Søren Kierkegaard

He notably only traveled abroad five times, four times to Berlin and once to Sweden. Despite this fact, he still managed to take from his studies and many experiences to form a universal model for understanding the different stages and aspect of living. His many works garnered him acclaim among fellow scholars and mathematicians of his era, and like many of the greatest philosophers his works have been heralded as timeless.
One of Kierkegaard’s most notable works is his theory of the spheres of existence. For the philosopher, existence meant to become progressively more individualistic (Kierkegaard, 175). Keirkegaard believed this individualistic existence caused everyone to travel along a path toward self-realization and this process, he noted, had three stages. These stages being, Ethical, Religious and Aesthetic, as "All human beings are currently at one of this stages, depending on the extent to which they have achieved their life-project (Kierkegaard, 175)." By more individualistic, Kiekegaard means that through each stage individual gain a higher understanding of self than they had before and it is through the privileged perspective provided by the assessment of and graduation from the previous stage that allows the person to attain this new form of self. Kiekegaard goes on to further note that, "Each stage is a way of seeing life, a way of understanding the world. They are different ways of living out one’s existence, independent spheres of life, situations which embody a certain stability. Living fully in the aesthetic sphere will never lead to the ethical one, and the upholding of ethics will never open the door to religion." He closes by pointing out that no one stage can completely dominate and individual’s life and if one were to allows this to happen they would stay stagnant and not progress through the stages.
The first stage of Kierkegaard’s progression of existential stages is aesthetics recognized as the ‘immersion in sensuous experience. valorization of possibility over actuality. egotism. fragmentation of the subject of experience. nihilistic wielding of irony and skepticism. and flight from boredom (Stanford, p1)." This stage of existence is a very selfish one that involves excessive self-indulgence. Kierkegaard refers to temptation and the appreciation and distraction of beauty a lot in this section.
Ethics in Kierkegard’s work has more than one meaning, "It is used to denote both: (i) a limited existential sphere, or stage, which is superseded by the higher stage of the religious life. and (ii) an aspect of life which is retained even within the religious life (Stanford, p1)." This is basically the stage where one starts to asses their life and view themselves objectively. It is recognized as the stage of reasoning this stage is ‘limited’ in that it is the stage that comes before the religious stage, but it is retained within the religious stage in that the traits used in the ethical stage must also be used to make the valuable choices in the religious stage. Ultimately the final obligation to transition from Ethics into the religious stage is to completely relinquish one’s reliance on reason for one’s trust in faith.
The final stage of existence that Kierkegaard recognizes is the stage of Religion, and specifically Christianity. Kierkegaard

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