This week we jump into the deep end of the swimming pool --- and the modern world. Few thinkers are as demanding, challenging, and exhilarating as Soren Kierkegaard. Unlike all the other theologians, SK views the human person as a phenomenologist. All the categories we've gotten used to --- soul, body, spirit --- and all the theological language we've been using are radically reconfigured. Further, SK want to gain a hearing by coming at his readers indirectly! You will not be confronted by "church talk" --- cliches, truism, pious platitudes. If that's what you want, SK is decidedly not your man. This is the hardest text I've given you. No one is neutral regarding SK: you will either dislike this assignment, or it will change your life.
What is Sickness unto Death?
It's an examination of despair or anxiety and the becoming of a self before God. A movement from unconscious' existence to what it means to stand conscious before God.
Do not, do not, do not begin with a preconceived notion of the word, despair or anxiety, as used by Kierkegaard. He will define it in the first portion of the book!
May I suggest: [a] a thorough reading of Hannay's splendid introduction. Then [b] (something I never ever suggest) Anthony Storm's wonderful Kierkegaard site on-line.
I am setting you three questions and asking you to write [900 words/each essay] on all three:
1. For SK what is despair?
2. Choose one of the following forms of despair and explain it in your own words:
a. Finitude which lacks infinitude
b. The despair of weakness
c. Despair of the eternal
d. The despair of defiance
3. In Part Two how does 'despair' evolve into 'sin"
Let me repeat: you should read the book as an account of the successive stages by which a self becomes a person before God or a person before.

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Søren Kierkegaard and the Sickness unto Death
For Søren Kierkegaard, what is despair
For Søren Kierkegaard, despair is a form of a sickness of the spirit or the self. Despair might manifest itself in three necessary forms. These are despair at not despair willing to be oneself, being conscious of having a self, and despair at not willing to be oneself (Kierkegaard, 2013). This triple nature implies that despair is the sickness of the spirit that stems from a misunderstanding of who a person is as a human being. For the author, the self defines a human being. In addition, the self is a composite of three elements which include finitude and infinitude, the eternal and temporal, the necessity and freedom.
If any of the three elements is out of balance, despair becomes inevitable. While this is the case, humans are not the source of their creation. Thus, despair also occurs whenever the self does not relate adequately or appropriately to what Søren Kierkegaard acknowledges as the power that posited the self. From what it appears, this power is God. According to Søren Kierkegaard, even though despair is a sickness unto death, it does not unavoidably lead to death (Kierkegaard, 2013). In stark contrast with physical illness, once a person contracts despair, the sickness does not merely run its course. Rather than leading to the demise of an individual, despair encompasses not being able to die even where dying would release a person from the torments that despair triggers. Søren Kierkegaard puts it forth that suffering from despair consumes a person persistently without being able to dispense the self (Kierkegaard, 2013).
Adding to the definition of the concept, Søren Kierkegaard supposes that despair has nothing to do with things external to the self. To support this thought, Søren Kierkegaard claims that despairing person despair over something, which must be over oneself. The author gives an example of a young girl in despair over love. The girl might despair over a lover because he has died, or he has become unfaithful to her (Kierkegaard, 2013). According to Søren Kierkegaard, the despair the little girl is going through is not declared or explicitly stated despair. Instead, she is in despair over herself and not other things (death or unfaithfulness). If the girl's "self" had become the lover's beloved, then she would have been able to rid it in the most pleasant manner. However, since the self is the girl, being...
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