B. P. Rinehart's Reviews > The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

The Concept of Anxiety by Søren Kierkegaard
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bookshelves: philosophy-stuff, non-fiction-stuff

"The Concept of Anxiety (original title Begrebet Angest) was first published in June 1844. Kierkegaard had just turned thirty-one. The modest edition of 250 copies, half the number of the other pseudonymous works, was finally sold out eleven years later, whereupon a second edition of 500 copies was ordered and published in August 1855, just three months before Kierkegaard died at the age of forty-two." - General background from the translator's introduction.


There will never not be a time in my life when I will not need Kierkegaard. I've already read The Sickness unto Death, which was a sequel of-sorts to this book. That book deals with despair--this book deals with anxiety. The questions that this book is trying to answer is: what is anxiety? Where did it come from? How do we deal with it?
If you are familiar with Kierkegaard than you know he gives no easy explanations to these and his answers may not be satisfactory to those of the atheistic faith. Even those who are religiously inclined may not like what this doctor's diagnosis is. I am not gonna try to explain it because while I can understand it, I can't do it the justice that Kierkegaard does (and also I have a headache right-now which precludes me from in-depth analysis with Kierkegaard's prose). I could give a layman's explanation of this book like a lot of the other Goodreads review, but I feel that I would for the most part just be summarizing one chapter and Kierkegaard deserves more than that. But to show I am not totally difficult, I will post the paragraph that this wok is mostly known here on Goodreads for:
"Anxiety can be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason? It is just as much his own eye as the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down. It is in this way that anxiety is the dizziness of freedom that emerges when spirit wants to posit the synthesis, and freedom now looks down into its own possibility and then grabs hold of finiteness to support itself. In this dizziness freedom subsides."
I finished reading this book while reading Memories, Dreams, Reflections by Carl Jung and it is interesting to see how psychology is understood as pre-Freud/psychoanalysis. While I definitely classify this book as philosophy, I will note that there is a sort of scientific-like examination that--while nothing like modern psychology--is not philosophical. Since I can't claim any familiarity with 19th or 20th century psychology, I can't pass any judgement on it.

In the end, I definitely enjoyed this book and the message it gives to me. Even though he is mainly concerned with anxiety, he tackles so many other things in this book to get here. Kierkegaard's favorite philosopher was Socrates and it shows. Well, Kierkegaard is my favorite philosopher and I hope that I can somehow try to keep showing that through my own life.

"...someone who is already formed remains with anxiety; he does not allow himself to be deceived by its countless falsifications; he accurately remembers the past. The attacks of anxiety, even though terrifying, will then not be such that he flees from them. Anxiety becomes for him a ministering spirit that leads him, against its will, where he will.* Then, when it announces itself, when it disingenuously makes it look as though it has invented an altogether new instrument of torture, far more terrible than anything before, he does not draw back, and still less does he try to ward it off with noise and confusion, but bids it welcome, greets it solemnly, and like Socrates who raised the poisoned cup, he takes it in with him and says, as a patient would say to the surgeon, when the painful operation is about to begin: Now I am ready. Then anxiety enters into his soul and searches out everything, and frightens the finite and petty out of him, and it then leads him where he will."
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Quotes B. P. Liked

Søren Kierkegaard
“Anxiety is the dizziness of freedom.”
Søren Kierkegaard , The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Orienting Deliberation on the Dogmatic Issue of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“I can compel no man to agree with my opinions, but at least I can compel him to have an opinion.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“Anxiety can be replaced only by the freedom whose harsh requirements are its cause. Being free requires us to release the brakes that anxiety represents in order to accept and appropriate our proper spiritual fulfillment or perhaps even to recognize, if that is what we in the end believe, that no such prospect is in store.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“In spiritlessness there is no anxiety. It is too happy for that, too content, and too spiritless. But this is a very pitiable reason, and paganism differs from spiritlessness in the former being definable as directed toward spirit and the latter as directed from spirit. Paganism is, if you will, the absence of spirit and thus differs far from spiritlessness. Paganism is in this respect much to be preferred. Spiritlessness is spirit’s stagnation and ideality’s caricature. Spiritlessness is accordingly not literally dumb when it comes to repetition by rote, but it is dumb [has lost its sense] in the way in which it is said of salt that it has lost its flavor† and when one asks then how it can be salted.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“Repentance is the highest ethical contradiction, partly because by demanding ideality it has to content itself with accepting repentance, partly because repentance is dialectically ambiguous regarding what it is to cancel, an ambiguity that dogmatics cancels only in the Atonement, in which the category of hereditary sin becomes clear. Moreover repentance delays action, and action is precisely what ethics demands. Finally, repentance must become an object to itself, seeing that the moment of repentance becomes a deficit of action.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“Freedom is always in communication (even taking the religious meaning of the word into consideration does no harm); unfreedom withdraws ever more in its reserve and will not communicate.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“an adventure that every human being has to live through, learning to be anxious so as not to be ruined either by never having been in anxiety or by sinking into it. Whoever has learned to be anxious in the right way has learned the ultimate.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“Anxiety is freedom’s possibility; this anxiety alone is, through faith, absolutely formative, since it consumes all finite ends, discovers all their deceptions.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“When the discoveries of possibility are honestly administered, possibility will discover all finitudes but idealize them in the shape of infinity, in anxiety overwhelm the individual, until the individual again overcomes them in the anticipation of faith.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

Søren Kierkegaard
“Anyone not wanting to sink in the wretchedness of the finite is obliged in the most profound sense to struggle with the infinite.”
Søren Kierkegaard, The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin


Reading Progress

June 7, 2016 – Shelved
June 7, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
January 2, 2018 – Started Reading
January 2, 2018 – Shelved as: philosophy-stuff
January 2, 2018 – Shelved as: non-fiction-stuff
January 4, 2018 –
10.0% "Alastair Hannay's introduction has me hooked! Always good when the translator is a scholar in his own right."
January 6, 2018 –
20.0% "While reading this part I came upon a 2.4 page footnote. That's how I knew I was reading real philosophy again."
April 15, 2018 –
32.0%
April 28, 2018 –
42.0% "As timeless as some of his ideas are, one forgets this was written in the 19th century. this sub-chapter just reminded me of that."
April 30, 2018 –
43.0%
May 4, 2018 –
46.0%
September 25, 2018 – Shelved as: on-hold-or-extended-leave
April 22, 2019 –
61.0%
April 23, 2019 –
82.0% "I don't know why it took me so long to get back to this, but at least my interest is strong enough to get some good reading done. And of course, I can always use more Kierkegaard in my life."
April 23, 2019 –
85.0%
April 23, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Florencia In this dizziness freedom subsides. - What a statement. I plan to reread this at some point.


B. P. Rinehart I have the Princeton University Press edition which is the more scholarly/academic translation of this book in English. I would be interested to see how it differs from Alastair Hannay's more modern/casual translation.


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