The Sickness Unto Death

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In The Sickness unto Death, Anti-Climacus begins by defining the self as “a relation which relates itself to its own self” (Kierkegaard, Sickness 78). That is, a self is that mediating activity that exists within opposite tensions (“infinite v finite,” “eternal v temporal,” or “possibility v necessity”). Man, as Anti-Climacus defines, is a synthesis of these opposites but since man still lives in the tensions created by the opposites, man is not yet a self (Kierkegaard, Sickness 78). The self’s quality is either created by itself or created by God. It retains the ability to relate to itself and to God. So, the human self (ideally) properly relates its internal factors to each other while also relating to the external power that constituted…show more content…
To be able to despair, theoretically is a sign of superior existence, as beasts do not despair. However, to be in despair is terrible and so, it is not necessary for existence, but it may be helpful in directing one towards finding meaning in their life. The absence of despair, as Anti-Climacus formulated, is the self relating to itself, is willing to be oneself; and rests in the Power that established it (Kierkegaard, Sickness 79). It would seem by this formula for the absence of despair that the mind and body are equally as essential—one should not over-emphasize the body or over-emphasize the soul. To Kierkegaard, the ultimate form of despair is denying this human predicament and denying this demand that although we are constituted of two sets of essential but incompatible factors (body and soul), we should find a way to live that fully expresses the tension between them, in a way that enables them to be strengthened by one another (Dreyfus, Cambridge 102). To do this, according to Kierkegaard, one needs an “infinite passion for something finite” (Dreyfus, Cambridge 106). This is a defining commitment that an individual devotes his/her entire life to because it defines the content of one’s life and gives one an identity (a self). And by responding to such a calling, it is then possible to get the opposites into equilibrium because it is now clear to the person who he/she is, and what is important in his/her
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