In 1914 Theodor Haecker presented Kierkegaard to the German-speaking public as a social critic, when he published the translation of a fragment from Kierkegaard’s A Literary Review (1846). The translation inspired several influential authors of the interwar period, who commented on the condition of the society of that time. One of them was Karl Jaspers who believed that Kierkegaard’s views were more relevant in the 20th century than they were in the 19th century. In his work The Spiritual Condition of the Age (1931/1932) Jaspers adopted several motifs from Kierkegaard’s critique of society. In the present paper I examine thematic points of intersection of Kierkegaard’s reflections on the public and Jaspers’ reflections on the mass. I also elucidate Kierkegaard’s and Jaspers’ views on excellence, envy, leveling and modern media. Both thinkers provide original and incisive analyses of the decadent features of modern society.
Envy, Excellence, Leveling, Philosophy of existence, Social criticism, The mass, The public