Why Is Kierkegaard the Father of Existentialism?


Diego Sanchez

Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard is widely regarded as the father of Existentialism. In this article, we will explore the reasons why Kierkegaard is considered to be the founding figure of this philosophical movement and how his ideas have influenced modern philosophy.

The Roots of Existentialism

Existentialism emerged as a philosophical movement in the 19th century, in response to the Enlightenment and its emphasis on reason and scientific inquiry. Existentialists rejected this emphasis on objective knowledge and rationality, instead focusing on subjective experiences and personal freedom.

Kierkegaard was one of the earliest philosophers to contribute to this movement. He lived in Denmark from 1813 to 1855 and wrote extensively about human existence, faith, and ethics. His ideas were influential in shaping modern existentialist thought.

Kierkegaard’s Philosophy

Kierkegaard believed that human beings are fundamentally free but often fail to recognize or embrace their freedom. He argued that people often live their lives without purpose or direction, simply following societal norms or expectations.

According to Kierkegaard, a truly meaningful life requires individuals to take responsibility for their own existence. This means acknowledging their own mortality and making choices based on personal values rather than external influences.

Leap of Faith

One of Kierkegaard’s most famous concepts is the “leap of faith.” He argued that faith requires individuals to make a leap beyond reason or objective evidence. This leap involves a commitment to something greater than oneself, such as God or an ethical ideal.

Kierkegaard believed that this leap was necessary for individuals to find true meaning in life. It required them to confront their own mortality and embrace uncertainty rather than seeking comfort in objective knowledge.

Influence on Modern Philosophy

Kierkegaard’s ideas have had a significant impact on modern philosophy, particularly in the field of Existentialism. His emphasis on subjective experience and personal freedom has influenced many thinkers, including Jean-Paul Sartre and Martin Heidegger.

Sartre, in particular, drew heavily on Kierkegaard’s ideas in his own work. He expanded on the concept of the “leap of faith,” arguing that individuals must take responsibility for their own existence and create meaning in a world that is inherently meaningless.


In conclusion, Søren Kierkegaard is widely regarded as the father of Existentialism due to his early contributions to this philosophical movement. His ideas about personal freedom, faith, and ethics have had a lasting impact on modern philosophy and continue to influence thinkers today.