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