Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 130

THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH

The PowerPoint!

KIERKEGAARD: GROUND RULES


Rejected Hegelianism then in vogue
didnt like Hegels synthesis conception of God / Spirit Focused instead on individuality & subjective truth

Used irony & indirect communication in writings


Wrote using psuedonyms that represented points of view Sometimes just one, sometimes several in one book

Particularly fond of Socrates & Socratic method


That is, forcing you to question your own assumptions Magister (PhD) dissertation: The Concept of Irony He attempts to draw you toward his point indirectly He finds this approach more persuasive

Think Stephen Colbert


Plays a conservative commentator but ironically SCs point is usually the opposite of what he literally says Yet everyone gets the joke & the point

TSUD: GROUND RULES


The psuedonymous author of The Sickness Unto Death is AntiClimacus
AC is an uncomprimising Christian figure Advocating a position of redemption of self through faith alone

Kierkegaard used the character Johannes Climacus in earlier works


A more liberal Christian character But St. John (Johannes) of the Ladder (Climacus) was a 7th C. saint
Wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent Each chapter was a step toward salvation

Anti-Climacus, then, was Ks ultra-Christian vision of Johannes Climacus


TSUD does advocate an elevation/redemption of the self But not via steps or a process rather a radical (impossible?) move to faith K.s journals indicate that K. himself could not meet Anti-Climacus own standards

TSUD: GROUND RULES


Anti-Climacus is a kind of pun
Anti- in the sense of opposite Also archaic variant of Ante-, meaning prior
Metaphysically In stature, rank, prestige, priority

Also used here as anticipate

TSUD is a challenge to Christians to re-examine their faith


Philosophically, it is also a response to Hegel K. referred to Hegel as Johannes Climacus Hegel is a Johannes Climacus who does not storm the heavens as do the giantsbut climbs up to them by means of his syllogisms. Anti-Climacus is higher than Johannes Climacus

Johannes Climacus built a metaphorical ladder to heaven Hegel built a metaphorical ladder to Spirit In TSUD K. is going to bring God directly to the self

SUMMARY OF THE BOOK


The self is a relation of extreme opposites, e.g the infinite & finite, temporal & eternal, necessity & possibility
The relation (self) is only possible via grounding in God A misrelation in this synthesis will lead to despair Despair can be overcome through faith

There are essentially 3 different kinds of despair


ignorance of having an eternal self wishing to be another self (weakness) asserting the self without relation to God (defiance)

He concludes that despair is sin


one can despair over one's sins in weakness one can despair over forgiveness of one's sins by refusing forgiveness (defiance) the worst is to reject God outright as a fiction

The opposite of sin is not virtue but faith

TSUD in Exposition

What you just read is the super-readers digest condensed version of the book What follows is a very detailed exposition of the entirety of the book, section by section Abandon all hope and despair, ye who enter here

PREFACE TO TSUD A Christian book should edify (uplift) It should not simply be scientific This stems from Christianitys unique mission Methodological rigor is secondary
Notice this provides an easy defense to attacks on Ks argument But also reflects Ks distaste of system-building & methodology Kierkegaard preferred (Socratic) deconstruction, interrogation & irony

PREFACE

K sees himself as a physician at the sickbed the patient doesnt understand medical terms so the physician need only convey that information which cures the patient So, even if the physician adopts an informal style for patients sake,
dont take the physician any less seriously

PREFACE Science is aloof & indifferent to human needs


Aloofness renders science mere jest & vanity vain despite its intellectual rigor

Christianitys goal to edify grants it seriousness


Therefore, A-C need not be rigorous to be serious

Anti-Climacus acts as physician who will cure your sickness unto death
Note: the sickness is not death itself, but the despair that precedes death
and yet dying - to depart this world - is in fact the only cure for despair

INTRODUCTION

Phrase sickness unto death refers to John 11:4 Jesus Christ stated before reviving Lazarus that Ls sickness was not unto death Thus, JC cured Lazarus death But, wait a minute

INTRODUCTION

Lazarus death could never be a true death!


After all, JC believed Lazarus soul to be immortal

So saying that Ls sickness was not unto death would be true even if JC had not revived Lazarus from death And after Ls resurrection, what next?
L would eventually die anyway so raising him from the dead was not much of a cure

INTRODUCTION So was the sickness to which JC referred the physical ailment that killed Lazarus? Or was JC referring to some other sickness?
Are there sicknesses that wont kill you? Yes, psychological, or spiritual sicknesses Such sickness can cause misery, but is not itself fatal

INTRODUCTION

Christians do not fear what most non-Christians fear; to wit, mortality Pagans fear what doesnt scare Christians: death But Christians face a larger fear the ramifications of immortality This fear, that of an eternal despair that wont end with death, is the sickness unto death

INTRODUCTION This is an interesting argument even if you dont believe in an immortal soul After all, even most Christians are unsure about what immortality could mean Secular interpretation?
Even if your despair finally ends with your death
the structure of your very Self ensures you always suffer the pain of despair while alive
unless you re-balance your Self to something other than yourself

But if not God, what? Society? Some other project?

