But I will say this for the guy: He had humour. A weird, understated, tangled one, but he had it.
Mind you, it is so tied up with his native language and culture, it ought not travel well. And judging by whatever translations I have seen, it hasn't. His worldwide fame is still a mystery to me.
And by the way, correct pronunciation is something like Kierkegore. Fittingly, it means churchyard.
His earlier books can drive a person crazy on one hand and his thoughts will never leave you on the other. Fear and Trembling is written from as a non-believer, Johannes DE SILENTIO, trying to understand God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. The conclusion after 160 pages? He still had no idea. That journey of thought through the book 20 years later still travels with me. I'm okay not understanding or having an opinion on everything. That unusual for Theologian students (Not professors). Faith doesn't always = understanding or a complete knowledge. Now is important and those around you are. (Also helps to think that way after my 15 year old sister passed away from brain cancer and my son at 12 from bone cancer)
Also the BIG one for me was the idea of the Demonic Despair where a person's identity was in the tragic absurdness of themselves when not whole. Once we understand that we alone are responsible for having an identity in our experiences and to something higher then us lead me to a conversation with my mom. My mom is now an Licensed Counselor and her final thesis was based on Soren's "Acts of Love."
As a cancer dad who has lost a child I am in fairly large network of families that have also lost their child. There has been many times when the grief for friends have gotten so great that they ran into a life crisis. (Usually happens years after the death of their child)They think they are crazy and that they should have gotten to a place of acceptance (That doesn't really happen, at least in my case). There comes a place when you can't just accept your lot without just losing one's self. This leap onto faith seems to have happened with a few families and it really changed people's lives.
"Rather than taking part in official Christianity with the thousandth part of my little-finger nail, I would rather engage in the following display of seriousness. A flag is purchased at a hardware store, it is unfurled; with great reverence I approach it, lift up three fingers and swear fidelity to the flag. Thereupon, rigged out in a cocked hat, a cartridge-belt and sword (all from the hardware store), I mount a hobbyhorse, proposing in union with others to make an attack upon the enemy, with contempt for the mortal danger into which I am evidently casting myself, with the seriousness of one who knows what it signifies to have sworn fidelity to the flag."
Kierkegaard's "Attack upon 'Christendom'" [277-78]
Here's the joke in "modern English":
Instead of joining the state's church, I propose instead the following. I will buy a flag, a uniform, a gun, and one of those battery-powered toy jeeps that little kids drive around their yards. Then, with grave seriousness, I will declare my faith in God's protection, furl out my flag, and call for the members of the state's church to follow me into battle. I will then hop in my toy jeep and begin driving toward the battle field.
The deeper point being made isn't possible to ascertain from just this snippet; you'd have to put the joke back into its context and find the larger point being made in the text around the joke. (edit: but, see racer-v's explanation)
A good philosopher takes the time to define terms, explain the problem clearly, explain other possible views on the matter in a fair and accurate way, then explain their own view as clearly as possible, and then ideally pre-emptively discuss several possible objections or misunderstandings. A good philosopher understands that the subject matter at hand is already very difficult, and therefore the philosopher has an obligation to be clear.
If I wish to ascertain the current status of the universe and the human ways of interacting with it, then any day, give me physics, math, brainscans, and controlled experimentation rather than longwinded twaddle from some dude believing his random personal ramplings to be somehow normative.
Then I visit philosophy forums and people still insist on "qualia this" and "free will that". Qualia is just sensation + action value associated with it, it feels like something because it occupies our perception and value judgement, and determines actions. So many fake mysteries in philosophy, created by fluffy suitcase words like consciousness.
Yeah, but why would sensation and value function feel like anything? Why aren't we p-zombies one might ask? Because we are agents in the world and not being good agents means death, so we have to feel to exist. RL and sister domains like evolutionary algorithms explain consciousness by the opposite of it - death. For example, what is consciousness if not that thing necessary for you to eat, protect yourself and reproduce - in other words, to beat death?
P-zombies don't fear death. Even if one existed, it would not have the drive to protect itself and it would be damaged or destroyed soon enough. So it's like something that can only exist for a short time and not benefit from evolution or RL, similar to a traditional computer program. I wholeheartedly agree with a recent article that put the blame of stagnating philosophy of consciousness on the shoulders of Chalmers and the (philosophically) useless concepts he produced. The "hard problem" is just dualism in disguise. Call something "a hard problem" and it becomes a category of its own, apart from science, in the realm of metaphysics, an euphemism for dualism.
And you misunderstand the p-zombie argument. It's functionally and behaviorally equivalent, because it's physically identical. Of course it would seek to avoid death as all life forms do.
> P-zombies don't fear death. Even if one existed, it would not have the drive to protect itself and it would be damaged or destroyed soon enough.
You missed the point, like many others who think they can 'explain away' consciousness in a 4-paragraph post on an internet forum.
What you described is a difference in external behavior (eating, death avoidance, reproduction, etc). That is not what the problem of consciousness is about, and it's a dead giveaway that you don't understand the issue you're pontificating on.