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The Sickness unto Death: A Christian Psychological Exposition of Edification & Awakening by Anti-Climacus Paperback – May 20, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 20, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1463544014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463544010
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,063,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Soren Kierkegaard (1813 –1855) was a Danish Christian philosopher, theologian and religious author interested in human psychology. He strongly criticized the philosophies of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Schlegel and the Christianity of the State Church versus the Free Church. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking, and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment. His theological work focuses on Christian ethics, institution of the Church, and on the difference between purely objective proofs of Christianity and a subjective relationship to Jesus Christ, the God-Man, which comes from faith. His psychological work explores the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices. His thinking was influenced by Socrates and the Socratic method. Kierkegaard's early work was written under various pseudonymous characters who present their own distinctive viewpoints and interact with each other in complex dialogue. He assigns pseudonyms to explore particular viewpoints in-depth, which may take up several books in some instances, while Kierkegaard, openly or under another pseudonym, critiques that position. He wrote many Upbuilding Discourses under his own name and dedicated them to the "single individual" who might want to discover the meaning of his works. Notably, he wrote: "Science and scholarship want to teach that becoming objective is the way. Christianity teaches that the way is to become subjective, to become a subject." The scientist can learn about the world by observation but can the scientist learn about the inner workings of the spiritual world by observation? Kierkegaard said no, and he said it emphatically. In 1847 Kierkegaard described his own view of the single individual. "God is not like a human being; it is not important for God to have visible evidence so that he can see if his cause has been victorious or not; he sees in secret just as well. Moreover, it is so far from being the case that you should help God to learn anew that it is rather he who will help you to learn anew, so that you are weaned from the worldly point of view that insists on visible evidence. A decision in the external sphere is what Christianity does not want; rather it wants to test the individual’s faith."

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Customer Reviews

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Then the book began to read me.
Douglas Groothuis
I can't adequately review this book since the whole edition is disconnected, partial paragraphs that finish on the second page.
G. Nobles
This book will bring about inter contemplation and seeking which will strengthen ones ability to help find ones true self.
Nathan D. Young

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Carey Coleman on December 14, 2000
Format: Paperback
In perhaps his most relentless probing of the human condition, Kierkegaard's "The Sickness Unto Death" rediscovers the very notion of "sin." Having been tossed around by anyone and everyone in the Danish Christendom of his day, the word "sin" has lost much of it's original meaning; hence he chooses the term "despair." By doing this, Kierekgaard rediscovers "original sin," or that notion of sin which has been lost through misuse. For Kierkegaard, "despair" or "sin" is not simply an individual act, but it is a state of existence. Only when an individual acknowledges the inherent human situation, one that is "in despair," can one then "actively despair" and move out of the aesthetic mire of common existence. It should be noted that it is an ill advised version of Christianity which is "in despair," such a Christian wanting a simple solution without having to face the terrifying problem of our being. Kierkegaard not only documents the different levels of "despair" (no one type is exclusive of others), but he looks into why it is that we often refuse to accept our condition, such denial forcing us to remain "in despair." As he himself makes clear, "The very nature of despair is that it is unaware of being despair." There are endless implications from such an important work, not least of which is the idea that words can hold as well as lose their meaning, depending on how they are used and who is using them. But over and above a theory of semiotics is Kierkegaard's belief that authentic Christianity can only arise for the one who faces his/her desperate situation; and upon doing so, sees no other way out than total submission to "the Power that posited it."
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Groothuis on May 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
Please indulge me only a brief autobiographical reflection on this singularly impressive work of the great Dane.

I was assigned this book in the spring of 1976 for a History of Modern Philosophy course at the University of Northern Colorado. Having cut my philosophical teeth on Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud, and being in the heady environment of the state university (albeit not a distingushed one), I had, in a protracted fit of post-adolescent pseudo-intellectualism, thrown of the light religion of my youth and was endeavoring to embrace atheism. Thank God, I would eventually fail in this.

I wrote a short essay against SK for my class, but had not taken on this formidable volume, relying only on secondary sources. But then one night, after a bizarre dream that covertyly indicated my alienation from God, I picked up the book and began reading--not at the beginning, but at a random place. Then the book began to read me. It explained my "despair" as form of rebellion against God. "Defiant despair" is what SK called it: despair that finds its meaning in being miserable in its rebellion against God. He called it the most "potentiated" (or full-bloodied) form of despair.

I saw myself in the dense and psychologically thick description. SK read my soul in Christian terms, and it disarmed and alarmed me. This marked a turning point; about a month later, I gave up this despair and instead embraced the Christian message. A few years later I taught through this demanding and rewarding book in a class at the University of Oregon--the only time I have done so in all my years of teaching.

I part company with SK's rejection of rational apologetics (natural theology and historical evidences for Christianity); however, his divination of the soul, his art of uncovering the soul's escape mechanisms, his ability to bring one before God through this writing...is uncanny. Call it subjective apologetics. Call it brilliant.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on November 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This review is devoted exclusively to the Kindle edition, which is literally broken. It costs 2 1/2 times the price of the other Kindle edition, which is only modest as most Kindle editions go, but by comparing it with a hard copy from Princeton, I am assured that it has the complete text. This edition seems at the very least to have radically broken pagination. The Preface (written by Kierkegaard) is missing, and it seems as if much of the Introduction is missing. What would normally be on one page is often smeared across a dozen or more pages. The Kindle Edition, taken from a Penguin paper edition, is plainly broken. Buy the $1.99 edition. It ain't great, but its readable.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By G. Nobles on December 30, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I can't adequately review this book since the whole edition is disconnected, partial paragraphs that finish on the second page. This edition for the kindle makes me miss the physical form of the book.
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21 of 29 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on April 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Herein lies many of Kierkegaard's most vehement attacks on his utter disgust as what he sees as the shallow and hypocritical Christians of his time. In fact, the rantings rank up there with Nietzsche's tirades against what he liked to call the "rabble."
As you may have guessed by the title, this is not to be an uplifting book. Kierkegaard will never be mistaken for Robert Schuller - that much is for certain. In it, the Danish philosopher (generally considered the father of existentialism) grapples with guilt. Not just anyone's guilt, either, but Soren Kierkegaard's guilt. In page after page he discerns how man's sinful nature is corruptive to his relationship to God. What is worse, no matter how hard he tries, he can't stop sinning any more than he can consciously stop breathing.
Kierkegaard then looks up from his desk and wonders why all those so-called Christians out there aren't doing the same thing that he is. The Dane is introspective, to say the least, and the nucleus of his thought emanates from Socrates' words at his trial, as recorded in Plato's APOLOGY:
...I say again that the greatest good of man is daily to converse about virtue, and all that concerning which you hear me examining myself and others, and that the life which is unexamined is not worth living
- Plato, APOLOGY, Trans: B Jowett
Here is a great man's attempt to follow the dictum of Socrates, and examine his own life. In this sense, THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH is comparable to St. Augustine's CONFESSIONS, albeit a bit on the morbid side.
One of the Dane's favorite metaphors was of driver falling asleep at the reigns of his wagon. So too did K believe that that is how most of us live our lives. With this in mind, it is not surprising that he anoints this work as an "awakening" for his readers.
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