- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; 1 edition (30 March 1989)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140445331
- ISBN-13: 978-0140445336
- Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.3 x 19.8 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 18.1 g
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Sickness Unto Death, The Paperback – 9 May 1989
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About the Author
Kierkegaard (1813-55) was born in Copenhagen, the youngest of seven children. His childhood was unhappy, clouded by the religious fervour of his father, and the death of his mother, his sisters and two brothers. Educated at the School of Civic Virtue, he went on study theology, liberal arts and science at university, gaining a reputation for his academic brilliance and extravagant social life. He began to criticize Christianity, and in 1841 broke off his engagement to concentrate on his writing. Over the next ten years he produced a flood of works, in particular twelve major philosophical essays, many written under noms de plume. By the end of his life he had become an object of public ridicule, but he is now enjoying increasing acclaim.
Alastair Hannay was educated at the Edinburgh Academy, the University of Edinburgh and University College London. In 1961 he became a resident of Norway and is now Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo.
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Lazarus is dead, but Jesus says that he really isn’t (because Jesus can bring him back to life, which he does). Lazarus then actually died later (but not really, because his eternal soul persisted after the death of his physical body). Thus, Lazarus illustrates the nature of the human individual. We are caught between finitude and infinitude and this leads to the attitudes and behaviors which characterize our nature/plight.
The ongoing subject of SK’s reflections is the nature of despair and its relationship to identity, to faith and to human psychology. The reflections are very complex and I did not find the introductory material to be particularly helpful. As with FEAR AND TREMBLING, I recommend that the reader peruse the prefatory material after reading the book, not before.
The core of SK’s argument is, I think, the following: “The self is the conscious synthesis of infinitude and finitude, which relates to itself, whose task is to become itself, which can only be done in the relationship to God . . . . a self, every moment it exists, is in a process of becoming . . . . In so far, then, as the self does not become itself, it is not itself; but not to be oneself is exactly despair” (pp. 59-60). Faith is crucial: “The believer possesses the ever-sure antidote to despair: possibility; since for God everything is possible at every moment. This is the health of faith which resolves contradictions” (p. 70).
The evolutionary nature of the self is very interesting, since it aligns SK with Goethe’s FAUST, where the notion of evolution is pivotal. (Darwin himself came later, but evolutionary thought is pervasive in the late eighteenth century.) This notion of the fluid self, evolving, changing and developing is, of course, central to the thought of the existentialists who were heavily influenced by SK.
Bottom line: a rich and complex meditation on the nature of human identity and its relation to faith.
BUT, this publisher is a joke. The organization of the book is completely out of line with conventions for translation. All other translations follow the order that Kiekegaard laid out, Part 1 and Part 2, sections A, B, C etc. But this publisher simply labels them as individual chapters. This undermines the organizational structure of the work and also makes it useless if citing it for academic work. Also, no translator's name is given even though it is clearly a translation.
Buy a real translation
Wish I could return but already marked up part of it before I realized how bad it was.
Holy wow was I wrong. This publication is obviously scanned from another text with disconnected notation marks 1inserted into2 the text3, words improperly scanned (e.g, mirror will be used in one sentence only to show up as "minor" in the next) and paragraphs that look like they went through babelfish. I can't even find a contact email to complain to the publisher about their shoddy publishing job!
At least the cover's nice I guess?
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