Crisis, Identity and the End of Modernity: When Critical Theory Met Existentialism

Bojan Blagojević


The topic of this essay will be the political reception of the existential thought of Kierkegaard, provided by Habermas and Matuštik. While Habermas attempts to use Kierkegaard’s concepts of honesty and ethical choice in order to resolve the problems in constructing rational and democratic collective identities, Matuštik is concerned with the mode of existence that individuals within those collective identities must assume in order to safeguard them from totalitarianism.

Kierkegaard’s work responds to a crisis at the end of Modernity, his conception of the authentic individual compelled to make leaps of faith represents an attempt to diagnose and remedy the situation of axiological vacuum and disillusion with the traditional forms of justification. We will proceed to show how this crisis reflects on both the individual and the collective identities, the breaks and continuations of Kierkegaard’s work with both pre-Modern traditions and Modernity, and finally, point out the implications of Kierkegaard’s position as well as that of Habermas and Matuštik.


Article received: March 12, 2018; Article accepted: April 10, 2018; Published online: September 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper

How to cite this article: Blagojević, Bojan. "Crisis, Identity and the End of Modernity: When Critical Theory Met Existentialism." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 16 (2018): 11−18. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i16.250


the end of Modernity; Identity; Crisis; Kierkegaard; Habermas; Matuštik

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Habermas, Jűrgen. “Historical Consciousness and Post-Traditional Identity: The Federal Republic’s Orientation to the West.” In The New Conservatism, edited by Shierry Weber Nicholsen, 249–67. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 1997.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Either/Or, part II. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Fear and Trembling/Repetition. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983.

Kierkegaard, Søren. Concluding Unscientific Postscript for Philosophical Fragments. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992.

Martin Matuštik, Postnational Identity: Critical Theory and Existential Philosophy in Habermas, Kierkegaard and Havel. New York, London: The Guilford Press, 1993.



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Publisher: Faculty of Media and Communications, Singidunum University, Belgrade, Serbia

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