Anxiety A Philosophical And Psychological Probe Philosophy Essay


Being discussed the anxiety in general terms let us try to understand Anxiety in a philosophical and psychological frame work. We will look into this by going through the concepts like original sin, the relationship between individual and race etc. Is it Adam alone responsible or the whole human race is participating in the sin? Let us go deep into these questions.

2.1 Anxiety and original sin

The Christian tradition explained the sin of individuals not by referring to the acts of those individuals alone, but by relating their sin to the original sin incurred in the race by the act of the first father of the race. Sin is not wholly new in each individual but is hereditary. This claim raises several problems, all of which are touched upon in the second chapter of The Concept of Anxiety. Firstly, what is the relation of the sins of the descendants of Adam to the first sin of Adam himself? Is Adam’s sin inherited like a talent or eye colour? If sin is inherited how can the descendant be in any sense responsible for his own sin? What motivates Adam to sin, and what makes him responsible for sin if it is only after the fall that he is aware of what evil is? The second chapter of The Concept of Anxiety tries to answer these questions.

2.1.1 Individual and Human Race

The problem that is raised in the first section of the first chapter of The Concept of Anxiety, concerns how the individual Adam and his choice are related to the race as a whole. Kierkegaard commence by critically examining the various traditional explanations of this relation. According to traditional concepts the difference is that Adam’s first sin carries sinfulness with it; whereas all later, first sin presupposes sinfulness. [1] The first criticism is that some of these explanations place Adam ‘fantastically outside’ the race and history. According to such accounts Adam brought original sin into being and the race simply inherited it. If original sin is a mere inheritance, then the ‘first sin’ of the individual descendent does not cause the existence of sin in himself: "Does the concept of hereditary sin differ from the concept of the first sin in such a way that the particular individual participates in inherited sin [2] only through his relation to Adam and not through his primitive relation to sin? In that case Adam is placed fantastically outside history." [3] According to the ‘fantastic’ view, therefore, Adam has a special relation to original sin because only for him did original sin come into being through a choice. The rest of the race passively inherits original sin. Berthold rightly puts it that Kierkegaard not only points out that the traditional description of Adam not only places him fantastically outside the human race, but also implies that Adam was innocent in such a way that he could not be held fully responsible for his actions. [4] 

Kierkegaard is looking for a conceptually adequate description of sin, a description that does not render the fall a mere historical or past fact. Surprisingly for those who picture Kierkegaard as a romantic or an irrationalist, he rejects definitions that originate in ‘pious feeling’. To think sin properly is to think it as something present in the individual, and not just received through inheritance from Adam. The latter explanation of sin is implied, in Kierkegaard’s view, in the Greek Orthodox definition of sin, which he takes to be too ‘historical’ in character:

The Greek Church speaks hereditary sin as the sin of the hamatema protopatorikon [first father]. It does not even have a concept, for the term is only an historical designation, which does not, like the concept, designate what is present, but only what is historically concluded. [5] 

The problem concerns the relation between the ‘present’ condition in which the individual finds himself and which is a result of his own act, and the first act of Adam, which he somehow inherits.

If Adam was treated as anything other than the individual man, it would be impossible to explain how he could have ‘acted’ to bring about sin in the race. On the other hand, if he were taken as an individual isolated from the race, then there would be no way he could be considered a representative or ‘first father’ of the whole race. Kierkegaard, therefore, points out that the individual is both himself and the race. [6] The general quality of the original sin cannot be explained without at the same time explaining the individual Adam’s actual sin through which sinfulness comes into being. The connection between Adam’s sin and the sin of the descendants is explained by the fact that the individual is individual through being related to the race and is a member of the race through being an individual:

No matter how the problem is raised, as soon as Adam is placed fantastically on the outside, everything is confused. To explain Adam’s sin is therefore to explain hereditary sin. And no explanation that explains Adam but not hereditary sin, or explains hereditary sin but not Adam, is of any help. The most profound reason for this is what is essential to human existence: that man is individuum and as such simultaneously himself and the whole race, and in such a way that the whole race participates in the individual and the individual in the whole race. [7] 

Kierkegaard’s understanding of history is grounded in the idea that man’s sin arises as the result of a historical, unique decision which is at the same time an eternal decision. In other words, the decision is both temporal and eternal at the same time.