Might a relationship to something else also provide the equilibrium and/or rest to which he refers?

PART ONE

The Sickness Unto Death is Despair

PART 1.A.A

Despair is a sickness of the spirit


of the self

Despair takes 1 of 3 forms


Being unaware that you even have a self (unawareness of God or a soul) Not wanting to be oneself (not facing up to God through selfdelusion & weakness) Wanting to be oneself (rejecting God through defiance)

PART 1.A.A: DEFINITIONS Human being is spirit But a human being is not necessarily a Self
Self =
relation between temporal & infinite aspects of human existence which has been established by another

Soul Infinite
SYNTHESIS

body temporal necessity (ANTITHESIS)

Possibility (THESIS)

This relation between thesis & antithesis creates a synthesis But this synthesis alone is not the Self You can be a human being & yet not have a Self

imbalanced

PART 1.A.A: DEFINITIONS To become a Self you must relate to your own relation Thus, Selfhood is an ongoing process
its a verb not a noun
Possibility

Soul Infinite
SYNTHESIS

body temporal necessity (ANTITHESIS)

In other words, the Self is the process of reflecting upon the various parameters of your body & soul

(THESIS)

PART 1.A.A: DEFINITIONS

This is not yet a Self It is simply a negative unity


Soul

Negative unity is a Hegelian term Presumably, N.U. means a static combination of elements
but not a dynamic selfrelation

body SYNTHESIS temporal necessity (ANTITHESIS)

Infinite Possibility (THESIS)

PART 1.A.A: DEFINITIONS

This is the Self Its dynamic relation to itself forms a positive unity Note Ks use of Hegelian terms
K was opposed to many of Hs conclusions but not Hs logic

PART 1.A.A: DEFINITIONS

Soul Infinite Possibility (THESIS)

body

SYNTHESIS

temporal necessity (ANTITHESIS)

Remember, all this is going on as a thought-process inside the psyche

PART 1.A.A: SELF AS SYNTHESIS


Ks wordplay toys with concepts of the self-conscious first described by Hegel
See Lordship & Bondage chapter from Phenomenology of Spirit (1807).

Per Hegel, Spirit cannot come into existence without one selfconsciousness relating to another self-consciousness
E.g., Lord & bondsman Each defines the others identity

PART 1.A.A: INHERENT FLAW IN SELF-ESTABLISHED SELF

This introspective reflection upon your relation to yourself creates the self-established self (SES) SES can lead to only one form of despair: Not wanting to be yourself Why would that be?

PART 1.A.A: INHERENT FLAW IN THE SELF The self-relating body/soul synthesis that makes up the SES is unbalanced if its sole reference is itself This imbalance results in a kind of vertigo This self-established self is like an imbalanced spinning top that cannot attain equilibrium Equilibrium implies a constant oscillation or rotation
This is your self-relating psyche which can be in or out of balance

PART 1.A.A: THE GOD-ESTABLISHED SELF

But what happens if your self (soul/body) relates itself to that which created the relation (i.e., God)? Because the third element of your self-relation is now external to you it has a referent (see Hegel), so your Self can now become balanced If you recognize Gods role in your creation, then means you will no longer necessarily want to be rid of yourself
but the possibility will always remain because you are always tempted to escape (or deny) your grounding

GOD
(as grounding)

Your self

PART 1.A.A: GOD-ESTABLISHED SELF


In other words, you can still despair even after recognizing the presence of God. How? By wanting to be yourself
i.e., desiring independence of your dependence upon God

Yes, this frees you from your grounding but resisting your dependence upon God always places your Self out of balance This is the 2nd kind of despair
wanting to take sole control of yourself & your fate & therefore not yielding to your grounding in God

PART 1.A.B: POSSIBILITY & ACTUALITY OF DESPAIR Despair both merit & defect The possibility of the sickness separates us from beasts The recognition of the sickness separates Christians from pagans To be cured is the Christians blessedness

PART 1.A.B: POSSIBILITY & ACTUALITY OF DESPAIR

And yet, despair is misery & ruin Why?


Despair is an infinite descent Hegel would characterize the relationship between possibility & actuality as ascent

But if the possibility to be something is good


then actually being that thing is better
in other words, accomplishing something gets better as you activate your possibility to do it But not being in despair is a negation of despair, not an activation of the possibility of avoiding it

PART 1.A.B: POSSIBILITY & ACTUALITY OF DESPAIR

Curing despair is not like curing blindness, lameness, etc.


