life & works more thoroughly.

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