Sickness Unto Death

Søren Kierkegaard, Sickness Unto Death: ‘Sickness unto Death’ isn’t an encouraging title in pandemic times, but Kierkegaard claims that the only thing we need really fear is despair, whether this manifests as fake optimism or morbid depression. For him, despair is typically caused by living according to others’ agendas and ideals. An example: health workers have grown uncomfortable at being called ‘heroes’; it sets an impossible ideal and has more to do with the public’s need for secular saviors than the reality of their jobs; worse, it exacerbates guilt over the deaths of colleagues. To escape despair is simply to accept ourselves as we are ‘before God’, failure and all: then, ‘All things are possible.’ [recommended by George Pattison, University of Glasgow]

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