Despair as Defiance: Kierkegaard’s Definitions in “The Sickness unto Death”

Alastair Hannay 1
  • 1 University of , Oslo, Norwey


How are we to read and how translate the brief formulae with which ‟The Sickness unto Death” introduces two forms of ‛authentic despair’? In response to Michael Theunissen’s claim that, to conform with the actual drift of Kierkegaard’s thought, the first of the two forms of despair should be given priority, an alternative reading that conforms with the published ordering is defended on the strength of both the text itself and the development of Kierkegaard’s thought up to the time of its writing. The further aim, shared with Theunissen, is to widen the basis for assessing the continuing relevance of Kierkegaard’s analysis of despair.

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