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Not to be confused with Contemporary history.

The term "present age" is a concept in the philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard. A formulation of the modern age can be found in Kierkegaard's work Two Ages:

The present age is one of understanding, of reflection, devoid of passion, an age which flies into enthusiasm for a moment only to decline back into indolence. ... Action and passion is as absent in the present age as peril is absent from swimming in shallow waters.

—Kierkegaard, Søren, Two Ages: A Literary Review.[1]

Kierkegaard argues the present age drains the meaning out of ethical concepts through passionless indolence. The concepts are still used, but are drained of all meaning by virtue of their detachment from a life view which is passion-generated and produces consistent action.[2]


Several contemporary philosophers, including Anthony Rudd, John Davenport, and Alasdair MacIntyre[3] allocate this concept and apply it as an analysis of nihilism. Hubert Dreyfus, for example in his essay "Anonymity vrs. Commitment in the Present Age", argues that Kierkegaard, "who was always concerned with nihilism, warns that his age is characterized by a disinterested reflection and curiosity that levels all differences of status and value."[4]

Other thinkers apply the concept as a symptom of herd behavior or mob mentality. Norman Lillegard argues that the present age is "incapable of anything but 'crowd actions' which are not true actions at all."[5]

The indie rock band Arcade Fire have cited Kierkegaard's writings on "the present age" as a major influence for their 2013 album Reflektor.


  1. ^ Kierkegaard, Søren. The Present Age and of the Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle, trans. Alexander Dru (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1962) [1]
  2. ^ Lillegard, Norman. Thinking with Kierkegaard and MacIntyre about Virtue. Page Section II
  3. ^ Davenport, John; Rudd, Anthony; and MacIntyre, Alasdair. Kierkegaard after MacIntyre: essays on freedom, narrative, and virtue p. 226 - 229
  4. ^ Hubert L. Dreyfus (2004). "Kierkegaard on the Internet: Anonymity vrs. Commitment in the Present Age". Regents of the University of California. Retrieved 10 December 2010. 
  5. ^ Lillegard, Norman. Thinking with Kierkegaard and MacIntyre about Virtue. Page Section II


Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Present_age — Please support Wikipedia.
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