Saturday, November 18, 2006

Kierkegaard and Despair

Kierkegaard and Despair: According to the existentialist philosophy of Søren Kierkegaard, the Self is freedom. It is not only the freedom to choose, but also the freedom to create choices. Therefore, man is fundamentally neither his thoughts nor his feelings but rather he is his Self. The Self relates directly to itself and is subject to no one and everyone at the same time. In effect, when man does not come into a full consciousness of his Self, then he is said to be in despair. Just as a physician will tell you that no one is completely healthy, anyone who knows anything about man will tell you that he must despair at certain moments in his life. To be in despair is to reflect upon the Self. If man does not engage in the art of despair, then he shall become stuck in a state of inertia with no effective progression or regression and that is the worst state of all. But more importantly, from where does despair originate? For Kierkegaard, it originates from doubt. Whenever man doubts, whether it be something as monumental as the existence of God or as mundane as the directions to Grandma's house, he seeks to upend custom in favor of novelty. And when the novelty proves insufficient for man's needs, he quickly brushes it aside in despair. So, the questions begs wonderment, does doubt beget sin or does sin beget doubt? Kierkegaard rightfully concludes that doubt begets sin, as man cannot fully manage the infinite desires that inevitably arise when he assumes the mentality of a Doubting Thomas.

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