If Adam is not considered to be the part of the race or if he is merely an individual then the relation of his unique choice to the race as a whole becomes problematic. On the other hand, if Adam is merely a symbol for the race, then his choice could not have been the concrete and a unique act of individual. Kierkegaard, therefore, views Adam both as an individual and as an emblem of humanity as a whole: [8] "[Adam] is not essentially different from the race, for in that case there is no race at all; he is not the race, for in that case there would be no race. He is himself and the race. Therefore that which explains Adam also explains the race and vice versa." [9] Hence, no individual act can be undertaken without affecting the whole of the race, just as the individual cannot act without being affected by the actions of the whole race. The individual is not conceived in isolation from the race. According to Kierkegaard the individual is in a concrete relation to the race, and is both himself and the race at the same time. If every single man is not an individual, himself and the race, simply being human then everything is lost. [10] 

2.1.2 Quality of Sinfulness

In the second section of the first chapter of The Concept of Anxiety, Kierkegaard focuses more clearly on the relation between the quality of sinfulness inaugurated by Adam and the actual sins of the individual. He finds the co-incidence of these two aspects of sin in the concept of first sin. Kierkegaard claims that the first sin is ‘something different than a sin’, and ‘something different from one sin. It is first sin because it ‘constitutes the nature of the quality: the first sin is the sin.’ The first sin is a qualitative determination. [11] The first sin brings original sin into being. This coming into being is not a process but a leap which involves the relation between the transcendent (eternal) quality of sin and the immanent (temporal) first instance of it: "The first sin constitutes the nature of the quality…The new quality appears with the first, with the leap, with the suddenness of the enigmatic. So it is also through the analysis of anxiety we get back to seeing that sin enters the world by ‘the qualitative leap". [12] In temporal terms, the decision is ‘sudden’ because it is an act out of time that nevertheless occurs in time. It must be a unique decision, i.e. a historical and an eternal decision at the same time.

Sin, according to Kierkegaard, is a leap which, in temporal terms, is ‘sudden’. The fact that sin comes into the world by a sin, at the same time, implies that the leap of sin is not merely accidental. That is to say, it is not the finite and spontaneous leap of an indifferent will. If sin did not come into the world by a sin, He further says:

…then sin would have come into the world as something accidental, which one would do well not to explain. The difficulty for the understanding is precisely the triumph of the explanation and its profound consequence, namely, that sin presupposes itself, that sin comes into the world in such a way that by the fact that it is, it is presupposed. Thus sin comes into the world as the sudden, i.e. by a leap; but this leap also posits the quality, and since the quality is posited, the leap in that very moment is turned into quality and is presupposed by the quality and the quality by the leap. To the understanding, this is an offense; ergo it is a myth. As compensation, the understanding invents its own myth, which denies the leap and explains the circle as a straight line, and now everything proceeds quite naturally. [13] 

Kierkegaard wishes to emphasize the problem of the relation of the quality of sin to the sinner which is qualified. The quality of sin acquires a history in the race, since it is not merely individual. The ‘progress’ of sin in the race is only a ‘quantitative’ progress which does not reproduce by means of a kind of mystical biological process the actual quality of sin as it appears in each individual man. Sin is not inherited like eye colour and certain disease. Thus every man and generation is not essentially different than previous and subsequent men and generations:

What often misleads and brings people to all kinds of fantastic imaginings is the problem of the relation of generations, as though the subsequent man were essentially different from the first by virtue of descent. Descent, however, is only the expression for the continuity in the history of the race, which always moves in quantitative determinations and therefore is incapable of bringing forth an individual. [14] 

