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Kierkegaard’s Three Stages Of Life Argument Paper



Soren Kierkegaard, appropriately admired as the father of existentialism lived between 1813 and 1855 in Denmark. SK, as he is fondly referred to by his peers, wrote extensively in regards to the nature as well as the very existence of humans, bearing in mind the question who human beings are and the reason they are here. A devout Christian, Kierkegaard further considers the relationship that people have with God and faith. In an effort to underline his points, he utilized irony by employing different pseudonyms in regards to the narrator’s symbolized diverse personalities from a non-fiction as well as a fictional perspective. An outline of his work exhibits despair, dread, repetition as well as the twin progression of infinity (McDonald, 2012).

Kierkegaard gained fame from his three stages on life’s way that include the aesthetic, ethical, as well as religious stages. He concludes that the abovementioned stages are developmental and therefore, it is necessary to travel through each in order to provide concrete answers to who we are as individuals and our purpose here (McDonald, 2012). This submission will therefore seek to review these stages as presented by Soren Kierkegaard with a view of presenting a clear response to the arguments presented. Is Kierkegaard anti-philosophical in regards to the very essence of life as conceptualized individually as well as collectively and by extension? Does his work find relevance in the world from a philosophical perspective? This response will on the one hand argue that Kierkegaard is philosophically skilled and therefore his work is relevant while on the flip side, it will present a second argument based on the understanding that his work is philosophically useless and therefore, irrelevant philosophically.


Logical Response to Kierkegaard’s Three Stages of Life

            The Aesthetic Stage

            In this stage, Kierkegaard concludes that it is the phase in which man is solely focused on achieving self-pleasure or else self-happiness, this is his chief concern and motivation (Pattison, 2015). A close look at this line of philosophical thought reveals a hedonist perspective, although hedonism approaches the issue differently. The lowest rank represents the level in which the least complicated individual purely exists to satisfy his physical senses. This can reside as well rest in various forms, including but not limited to self-indulgence highlighted by an eat, drink, and be merry philosophy. In a nutshell, such individuals are driven by the desire to have fun as well as enjoy the trappings of the moment (McDonald, 2012).

Higher up in the ladder exist the busy man deeply engrossed in worldly affairs as it were. Though existing on the same premise, selfish and worldly pleasures, he does seek pleasure in the physical wisdom; his attention is trained on achieving success through such means like an intelligent business deal. From this, Kierkegaard does not appear to be anti-philosophical as the underlying theme presented here is supported by the inbuilt characteristics that motivate individuals to describe who he is and his purpose on earth. In this regard, man is only motivated by self-gain in regards to achieving self-satisfaction. From this, his reasoning is relevant to that point.

The Ethical Stage

This stage results from the distraction of the aesthete after he becomes exhausted from committing to any particular role, interpersonal relationships, as well as life. Kierkegaard argues that any commitment at this moment will suffice, but does not propose any particular religion, person, or dogma at this moment as long as the identified commitment is centered on self-commitment as well as commitment to others (McDonald, 2012). This argument finds relevance in the world from a philosophical perspective as all human beings are innately good and driven by the desire for self-improvement and consideration for others before taking the appropriate decisions based on ethical reflections.         

            The Religious Sphere/Stage

            In order for an individual to enter this stage, he must undergo what Kierkegaard refers to as the leap of faith. This can probably be exemplified by the biblical example of the youthful rich ruler, who seeks Jesus’ thoughts on how to enter heaven, even though he is sure he is a good person. In this regard, Christ tells him that the only ways to realize eternity is through obeying the commandments and sacrifice his riches, but the man walks away as he cannot take this leap.  From his arguments regarding this stage, Kierkegaard seeks to portray that sacrifices are necessary in life in order to realize a rewarding life, but this contradicts the aspects of living ethically (Mason, 2015).

Responses against Kierkegaard’s Three Stages Of Life

            The Aesthetic Stage

On the contrary, a critical look will give credibility to the argument that he, Kierkegaard is anti-philosophical and therefore not philosophically right to offer an explanation as to what constitutes man as well as his reason for existence. In this regard, the writer does not consider all relevant factors necessary to give a suitable reaction as to the argument he seeks to propose. While it is true that man is concerned with self satisfaction, Kierkegaard seems to miss the point by failing to emphasize the fact that in order for one man to succeed, another one must also achieve self satisfaction or suffer. A philosopher of good recognition would have therefore encompassed this in his argument and argued that man will do anything, including helping others or else oppressing others to achieve self -happiness and fulfillment. For example, the current leader, of South Korea has achieved this by starving his subjects and rewarding loyal followers in order to continue enjoying power and therefore realize his purpose.

            The Ethical Stage

The author fails again as a philosopher as he assumes that every individual will progress from the self-centered man described in the first stage into a better person. This is actually being naive and thus the argument presented here cannot stand careful philosophical analysis. Ethical considerations differ from person to person and what is good or else bad to one person, is not necessarily viewed through that perspective by another individual. The conclusions advanced here by Kierkegaard are actually counter-productive and portray him as anti-philosophical as he seems to reside in an untrue unrealistic society; far from reality as every decision made by an individual is an ethical one.

            The Religious Sphere/Stage

On the converse, this stage does not take time to understand the fact that the current historical era is highlighted by uncertainty as regards intellectual and moral uncertainties.  His submissions are therefore not as important currently as they were during post-enlightenment modernity. To this extent, they are inconsistent with sound philosophical principles.


            Despite its essential role in shaping the conventional German philosophy as well as existentialism, Kierkegaard’s ideas are difficult to understand from a philosophical standpoint. His inflexible religiosity has subsequently led various philosophers to see him fundamentally as a spiritual thinker emphasized by anti-philosophical attitudes.


Mason, J. (2015). Soren Kierkegaard. Retrieved from: Philosophy Now:

McDonald, W. (2012). Soren Kierkegaard. Retrieved from: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Pattison, G. (2015). The Philosophy of Kierkegaard. Retrieved from: McGill Queens University Press:–the-products-9780773529878.php

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