In this paper, I reconstruct the understanding of selfhood in The Sickness unto Death. Using Leo Tolstoy’s character Ivan Ilyich, I argue that one can become alienated from oneself, although one is completely socially recognized. I critically engage this reconstruction with the theories of social agency of Axel Honneth and Robert Pippin and the existentialism of Jean-Paul Sartre. In the end, Anti-Climacus offers a notion of self-relating selfhood, which keeps a balance between the radical self-construction of Sartre and the theories of social dependency of Honneth and Pippin by understanding “God” as the necessity of having irreducibly personal reasons for becoming oneself.
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