SOREN KIERKEGAARD was born in Copenhagen in 1813. He studied theology, but abandoned the idea of becoming a pastor as his disillusionment with the Lutheran church grew. For the next ten years he lived in seclusion and wrote ten books and a dozen major philosophical essays. He attacked Hegelianism because he believed Hegel's systematizing and his fusion of logic with existence was false. In contrast, Kierkegaard held that one's relation in faith to the objective uncertainty of Christianity was the highest truth attainable. His concept of the self is that of a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, the temporal and the eternal, tensions that can only find rest in God. Kierkegaard has strongly influenced--and continues to influence--numerous 20th-century thinkers, in particular Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Karl Barth. Kierkegaard died in 1855.
RICHARD JOHN NEUHAUS (introducer), a former Lutheran pastor, is now a Roman Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of New York. He is president of the Institute on Religion and Public Life, and editor-in-chief of the Institute's monthly magazine, First Things. He has written Freedom for Ministry, The Naked Public Square, The Catholic Movement, Believing Today, Death on a Friday Afternoon, and As I Lay Dying. According to U.S. News and World Report, he is one of the most influential intellectuals in America.