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Sickness unto Death Paperback – December 18, 2008

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About the Author

Søren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelianism of his time and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Church of Denmark. Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individuals when faced with life choices. His early work was written under various pseudonyms who present their own distinctive viewpoints in a complex dialogue. Kierkegaard left the task of discovering the meaning of his works to the reader, because "the task must be made difficult, for only the difficult inspires the noble-hearted". Scholars have interpreted Kierkegaard variously as an existentialist, neo-orthodoxist, postmodernist, humanist, and individualist. Crossing the boundaries of philosophy, theology, psychology, and literature, he is an influential figure in contemporary thought. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Wilder Publications (December 18, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604593164
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604593167
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,396,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Soren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855) was a 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian, generally recognized as the first existentialist philosopher.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Katherine Wallace on November 2, 2008
Format: Paperback
A wonderful book about seeing yourself clearly and your relationship to God clearly. A philosophy of authenticity and true seeing.

... but this translation is lousy. Too wordy and the publisher has too many typos which makes me think the whole book is poorly done. I recommend the Penguin Classics version for better readability.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Leonard Seet on August 15, 2013
Format: Paperback
For Kierkegaard, "the self is not the relation (which relates to itself) but the relation's relating to itself." From the start, he shifts from a Cartesian or essentialist view of the self to an existentialist one. Whereas for Descartes "self" is a common noun, for Kierkegaard, it is a gerund. And the embedded verb, to relate, points to the dynamics of the self. In this case, relating to itself.

The first despair is that "which is ignorant of being in despair, or the despairing ignorance of having a self and an eternal self." Similar to the "unexamined life" of Socrates, this is the unexamined self. And for Kierkegaard, this is the most common despair, though the individuals involved aren't aware of it. In the Christian worldview, "a human being is a synthesis of the infinite and finite," and therefore the tension between these poles becomes the source of next two types of despair: "wanting in despair to be oneself" and "not wanting in despair to be oneself."

For Kierkegaard, despair is the sickness unto death, one different from an ordinary sickness that leads to physical death. Within the Christian framework, physical death may be a path toward eternal life and a dying person may hope for the life after. But despair, as the sickness unto death, is when one hopes for death as a resolution, but the person cannot die. Hence, the despair. Such despair presupposes life after death. For the atheistic existentialist, such as Sartre or Camus, death is the ultimate end and creates the despair by nullifying hope and achievement and life.

Faith, the interacting with the "power which established it," is for Kierkegaard the only way the self can overcome despair.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gary Furnell on May 29, 2009
Format: Paperback
NOT MY SELF: THE DISGUISES OF DESPAIR IN Kierkegaard's The Sickness unto Death.
Kierkegaard's prose is sometimes so intricately convoluted that Woody Allen merely had to quote a sentence or two for the joke to work; it was so difficult to understand, it was funny. And Woody Allen chose a sentence from The Sickness unto Death: "Such a relation which relates itself to its own self (that is to say, a self) must either have constituted itself or have been constituted by another.'
I read the opening paragraph of Part One of The Sickness unto Death and almost stopped there. It was so difficult to understand, I thought of Woody Allen's joke and was amused as much as I was discouraged. How would I find my way into this book? I persisted, and discovered that understanding grows as the pages are slowly turned. When I'd finished the book, I was quick to read it again and soon my copy had passages underlined, notes in the margins, and aphorisms committed to memory. Some books are like windows that enable you to see a panorama; The Sickness Unto Death is like a magnifying glass that enables you to see something too often neglected but infinitely precious: the individual human being, yourself. In any contemporary intellectual discussion the individual is rarely seen; what is seen is the nation, the class, the stakeholders, and worst of all because it implies only biology, the species. The Sickness unto Death is a lucid, uncompromising, and wise book that acts like a bright and keen axe, wielded by an expert, on all this indifference to the individual.
Kierkegaard wrote The Sickness unto Death in 1848. He published the book under a snappy pseudonym: Anti-Climacus.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By barryb on June 26, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
AN AMAZING ACCOMPLISHMENT by anyone's standards. Kierkegaard gives his readers, for the first time; the presentation of existentialism as a complete system. And especially as a system that is easily adaptable to post-modern thought. Kierkegaard is frequently being referenced by the post-moderns and there is a good reason. His thought profoundly addresses the issues that are just now being addressed in post-modern thinking. This applies especially to the idea of establishing the "self" as "spirit". And being obligated to fulfill this inscription and questioning. The benefits are numerous with reading this text; but a few gems are: 1. The articulation of the human condition as passing through five levels of despair. 2. The "3" moments of the unconscious as: a. inscription of the primitive-plan of spirit. b. The infinitizing of the imagination in reaching self-possibilities. c. synthesis in creating pregnancy of the "personality-of-spirit". 3. The work of consciousness as "mid-wife activity" in three steps of: a. infinitizing. b. praxis. c. finitizing. And 4. The constitution of the self through the posited Notion that becomes actualized in concrete reality in the tension of the available space "before god" - that prods us with the promise of "self"as"spirit".
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