You cant be partially cured or helped You either negate despair or you dont It only gets better once youve annihilated even the possibility of despair

PART 1.A.B: POSSIBILITY & ACTUALITY OF DESPAIR But despair results not simply from the imbalance residing in the synthesis that comprises the self
(body/soul and its aspects)

Rather, despair comes from the imbalanced spirit relating to itself


So despair always risks recurring during the process of selfrelation

K. returns to the metaphor of vertigo


Vertigo results from the combination of imbalance & motion Despair is the combination of an imbalanced spirit engaged in never-ending self-reflection

PART 1.A.B: POSSIBILITY & ACTUALITY OF DESPAIR So, unless you apply a constant effort to fight despair, it will always recur,
it cannot be cured like an illness, because this imbalance is hard-wired into the aspects of your psyche You cannot have a self without your eternal spirit relating to itself, & the spirit contains the imbalance

Physical sicknesses occurs through no fault of the patient But despair is a sickness you bring upon yourself

PART 1.A.C: DESPAIR IS THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH

Someone in despair thinks he is in despair over something But hes really in despair over himself being something he doesnt want to be
or of not being something he wants to be

If someone despairs over failing to become Caesar, he is not despairing over the fact of the failure
but over himself for not becoming Caesar
Of course, had he become Caesar, he would still have been in despair
but despair of a different kind that of wanting to be oneself

He suffers from the despair of being stuck as someone he doesnt want to be

PART 1.A.C: DESPAIR IS THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH

Or take a woman who lost her lover through death or infidelity She may think she is upset over the loss
but she is really upset over having to live with herself in a state of loss &/or shame

She wants to be free of herself, but she cant

PART 1.A.C: DESPAIR IS THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH

Forms of conscious despair are as follows:


Not wanting to be yourself at all (weakness) Wanting be yourself without God (defiance)

PART 1.A.C: DESPAIR IS THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH

Socrates proved souls immortality, how?


Sickness of the soul does not kill a person But bodily sickness can

One can similarly prove the eternal in man by showing that despair does not consume the self

PART 1.A.C: DESPAIR IS THE SICKNESS UNTO DEATH

The sickness unto death is not the kind of sickness that could end with death The torment of this sickness is that will not end with death The sickness means you eternally experience the feeling of dying, without actually dying

PART 1.B: THE GENERALITY OF THIS SICKNESS

Just as no one has perfect physical health, everyone has at least some level of despair within them This may seem like gloomy news, but in fact is uplifting for confirming that all men have spirit within them But people misunderstand the nature of despair, & therefore think it is rare when in fact it is common

PART 1.B: THE GENERALITY OF THIS SICKNESS

Usually, people are considered healthy unless they feel ill But a physician knows there can be merely imagined health, just a there can be merely imagined illness Passing dejection can be an affectation of despair, but it is not despair itself

PART 1.B: THE GENERALITY OF THIS SICKNESS

Despair has different dialectical character from physical illness Physical health is an immediate characteristic which becomes dialectical only in a state of sickness But there is no immediate state of spiritual health

PART 1.B: THE GENERALITY OF THIS SICKNESS

Despair is the unconsciousness of being spirit Even underneath the greatest physical fortune lies dread underneath All immediacy is dread, & it is most in dread of nothing

PART 1.B: THE GENERALITY OF THIS SICKNESS

Despair is most common in those who dont realize they have it.
But those who realize they do have it are at least a bit closer to being cured

People likely to realize their despair are those who have:


a more profound nature had painful experiences had to make difficult decisions

PART 1.B: THE GENERALITY OF THIS SICKNESS

Much is spoken of wasting ones life But the only life wasted is the one that is deceived by lifes earthly pleasures
or by its sorrows

Earthly distractions keep you from understanding your spiritual aspect But the true horror of this spiritual sickness is its hiddenness

PART 1.C: THE FORMS OF THIS SICKNESS

Despair is an intrinsic possibility arising from the process of self-consciousness Different levels of self-consciousness distinguish the different types of despair But different levels of consciousness also mean different levels of self Note the implication:
Less consciousness means less will & less self!

PART 1.C.A: THREE ASPECTS OF DESPAIR

The self is made up of finitude & infinitude,


but that self is freedom

Freedom, in turn, is the dialectical element in the categories of possibility & necessity Later, well get to the aspect of consciousness & unconsciousness So, three polarities make up despairs aspects
1. Finitude vs. infinitude 2. Possibility vs. necessity 3. Consciousness vs. unconsciousness

PART 1.C.A: SOLELY WITH REGARD TO SYNTHESIS

(a) Under the aspect of finitude/infinitude Self is conscious synthesis of finitude / infinitude
Whose task is to become itself Which is only possible via relationship to God

PART 1.C.A(a): FINITUDE VS. INFINITUDE

But the self never finishes synthesizing its finite & infinite aspects The self develops only through an endless state of Becoming But to never stop becoming is precisely to despair

PART 1.C.A(a) : FINITUDE VS. INFINITUDE

Humans who want to become infinite will succumb to despair Infinitudes despair is the imagination Imagination is endless self-reflection

PART 1.C.A(a) : FINITUDE VS. INFINITUDE

The fantastic carries someone away into the infinite, making an abstract sensitivity A person whose imagination roams too freely becomes too abstract You lose yourself to eternity

PART 1.C.A(a) : FINITUDE VS. INFINITUDE


If greater understanding does not lead to greater self-understanding, then it becomes a kind of inhuman knowledge in which the Self is squandered By dwelling solely on the infinite, & not on its relation to the Self, one may get lost in abstraction and thus despair This is true even if youre contemplating religion or God If you simply marvel at Gods infinitude, without recognizing the role you play in the relationship, you may miss the whole point!