2.1.3. Anxiety and Spirit

The transition into sin, or how innocence is lost, still needs to be explained. According to Kierkegaard, "The science that deals with the explanation is psychology, but it can only explain up to the explanation." [15] As Hannay rightly points out that, psychology cannot explain why there is such a thing as sin in the first place, but how sin came into the individual’s existence is something it can explain. [16] For Kierkegaard this type of psychological explanation stands in contrast with the theology, which is speculative in character. Specifically, the discussion revolves around a claim made by some psychological interpreters as to the cause of Adam’s sin. This claim was that the prohibition forbidding Adam to eat of the fruit predisposed him to the actual eating of the fruit. For instance, the explanation of Usteri reaches the conclusion that: "It was the prohibition itself not to eat of the tree of knowledge that gave birth to the sin of Adam. This does not at all ignore the ethical, but it admits that somehow the prohibition only predisposes that which breaks forth in Adam’s qualitative leap." [17] 

Kierkegaard doesn’t agree with this explanation. He suggests the inadequacy of accounts which imply that sin is a transition which manifests itself necessarily, like the inner seed externalizing itself in a mature tree. By saying that the prohibition awakens concupiscence, or the desire to sin, one is predisposing sin to be the natural capacity or ‘possibility’ of the soul which is prior to the act of sin itself. [18] Sin would no longer be an act, but the progressive realisation of an inner principle:

If the prohibition is regarded as conditioning the fall, it is also regarded as conditioning concupiscentia [inordinate desire]. At this point psychology has already gone beyond its competence. Concupiscentia is a determinant of guilt and sin antecedent to guilt and sin, and yet still is not guilt and sin, that is, introduced by it. The qualitative leap is enervated; the fall becomes something successive. [19] 

Instead of explaining the actual fall, psychology must explain the leap in such a way as to retain the qualitative character of the leap. The explanation must "remain in its elastic ambiguity." [20] In order to allow the phenomenon of sin to become manifest in its true nature. To define sin in elastic and at the same time in a precise way, Kierkegaard brings forward the concept of anxiety.

Anxiety or dread, accompanies that stage of existence which Kierkegaard calls innocence. It is a stage in which the difference between self and other is not yet posited. The innocent individual is "psychically qualified in immediate unity with his natural condition." [21] But since another condition, viz. sin, arises out of this first condition, the innocent individual must stand in relation to something other than this immediate natural being. He must possess the possibility of becoming something other than this original state. This other state viz. sinfulness, is "not contention and strife, for there is indeed nothing against which to strive" [22] immanent in the innocent individual. It is not a possible ‘something’ which is a part of his true, created nature. The condition of sinfulness is, therefore, related to the innocent individual as a ‘nothing’ which is experienced as dread or anxiety. Anxiety is not only the anticipation of the state in which one falls into contradiction with oneself and cannot will to be what one is. The innocent individual anticipates the fall into sin, which is, as Kierkegaard defines it elsewhere, "in despair not to will to be oneself, or in despair to will to be oneself." [23] 

Though the individual in the state of innocence is ignorant of evil, he is not, in Kierkegaard’s view, is truly good, or good in actuality. ‘The spirit in man’, which makes man’s relation to the good actual, ‘is dreaming’, when man is in the state of innocence. The possibility of possibility, which is present for the individual in the ‘nothing’ of anxiety, not only holds out the possibility for sin, but also the possibility for the actualization of the good. In so far as the noting of possibility may annihilate the ignorance of the good and replace it with actual good, it is itself the possibility for the good. But in so far as this nothingness may annihilate the possession of the good, it is the possibility of evil. Nothingness, therefore, does not lie at the base of the human soul which, like a drive or impulse from within, realizes itself of necessity. Nor is this nothingness a thing to which the soul is indifferent, and which is chosen out of an absurd, undetermined freedom. Man’s relationship to nothingness is defined by anxiety, a relation which is one neither of indifference, nor of total slavery. [24] 

