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Kierkegaard's Writings, XIX: Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening [Paperback]

S°ren Kierkegaard , Edna H. Hong , Howard V. Hong
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 21 1983 0691020280 978-0691020280 1

A companion piece to The Concept of Anxiety, this work continues Søren Kierkegaard's radical and comprehensive analysis of human nature in a spectrum of possibilities of existence. Present here is a remarkable combination of the insight of the poet and the contemplation of the philosopher.

In The Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard moves beyond anxiety on the mental-emotional level to the spiritual level, where--in contact with the eternal--anxiety becomes despair. Both anxiety and despair reflect the misrelation that arises in the self when the elements of the synthesis--the infinite and the finite--do not come into proper relation to each other. Despair is a deeper expression for anxiety and is a mark of the eternal, which is intended to penetrate temporal existence.

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Kierkegaard's Writings, XIX: Sickness Unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition for Upbuilding and Awakening + Kierkegaard's Writings, VIII: Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin + Kierkegaard's Writings, VI: Fear and Trembling/Repetition
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"The definitive edition of the Writings. The first volume . . . indicates the scholarly value of the entire series: an introduction setting the work in the context of Kierkegaard's development; a remarkably clear translation; and concluding sections of intelligent notes."--Library Journal

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating April 6 2003
_The Sickness Unto Death_ is a good place to start reading Kierkegaard. It is shorter than most of his works, and provides a good overview of his most important concepts. One such concept is man's intense desire to understand or somehow obtain proof of the existence of God. Because of our intense fear of death, we are constantly seeking out ways to relieve our doubt concerning the immortality of the soul. Kierkegaard examines this death-drive with remarkable insight, stating that it is in some ways noble, but in other ways is a gross imposition upon God, and a disrespect for God's privacy. In one passage, Kierkegaard suggests that we seek out reasons to experience despair simply in order to drag God across hot coals; that is, in order for us to reach a satisfactory understanding of the existence and/or goodness of God, we have a tendency to go out of our way to find reasons NOT to believe in God. Sometimes these reasons consist in outward examples of atrocities and widespread acts of destructive evil. Other times our despair is of a more inward form, in which we seek to disprove God because of our own shortcomings in avoiding sin. In other words, if we are evil, and consider ourselves to be abnormally bad sinners, we have a vested interest in disproving God; because of our fear of punishment, the existence of God runs counter to our best interests. On the other side of the spectrum, Kierkegaard portrays the more virtuous type of faith as one that avoids higher levels of understanding. Considering the over-abundance in this world of acts we percieve to be evil, it stands to reason that God does not WANT to be fully understood. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A study of sin through philosophical categories Jan. 24 2000
By Joe
Kierkegaard addresses why a man fails to "be oneself," or what later philosophers called a failure to be "authentic." He addresses this self-division through a Christian understanding of the category of despair, and shows that at bottom sin and despair are equivalent, even if the sinner is not consciously aware of the despair. This is an excellent work on sin. There is no Bible-thumping or preaching; just a straightforward philosophical and technical look at what it means to be in sin. You may find the Hegelian dialectics difficult, but if you catch what Kierkegaard is saying, your view of what sin is and its reality can be completely changed. Kierkegaard shows how despair can be found in the midst of everyday routines as well as in "classic" sinful actions. The work focuses on how an ontological gap in one's being colors every action, no matter how simple or dramatic the action appears to be. Be warned, the book is not as easy to read as his overtly religious works. The book is not as difficult as some of his other philosophical works and it is short, but an exposure to 19th Century continental philosophy or an education in the humanities will definitely help you get through the Hegelian terminology and dialectics.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A life changing experience Dec 4 1999
It doesn't often happen that you can feel reading a book changing your world-view. I can remember the first time I read "Sickness Unto Death" and suddenly commercials sounded different. It's a simple Either/or: either you are part of the problem or you are part of the solution. Either you are moving, and, whether you know it or not we are all moving, in one direction or the other. The opposite of "faith" is not "doubt," for "doubt" can a moment within faith. The opposite of "faith" is "despair." Despair is the "Sickness Unto Death," and there is no other real death. All else is temporary, but despair is eternal. The great dialectian draws out and describes the variety and etiology of despair in a language he describes as "algebraic" (that is, spare, formulaic, a prime example is the famous opening paragraph with its comic parody of Hegel (he's pulling your leg at the same time he is deadly serious. That's SK)). You may find this language hard to deal with, but it is worth it to stick with it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finding God Through Despair April 5 2004
Soren Kierkegaard is a wonderful philosopher. He understood the universal truth: we are all accountable to God, and our goal is to gain eternal life through this accountability of living for God, which means living for Good (ethics). To discover our "self" in this goal is why we are here, it is our purpose in life.
This (above) is what Kierkegaard talks about in "The Sickness Unto Death" and how we don't come to this understanding except after struggle in this world and despair with our lives. While reading it, you have the feeling of being struck by a sense of profound truth. This is one of Kierkegaard's finest works.
David Rehak
author of "A Young Girl's Crimes"
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5.0 out of 5 stars Getting a life April 2 2002
By A Customer
In sum, Kierkegaard shows that despair is the inability to live with oneself. We all experience depression, disappointment, and anxiety rooted in the identities we strive to establish apart from the one we were meant to have in God. Therefore, there is no greater truth to eradicate despair than this: that God has made us for relationship with Himself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in Him. Only when a person relies on his perfect relationship with God, and not his imperfect relationship with his parents, his society, his friends, as the sole criterion for the worth of his soul will he find rest from despair.
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