PART 1.C.A(a) : FINITUDE VS. INFINITUDE

One can make this mistake & still lead an apparently happy religious life While dwelling on the infinite, you ignore your lack of a deeper Self Mastering the objective knowledge is so distracting that you risk losing your Self

PART 1.C.A(a) : INFINITUDE LACKING FINITUDE

The biggest danger


that of losing oneself can pass off in the world as quietly as if it were nothing;

Every other loss


an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc., is bound to be noticed.

PART 1.C.A(a) : FINITUDE LACKING INFINITUDE

The world is only interested in


ethical or aesthetic limitations, or in the indifferent (e.g., science, Hegelian systems)

Worldliness ascribes infinite value to objective knowledge The worldly point of view always focuses on the differences between men, by objectifying them Becoming finitized, you become not a Self, but simply a person,
merely one more repetition of this perpetual Einerlei (one-&-thesame / all-the-same)

PART 1.C.A(a) : FINITUDE LACKING INFINITUDE

This kind of self is cheated of itself by the others This kind of self finds it easier to be like the others, to be a copy, a number, along with the crowd. Society would consider this person to be just what a human being ought to be This kind of despair makes life convenient & comfortable Such people despair by pawning themselves to the world

PART 1.C.A(b): POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

For the purpose of becoming a self, possibility & necessity are just as essential as finitude & infinitude So the self is made up of finitude & infinitude, but that self is freedom Freedom, in turn, is the dialectical element in the categories of possibility & necessity Later, well get to the aspect of consciousness

PART 1.C.A(b) : POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

Possibilitys despair is to lack necessity To the extent that the self is itself, it is necessary To the extent the self must become itself, it is possibility Possibility is like offering a child a treat
The child says yes straightaway

But then theres the question of whether the childs parents will consent
So it is with necessity

PART 1.C.A(b) : POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

Everything is possible in possibility One form is the wishful, the hankering (hope) The other is the melancholic-fantastic (dread) But if you simply spend your time hoping for good things, or worrying about bad things, you wont focus on the present

PART 1.C.A(b) : POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

Necessitys despair is to lack possibility If possibility is like having nothing but vowels, necessity is like having nothing but consonants
That is, you are struck speechless

To lack possibility means that everything becomes either necessary or trivial


Like King Midas starving to death because all his food turned to gold

PART 1.C.A(b) : POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

The fatalist has no God but necessity


He loses God & therefore himself

But the petit bourgeois lose possibility in a different way They worship God, but only in a vulgar & trivial way
This is because he perceived the possible only through the probable This misses the majesty of God

PART 1.C.A(b) : POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

To be aware of yourself & God, you need to whirl up higher than the dank air of the probable But the petit bourgeois mentality lacks the imagination to comprehend hope & fear Only if life helps now & then
with terrors that transcend the parrot-wisdom of banal experience will the comfortable petit bourgeois mentality ever despair

PART 1.C.A(b) : POSSIBILITY VS. NECESSITY

At least fatalists & determinists have the imagination to despair of possibility The person lost in possibility soars with the boldness with despair The person lost in necessity is bent down carrying the weight of despair But the petit bourgeois mentality spiritlessly triumphs

PART 1.C.A.B: ASPECT OF CONSCIOUSNESS

Rising consciousness intensifies despair Decreasing consciousness reduces despair In fact, it might be a dialectical question whether true unconsciousness even constitutes despair But then, it also implies a lack of spirit as well!

PART 1.C.A.B(a): IGNORANCE OF DESPAIR

Ignorance of even having a self is a kind of despair Totally dominated by sensuous & psycho-sensuous reactions Lives in categories of the sensate Most people prefer to live in the basement of their own house, which is to say, the sensate world They lack the courage to imagine themselves as spirit

PART 1.C.A.B(a): IGNORANCE OF DESPAIR

People are least afraid of being in error Hegel erected a huge building (his System) that encompassed all of life & world-history But turning to his own personal life, he sees that he has been living in
a store-house a kennel, a janitors quarters

If despair is a distraction
then being unaware of this fact is also a delusion

PART 1.C.A.B(a): IGNORANCE OF DESPAIR

The relation between ignorance & despair is like that of ignorance & dread (see K.s Concept of Anxiety) The dread in a spiritless person is recognizable precisely because of his sense of spiritless security As soon as illusion is broken
then it is clear that despair was lying underneath the whole time

If despair is a negativity
then ignorance of despair is an new negativity but you have to pass through both to cure the despair

Thus, you must first lose your ignorance


and then move on to the real battle: fighting despair itself

PART 1.C.A.B(a): IGNORANCE OF DESPAIR

However, ethico-dialectically, the person cured of ignorance may stray even further from deliverance
Because the despair now becomes more intense

Thus, living an ethical life does not necessarily bring you closer to deliverance
but in fact simply more deeply in despair!
that is, you come to realize just how hard it is to live ethically which makes you want to fight against the demands it places upon you

Ignorance of despair is the most common form


in fact, it typifies Christendom

In this sense, Christendom is really no different from preChristian pagans

PART 1.C.A.B(a): IGNORANCE OF DESPAIR

Aesthetic individuals, & even whole pagan societies, are capable of great aesthetic achievement, but Aesthetes & pagans do not ground their existence in God
but rather they self-ground themselves
or in some abstract (e.g., the State)

they are therefore capable of only aesthetic virtues which are really ethical vices!