The ambiguous character of anxiety corresponds precisely to the nature of the paradoxical freedom that it is meant to explain: "Anxiety is a sympathetic antipathy and an antipathetic sympathy." [25] It is a simultaneous attraction and repulsion, a relation both to a possible good and a possible evil. This mysterious connection within dread arises out of our very use of language: "Linguistic usage confirms this perfectly. One speaks of a pleasing anxiety, a pleasing anxiousness, and of a strange anxiety, bashful anxiety, etc." [26] 

Anxiety is a power which is alien or other and for which one is in a sense not responsible. On the other hand, it is a ‘nothing’ to which one may or may not succumb, a succumbing for which one is responsible. The relation to sin is, therefore, not utter freedom but is ambiguous and, therefore, anxious:

Just as the relation of anxiety to its object, to something that is nothing... is altogether is ambiguous, so also the transition that is to be made from innocence to guilt will be so dialectical that it can be seen that the explanation is what it must be, psychological. The qualitative leap stands outside of all ambiguity. But he who becomes guilty through anxiety is indeed innocent, for it was not he himself but anxiety, a foreign power that laid hold of him, a power that he did not love but about which he was anxious. And yet he is guilty, for he sank in anxiety, which he nevertheless loved even as he feared it. There is nothing in the world more ambiguous. [27] 

Anxiety is introduced as the psychological middle term which defines the ambiguity of the transition from innocence to guilt and from possibility to actuality. The fact that man is anxious means that he is ‘more’ than the mere natural unity of soul and body. There is a third thing which contains both the ability to sustain the relation between soul and body and the ability to destroy it. The relation between soul and body in plant and vegetable life is a stable, natural unity. According to Kierkegaard, each individual plant organism is a ‘repetition’ of the unchanging species of which it is an example. It possesses no possibility of becoming other than what it truly is. The human animal, however, does have the possibility of disturbing the relation between soul and body. He may become other than what he is. [28] There must be a third thing, or organ, in virtue of which he has this possibility.

That third organ in virtue of which the free relation of soul and body may become either actual or non-actual is spirit. Spirit is present in the stage of innocence, but, because it is not ‘actual’ is present as dreaming. Man’s relation to spirit before it is actual is manifested, therefore, in anxiety. It is the ‘nothing’ which threatens either to annihilate the happy union of soul and body or by another kind of annihilation to lead it to a higher and more permanent union. Man is a synthesis of soul and body sustained by spirit:

Man is a synthesis of the psychical and physical: however, a synthesis is unthinkable if the two are not united in a third. This third is spirit. In innocence, man is not merely animal, for if he were at any moment of his life merely animal, he would never become man. So spirit is present, but as immediate, as dreaming. Inasmuch as it is now present, it is in the sense of a hostile power, for it constantly disturbs the relation between soul and body, a relation that indeed has persistence and yet does not have endurance, inasmuch as it is first receives the latter by the spirit. On the other hand, spirit is a friendly power, since it is precisely that which constitutes the relation. What then is man’s relation to this mysterious power? How does spirit relate itself to itself and to its conditionality? It relates itself in anxiety. [29] 

So man is a synthesis of the psychical and the physical, and the spirit is the one who makes this synthesis. This spirit in a sense a hostile power, for it constantly disturbs the relation between body and soul, and thus it brings about their disunion (the fall), and on the other hand, spirit is friendly power, since it is precisely that which constitutes the relation. [30] 

2.1.4 Anxiety and the Transition into Sin

Having defined anxiety within the relations of body, soul and spirit, Kierkegaard returns to the discussion of Adam’s sin and how anxiety helps to define it. Adam as the innocent man is related to spirit, or freedom, through his anxiety of it. Innocence is actual and spirit is not. Kierkegaard concludes that Adam’s understanding of the command, "only from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat," (Gen 2:17) must have been only partial. Adam is ignorant of the distinction between good and evil, since the knowledge of this distinction could only follow as a consequence of his eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. [31] The claim that the prohibition itself awakens the desire for sin again assumes that evil is a kind of natural potentiality, and that it is already present in some sense within Adam. According to this interpretation, he already knows good and evil before he is given the knowledge of these categories. In Kierkegaard’s view, however, Adam is related to the prohibition through the knowing non-knowledge of anxiety.

