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

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

by Soren Kierkegaard

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Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard was one of the first European philosophers to address what has come to be known as “existential anxiety or dread.”

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Anxiety

Anxiety is often confused with fear or nervousness.

Eg: People might say they are anxious about spiders, or heights, or an upcoming test or race.

Kierkegaard, reserved the term “anxiety” to describe a very specific feeling.

Imagine you are presented with a large tray of desserts, all of which look equally delicious. You are very hungry, but you can only pick one.

Now imagine that the tray is infinitely large and contains a vast array of choices. And the choice that you make will determine your life.

ANXIETY = The experience of being faced with infinite choices, and the power to shape our own lives.

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Freedom To Choose

For Kierkegaard, freedom is at the core of this kind of anxiety.

We often think of freedom as a good thing and it is. It gives us the liberty to vote, and choose our work, our friends, our partners, and how we participate in society.

But the freedom that Kierkegaard has in mind the kind that gives us anxiety is a deeper freedom.

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Existential Freedom

Existential freedom is the absolute freedom to decide how we want to exist in the world.

Kierkegaard believed we are completely free, but that this freedom gives us anxiety.

He argued that many people try to escape their anxiety by adopting societal habits and conventions.

Believing that these conventions truly have power over us can be reassuring.

It is often convenient or comforting to think that one must act according to plan or simply follow the leaders in one’s life.

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Chances for growth

Bosses, preachers, politicians, and parents all might claim to have absolute power over your life.

Of course they don’t, and their subtle or explicit rules can be broken at any time.

Kierkegaard suggests the point of life is to be anxious in the right way to experience one’s freedom and face its opportunities as chances for growth.

Only when one is willing to face anxiety, which is the freedom and possibility of life, can one become fully responsible.

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