The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

The Concept of Anxiety: A Simple Psychologically Oriented Deliberation in View of the Dogmatic Problem of Hereditary Sin

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by Soren Kierkegaard
     
 

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The first new translation of Kierkegaard's masterwork in a generation brings to vivid life this essential work of modern philosophy.

Brilliantly synthesizing human insights with Christian dogma, Soren Kierkegaard presented, in 1844, The Concept of Anxiety as a landmark "psychological deliberation," suggesting that our only hope in overcoming anxiety

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Overview

The first new translation of Kierkegaard's masterwork in a generation brings to vivid life this essential work of modern philosophy.

Brilliantly synthesizing human insights with Christian dogma, Soren Kierkegaard presented, in 1844, The Concept of Anxiety as a landmark "psychological deliberation," suggesting that our only hope in overcoming anxiety was not through "powder and pills" but by embracing it with open arms. While Kierkegaard's Danish prose is surprisingly rich, previous translations—the most recent in 1980—have marginalized the work with alternately florid or slavishly wooden language. With a vibrancy never seen before in English, Alastair Hannay, the world's foremost Kierkegaard scholar, has finally re-created its natural rhythm, eager that this overlooked classic will be revivified as the seminal work of existentialism and moral psychology that it is.

From The Concept of Anxiety:
"And no Grand Inquisitor has such frightful torments in readiness as has anxiety, and no secret agent knows as cunningly how to attack the suspect in his weakest moment, or to make so seductive the trap in which he will be snared; and no discerning judge understands how to examine, yes, exanimate the accused as does anxiety, which never lets him go, not in diversion, not in noise, not at work, not by day, not by night."

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
02/01/2014
A fresh translation of Kierkegaard's 1844 treatise is long overdue, and Hannay (emeritus, philosophy, Univ. of Oslo) is the best philosopher for the job, having provided well-received translations from the Kierkegaard corpus, including Either/Or and Fear and Trembling. Those familiar with the Walter Lowrie translation of this work will find Hannay's effort familiar but will notice that it provides a keener edge to Kierkegaard's wit and a voice that is more the 19th-century Dane than Lowrie's, which was more 20th-century American. Kierkegaard took anxiety to be an unspecified fear or dread that is a precondition for freedom (and for that matter sin) as anxiety is the recognition of our current state and of the nature of possibility. Here, the philosopher (1813–55) self-consciously argues as a Christian, and while a number of his examples are dated, his arguments are nonetheless engaging. Almost as valuable as the translation is Hannay's introduction in which he provides the background necessary to grapple with Kierkegaard and a heartfelt argument for the value of studying this fountainhead of existentialism in general and Anxiety in particular. VERDICT Well worth the time for anyone interested in Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, or later existential philosophers.—James Wetherbee, Wingate Univ. Libs., NC
Publishers Weekly
12/23/2013
Originally published in 1844, at the same time as Philosophical Fragments, this treatise by Kierkegaard (1813–1855), newly translated by Kierkegaard scholar Hannay, explores anxiety as a necessary part of the human condition, which when embraced can lead to "freedom's actuality as the possibility of possibility." Anxiety results from humanity's unique ability to reflect on itself, and the nature of its own existence. Each living person is both an individual as well as a species, capable of reproducing others of its kind. This self-awareness, which each person discovers at a certain point, Kierkegaard claims, is the true "original sin," and can lead to fear, guilt, and many other disorders, stemming from the "overwhelming knowledge of good and evil." Psychology, or what Kierkegaard calls "a science of subjective spirit," helps to bring this self-reflection to the surface, where it can be understood and accepted. Using a "sound knowledge of human life and sympathy for its interests," psychology is the best tool for countering anxiety. Referencing writers and thinkers as various as Hegel, Schelling, and Plato, and containing numerous footnotes, some several pages long, this dense book will likely appeal to a scholarly audience. (Mar.)
Gordon Marino - New York Times
“[A] book at once so profound and byzantine that it seems to aim at evoking the very feeling it dissects. Perhaps more than any other philosopher, Kierkegaard reflected on the question of how to communicate the truths that we live by.”
Kirkus Reviews
2013-12-15
Noted Kierkegaard scholar, translator and biographer Hannay (Emeritus, Philosophy/Univ. of Oslo; Kierkegaard: A Biography, 2001) offers a new translation of a little-known but significant work (1944) about the relationship between sin and anxiety. Although Kierkegaard (1813–1855) claims in the preface that he plans to "write the book straight off as the bird sings its say," many readers will find his words as similar to a bird's song as a bird's song is to a complex symphony. After some introductory remarks about thought, sin (which is not, he says, a sickness or an abnormality--far from it) and psychology, the philosopher begins with a disquisition on sin--specifically on original or "hereditary" sin. He notes that each individual's first sin is analogous to Adam's and declares, "Innocence is ignorance." He then moves to anxiety, a feeling absent in Eden, he writes, until Adam faced something he couldn't understand: the prohibition. Kierkegaard distinguishes between objective and subjective anxiety and notes the relationship to freedom: "Freedom's possibility announces itself in anxiety." He also makes a few clueless comments about the differences between men and women--comments that show that for all his erudition, he had a few things to learn. He describes each instant as "an atom of eternity," then moves on to discussions of fate, guilt and evil, equating the demonic with "unfreedom." He also explores the ways that we can lose freedom (a body's betrayal, a spiritual loss) and ends with some pages about faith. The book has moments of clarity and flow but also sections of great density (one footnote is more than two pages long); the author cites the Bible extensively and often uses phrases from foreign languages, all of which the editor translates in brackets. A text that will appeal to philosophers and Kierkegaard-ians but will leave readers with more general interests feeling…anxious.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780871407719
Publisher:
Liveright Publishing Corporation
Publication date:
02/16/2014
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
552,401
File size:
1 MB

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