The prohibition induces in him anxiety, for the prohibition awakens in him freedom’s possibility. What passed by innocence as the nothing of anxiety has now entered into Adam and here again it is a nothing – the anxious possibility of being able. He has no conception of what he is able to do; otherwise... the difference between good and evil would have to be presupposed. Only the possibility of being able is present as a higher form of ignorance, as a higher expression of anxiety, because in a higher sense it both is and is not, because in a higher sense he both loves it and flees from it. [32] 

Adam has no conception of what he is going to do. There is only the possibility of possibility, a mere abstraction: "The infinite possibility of being able what was awakened by the prohibition now draws closer, because this possibility points to a possibility as its sequence." [33] The anxiety is not of any specific object or end, but is an anxiety of possibility. Desire always relates to a definite object or end, which is why Kierkegaard specifies that the command awakens anxiety, not desire.

The objection, that Adam could not have understood at all because it came from outside of him, "is eliminated if we bear in mind that the speaker is language, and also that it is Adam himself who speaks." [34] As for the serpent who tempts Eve, Kierkegaard bluntly admits that he can find no explanation for the fact that the temptation to sin comes from without. In response to this external representation, he cites the New Testament passage where it is affirmed that "God tempts no man and is not tempted by anyone, but each person is tempted by himself." [35] Following the temptation is the anxiety and upon the heels of dread comes the fall. But this is just what psychology cannot explain. It can only state that original sin presupposes dread.

Before the fall, Adam and Eve are not real individuals but they ‘are merely a numerical repetition’. [36] The fact that Eve is the first to be seduced is used by Kierkegaard as the basis of his claim in the next chapter that women are more in dread, though not for that reason less spiritual, than men. Dread, seductive and insecure, is feminine; it is womanish debility in which freedom swoons. But, Kierkegaard says, this is not because woman is the weaker sex. Woman is more in dread than man because she is more sensuous. This will be shown to have its ground in the fact that women have a deeper relation to the fate element, of dread, because of their special role in reproduction. [37] Though he claims that sexual differentiation was the result of fall, Kierkegaard is not saying that sexual differentiation was absent before the fall. Only through the fall, however, does the differentiation become actual, i.e., related to the choice of individual. Human beings do not have the kind of sexual differentiation characteristic of animals. Since animals are merely soul and body without spirit, their sexual behaviour is governed by rhythms and cycles. Because man is spirit as well as soul and body, his relation is not immediate, but concrete relation to sexuality. The animal is at one with his sexuality and its cycles; whereas the human being is in a relationship to his sexuality. [38] 

The fall, therefore, has two consequences, one of which is sin, and the other of which is sexuality. It is because man is at the same time spirit that he can enter into contradiction with himself and his sexuality. He becomes at the same instant man and animal, both sinful and sexual. Man is not a twofold creature like two oranges bound together with rope, nor is he simply single like one orange. He is two-in-one, or better, since the relating element (spirit) becomes one of the total Man, is three-in-one. He is a synthesis of body, soul and spirit:

In innocence, Adam as spirit was a dreaming spirit. Thus the synthesis is not actual, for the combining factor is precisely the spirit, and as yet this is not posited as spirit. In animals the sexual difference can be developed instinctively, but this cannot be the case with a human being precisely because he is a synthesis. In the moment the spirit posits itself, it posits the synthesis, but in order to posit the synthesis it must first pervade it differentiatingly, and the ultimate point of the sensuous is precisely the sexual. Man can attain this ultimate point only in the moment the spirit becomes actual. Before that time he is not animal, but neither is he really man. The moment he becomes man, he becomes so by being animal as well. [39] 

