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Sickness Unto Death

Part I.C.a.

Summary Part I.C.a.


Part I.C. categorizes the forms of despair. Despair may be analyzed abstractly by looking at the elements of the concept of despair. However, whether or not the individual is conscious of despair is the principle distinction between forms of despair.

Part I.C.a. is an abstract analysis of despair. (By contrast, Part I.C.b. will analyze despair in terms of consciousness.) Part I.C.a. is subdivided into two sections, (a) and (b), which are in turn each subdivided into subsections alpha and beta.

The beginning of section (a) notes that human beings are a synthesis of the infinite (spirit) and the finite (body). The human "self" overcomes despair by "becoming itself," which means establishing the appropriate form of the synthesis of infinite and finite. This is possible only through God.

Section (a), subsection alpha describes the condition of despair in which the individual focuses on the infinite and neglects the finite. This form of despair occurs when the individual becomes absorbed in fantasies. Subsection beta describes the condition of despair in which the individual focuses on the finite and neglects the infinite. A person suffering this form of despair becomes overly absorbed in practical earthly matters, such as business and social life.

Section (b) recasts the finite/infinite distinction in terms of possibility and necessity. Subsection alpha describes how people may enter despair by becoming absorbed in reflection on fantastical possibilities and neglecting reality's constraints. Conversely, subsection beta describes a form of despair in which people become weighed down by concerns and fail to imagine other possibilities.

A belief that "for God all things are possible" may enable people to avoid despair and hopelessness even when crushed by the most awful circumstances. Fatalism, by contrast, presumes that events in the world are predetermined as a result of physical forces and cause-effect relationships. Similarly, "philistine" or "bourgeois" people concern themselves exclusively with petty matters and accept turns of events in the world without emotion or resistance. Fatalism and philistinism cannot protect individuals from despair as faith can.

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