In Sickness unto Death Soren Kierkegaard examines despair and the way it eats at a man’s soul. Many of us live seemingly content lives unconscious of our truth and self. Kierkegaard shows that through increased consciousness of the self despair intensifies and as a result of this consciousness we end up polarizing the infinite and finite components of our composition. To cure this sickness Kierkegaard rightfully concludes that faith is the antidote. Kierkegaard’s first and least intense form of despair alludes to the individual who is unaware of being in despair. He explains this as “the Despair which is Unconscious that is Despair, or the Despairing Unconsciousness of having a Self and an Eternal Self” (Bretall p. 345). If a man fails to realize that he, like every other human, has an eternal self or a soul, he is in despair. This form of unconscious despair is the most common. Kierkegaard bases this conclusion on several important premises. Self and Spirituality are two absolute components of all humans. When one does not recognize this second component, the spirit, he may falsely enjoy the aesthetic aspects of life (Bretall p.348). He may feel happy and appear happy, but in the end he is missing the point. Unfortunately, the man who solely enjoys the aesthetic “is not conscious of himself before God as a Spirit” (Bretall p. 348). Despair will begin to set in “when the enhancement of illusion is broken, when existence begins to totter” (Bretall 346). Kierkegaard later points out that in this phase of unconscious despair, the victim is “further from the truth and salvation” (Bretall 346). Only when one realizes self is one component (the other being the soul) can they move towards truth.
The second form of despair that Kierkegaard mentions is conscious despair. He says that this type of despair is more intense than the unconscious form. Conscious despair is broken up into two requisites: weak and strong.
The despair of weakness can be...
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