SKC Annual Conference 2024

Søren Kierkegaard

“Kierkegaard Between Individuality and Sociality”

The conference is supported by the Carlsberg Foundation

Register for the conference

”. . . were I to require an inscription on my gravestone, I would require nothing other than ‘that individual,’” Kierkegaard wrote in 1847, thereby contributing to the reinforcement of his image as individuality’s spokesman. Neither can it be denied that both his published writings and his journals dwell ceaselessly upon the importance of choosing—and taking ownership of—one’s self in conscious distance from the multitude, from the mass, and from other agents of depersonalization, including the philosophical systems, the populist press, and the continual levelling that characterize modernity. But Kierkegaard is something other and more than individuality’s thinker. This emerges most strikingly in Works of Love, in which “the other” has constitutive significance for the self-relationship, but it is also attested to in the edifying discourses, which often employ a social vocabulary and have a critical consciousness of the risks inherent in religious individualism. Correspondingly, the alternative to Kierkegaard’s critique of the rise of popular government is neither aristocratic isolation nor intellectual elitism, but is rather a qualified form of community, composed of independent individuals. And his anti-totalitarian stance is visible in the suspicious attitude with which he approached the growing vogue of asocial cliques, the dissolution of conversation into non-committal chatter, and the continually growing “fear of people” (Menneskefrygt) that unavoidably gives rise to unease and resentment in social space. As a sort of democrat prior to the establishment of democracy, Kierkegaard enjoyed his daily “people bath” and understood early on that humanity (Menneskelighed) was connected to human equality (Menneske-Lighed).

The goal of the conference is to discuss and develop the relation between individuality and sociality, approached from viewpoints of theology, philosophy, and politics—in fact, all the way down to the level of Kierkegaard’s choice of pronouns and his grammatical usage in texts of various types. What is the status of “I”, “we”, “you” in both the pseudonymous and the edifying works? Over the course of Kierkegaard’s authorship is there a shift in emphasis in the relation between individual and social—and if so, why? What role is played by his personal experiences with the surrounding world? Is it possible to produce an ideological profile of Kierkegaard? Can we make use of Kierkegaard’s understanding of individuality and sociality in working with the problems that confront us in the 21st century? Is his concept of individuality in danger of degenerating into existentialist hyper-subjectivism? In a world threatened with global catastrophes, is his critique of sociality something from a bygone era? In brief, how can Kierkegaard be retained as a “corrective” to “the established order?” Is there still a use for his radicality—individually as well as socially?



Tuesday, August 13

13:00-13:15   Joakim Garff: Words of Welcome

Afternoon Session (Chairperson: George Pattison)

13:15-13:45   Genia Schönbaumsfeld: “The Retreat to the ‘Inner’ – Kierkegaard on the Perils of Reflection and Sceptical Doubt”

13:45-14:15   Discussion

14:15-14:30   Break

14:30-15:00   Marius Mjaaland: “The Extended WE: Sociality, Singularity, the Bird, the Lily, and the Dead”

15:00-15:30   Discussion

15:30-16:00   Frances Maughan-Brown: “The Ally and the Neighbor: Kierkegaard’s Impractical Sociality”

16:00-16:30   Discussion

16:30-18:00   Reception at the Marketplace


Wednesday, August 14

Morning Session (Chairperson: Lilian Munk Rösing)

10:00-10:30   Iben Damgaard: “Kierkegaard’s Social Criticism in A literary Review in Dialogue with Hannah Arendt”

10:30-11:00   Discussion

11:00-11:15   Break

11:15-11:45   Matthew D. Kirkpatrick: “On the Possibility of a Dialogical Relationality in Kierkegaard’s Work”

11:45-12:15   Discussion

12:15-13:15   Lunch Break

Afternoon Session (Chairperson: Karl Verstrynge)

13:15-13:45   Pia Søltoft: “The Social is the Ethical and the Ethical is the Social”

13:45-14:15   Discussion

14:15-14:45   Henning Nörenberg: “Kierkegaard, Levinas, and the Absolutism of the Other”

14:45-15:15   Discussion

15:15-15:30   Break

15:30-16:00   James Rasmussen: “Kierkegaard’s Sociality of Silence”

16:00-16:30   Discussion


Thursday, August 15

Morning Session (Chairperson: Ingolf Dalferth)

10:00-10:30   Sharon Krishek: “How Becoming an Individual Depends on Loving Another Individual”

10:30-11:00   Discussion

11:00-11:15   Break

11:15-11:45   Wojciech Kaftanski: “Affective Collectivity, Individuality, and Neighbor Love: The Limits of Kierkegaard’s Social Vision”

11:45-12:15   Discussion

12:15-13:15   Lunch Break

Afternoon Session (Chairperson: Ettore Rocca)

13:15-13:45   Devang Vaidya: “The Paradox of Becoming and Belonging: Individuality and Sociality in Kierkegaard’s Thought on Human Selfhood”

13:45-14:15   Discussion

14:15-14:45   Deidre Nicole Green: “Universal Particularity: Cultivating Eiendommelighed through Neighbor Love”

14:45-15:15   Discussion

15:15-15:30   Concluding Words

15:30-15:45   Break

15:45-16:15  Recitation by Ellen Hillingsø

16:15-16:45  Music by Eskærtrioen


Friday, August 16

Morning Session (Chairperson: Elizabeth X. Li)

10:00-12:00  Panel Discussion

10:10-10:20   Lilian Munk Rösing

10:20-10:30   Ettore Rocca

10:30-10:40   Genia Schönbaumsfeld

10:40-10:50   Ingolf Dalferth

10:50-11:00   Frances Maughan-Brown

11:00-11:10   George Pattison

11:10-12:00   Discussion    

12:00-12:45   Lunch Break

13:30-15:00  Guided Tour in Kierkegaard’s Copenhagen

Meeting place: Vor Frue Plads

Joakim Garff (Danish speakers)

René Rosfort (English speakers)

15:00-17:00  Reception at St. Kannikestræde 11