The anxiety and the depression of a thinker
STAVROS J. BALOYIANNIS
The approach of the interior life of a thinker and the plotting of the profile of his personality is feasible mostly through his writings, especially through his journals and diaries. For a philosopher, like Søren Kierkegaard, every page of his works is a window to his soul. Every work of the Danish philosopher illuminates some aspect of the perplexity of his psychological background. The depression, which started even from his childhood, is one of the main components of his psychological profile, been prominent in his life and seen clearly in his manuscripts, by those who are acquainted with the form of his writings. The dominant, austere, pious contradictory and melancholic personality of his father on one hand and the feeble and always discrete personality of his mother, on the other hand, have had contributed greatly in developing a very introversive and melancholic character. The very formal and ironic atmosphere of the elementary school, characterized by pietism and austerity acted as an additional factor for Kierkegaard’s further introversion and esotericism, resulting to a partial social isolation. Persons who have played an important role in enhancing Søren Kierkegaard’s depressive tendency, inclining him to melancholy, were his father, his fiancee Regina Olsen, whom Søren Kierkegaard engaged and returned her ring within one year, and the editor of Corsair, a light hearted weekly, who ridiculed, despised and humiliated the philosopher in public for weeks through the pages of his journal, provoking a negative social irradiation. Søren Kierkegaard has had also the feeling of anxiety for the spiritual disintegration of his age, since the belief in eternal and absolute values, were replaced by secular values and the man was gradually inclined to spiritual and moral annihilation. Søren Kierkegaard came into opposition with Hegel's conception to see existence from the side of only one of the elements, since existence must always be considered simultaneously as being and essence. According to Søren Kierkegaard man is a synthesis of the temporal and the eternal. Although he may live in the temporal, visible world he may also seek the eternal, feeling the anxiety of the transition from the aesthetic to the ethical stage of the life and furthermore to the religious one. The anchoring of the man in the aesthetic or even in the ethical position induces the despair, the anguish and the continuous suffering, but "the school of suffering educates for eternity…" The temporal and the eternal are placed in sharp contrast and Kierkegaard suffers realizing his own human insufficiency to hold to the eternal and set all his hope and expectation in Lord the Saviour, the Son of God. Kierkegaard strongly believes that the self comes to life on the way to faith and reaches its highest potential in the encounter with Christ. To be a Christian means to believe in a special providence, not in the abstract but in the concrete. To be a Christian, means to be in the state of dying, dying to the world. Only a man of will can become a Christian, because only a man of will has a will, which can be broken. A Christian no longer wills his own will, but with the passion of his broken will, wills the God's will. Martyrdom according to Søren Kierkegaard is the highest point of the Christian way; it is the last degree of the synthesis of the temporal and the eternal. At this point man becomes completely God's instrument. Søren Kierkegaard attacked the piety, benevolent and prudent attitude of the Lutheran church of Denmark; a fact, which increased Søren Kierkegaard social isolation, enforced his depression and despair, resulting in inducing the tragic epilogue of his life. The extensive works of the philosopher, plenty of fine irony, allegory, sarcasm, moral pain and spiritual elevations, highlighting the importance of a pure, sincere and integral spiritual life and the continuous search for the absolute, as a virtue and, at the same time, as a unique way of life, offer a new meaning in the human life and a pathway into authentic existence.
Key words: Kierkegaard, anxiety, depression.