This is why, for example, pagans had no real problem with suicide, a mortal sin in Christianity

PART 1.C.A.B(a): IGNORANCE OF DESPAIR

Thus, there is a difference between Greek pagans & Christian pagans Greek pagans lack spirit
but are at least directed toward spirit

Christian paganism lacks spirit


but by being less ignorant, they in fact run away from spirit

Christian pagan spiritlessness is worse in this sense

PART 1.C.A.B(b): CONSCIOUS DESPAIR

Some may perceive they are in despair without really understanding what despair is In other words, they misunderstand what despair is & how it works So conscious despair requires an understanding of what real despair is Thus, someone can feel symptoms of a sickness
without understanding the nature of that sickness

PART 1.C.A.B(b): CONSCIOUS DESPAIR

Without understanding the nature of his sickness, he may misdiagnose the cause Alternatively, he may distract himself from such worries
by thinking about work or other business

However, it may not occur to him that he is doing this to keep himself in the dark about his despair
Or he may understand he is doing this to district himself from despair
but doesnt understand the consequences of such behavior

PART 1.C.A.B(b): CONSCIOUS DESPAIR

The opposite of being in despair is to have faith The formula for faith is this: in relating to yourself, you want to be yourself, but while grounded with your establishing power Thus, faith is the sum of 3 factors:
Self-reflection + acceptance + relating your self-relation to God

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

This is the conscious despair of not wanting to be yourself This is more of a feminine, i.e., weak, form of despair There is no purely masculine or feminine form of despair, however, just general trends Two versions: despair over the earthly or the eternal

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Despairing over the earthly is to live in total immediacy Its dialectic is material good or its absence:
pleasantness vs unpleasantness, or good fortune vs misfortune

If you lose some material or earthly possession, you may first encounter despair
but then you misunderstand what you are despairing over

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

This can lead to not wanting to be yourself, or worse, wanting to be someone else entirely This treats the self like clothing that can be taken off, or switched with another item To wish for a new self is comic, by misunderstanding the nature of the self This foreshadows existentialism:
Because essence follows existence, it is impossible to trade out one essence for another. Why? Your existence builds your essence, i.e., your self!

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (1): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Essentially, these individuals despair because they focus on earthly success


& become disappointed with their failure to succeed in material matters

They feel despair for having failed to meet their earthly goals
but choose the wrong solution by wanting to fix this problem by simply
wishing for better luck, or obtaining a new identity, etc.

This is the despair of not wanting to be yourself

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (1): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

He simply doesnt have the capacity for selfreflection that will allow him to break with immediacy He misunderstands his self as a kind of house that he inhabits You cant move away from your self & into a new self, simply because youre dissatisfied with yourself!

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (1): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Alternatively, he may try to succeed in this world He gets a wife, a family, a respectable position in society, etc. But hes simply a Christian pagan He may ask a priest about immortality, & query whether hell see his self in the next life
Which is a pressing question, seeing as he in fact has no self!

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (1): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Despair over the earthly is the most common form of despair Because its so thin, its rarely seen, but this doesnt mean it isnt despair Very few people live spiritual lives, & in fact to neglect the earthly in favor of spirit would strike modern society as
an inexcusable waste of time & a treason against humanity

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (1): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

And the moment anyone tries to attempt a spiritual life


they are immediately scared off by the prospect

They are told by their priests that they neednt bother


because they are already assured of salvation

Most people have a false conception of despair as something that afflicts the young & inexperienced

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (1): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

But the reality is that most people are no wiser in old age than they were as youth
Youth despair by hoping for the future The elderly despair by living with cherry-picked happy memories

In spiritual terms, no human being attains any wisdom or faith simply as a matter of course
It takes work & honest self-reflection

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

In a sense, to despair over earthly matters is also to despair over the eternal
You cant get upset over earthly failures unless you assign undue value to the earthly

But to elevate the earthly as worthy of concern is necessarily to devalue the eternal
& thus despair over the eternal

But at least despair over the eternal is a progression forward in understanding

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Focusing on the eternal, people may feel self-pity & chagrin at worrying only about earthly matters
As a result, they feel unworthy of the eternal, and thus despair over the eternal

That creates even greater despair


because you have become cognizant of the eternal

But if you dwell on hating yourself for your weakness, you lose faith in Gods forgiveness
and therefore commit a more defiant form of despair

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Once you despair over the eternal, youve progressed to a higher stage
& theres no going back

You cant forget what youve come to realize


therefore you can no longer retreat to unconscious despair

You can try to become more reserved (pent-up)


In order to close off thoughts of this despair but that is still despair, because youre in denial

You can even live an outwardly happy & pious life


but youll still have that little locked door in the back of your mind

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Any self with the slightest drop of reflection soon learns restraint Outwardly, hell attempt to be a real person Hell live a normal, Christian life But he thinks most priests are full of nonsense
those who he finds persuasive worry him, & he soon learns to tune them out because by paying attention to closely
hell be forced to confront that little locked door (reserve)

