The Sickness Unto Death

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Despair As Spiritual Death

Have you ever wondered about despair or how you end up in despair or perhaps what causes your despair? Merriam-Webster dictionary defines despair as “an utter loss of hope”[1]. In this paper I will be exploring the definition of despair according to Soren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard was a 19th century philosopher, theologian, and religious author. In addition to this he was also a Christian existentialist. To prove and iterate his points Kierkegaard wrote a book call The Sickness unto Death, in which he spoke about his definition of despair, and how it was our very own sickness. So now let’s see how despair is the sickness unto death, how it is transforms into sin and lastly how it may be overcome through faith.

Now in order to understand what Kierkegaard is saying you have to first understand what he means by man or human. To Kierkegaard, man is sprit and spirit is the self. Spirit is a relation that relates itself to itself. Relation is the activity that causes us to relate ourselves to ourselves. It is a relation because it is a synthesis of opposites of which we are formed from. The opposites include infinite and finite, eternal and temporal, and freedom and necessity. This activity of relation is constant and continuous.

To further understand what Kierkegaard is saying you also have to understand what he means by despair. Despair is a sickness of the self and can take on three forms: not being conscious of having a self (spirit), not willing to be oneself in despair, and willing to be oneself in despair. In despair, the self is misrelating itself to itself and God. And the more conscious we become of this misrelation, the deeper we sink in despair. Despair is out of God’s hands and is a result of our own self relation. Despair is a purely spiritual sickness, and only occurs within our spirits. It is also know as a spiritual death, in the sense that the spirit longs to die but cannot do so because spirit is infinite...
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