Understanding Despair According To Kierkegaard

Merriam-Webster defines despair as a utter loss of hope, or a cause of hopelessness. In comparison, Kierkegaard defines it as not being willing to be oneself. A sickness in the self; unless cured, it leads to the worst sort of death - not the death of the body, but the death of the self. When Kierkegaard refers to the self he is referring to the relation which relates to itself, or that in the relation which is its relating to itself. The self is defined by external and internal relations within the self, a body and brain are parts of a person, but more is required to be a self. The self is not the relation but the relation's relating to itself. 

There are many kinds of despair. Despair of finitude is when one lacks possibility. By going along with the crowd, doing what is expected, assuming that my path is already set by 'the others'. Here there is no dragging of the feet, no difficulty with his self. This form of despair goes unnoticed in the world, by losing oneself in this way, such a person gains all that is required for making a great success out of life. Despair of Defiance is the complete opposite, this despair is arrogant, Promethean, something proud and defiantly willed to be themselves. Defiance can take several forms, one of those forms are active defiance. Active defiance will be whatever they want to be, self maid, if they don't like what they have become they will become something else. When refusing to start off with who we immediately are, there is no real foundation to build upon. Passive Defiance is another form in which one focuses on flaws. This self will notice a flaw and become filled with resentment. 

'The proper name for the state of the self opposite to despair is Faith'. Faith should never be confused with Knowledge. Philosophy is just confused, a subject for ridicule, if it thinks that by human reason it can ' go further' than faith; faith is not a matter of understanding anything, for the absolute paradox rebuffs our understanding. It means that proofs for the existence of God and evidence for the divinity of Jesus are beside the point; faith is not a matter of accepting certain propositions as true or understanding them, but of existing in a certain manner, of living a certain form of life. He understands that this mind of thinking tests the boundaries of truth and understanding.

Kierkegaard states that a life trusting in the forgiveness of sins, a life in imitation of Christ, is inherently risky, that there are no guarantees that it will ' pay off'. A life is the ultimate risk, stretched as it is between understanding of ones sins and asking for ones forgiveness. When looking into his understanding of life of faith, I agree with some parts of his discussion. Knowledge trumps everything in my eyes, followed by science, so I have a hard time believing that without definitive proof that God exists.

16 December 2021
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