This essay provides a close reading of Kierkegaard’s later signed text, For Self-Examination
. While many of Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous texts often are selected for their philosophically explicit engagements with Hegelian philosophy, I use Hegel’s dialectic of lordship and bondage to draw out how Kierkegaard circumvents it in this one. I first provide historical context, noting how Kierkegaard turned to earnest works after his public humiliation in the Copenhagen newspaper, undermining his ability to deploy irony effectively. Second, I briefly develop Hegel’s lordship and bondage dialectic as a model for how selfhood is constituted through work and labor. Third, I dwell with a close reading of Kierkegaard’s book both in its composition and in its interpretation, bringing out how it donates grace rather than work (à la Hegel) to the reader’s attempt at self-realization. I conclude by noting one challenge to Kierkegaard’s ideal of addressing the “single individual” from the perspective of intersectional analysis.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited