Saturday, June 18, 2011


The book The concept of anxiety came out in 1844 and was written by Vigilius Haufniensis (The Happy Copenhagener). The name is one of the many pseudonyms Soren Kierkegaard used in its rich authorship. The book is considered a major work by Kierkegaard it anticipates themes that unfolds throughout his authorship. If you have not read Kierkegaard before, this is a good book to start with. But remember: Read slowly - as slowly as possible.

The key themes of Kierkegaard's view of mankind is synthesis, the self, existence, freedom and unfreedom. Anxiety leads directly to the theme of freedom. There are anxieties about having the possibility of freedom, but there are also anxiety about being unfree. Anxiety is an unequivocal force in a human being. Anxiety is not a single theme according to Kierkegaard, but still opens the door to questions about what it means to be a human being. Ones view of what a human being is - is what connects the different themes together. It's about how you look at yourself and how you look at others.

The concept of anxiety is a book about the importance of taking anxiety seriously. Many people confuse fear with anxiety. The difference is that while fear is aimed at something specific, anxiety is aimed at Nothingness. The fear is directed toward the future. Kierkegaard compares anxiety with dizziness. Anxiety is like steping outside of oneself. You become split from the world one lives in because one loses familiarity with it. Anxiety gives an opportunity to experience oneself as someone else.

A human being has to grow together with oneself and it is the spirit that binds a human being together. First, Kierkegaard says that a man is a synthesis of the soul and the body, and held together by the spirit (p.137 and 142). Then he says that a human being is a synthesis of the temporal and the eternal (p.173). And finally, he concludes that when the spirit is present in a human being, that is when one is at the moment (p.176). Growing together with oneself is about creating a synthesis of soul, body, time and eternity. The discrepancy in a man's life comes when one highlights the one without the other. Then anxiety comes creeping. And the way out of this anxiety is to be concret. The Latin word for concrete is con-crescere, meaning to grow together. The task is to grow together and become whole.

People are concerned with their relation to their future and past. The task is to get the life you live in the moment to hang together with the pas and the future. Synthesis is thus a synthesis of time. One's past can be so heavy to carry because of traumatic events that the future seems to be closed. Anxiety is therefore about making freedom possible. Anxiety is the individual's ability to be free.

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