Last week, I wrote for the second time on 50 Philosophy Classics, the new book by Tom Butler-Bowdon. One of Tom’s featured books is 1843’s Fear and Trembling, by the Danish philosopher-theologian Søren Kierkegaard. The 200th anniversary of Kierkegaard’s birth was celebrated on May 5th, and there will be activities throughout the year in his native Copenhagen and elsewhere.
Much of my interest in Kierkegaard stems from Peter Drucker’s deeply personal 1949 Sewanee Review essay, “The Unfashionable Kierkegaard,” which was anthologized in his 1993 book The Ecological Vision. In the essay, Drucker describes Fear and Trembling as “my favorite among Kierkegaard’s books.” As I wrote in 2011, Joseph A. Maciariello and Karen E. Linkletter examined this essay eloquently in their book Drucker’s Lost Art of Management.
You can also find a commentary on the essay by Richard Brem on the Drucker Society of Austria website, followed by the text itself. A highly interesting typewritten manuscript on the Drucker Archives website contains the text of a lecture, “Søren Kierkegaard: Or, How is Human Existence Possible?” It was given by Drucker 70 years ago yesterday, on May 20, 1943, at Bennington College, where he was teaching at the time.
Most people will not travel to Copenhagen to celebrate, but there is considerable reading online, including Judith Thurman’s post on newyorker.com; a post on Free Exchange, the economics blog of The Economist, and an op/ed in The New York Times, “Kierkegaard at 200,” by Gordon Marino, professor of philosophy and director of the Howard and Edna Hong Kierkegaard Library at St. Olaf College, in Minnesota. For the time being, Oxford Journals is providing free access to selected Kierkegaard-themed articles.
Perhaps reading this material will provide the spark to attend one of the upcoming events, or to visit Copenhagen to see where Kierkegaard lived his relatively short, but influential life.