Hegel explained sin as that natural condition of evil out of which man arises through progress. Freedom is moment in this process because it is at the same time its driving force and the result of the process. The imperfection of man in his natural state contains the perfection of his future state as a germ which is destined of necessity to become actual. Freedom is not only an idea but a power, an ideal that is capable of realization:

In actual existence progress from natural freedom to freedom of the Spirit appears as an advancing from the imperfect to the more perfect; but the former must not be understood abstractly as only the imperfect, but as something that involves the very opposite of itself – the so-called perfect – as a germ or impulse. So – reflectively at least – possibility points to something destined to become actual... Thus the imperfect, as involving, but which is continually annulled and solved: the instinctive movement – the inherent impulse in the life of the soul – to break through the rind of mere nature, sensuousness and that which is alien to it, and to attain to the light of consciousness, i.e. to itself. [40] 

Man’s development involves the overcoming of the given and the realization of an essence that is not yet actual. Man’s animal existence is an imperfection which is overcome through the gradual and inevitable realization of man’s perfection, or by his development into a free and self-conscious being. This realization is possible only because man is in possession of a real capacity for change. Change, suffering and death are no longer external to man’s essence, but are part of the very process of his own development. Man, therefore, has "an altogether different destiny from that of merely natural objects – in which we find always one and the same stable character, to which all change reverts; – namely, a real capacity for change, and that for the better – an impulse of perfectibility. This principle... reduces change itself under a law." [41] 

It may be said that Hegel’s attempt to explain the relation of freedom and necessity amounts to explaining time as history, or the circular development of freedom in time. When Kierkegaard states that the instant Adam "becomes man, he becomes so by being animal as well," [42] he is not saying, as does Hegel, that man must overcome his natural being. The qualities of manhood and animality are not, for Kierkegaard, developmental moments of circular process, but are simultaneously occurring categories. The relation between man’s bodiliness (his animality) and his soul (his manhood) is sustained by spirit. [43] 

By denying the necessity of the transition from possibility to actuality, Kierkegaard is actually denying the notion of the historical mediation of this transition, and the attempt to explain the relation between freedom and nature as a developmental process. Anxiety is introduced as an intermediate term which indicates neither freedom nor necessity. It is an intermediate between freedom and necessity. The transition is not an arbitrary choice, or a mere voluntaristic leap, nor is it a "capacity or potentiality striving to realise itself." [44] Anxiety characterizes the state of the soul prior to the fall, which both opens man’s soul to sin and yet leaves him enough power to deny it. Kierkegaard says:

Anxiety is neither a category of necessity nor a category of freedom; it is entangled freedom, where freedom is not free in itself but entangled, not by necessity, but in itself. If sin has come into the world by necessity (which is a contradiction) there can be no anxiety. Nor there can be any anxiety if sin came into the world by an act of an abstract liberum arbitrium... To want to give a logical explanation of the coming of sin into the world is a stupidity that can occur only to people who are comically worried about finding an explanation. [45] 

It is precisely with respect to the notion of anxiety that one can distinguish Kierkegaard from existentialist voluntarism and from Hegel’s particular understanding of history and freedom. The notion of anxiety, however, doesn’t seem to explain anything. Freedom and nature have come into relation in man as sinfulness, a transition that is merely asserted and not explained. Sin is described as "that transcendence, that discrimen rerum [crisis] in which sin enters into the single individual." [46] How immortal spirit chooses to be sinful and to fall from good is not explained. The object of coherent discourse is to express truth, but in its conclusion Kierkegaard’s discourse appears to fall off into mere silence, for "how sin came into the world, each man understands solely by himself." [47] 

