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PhD defense of Gudmundur Bjorn Thorbjornsson

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The Faculty of Languages & Humanities of the VUB and the Faculty of History of Philosophy of the the University of Iceland invite you to the public defense of Gudmundur Bjorn Thorbjornsson to obtain the joint academic degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Moral Sciences and Philosophiae Doctor.


Mr. Thorbjornsson will defend his original dissertation entitled: The World Continues. Kierkegaard’s Repetition and Recollection in Hyper-Connectivity.


Promotors: Prof. Karl Verstrynge (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) and Prof. Vilhjálmur Árnason (University of Iceland)


When? On Friday July, 1st 2022 at 15pm. 


Where? The defense will take place at VUB, Campus Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, room D.0.08.


Abstract: Through the categories of repetition and recollection, Kierkegaard pinpoints two different, but closely related, ways of encountering human existence as a lived experience. This study aims to show how these categories are reflected in the life of the hyper-connected self, and to offer a Kierkegaardian reading of how we exist in the hyper-connected world of today. Through an elaboration of recollection and repetition – and Kierkegaard’s complex relationship with the emerging liberal periodical press – the aim is to open up a new way for existential thought to enter the academic discussion of how one exists in a hyper-connected world.

The main research question asks whether Kierkegaard’s existential thought can be used to elucidate ways of existing in a hyper-connected setting. Furthermore: Can that be done from a different perspective than that of the scholars who argue that Kierkegaard would have despised the Internet, based on what he wrote about the emerging liberal periodical press in mid-nineteenth-century Copenhagen? This study also asks whether Kierkegaard’s relationship to the media contemporary to him and his criticism of these media were characterized by his existential thought. It is then asked if Kierkegaard‘s categories of repetition and recollection can be seen as paradigms for existential freedom and unfreedom. Finally, it will be decided whether these paradigms could be analyzed and depicted as existential movements in a hyper- connected setting.

From a methodological perspective, hyper-connectivity is defined as a lifeworld [Lebenswelt] in which the boundaries between the offline and the online are fading. Considering the growing impact of digitally mediated technologies on our daily lives, it is argued that Kierkegaard’s thought can be used to answer questions arising from this development, especially regarding existence, selfhood and intersubjectivity. Kierkegaard’s relationship with the press is approached primarily from a cultural-historical perspective. When discussing important concepts in the pseudonymous authorship, a conceptual analysis is used to argue that, as existential movements, recollection and repetition can be read as paradigms for existential freedom and unfreedom in a hyper-connected world.