Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Stefan Bird-Pollan


This dissertation examines the conception of boredom presented in the work of Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is known for deriving philosophical insights into human nature from phenomenological analyses of various moods. However, while Kierkegaard provides explicit and complete accounts of anxiety, despair, and melancholy, his analyses of boredom are only ever fragmentary and dispersed. Additionally, most scholars either neglect Kierkegaard’s descriptions of boredom or dismiss them as mere novelty, and, even though a few scholars analyze the concept, there is still no sustained and thorough account of the same. This dissertation advances Kierkegaard scholarship by piecing together Kierkegaard’s theory of boredom from his fragmentary descriptions of the phenomenon. Through a close reading of Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Irony and Either/Or, the dissertation demonstrates two main claims about Kierkegaard’s theory. First, it shows that the experience of boredom can be understood in the work of Kierkegaard as expressive of the achievement of a reflective stance toward existence – a stance in which one begins questioning the meaning of one’s life and the ultimate justification for one’s actions. Second, the dissertation shows that, based on how Kierkegaard situates the concept of boredom within his general theory of personal development, the concept of boredom is a crucial component of his philosophical project of explaining the stages of life through which an individual passes in the development of an adequate conception of itself. Specifically, the dissertation argues that, within Kierkegaard’s theory of stages of life, boredom is a central concept of his account of the aesthetic and ethical stages.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)