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The Sickness Unto Death (Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol 19)

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  6,240 Ratings  ·  206 Reviews
A companion piece to The Concept of Anxiety, this work continues Soren Kierkegaard's radical and comprehensive analysis of human nature in a spectrum of possibilities of existence. Present here is a remarkable combination of the insight of the poet and the contemplation of the philosopher.

In The Sickness unto Death, Kierkegaard moves beyond anxiety on the mental-emotional
Paperback, 201 pages
Published November 21st 1983 by Princeton University Press (first published 1849)
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Being and Time by Martin HeideggerThus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich NietzscheThe Republic by PlatoCritique of Pure Reason by Immanuel KantPhenomenology of Spirit by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel
Best Philosophy Book
29th out of 715 books — 975 voters
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Best Philosophical Literature
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Community Reviews

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Aug 13, 2013 Leonard rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
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 havin
Ken Moten
Nov 12, 2013 Ken Moten rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
"...What our age needs is education. And so this is what happened: God chose a man who also needed to be educated, and educated him privatissime, so that he might be able to teach others from his own experience." From Kierkegaard's [personal] Journals.

2013 is the bicentennial of Kierkegaard's birth. He probably would have not wanted you to know that, but he has plenty more things to let you know.

They call him the "Father of Existentialism". You know you're asking for trouble when trying to writ
Jan 21, 2016 Maryam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
در باب اثبات نامیرایی کی یرکه گورمی گوید سقراط نامیرایی جان را از روی این حقیقت ثابت کرد که بیماری جان(گناه) آن جان را به همان صورتی تحلیل نمی برد که بیماری تن،تن را تحلیل می برد.به همین ترتیب نیز می توان امر جاودان در انسان را از روی این حقیقت نشان داد که نومیدی نمی تواند خود را تحلیل برد،و همین دقیقا وجود تضاد در نومیدی است . اگر چیزی جاودان در انسان نبود،نمی توانست نومید شود،اما اگر نومیدی می توانست خود را تحلیل برد،باز هم امکان نومیدی وجود نداشت
وی سپس انواع بیماری نومیدی را شرح می دهد ودربار
Justin Evans
Aug 09, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
In which I am again reminded of a friend's experience with a professor in a class on Kierkegaard: the students spent the first five weeks trying to convince the professor that you can probably only understand a quarter of Kierkegaard unless you read him in the context of Hegel; the professor rejects this and stresses instead Kierkegaard's Socraticism; at the end of the fifth week (i.e., less than halfway through the course) the professor admits defeat. If that doesn't sound remarkable, you haven ...more
اول اینو بگم که ترجمه قابل قبول نبود. اصرار زیاد به تحت اللفظی بودن، آدم رو به این شک می انداخت که مترجم حرفی که متن اصلی میخواد بزنه رو متوجه نشده، در نتیجه مجبور شده با دقت وسواس گونه و بیمارگونه ای لفظ به لفظ ترجمه کنه.
حروف چینی و علامت گذاری و ویراستاری هم افتضاح بودن. جاهایی حتا کلمات رو اشتباه نوشته بودن، در نتیجه معنای جمله، کاملاً عکس اون چیزی می شد که نویسنده می خواست بگه و این رو متوجه نمی شدی، مگر بعد از دو صفحه با گیجی و سردرگمی پیش رفتن.

دوم این که کتاب، نوشته ی یک فیلسوف هگلیه. یعنی
This can be called a Phenomenology of Despair. Kierkegaard is frequently considered as anti-Hegel but this book can be considered as a kind of dialectic of the self. Kierkegaard looked at the self the same way as Hegel looked at the world, his universal spirit.

Here we see his iterative definition of the self,

The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but that the relati
David Withun
Jan 20, 2015 David Withun rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
The Sickness unto Death, like all of Kierkegaard's works, is as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1849. In fact, it may very well be even more relevant as the downward spiral of Christendom has continued in the century and a half since the death of Kierkegaard. In this work, Kierkegaard identifies the illness of man, "the sickness unto death," as the state of despair and offers the bitter but effective medicine of the truth of the Christian faith.

Despair, says Kierkegaard,
David Sarkies
Jan 02, 2015 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Existentialists
Recommended to David by: I saw it in the library
Shelves: philosophy
Identity in an industrialised world
14 October 2013

This book seems to simply ramble on with only a vague structure to it. The reason I say a vague structure is because the first part deals with despair and the second part deals with the nature of sin. However within both parts Kierkegaard doesn't seem to actually be moving in any specific direction, nor does he seem to come to any particular conclusion – if I were marking this as an essay, I would probably give it good marks in relation to conte
Apr 13, 2009 Robby rated it really liked it
Shelves: magic, ethic
"The Sickness unto Death" is an insightful taxonomy of human self-deception, and a fascinating polemic supporting a Christianity of individuals, rather than groups. Its two parts, "The Sickness unto Death is Despair" and "Despair is Sin," reflect its dual psychological and theological significance.

