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Aesthetic stage

According to Kierkegaard, the first stage on the road to full personal freedom, characterized by egotism and hedonism, and ending in boredom and despair.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the first modern existential philosopher, believed there are three stages through which one passes to full personal freedom: aesthetic, ethical, and religious. The aesthetic stage is characterized by egotism and hedonism. Persons at this stage are driven by pleasure and excitement, but they don't recognize their ability to choose freely. The result is boredom and despair.
Further Reading:

Gardiner, P. L. (1988). Kierkegaard. New York: Oxford University Press.

Hannay, A., & Marino, G. D. (Eds.). (1998). The Cambridge companion to Kierkegaard. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Oxford Companion to Philosophy. (1995). Søren Aabye Kierkegaard [On-line] Available:

Storm, D. A. (2002). A primer of Kierkegaardian motifs [On-line] Available:

Related Terms:
Ethical stage


Kierkegaard, Søren (1813 - 1855)

Religious stage

Self-Instructional Resources:
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