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Of course, being somewhat reflective, he may long for solitude


but not for too long

He will spend time alone, away from the distractions of trivial social culture
but will return soon enough

If hes honest with himself, he would realize that hes really engaging in a form of pride
Pride because hes unwilling to continue the constant selfreflection necessary to break down the self He thus lives hour-to-hour & soon returns to his family

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

As a result, this person has 2 choices:


Constantly distracting himself from reflection,
or

Despairing over his weakness in being unwilling to come to terms with the eternal

This kind of pent-up reserve is rare


because most people cant sustain it

But the point is that the despair is really defiance


because saying youre too weak is just youre unwilling to apply yourself to change

PART 1.C.A.B(b) (2): DESPAIR OF WEAKNESS

Further, continuing in this pent-up state runs the risk of suicide He may instead confess his weakness to a friend But, embarrassed by such a display, the despairer is likely to return to pent-up reserve But that itself is pride, & therefore defiance This unwillingness to accept ones own weakness may ultimately lead to a demonic defiance

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF DEFIANCE

The other form of conscious despair is that of defiance Defiance is a more masculine form of assertive despair It results from people wanting to be themselves, without having to accept their dependence upon a higher power The person has self-consciousness of an infinite self, & is aware of his despairing nature, but cant accept it

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF DEFIANCE

People want an infinite, abstract self, but they are unwilling to ground their existence There can be an active & passive despairs of defiance Despairing actively is to want to become an experimental god
he assumes a godlike seriousness but ultimately becoming no self
because his self is grounded upon nothing like a king without a country

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF DEFIANCE

In passive despair, one simply loses hope that God can make anything possible
& simply mopes over the futility of existence

Much of the world glories in this kind of passive despair


resigning itself to hopelessness declaring life a tragedy

Thats because they wont accept the humiliation that comes with submission
to a God that would otherwise offer them assistance

Theyd rather reject hope than lose their ego


They simply wont submit to Gods authority

PART 1.C.A.B(b) : DESPAIR OF DEFIANCE

Ultimately the despair becomes demonic


That is demonic in the Greek sense In other words, they become like tragic demigods or heroes, such as poets write about The doors of inwardness just keep going ever inward for such people They reject God outright through sheer resentment

Most people will not get stuck in this stage


They either stay ignorant or remain reserved or they break through to faith

PART TWO

Despair is Sin

PART 2.A: DESPAIR IS SIN

To despair is to reject God


& is therefore sin Some say this is akin to the old deadly sin of acedia, a kind of spiritual sloth Sloth because the sinner is unwilling to do the work necessary to cognize God or engage in the selfreflection necessary to contemplate God

Thus, the opposite of sin is faith, not virtue

PART 2.A.1: SUCCESSIVE STAGES OF SIN

Successive stages of the self (before God) Part One dealt with successive stages of self-consciousness The self before God is now seen in a whole new light
it becomes a theological self

PART 2.A.1: SUCCESSIVE STAGES OF SIN

A herdsman before cattle is a very low self A master before slaves is no self at all. Why?
Because there is no standard of measurement provided A ruler must be longer than that which it measures

A child is raised by parents to see the State as the ultimate standard to define the self
Most of us can meet societys expectations of us

But what if God is the standard by which the self is measured?


Can you measure up? Can anyone?

PART 2.A.1: SUCCESSIVE STAGES OF SIN

People think of crimes as being sinful Murder, theft, etc. But perhaps these are really just products of a sinful outlook on life Sin is a shameless unwillingness or inability to admit to the kind of obligation one owes to God Again, think of acedia, or sloth

PART 2.A.1: SUCCESSIVE STAGES OF SIN

Sin is not the unruliness of flesh & blood


but the spirits consent to it

As a definition, sin is an algebraic formula Describing individual sins is a mistake Sin is a net which embraces all forms

PART 2.A ADDM: DESPAIR IS SIN: OFFENSE

The definition of sin includes the possibility of offense Speculative thought (i.e., Hegelian Christianity) never considers the individual person before God Such an idea offends the sensibilities People are offended by Christianitys message because they find it too elevated, dark, severe

PART 2.A ADDM: DESPAIR IS SIN: OFFENSE

How would your sensibilities be offended? Imagine a day laborer invited by the king to enter his palace and marry his daughter The laborers first instinct is to think hes being punked! But in fact K. says all of us are individuals before God

PART 2.A ADDM: DESPAIR IS SIN: OFFENSE

The sum total of human wisdom seems to make everything fit into a Golden (or gold-plated) Mean But Christianity isnt like that
there is no middle ground, no moderation its hyper-polarizing and goes off to the absurd

This is why Christianity gives offence


More on this in a subsequent K. book, Practice in Christianity, also authored by Anti-Climacus

PART 2.A ADDM: DESPAIR IS SIN: OFFENSE

Those who try to defend Christianity using reason betray it with a kiss like Judas To defend something always to discredit it Because its defense implies its weakness Doing so connives with offense by making Christianity out to be some miserable object that in the end must be rescued by a defense Let a rich man give away all of his gold to the poor But if he tries to first give 3 good reasons to justify it, people will doubt whether it was a good idea in the 1ST place The person who defends Christianity never believed in it