It is, first, a precursor of modern psychoanalysis, exploring the idea of despair as a lack of self-understanding and self-acceptance. Anticipating Freud's 'unconscious mind,' Kierkegaard claims that v
Just read this for the second time. The first time was in college for a Kierkegaard class. I liked it then a lot, but one of the problems with college for me was that I often felt overloaded. There was so much to read that it was often difficult to get it all read, and so even the stuff I read was almost never at full attention.

I read "Fear and Trembling" before college (or at least my second and successful attempt at college). I really loved it. But on the other hand, I have a difficult relatio
Brent McCulley
May 05, 2014 Brent McCulley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, favorites
The most fascinating piece of philosophy I have ever read hitherto, Kierkegaard's "Sickness Unto Death" is the standard work for the existential definition of sin. Kierkegaard writes in two parts, the latter building on the former: that sickness unto death is despair, and despair is sin.

This work introduced mesmerizing Kierkegaardean doctrines to me such as the self being the relations relating to itself, which ultimately must find its relating relationship to itself in the Being who grounded it
Laura Leaney
Apr 10, 2011 Laura Leaney rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy this book at all. Is it a book? It's more like one long depressing, repetitive sermon that has occasional psychological insights into the human mind of a despairer.

The dour Dane definitely made some astute observations about the nature of despair - and I especially like the one on the difference between youths and adults: "The youth despairs over the future as the present in futuro [in the future]; there is something in the future that he is not willing to take upon himself, and
Aug 01, 2015 Yasemin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"sonlu varlığı ve sonsuz varlığı arasına sıkışan insan 'kendi olma' sürecini umutsuzluk içinde yaşar."
"umutsuzluğun özü yaşamın hiçbir şey olmamasıdır."
Kitap müthişti. Bu kadar etkileneceğimi hiç tahmin etmeden başlamıştım. Kısacık gibi görünse de bir süre sonra daha yavaş okumak düşünmek ve içselleştirmek istiyorsunuz. Umutsuzluğun hayatın içinde, Tanrının da insanın içinde varolduğu gerçeği ile yaptığımız yapacağımız her şeyin ve işleyeceğimiz tüm günahların bizi umutsuzluk içinde bırakmasıyla
Tanuj Solanki
Mar 28, 2016 Tanuj Solanki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, 19th-century
Kierkegaard's insistence on God may demote this book for some readers in today's times. Yet, its categorization of despair is a crucial conceptual exercise; and helps, if not in anything else, then in making sense of expressions of despair in literature. A case in point is Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Notes from the Underground, published fifteen years after Kierkegaard's book. The famous Underground man is in despair, and it is a stimulating exercise to attempt a classification of his despair per Kierk ...more
I have to say an extraordinary piece of philosophy. And the most serious work I came across concerning Christianity. Kierkegaard's words simplified a lot of concepts about despair, and also translated our emotions and our awareness of the self and how complex that is. I don't think that its difficult to read, the matter discussed is deep yes but the way the author had delivered it was elegant. The book is a page-turner no doubt, Soren Kierkegaard is sure a genius and he was not the type of autho ...more
May 31, 2014 0 rated it it was ok
It seems that the ethical thing for a person to do is to accept their transcendence by the infinite (i.e. what exceeds the understanding, what is the actualization of pure possibility as God and as human spirit) through faith. The dialectic struggle between the two parts of human beings, the finite (the body, immediacy) and the infinite (the spirit, eternity), may lead one to despair. This is okay as long as one's despair leads to faith, i.e. a willed abdication of oneself to the infinite. In fa ...more
Lars K Jensen
Det er svært at give stjerner/karakter til en bog fra 1849, især når det er et værk som dette af Søren Kierkegaard. Meget er ændret, siden han skrev det - og det virker lige lovlig selviscenesættende at skulle give fire, og ikke fem, stjerner, fordi man synes, det religiøse tager overhånd mod slutningen.

Så ingen karakter, kun tekst.

Bogen er fantastisk, uanset om man er religiøs eller ej. Det er et af Kierkegaards psykologiske værker, og vi kommer virkelig med i sindets dybder, når han definerer
Jul 13, 2016 Phoenix rated it it was amazing
A wonderful journey in the unknown realms of despair.

We are all in despair whether we know it or not. Makes you ponder...

“Whether you are man or woman, rich or poor, dependent or free, happy or unhappy; whether you bore in your elevation the splendor of the crown or in humble obscurity only the toil and heat of the day; whether your name will be remembered for as long as the world lasts, and so will have been remembered as long as it lasted, or you are without a name and run namelessly with the
Jules Dean
Aug 23, 2007 Jules Dean rated it it was amazing
I had taken a picture of an old man on the lookout area of the Pompiduo in Paris. He was facing the city and was hunched forward in a way that showed his age. It was a shot composed mostly of luck and good timing. I instantly thought of Keiregaard and used the photo for a creative project based on this book. When I was leaving the museum, there was a girl trying to speak to me in French. I nodded in a way i had seen my students in Prague do many times before. It was a look I would receive after ...more
Aug 30, 2012 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only reason I give it a 4 is that I am not smart enough to give it a 5. To give it 5 stars would be to pretend to fully understand him. I hope to upgrade both my understanding and thus the rating by reading it a few more times.

