Personalist features in Grundtvig’s philosophy.

Read Regner Birkelund's article about N.F.S. Grundtvig and personalism.

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N.F.S. Grundtvig - as a political thinker.

Read Ove Korsgaard's book about N.F.S. Grundtvig as a political thinker. The book presents a biography of Grundtvig and an analysis of his contribution to political science.

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Grundtvig feared the political parties would fight for the advantage of specific groups, rather than the common good.


Nikolaj Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872) was born in the small Danish town of Udby. He followed his father in studying theology and eventually becoming a priest in the national Lutheran church. Besides his clerical career, Grundtvig was elected several times into parliament around the time when Denmark’s status as an absolute monarchy ended with the writing and passing of a national constitution.

Grundtvig wrote extensively on Nordic mythology, which he sought to place within the framework of the Christian narrative. He is also responsible for a massive part of the corpus of Christian hymns that are still sung in the Danish churches.

Another very influential section of Grundtvig’s work is his writing about education and pedagogy. He held that the educational system should not primarily seek to turn the nation’s youth into learned scholars. Instead, the primary aim of education should be the formation of responsible, engaged humans with a creative vision for their country.

He argued that fixed curricula and rigid testing were an impediment for the human spirit. Instead an environment of responsible freedom should be provided in which human creativity could flourish and bring about the popular formation of a democratic spirit – one that would freely and passionately embrace its national heritage and administer it for “the common good”.

This “common good” was, for Grundtvig, “the unshakeable constitution of all constitutions” as well as the justification and manifestation of freedom itself. Grundtvig therefore saw true freedom as opposed to “unbridled freedom”, namely the aimless and meaningless state of individual autonomy with no regard for community.

Grundtvig thus inspired the so-called folkehøjskole (folk high school) movement that still exists today and which gave birth to a number of alternative creative boarding schools focusing upon the creative and democratic formation of students.


More about N.F.S. Grundtvig
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