Getting Started

After completing his primary and secondary education at the Borgerdyd School, Kierkegaard took the entrance exam to Copenhagen University in October 1830 and began attending classes the next month.21 On 1 November he was appointed to His Majesty the King's Guards but was discharged three days later by the army surgeon for being physically 'unfit for service', leaving him free to continue his higher education (LD 8-9). Much to the chagrin of his family, Kierkegaard lingered in the university for ten years before finally completing his degree. The university at that time was composed of four faculties: theology, law, medicine, and philosophy.22 Before Soren could choose a primary field of study, he had to take a year of general education courses and pass qualifying exams in those subjects.

18 N. Thulstrup (1984: 60-71). 19 Cf. Luther (1989: 471-96).

Acceding to his father's wish, he then enrolled in the school of theology, where he attended lectures on biblical literature, hermeneutics, exegesis, Christian dogmatics, and speculative dogmatics, as well as lectures in the school of philosophy on ancient philosophy, Christian philosophy moral philosophy, metaphysics, aesthetics and poetics, logic, and psychology.23 Being highly proficient in Latin, he also taught Latin for several years at the Borgerdyd School, winning acclaim from his former headmaster as a good teacher who motivated students 'to do the sort of thinking that is not merely directed at passing the examination but that will continue to have an effect in their later lives'.24 With regard to preparing for his own examination for a degree, however, Kierkegaard confessed in a letter of 1835 that he was not making much progress because of a lack of interest, although he recognized that he 'had better dig in' for several reasons, namely because it was required for entering 'the scholarly pastures', it would be advantageous, and it would make his father happy (JP v. 5092).

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