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The Sickness Unto Death was written by Danish theologian and philosopher Søren Kierkegaard and published in 1849 under the pseudonym “Anti-Climacus.” One of Kierkegaard's last philosophical works, it offers one of the clearest and most concise statements of his views on religious faith.

Presumably, Kierkegaard’s point with The Sickness Unto Death was to encourage us to pursue faith. Yet many readers feel that Kierkegaard leaves us with more questions than answers. As Kierkegaard repeatedly stresses, his vision of Christian faith defies rational understanding. What does it mean to have an individual relationship with God? How would we know if we have such a relationship? Kierkegaard cannot answer these questions. He can only urge us to pursue them on our own through introspective reflection.

Ironically, while Kierkegaard’s ideas have influenced 20th-century theology, they have also been an important influence on thinkers who do not believe in God. For instance, existentialist philosophers such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus admired Kierkegaard’s commitment to personal beliefs but rejected his commitment to religion.

Read the overall summary, the overall analysis, and and four Question & Answers about key ideas in The Sickness Unto Death. Or, learn more by studying SparkNotes guides to other works by Søren Kierkegaard.

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