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Kierkegaard For Beginners Paperback – August 21, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald Palmer is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the College of Marin in Kentfield, California. Currently he is Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is also author of Sartre For Beginners, Looking at Philosophy, and Does the Center Hold?.

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Product Details

  • Series: For Beginners
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: For Beginners (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8125031693
  • ISBN-13: 978-1934389140
  • ASIN: 1934389145
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #650,947 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A. Wakefield on June 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Palmer does a better job than is imaginable with his medium. Contrary to Anonymous Boston reader's comments, this is not a comic book - although it does have illustrations. But those illustrations add everything to the book. They are Palmer's mode of expressing wit and lightening and personalizing what is basically a philosophical book. I understand that Palmer takes this approach in many of his works; I plan to find more of them. I bought other books in the "For Beginners series" thinking they would all be this good, but Palmer's are the best book of this sort I have in my collection. This book helped stimulate me into an abiding interest in Kierkegaard's thoughts and life. As I've read more (of course, SK's writings, Lowrie's biography, and compilations like the "parables") I've found myself returning to Palmer over and over again. This book gives a compelling rendition of Kierkegaard and remains one of my favorite introductory philosophy books. A treasure - and a travesty that it is out of print. Publishers! You do us a grand disservice!
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By David K. Bell on July 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
This book was my introduction to this series, and overall it has whetted my appetite for more. I was skeptical about the "comic book" format (the publisher refers to this series as comic books, although I agree with another reviewer that the format is really text with illustrations), but my curiosity about how Kierkegaard's dense philosophy could be meanfully summarized so briefly got the better of me. I think the book is largely successful.
Kierkegaard is difficult to understand, partly because his thought system is complex, but also because he often chose to write in what Palmer calls a "parable" format, for example espousing his views on the "aesthetic" stage by writing pseudonymous pieces in the aesthetic voice. Palmer clearly explains this device while simultaneously explaining the major tenets illuminated by the device, no mean feat of summarizing in so brief a space. He pretty well does the same with most of Kierkegaard's major ideas, which is exactly what you would hope for from a book like this.
My quarrel with the book is with the illustrations and some insufficient treatment of some key ideas. The illustrations are many, they are not funny or helpful, they are distracting, patronizing and annoying. And they take up space that would have been better spent explaining more fully some points that are not made sufficiently clear. I would include most notably in the latter category a more lucid explanation of Kierkegaard's views of the subjective and objective realms and just exactly why (instead of merely that) Kierkegaard maintains that life is only fully lived when its tenuousness, or emptiness, is realized. This idea is an important link with eastern philosophies and was first introduced into Western thought by Kierkegaard.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By rareoopdvds VINE VOICE on February 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I always found Kierkegaards work archaic in language and dense in thought. However, this book helped me work through that in laying the underpinning's of Kierkegaards philosophy in a soft tangible style that is easy for anyone to grasp and enjoy. Perhaps this book will not propel everyone to investigate further into his works, however it will leave the reader satisfied that one has some base knowledge at hand. Donald Palmer gives a nice presentation of Kierkegaard's work and life from birth to death, which adds to the understanding of Kierkegaards philosophy. Definately reccomended to the beginning student of existentialism and Kierkegaard.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Bonita L. Davis on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
One day I was inspired to read Either/Or by this great philosopher. Suddenly painful memories rose to the surface as I remembered the struggle with this author's thoughts in my undergraduate and graduate classes in philosophy. Kierkegaard is not fun reading on any level. So what do you do when you want to revisit or re-read a major philosophical work but don't want to go through the pain?
"Kierkegaard For Beginners" was my answer. Using a cartoon format laced with humor this book takes the most complex philosopher and makes his life and works accessible to the general reader. One must remember that this is not an introductory text book on Kierkegaard's philosophy nor does it go into a deep analysis of his work. It covers the broad spectrum of his works without "dummying down" the thinker's ideas. Of course this isn't a substitute for reading the original works but it certainly puts you in touch with the major ideas of Kierkegaard that will motivate you to learn more about him. I highly recommend this book for high school students ( Do they take philosophy in high school any more?) and those in undergraduate classes of philosophy on the introductory level. It is a great supplementary work in making a great man's ideas accessible to students. And besides, it is fun and makes Kierkegaard a pleasure to study.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Encompassed Runner on May 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
Author/illustrator Palmer brings out Kierkegaard's brilliance in a way accessible to all, simply conveying the complexity of Kierkegaard the person and Kierkegaard the writings while providing a continuous laugh fitting for SK's own serio-comic ironic style. Kierkegaard's the epitome of epigrammatic writing and living, a zealous genius misrepresented by both secularist existentialists as well as respected Christian theologians/teachers who wrongly accuse SK of throwing out objective Christian truth, when really SK's subjectivity IS the evangelical truth of personal relationship with God, not mere external religious tradition. As for the comics in this book, they (as is SK) are HILarious, though probably more so because of the Bible allusions. This book contains a glossary and bibliography, and after this SK intro I'd recommend 'The Essential Kierkegaard' by the editors Hong, then skipping 'Concept of Irony' and starting with 'Either/Or' reading thru the rest of SK's books, which from the outset were written on 2 parallel tracks, one being pseudonymous works (from which it is unfair to attribute quotes to SK) and the other being signed works. P.S.--it's ironic that SK is now associated with the existentialist all-about-self-and-living-in-the-moment philosophies when SK lived so dead to self (his name even means 'graveyard') and with vision, methodically poured himself out in a planned series of books so that his readers entrapped in dead state church religiosity might become aware that they're dead and need to get a life (a self).
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