2.1.5 The "Dizziness" [48] of Anxiety

It is precisely through his analysis of anxiety Kierkegaard shows how sin enters the world. Haufniensis compares the experience of anxiety to dizziness:

Anxiety may be compared with dizziness. He whose eye happens to look down into the yawning abyss becomes dizzy. But what is the reason for this? It is just as much in his own eye as in the abyss, for suppose he had not looked down? Hence anxiety is the dizziness of freedom, which emerges when the spirit wants to posit the synthesis and freedom looks down into its own possibility, laying hold of finiteness to support itself. Freedom then succumbs in this dizziness. [49] 

Kierkegaard compares anxiety to dizziness and attributes anxiety to the dizziness of freedom. Just as a person who looks into an abyss becomes dizzy, so freedom is now looking at its own possibility. In other words, we suddenly discover the possibility for self-relating, but at the same time we are also accountable for the way we relate. We discover this possibility in anxiety by already relating to the possibility. Anxiety is not only discovering the possibility of freedom; anxiety also becomes anxiety for this possibility. And in this anxiety or the dizziness of freedom, "freedom succumbs." [50] Further Kierkegaard says, "In that very moment everything is changed, and freedom, when it again rises, sees that it is guilty. Between these two moments lies the leap, which no science has explained and which no science can explain." [51] The first sin is a qualitative determination. "The new quality appears with the first, with the leap, with the suddenness of the enigmatic." So, it is also through the analysis of anxiety we get back to seeing that sin enters the world by "the qualitative leap." [52] 

Even though it is difficult to get the overview of Kierkegaard’s relationship between anxiety, sin and hereditary sin, gradually we can identify that Kierkegaard makes a distinction between sin and sinfulness. Sin enters the world by the qualitative leap of the individual. Sinfulness, as the constant possibility of the sin, is carried on through every generation. It has its history, but this history moves in quantitative categories. [53] 

Now the question is why Kierkegaard attributes such a central role to anxiety in connection to hereditary sin. Even though it gives an answer, it does not explain sin. To be sure, sin enters the world in anxiety, but it occurs through a leap. However, anxiety does not simply belong to one or the other side in the distinction between sinfulness and sin. On a first reading, it seems to fall under the sinfulness that precedes sin. Anxiety is a kind of intermediate term, and its meaning as intermediate term concerns the problem that is implied in the concept of hereditary sin. [54] This problem concerns the relationship between the individual’s inheritance and his actions (guilt and sin). Following the central passage about anxiety as the dizziness of freedom, Kierkegaard writes:

He who becomes guilty in anxiety becomes as ambiguously guilty as it is possible to become. Anxiety is a feminine weakness in which freedom faints. Psychologically speaking, the fall into sin always takes place in weakness. But anxiety is of all things the most selfish, and no concrete expression of freedom is as selfish as the possibility of every concretion. This again is the over-whelming factor that determines the individual’s ambiguous relation, sympathetic and antipathetic. [55] 

The ambiguity of anxiety now relates to question of guilt. Anxiety does not just manifest the possibility of freedom; freedom can succumbed to anxiety. We become dizzy but at the same time, we give in or transgress. It is here that Kierkegaard defines anxiety as being an ambiguous power. [56] He who becomes guilty through anxiety "is indeed innocent, for it was not he himself but anxiety, a foreign power, that laid hold of him, a power that he did not love but about which he was anxious… nevertheless loved even as he feared it." Kierkegaard adds, "There is nothing anxious in the world more ambiguous." [57] Kierkegaard attributes a central role to anxiety, founded on the ambiguity of anxiety, in connection to the problem of hereditary sin. We experience anxiety by looking into an abyss, but we are ‘staring’ into it in a fixated manner. Anxiety is a foreign power in man; it is something that overwhelms us or seizes us, but at the same time we relate in anxiety. We do something to ourselves in anxiety. We are dealing with an ambiguity "in which the individual becomes both guilty and innocent. In the impotence of anxiety, the individual succumbs, and precisely for that reason he is both guilty and innocent." The impotence of anxiety does not explain that sin enters the world. Sin happens in anxiety but through "the qualitative leap." [58] 