He gives voice to the psychological underpinnings of so much of what is wrong about my own practice of Christianity and participation in "Christendom" yet does so graciously, albeit in philosophical binary code.
Apr 22, 2016 Patrick rated it it was amazing
What is it about great books that make us feel as though, even on ours first read, we have read them before? They come to us already familiar. Their profundity seems to have bubbled over and dribbled down into the culture. Over time such books exert an oblique influence on our paradigms so that soon enough, to pick one example, we unwittingly assume Cartesian suppositions about the self without even having read Descartes’ Meditations. The Sickness unto Death seems to be one such “great book,” fo ...more
Oct 19, 2011 Nemo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What is Despair?

"Just as a physician might say there isn't a single human being who enjoys perfect health, so someone with a proper knowledge of man might say there is not a single human being who does not despair at least a little, in whose innermost being there does not dwell an uneasiness, an unquiet, a discordance, an anxiety in the face of an unknown something, or a something he doesn't even dare strike up acquaintance with, an anxiety about a possibility in life or an anxiety about himself
Brenden O'Donnell
May 18, 2013 Brenden O'Donnell rated it liked it
I think Kierkegaard's methodology is easy to relate to: basically, that no book is too rigorous to be a self-help book. Personally, I always try to get something out of books, even philosophy books, that I can use to improve my life. I really appreciate the humility of this approach to writing and meditating on philosophy, though I worry it set me up for too experimental a reading.

There's really no way to read this book as anything other than a description of how Christian existentialism (I gues
Jan 16, 2014 Janito rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Soren Kierkegaard, para mi te mereces 5 estrellas, por que?, me has ayudado a entender sentimientos que sencillamente uno por lo general rechaza, no acepta como parte de uno. En este libro el autor entrega de forma exhaustiva el concepto de la angustia, como un punto de inicio donde uno se puede entregar si bien a la fe o hacia la desesperación, ambos desde un punto de vista cristiano. El hombre como enfermedad mortal, y el cristiano quien conoce esta enfermedad, siendo esta desesperación, pues ...more
Dec 15, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There were passages in "Sickness Unto Death" that were a real struggle for me. Kierkegaard seems to assume that his readers have read a lot of Hegel, and I haven't. But it was worth pushing through, because the psychological depth of Kierkegaard's thinking is startling. At least, I kept having the unsettling feeling that he was describing me and people I know. I plan on reading this one again.

However, the introduction in this edition is pretty bad. I couldn't help wondering what Kierkegaard woul
Sep 02, 2011 woodshadows rated it really liked it
"Doubtless most men live with far too little consciousness of themselves
to have a conception of what consistency is; that is to say, they do not
exist qua spirit. Their lives (either with a certain childish and lovable
naïveté or in sheer banality) consist in some act or another, some
occurrence, this or that; and then they do something good, then in
turn something wrong, and then it begins all over again; now they are
in despair, for an afternoon, perhaps for three weeks, but then they are
jovial aga
AJ Dehany
Feb 04, 2010 AJ Dehany rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Kierkegaard has such sexy titles - Either/Or, Fear and Trembling, The Sickness Unto Death - and his importance as a proto-existentialist (who first used the word 'absurd' in the camusian sort of sense) is recognised, and his sympathetic critical engagement with theology is not to be understated, but it all makes me want to tear my hair out when brilliant thinkers waste their lives trying to reconcile the contradictions of religious myths, to make sense of utter nonsense, hoisting themselves on p ...more
Mark Robertson
Jul 17, 2007 Mark Robertson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Kierkegaard provides an illuminating look at ways varieties of seemingly non-functional lifestyles. It is perplexing when one arrives at the later lifestyles of misrelations to God, when it seems that there are atheist/agnostic lifestyles that don't fall into any of his categories. Or at least so I think.
Apr 13, 2008 L rated it did not like it
A self is a self that relates to itself -- says Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
No wonder Sweden hated Denmark until recently.
The quintessential 'brooding Dane' makes Hamlet seem like Milton Berle.
He makes Aristotle and Plato seem relevant in comparison.
Not recommended for anyone who has something constructive to do or works with sharp objects.

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  • Cartesian Meditations: An Introduction to Phenomenology
  • Basic Writings: Ten Key Essays, plus the Introduction to Being and Time
  • Twilight of the Idols/The Anti-Christ
  • I and Thou
  • The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2
  • Culture and Value
  • Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
  • The Courage to Be
  • Pensées
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
  • Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography
  • Irrational Man: A Study in Existential Philosophy
  • Truth and Method
  • Emmanuel Levinas: Basic Philosophical Writings (Studies in Continental Thought)
  • Essays in Existentialism
  • Nietzsche and Philosophy (European Perspectives)
Søren Aabye Kierkegaard 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 individua ...more
More about Søren Kierkegaard...

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“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed.” 755 likes
“The self is a relation which relates itself to its own self, or it is that in the relation that the relation relates itself to its own self; the self is not the relation but that the relation relates itself to its own self.” 75 likes
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