The Concept of Anxiety


Begrebet Angest (The Concept of Anxiety) is a philosophical work written by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard in 1844.

Quotes edit

The Concept of Anxiety, trans. Thompte
  • Each generation has its own task and need not trouble itself unduly by being everything to previous and succeeding generations. Just as each day’s trouble is sufficient for the day, so each individual in a generation has enough to do in taking care of himself and does not need to embrace the whole contemporary age with his paternal solicitude or assume that era and epoch begin with his book, and still less with the New Year’s torch of his promise or with the intimations of his farseeing promises or with the referral of his reassurance to a currency of doubtful value. Not everyone who is stoop-shouldered is an Atlas, nor did he become such by supporting a world. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven. Not everyone who offers himself as surety for the whole contemporary age proves by such action that he is reliable and can vouch for himself. Not everyone who shouts Bravo, schwere, Noth, Gottblitz, bravissimo has therefore understood himself and his admiration.
    • P. 7: Preface
  • In logic, no movement must come about, for logic is, and whatever is logical only is. The external expression for the logical is what the Eleatics through a misunderstanding transferred to existence: nothing comes into being, everything is.
    • Note p. 13: Introduction

Anxiety as the Presupposition of Hereditary Sin and as Explaining Hereditary Sin Retrogressively in Terms of its Origin edit

  • The Genesis story presents the only dialectically consistent view. Its whole content is really concentrated in one statement: Sin came into the world by a sin. Were this not so, sin would have come into the world as something accidental, which one would do well not to explain. The difficulty for the understanding is precisely the triumph of the explanation and its profound consequence, namely, that sin presupposes itself, that sin comes into the world in such a way by the fact that it is, it is presupposed.
    • P. 32

Anxiety as Explaining Hereditary Sin Progressively edit

  • One who has properly occupied himself with psychology and psychological observation acquires a general human flexibility that enables him at once to construct his example which even though it lacks factual authority nevertheless has an authority of a different kind. The psychological observer ought to be more nimble than a tightrope dancer in order to incline and band himself to other people and imitate their attitudes, and his silence in the moment of confidence should be seductive and voluptuous, so that what is hidden may find satisfaction in slipping out to chat with itself in the artificially constructed nonobservance and silence.
    • P. 55
  • The concept of race is too abstract to allow the positing of so concrete a category as sin, which is posited precisely in that the single individual himself, as the single individual, posits it. Thus sinfulness in the race becomes only a quantitative approximation.
    • P. 57
  • If a person does not first make clear to himself the meaning of “self,” it is of no use to say of sin that it is selfishness. Only when the concept of the particular is given can there be any talk of selfishness, however, no science can say what the self is without stating it quite generally. And this is the wonder of life, that each man who is mindful of himself knows what no science knows, since he knows who he himself is, and this is the profundity of the Greek saying know yourself, which too long has been understood in the German way as pure self-consciousness, the airiness of idealism.
    • P. 78-79

Anxiety as the Consequence of that Sin which is Absence of the Consciousness of Sin edit

  • Man is a synthesis of psyche and body, but he is also a synthesis of the temporal and the eternal. In the former, the two factors are psyche and body, and spirit is the third, yet in such a way that one can speak of a synthesis only when the spirit is posited. The latter synthesis has only two factors, the temporal and the eternal. Where is the third factor? And if there is no third factor, there really is no synthesis, for a synthesis that is a contradiction cannot be completed as a synthesis without a third factor, because the fact that the synthesis is a contradiction asserts that it is not. What, then, is the temporal?
    • p. 85
  • Spiritlessness can say exactly the same thing that the richest spirit has said, but it does not say it by virtue of spirit. Man qualified as spiritless has become a talking machine, and there is nothing to prevent him from repeating by rote a philosophical rigmarole, a confession of faith, or a political recitation. Is it not remarkable that the only ironist and the greatest humorist joined forces in saying what seems the simplest of all, namely, that a person must distinguish between what he understands and what he does not understand.
    • p. 85, cited in: Ulrich Knappe (2004) Theory and Practice in Kant and Kierkegaard, p. 142
  • There is only one proof of spirit and that is the spirit’s proof within oneself. Whoever demands something else may get proofs in superabundance, but he is already characterized at spiritless.
    • P. 95; cited in: Peter Fenves, ‎Peter David Fenves (1993) "Chatter": Language and History in Kierkegaard. p. 97
  • Life offers sufficient phenomena in which the individual in anxiety gazes almost desirously at guilt and yet fears it. Guilt has for the eye of the spirit the fascinating power of the serpent’s glance.
    • P. 104

Anxiety of Sin or Anxiety as the Consequence of Sin in the Single Individual edit

  • Nay, truth—which abhors also this untruth of aspiring after broad dissemination as the one aim—is not nimble on its feet. In the first place it cannot work by means of the fantastical means of the press, which is the untruth; the communicator of the truth can only be a solitary individual. And again the communication of it can only be addressed to the individual.
    • P. 116
  • The demonstration of the existence of God is something with which one learnedly and metaphysically occupies oneself only on occasion, but the thought of God forces itself upon a man on every occasion. What is it that such an individuality lacks? Inwardness.
    • p. 140

Anxiety as Saving through Faith edit

  • If a human being were a beast or an angel, he could not be in anxiety. Because he is a synthesis, he can be in anxiety; and the more profoundly he is in anxiety, the greater is the man—yet not in the sense usually understood, in which anxiety is about something external, about something outside a person, but in the sense that he himself produces the anxiety. Only in this sense can the words be understood when it is said of Christ that he was anxious unto death, as well as the words spoken by Christ to Judas: What you are going to do, do quickly.
    • p. 155

Quotes about The Concept of Anxiety edit

  • It may be judged how important is The Concept of Dread from the fact that besides the German translation there are two translations in French and one in Spanish. It is the first time I have had the pleasure of comparing four translations with the original text. It is hard on the eyes to keep five texts in view when I am making my translation, but it is interesting. I soon discovered to my chagrin that the Spanish translation was made, not from the Danish, but from Schrempf’s translation, and therefore could be discarded. The translator had not emulated the noble example of Don Miguel de Unamuno, who said in one of his essays, “I learned the language for the sake of reading Ibsen and was rewarded by reading Kierkegaard.” Because this translator was only a hack hired by a publisher, his name is not given. But of the French translations, which were both published in 1935 and are therefore entirely independent, it would be churlish of me to say that they are not very good, seeing that I have profited much by both of them.
    • Walter Lowrie, Translator’s Preface to The Concept of Dread, p. vii 1944, 1957 Princeton University Press

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