David Williamson's Reviews > The Sickness unto Death

The Sickness unto Death by Søren Kierkegaard
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Sep 17, 11

bookshelves: essential-philosophy, philosophy

Sickness unto Death is the second Kierkegaard book I’ve read, not being knocked out by Fear and Trembling, I was expecting a rather well written tour de force of Lutheran Christianity, etc, but not necessarily much more. After reading this book I am going to have to take Kierkegaard very seriously. It doesn’t really matter whether you do or don’t believe in God (God being that all things are possible, and all things possible being God and not some bearded guy in the sky), as any other defining unconditional commitment, such as love, a cause or any such ‘calling’ will bring Faith, rather than Despair. His argument that we are all in despair, whether ignorant of it via distraction, partially aware of it but are turning away from the self, in defiance via Immediacy (Hegel’s notion of rationalizing, reasoning, etc) or despairing that one is in despair, are very convincing, although argument is rather a bad choice of words as Kierkegaard doesn’t really offer a blow by blow construction of Sickness unto Death or his Knights of Faith.

There are weaknesses to Kierkegaard’s point of view such as the role or place of society in his connection to God or that all things are possible, etc, or the possibility that this faith can condone the worst crimes (teleological suspension of the ethical), or that one cannot find this faith one merely finds oneself in it. But all this can generally be swiped aside due to the faith factor, which to some will be problematic or typical of a religious argument, but Kierkegaard’s faith isn’t trying to compete with science or logic, he likes theses things. He is merely trying to reconnect man with a deeper connection to the world, most certainly not with the next one, he truly does deserve some credit for creating what would develop into existentialism.

Furthermore, his critique of Socrates sin or wrong doing as ignorance, that it is impossible to be in ‘bad faith’ as a categorical imperative is a very good exposure of Philosophies dogmatic clinging to Platonic ethics and metaphysics and that being in despair is sin, rather than the actual act. Kierkegaard is a serious thinker, even if in my opinion he is still surpassed by Dostoevsky’s view on this subject of love, faith and existence, he is still very much worth engaging with.
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