PART 2.A ADDM: DESPAIR IS SIN: OFFENSE

Pagans & Christians alike are willing to acknowledge the existence of sin But its the idea of sin against God they cant handle Asking Christians to measure themselves against Gods standard is to ask too much of most of them
they are mere mortals

PART 2.A.2: SOCRATIC DEFINITION OF SIN

The Socratic definition of sin cannot apply to Christianity


Because it is defined by ignorance

But Christian sin cannot be defined by ignorance, but by willful denial It is a matter of doing the wrong thing while knowing the right thing

PART 2.A.2: SOCRATIC DEFINITION OF SIN

Far too many people profess to understand what sin is, & its gravity But leap aside like a faint-hearted coward as soon as they might be inconvenienced by avoiding sin They are too absorbed in worldliness & comfort & seeking social approval

PART 2.A.2: SOCRATIC DEFINITION OF SIN

People think the world needs


a republic a new social order a new religion

But what it really needs is a new Socrates


If only this occurred to people
the need would be less

Such is the nature of self-delusion


it thinks of least what it needs the most

PART 2.A.2: SOCRATIC DEFINITION OF SIN

Per Socrates, if someone does not do the right thing, that must mean he has not understood it Per K., failure to do the right thing is a function of people not wanting to understand it
They dont make a sincere attempt to understand the right thing They simply put off the decision about what must be right until tomorrow But delaying the hard choices removes the urgency of the question
and allows the will to simply do what it wants

PART 2.A.2: SOCRATIC DEFINITION OF SIN

One problem with the Greeks is that they assume people fail to do the right thing because they dont understand what the right thing is In fact, Socrates flaw is that he fails to account for why people refuse to do the right thing, even though they know what it is. Christianity understand that sin is a failure of the will, not the intellect

PART 2.A.2: SOCRATIC DEFINITION OF SIN

The possibility of offense lies in that God must reveal to man what sin is & how far deep it goes In Christian eyes, sin lies in the will, not the knowing Christianity cant be comprehended so much as believed

PART 2.A.3: AFFIRMATIVE SIN

Orthodoxy has always rejected as pantheistic the idea that sin is simply ignorance The secret of all comprehension is that comprehending must be greater than that which is comprehended But that cant apply to Christianity
it is simply to be believed not understood

PART 2.A.3: AFFIRMATIVE SIN

What we need is a bit more Socratic ignorance Christendom needs fewer people comprehending Christianity
it simply cant be reached through reason

Socrates ignorance (i.e., wisdom) was based on fear of God & worship of the divine
He did not presume to know what mortals cannot know

Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom

PART 2.A.3: AFFIRMATIVE SIN

This is why Socrates was the wisest


He understood that he knew nothing

Socrates understands, contra Hegel, that the difference between man & God is best approached through paradox & faith It is not a matter of trying to merge man & God into one
as Hegels System proposes

APPENDIX TO 2.A: IS SIN RARE?

If sin is this intensively qualified despair


& if such despair is rare, as described in Part One (because most people are simply unconscious) then it wont exist in paganism, & only rarely in Judaism & Christianity

But people who are unconscious of despair are still in a state of despair, simply in a lesser state In fact, most people are more spiritless than sinful

APPENDIX TO 2.A: IS SIN RARE?

But a life so immersed in triviality & chattering mimcry of the others


can hardly be called sin its just lukewarm nothingness, to be spit out by God

But even if they are not sinful as such, the spiritless are still to blame
because they were not born spiritless

This is in fact the state of millions of people throughout Christendom

APPENDIX TO 2.A: IS SIN RARE?

In every generation, there are only 3 poets But priests are plentiful
more than even get jobs as priests

Becoming a priest no longer has any sense of mystery


It has become a mere profession Like a merchant, attorney, bookbinder, veterinarian, etc.

APPENDIX TO 2.A: IS SIN RARE?

Priests are supposed to be believers but now they absurdly give 3 rational grounds to conclude
that prayer is a blessing that surpasses all understanding

Reasons, after all, lie within the scope of understanding Would someone in love give reasons for why they are in love?
Someone who is in love cant prove why thats the case & someone who gives reasons only proves that he isnt

But Christianity is now defended or translated into reasons

PART 2.B: CONTINUATION OF SIN

People can occasionally maintain some self-consciousness some of the time But they cant do it all of the time Most people can be spirit only once a week for about an hour Sinners can only register individual sins But they cant understand that they live in a constant state of sin

PART 2.B: CONTINUATION OF SIN

People only take note of each new sin


but not the sins that lie between each sin

Sinning is like the puffing of a locomotive


One should not be paying attention to the individual puffs that propel the locomotive Rather, pay attention to the propulsion that follows

PART 2.B: CONTINUATION OF SIN

People can perhaps be good for a while, before they forget themselves, But inevitably they fall into despair, do something wrong again, etc. They join in lifes game
but they never connect all the pieces together because they have no conception of an infinite consistency in themselves

