A welcome, rigorous contribution to Kierkegaard-ian scholarship.

Kierkegaard's Existentialism


A searching account of the self in Kierkegaard’s work.

Leone has been grappling with Kierkegaard for the bulk of his adult life. Now, with a Ph.D. and Doctor of Theology degree in hand, he captures that long-standing engagement. Kierkegaard’s complex legacy has been claimed by two often strikingly disjunctive traditions: the Christian and the existential. Leone, however, argues that a sensitive reading of the Danish philosopher reveals that the two strains are inseparable, producing an inclusive view of the self that is aware of its worldly manifestations as well as its spiritual relationship to the absolute. “God is the absolute,” he says, “but love, often associated with God, either as God’s love for us or our love for God, is in the realm of the universal.” The theological self crescendos in human spirituality in its relation to the absolute, and the existential self asserts its being free of any independent or external frameworks. “We are not manifestations of any objective overarching reality, such as what the great systems represent, whether religious, political, philosophical, or social,” Leone writes. Kierkegaard presented this dialectical rendering of the self as a dialogue between Socrates and Jesus—representing “the two poles of his existence”—which Leone examines as evidence of Kierkegaard’s complex personality. Along the way, Leone astutely tackles some of the central topics in Kierkegaard’s often esoteric body of work, including his unconventional view of God, his radical interpretation of faith, and his groundbreaking view of ethics, which turn out to be demanding but unencumbered by normative standards. What emerges from this analysis is a lively portrait of a philosopher who understood better than any philosopher before him the basic paradox of the self. Leone’s prose is refreshingly lucid for what is essentially an academic monograph. Still, the scholarly aims require a close read, so this may be challenging for those not accustomed to dense, research-heavy literature.

A welcome, rigorous contribution to Kierkegaard-ian scholarship.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1491743614

Page Count: 152

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: June 26, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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This a book of earlier, philosophical essays concerned with the essential "absurdity" of life and the concept that- to overcome the strong tendency to suicide in every thoughtful man-one must accept life on its own terms with its values of revolt, liberty and passion. A dreary thesis- derived from and distorting the beliefs of the founders of existentialism, Jaspers, Heldegger and Kierkegaard, etc., the point of view seems peculiarly outmoded. It is based on the experience of war and the resistance, liberally laced with Andre Gide's excessive intellectualism. The younger existentialists such as Sartre and Camus, with their gift for the terse novel or intense drama, seem to have omitted from their philosophy all the deep religiosity which permeates the work of the great existentialist thinkers. This contributes to a basic lack of vitality in themselves, in these essays, and ten years after the war Camus seems unaware that the life force has healed old wounds... Largely for avant garde aesthetes and his special coterie.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 1955

ISBN: 0679733736

Page Count: 228

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1955

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