Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Søren Kierkegaard, Final Project - Second Installment (#11)

Kierkegaard and Despair

The Sickness Unto Death, written by Søren Kierkegaard and published under the pseudonym Anti-Climacus in 1849, details the Danish philosopher's ideas about death, despair, and faith; the sickness illustrated in the title is thought to refer to what Kierkegaard called sickness of "the self". Sickness, in this sense, isn't something as palpable as the flu or a case of the cold, but rather a sickness of spirit, a sickness that he calls despair, and furthermore a sickness that each and every person suffers from until the day they die. So, in what ways does this "sickness" affect us and how is it that we find ourselves in despair? According to Kierkegaard, the first and basest form of despair comes from simply not knowing that you are in despair. We can find ourselves not only in despair over our own existences, but also in despair over the things we use in which to distract ourselves from the despair of our own existences; luxury, frivolity, and creature comforts are often use to try and ease the despair of our existence, though Kierkegaard argues that this, in and of itself, only creates more despair. Despair stems from death as well, as the title of the book suggests, and most of all it comes with the knowledge that someday we will die and, from that point forward, will be dead for an eternity. 

“If then, if you have lived in despair, then whatever else you won or lost, for you everything is lost, eternity does not acknowledge you, it never knew you, or, still more dreadful, it knows you as you are known, it manacles you to your self in despair.”   

It all sounds rather depressing; however, Kierkegaard, thankfully, also presents to us a cure for this sickness called despair, that being faith in Christianity. Kierkegaard believes that only one who is an absolute Christian, meaning that they have absolute faith in God and Christianity, can live their lives free from despair. Kierkegaard also ties sin to despair, suggesting that only those who are in despair can sin, and that the sins that one commits is a direct result of that person's despair, and the only thing that could make being in sin(despair) any worse would be to despair over being in sin. Even worse than that, however, would be to deny forgiveness for one's despairs. In order to rid ourselves of our sin, according to what Kierkegaard's claims, we must have faith that God will even extend to us forgiveness in the first place. 



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