PART 2.B.A: DESPAIRING OF ONES SIN

People who despair over their sin spend too much time in self-pity to consider that grace might save them People who despair over sin may think they are being morally serious, but they arent They are simply feeling sorry for themselves
and resent God for setting rules that are too difficult to follow without understanding that Gods forgiveness means its never impossible to try to follow the rules sincerely

Whether you can forgive yourself for your sins isnt the point
You must look to God for forgiveness

PART 2.B.A: DESPAIRING OF ONES SIN

Contrite people are most vulnerable to this


They are most likely to never forgive themselves And there is always some idiot minister around who will enable such despair By congratulating the sinner for his moral seriousness

Such sorrow is sinful


because it is prideful self-love

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

There are some who believe in sin


but dont believe in the forgiveness of sins that itself is the sin of offense they dont consider the concept of forgiveness, only duty

Some sinners think its now a sign of genius & deep nature to reject the idea of forgiveness
but in fact its just a sign of insubordination Naughtiness is not a sign of deep nature in a child

Despairing of the forgiveness of sins is itself the sin of offense

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

The Jews were justified to take offense at the idea of Jesus forgiving ones sins Frankly, it takes a great deal of spiritlessness to believe a sin can be forgiven at all Pagans dont have this kind of sin
because theirs was not a religion that brought God & man together as closely as Christianity In fact, one would have to commend the pagan who actually despaired over his sin

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

The Jews were justified to take offense at the idea of Jesus forgiving ones sins It takes a great deal of spiritlessness to believe a sin can be forgiven at all But who is K. targeting with this section?
After all, what Christians out there believe in God but not forgiveness? Kant, with his emphasis on ethics (which precludes forgiveness)? Or Hegel, for whom forgiveness seems to derive from the State?

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

What has gone wrong with Christendom is that by being preached daily, the name of God is taken in vain First with an air of superiority in speculative philosophy Then vulgarly in the streets and alley-ways If order is to be maintained in existence
then the first consideration must be that every human being is an individual human being

But Hegels concepts of reconciling God & man contradicts this Once people are allowed to be treated as a crowd or herd
i.e., described simply as humanity then its easy to then make God an abstraction

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

Understandably, many of the philosophers involved in propagating this doctrine of the superiority of the generation over the individual turn away in disgust when their teaching has sunk to the level where the mob is the Godman. But these philosophers forget that this nevertheless is their teaching, that it was not more true when accepted in the best circles, when the elite of the best circles, or a select circle of philosophers, was the incarnation. It is God who discovered the doctrine of the God-man, and now Christendom has cheekily turned it around and foists the kinship on God so that Gods concession amounts more or less to what it means in these times for a king to grant a more liberal constitution and we know well enough what that means: He pretty well had to.

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

This is a slam on how Hegels original notion of God-as-world-spirit has degenerated into 19th C. popular culture The point is that these conceptions of speculative philosophy try to merge God & mankind into the same thing
Doing so negates Gods superiority, and his ability alone to forgive individual sins

It is frivolous and a new sin to pretend that being an individual sinner is nothing

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

The doctrine of sin unconditionally splits up the crowd, and confirms the qualitative difference between God and man most radically Thats because sins are only before God, and only God can forgive them Thinking of offence without thinking of someone who is offended is as much an impossibility as flute-playing without a flautist Offence thus relates to the individual making every human being into an individual sinner
So if Christianity says thou shalt believe, either you shall be offended, or you shall believe; there is no mediation

PART 2.B.B: DESPAIRING OF FORGIVENESS

Judgment cannot be passed on crowds, it cant be passed en masse


With mutiny on a ship, you have to let everyone go, because theres no way to punish everyone But God is not subject to such limits He can judge each and every one of us

Mass movements may have been able to make kings and emperors bow down
But no mass movement is going to be able to make God bow down too Because we are all constantly individuals before God

PART 2.B.C: ABANDONING CHRISTIANITY

Declaring Christianity to be untruth is a sin against the Holy Spirit Despairing of the forgiveness of ones sins is a defensive sin, a retreat from the implications of Christianity But abandoning Christianity is offensive warfare All previous forms of despair conceded the superior strength to God, but now sin is the agressor

PART 2.B.C: ABANDONING CHRISTIANITY

To best illustrate the nature of this offense, lets review the various forms of offense: 1st, there are those who take no position on the issue of Christianity
they are undecided they ignore the Christian demand thou shalt

2nd, there is the negative, but passive, form of offense


They accept God, but get hung up on the paradox of how they can ever meet Gods standard of conduct They are like those who believe in love, but dont know how to love happily

PART 2.B.C: ABANDONING CHRISTIANITY

3rd, there is the positive form of offense, declaring Christianity a lie and a myth, this in turn is a denial of everything Christian This kind of sin usually goes unnoticed because people do not consider the opposite of sin to be faith and not that the opposite of sin is virtue But that opposition has been in effect throughout the book The formula to cure despair is faith Faith = Relating itself to itself, and in wanting to be itself, the self is grounded transparently in the power which established it Simply put, faith is not merely belief
but an unending, self-reflecting belief