The Concept of Freedom in Kierkegaard’s Early Authorship Open Access

Pan, Lucilla (Summer 2020)

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My project is concerned with the concept of moral freedom as it appears in Kierkegaard’s early pseudonymous and personal authorship. Kierkegaard’s Christianity influenced his teachings, and, accordingly, my thesis is that we will discover the full significance of his concept of freedom in relation to his understanding of grace. Because human beings are finite and limited, their free choice does not come from their own capacities. Rather, according to the Kierkegaard, the ability to make the free leap comes from divine grace, which allows human beings to transform from beings bound by natural inclination to those with reason and free will. Grace explains how this leap out of sinfulness is possible, and it allows human beings to make the leap that is inexplicable to reason. Kierkegaard argues in his personal authorship that we are restricted by our natural inclinations and the limitations of reason, but we can make the choice to do the good because of divine grace.

The pseudonyms of Fear and Trembling and The Concept of Anxiety, which are influenced by Kantian moral philosophy, observe that human beings make the leap from sinfulness to salvation through a free choice of the good. However, the pseudonymous authors do not explain how this happens or how it is possible given human sinfulness. The pseudonyms are limited by their methodological approaches to the concept of freedom and cannot fully explain how freedom is possible. In order to fully understand Kierkegaard’s concept of moral freedom, it is necessary then to turn to the upbuilding discourses. In The Point of View, Kierkegaard himself states that his early pseudonymous works must be read in tandem with the upbuilding discourses. He wrote and published these works with the intention that his audience will read both, and neither authorship has his full meaning of freedom by itself. Therefore, personal authorship (the Upbuilding Discourses in particular) shows that freedom is possible for human beings through divine grace. Human reason is limited and cannot fully account for the responsibility of sin. While grace does not necessitate that human beings will choose the good, but it is a necessary condition for its possibility. Without grace, the free choices that the pseudonyms discuss are not possible, and Christian salvation cannot be fulfilled.

Table of Contents

Key Abbreviations


Chapter 1: Abraham’s Movement of Freedom

Chapter 2: Haufniensis’ Omission of Grace

Chapter 3: Kierkegaard’s Arc of Authorships

Chapter 4: The Gift of Grace as Bringing About Freedom



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