Monday, April 18, 2011

Sickness unto Death 2

The subtitle in Sickness unto Death is A Christian Psychological Exploration for Upbuilding and Awakening. Psychology can here be understood as a phenomenology for human possibilities. Many have described this book as Kierkegaards foremost masterpiece. The book consists of two parts. Part one is called The Sickness unto Death is Despair, and part 2 is called Despair is Sin. The author is Anti-Climacus, a pseudonym invented by Kierkegaard. Why did he use a pseudonym? Most likely he did so in order to say what he wanted to say as a Christian who was keenly conscious of the gap between the ideals he wanted to express and the actuality of his experiences.

Kierkegaard wrote this book in a amazingly short time, between March-May in the revolutionary year of 1848, but waited until July 1849 with publishing it. This was a time of economical problems which lead to Revolutions in Brazil and several European countries. Even though most of the Revolutions were defeated, the Revolutionary year of 1848 was still a signal of the powerful socialist movement that was on its way

In his notes, Kierkegaard writes that "the present age is the age of despair". Despair, in Kierkegaards way of thinking, has to do with becoming ones self. He wrote already a decade before that before one can learn anything at all, one must first know oneself. The prosess of knowing oneself leads inevitably to a confrontation with ones anxiety and despair. Anxiety is understood by Kierkegaard as the dizziness of freedom, a freedom we have when we see our possibilities. Anxiety and despair go hand in hand in Kierkegaards thinking.

Understanding this makes it somewhat easier to read Kierkegaard. I have used these two concepts as a kind of map in my wandering in Kierkegaards landscape. Without a map, one can easily get lost and give up trying to understand the thoughts of a great thinker. I can read Kierkegaard because I can associate with anxiety and despair. Been there - done that. I am daily confronted with my self, possibilities, choices, responsibility, freedom, and so forth. I read Kierkegaard as though he is talking directly to me, in a dialog. This is what makes Kierkegaard so special: he writes to " The Single One" ("Hiin Enkelte") with a seriousness that is lost in our post-modern age. Many have seen that we need to take back this seriousness in our age, and that is why Kierkegaard is becoming more and more read all over the world.

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