Who Is the Father of Modern Existentialism?


Diego Sanchez

Existentialism is a philosophical movement that emphasizes individual freedom and choice. It explores the meaning of existence and the purpose of life. The father of modern existentialism is widely considered to be Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard.

Kierkegaard’s Early Life

Søren Kierkegaard was born in Copenhagen, Denmark on May 5, 1813. He was the youngest of seven children born to a wealthy merchant family.

His father, Michael Pedersen Kierkegaard, died when Søren was just 21 years old. This event had a profound impact on Søren’s life and his philosophical work.

Kierkegaard’s Philosophical Contributions

Kierkegaard is known for his contributions to existentialism, which he developed in response to what he saw as the shortcomings of Hegelian philosophy. He believed that Hegel’s emphasis on reason and logic ignored the individual’s subjective experience.

Kierkegaard argued that true knowledge comes from personal experience and that each person must find their own way in life. He believed that individuals must make choices based on their own values and beliefs, even if those choices are difficult or unpopular.

Kierkegaard also explored the concept of faith in his work. He believed that faith required a leap of faith beyond reason and logic. This idea influenced many religious thinkers, including theologian Paul Tillich.

Kierkegaard’s Legacy

Kierkegaard’s work had a significant impact on philosophy and theology. His ideas about individual freedom and choice influenced existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus.

Kierkegaard also influenced Christian theology with his emphasis on faith as a personal experience rather than an intellectual exercise. His ideas about faith continue to be studied by theologians today.


Søren Kierkegaard is widely considered to be the father of modern existentialism. His emphasis on individual freedom and choice, personal experience, and faith had a significant impact on philosophy and theology. Kierkegaard’s work continues to be studied and debated by scholars today.