Thus anxiety is an ‘intermediate term’, a determination between possibility (sinfulness) and reality (sin). It is not automatically freedom; we do not decide to be anxious. Rather we become anxious, but at the same time anxiety is a way of relating, we feel anxious. Anxiety is an "entangled freedom, where freedom is not free in itself." [59] That sin enters the world in anxiety means that it is not caused by a free, arbitrary decision, nor it is out of necessity. Thus the ambiguity of anxiety occurs when anxiety ‘happens’ to us but, at the same time, we ‘ourselves’ are anxious since we relate to ourselves in anxiety. By virtue of this ambiguity, anxiety gives us the possibility of discovering ourselves.

2.2 Anxiety and Innocence

Kierkegaard continues his argument concerning the essential likeness of individuals in different ages with respect to the concept of innocence. If every man does not lose innocence in precisely the same way as Adam, then subsequent men are related to the fall as "concerned and interested spectators of guiltiness, but not participants in guiltiness." [60] Kierkegaard says, "Innocence is lost only by guilt. Every man loses innocence essentially in the same way that Adam lost it." [61] Kierkegaard initiates the examination of the innocence that precedes the fall. Innocence is also in each individual’s life as original as the innocence that precedes the fall.

First, Kierkegaard warns against confusing innocence and immediacy. His warning is stated with the motto that we must begin by forgetting what Hegel has discovered. But this disagreement with Hegel serves a purpose. Kierkegaard’s point is that innocence is not something that should just be annulled, which is exactly what Hegel is doing to immediacy. The shadow of anxiety does not cancel immediacy; rather, it transcends innocence, which is the mere potentiality for spirit to come into existence: [62] 

Innocence, unlike immediacy, is not something that must be annulled, something whose quality is to be annulled, something that properly does not exist [er til], but rather, when it is annulled, and as a result of being annulled, it for the first time comes into existence... Immediacy is not annulled by mediacy, but when mediacy appears, in that same moment it has annulled immediacy. The annulment of immediacy is therefore an immanent movement within immediacy... Innocence is something that is cancelled by a transcendence, precisely because innocence is something... Innocence is a quality; it is a state that may very well endure... Innocence is not an imperfection in which one cannot remain, for it is always sufficient unto itself. [63] 

Kierkegaard’s meaning becomes clear when we understand innocence as the innocence of childhood. It is not just that which comes before puberty. It not only finds its meaning from that which is going to come after, but it is something in and of itself [64] . It is not something imperfect that has to be evaluated on its deficiency. On the contrary, it has a perfection of its own, a peculiar perfection that is in balance with itself. But childhood has an understanding, including an understanding of adult life. This Kierkegaard implies by returning to anxiety. Even though childhood innocence is self-sufficient, it is also directed towards something other than itself. [65] Regarding anxiety in innocence, Kierkegaard says briefly, "In observing children, one will discover this anxiety intimated more particularly as a seeking for the adventurous, the monstrous, and the enigmatic." [66] A child has a sense of what is to come. Childhood is in and of itself not a homogeneous phase but it is characterised by changes to which the child himself relates. The older child is more and more occupied by adult life and by what is to come. When playing enigmatic and adventurous games, the child puts himself in relation to this other life. [67] 

According to Kierkegaard, it is precisely in relation to adult life that innocence means ignorance. This ignorance is not just the absence of knowledge remains in force. It is partly a specific ignorance, an ignorance about what is still not there, the sexual. And innocence is partly "a knowledge that denotes ignorance." [68] This knowledge in ignorance is modesty. Thus modesty is understood by Kierkegaard within the framework set by innocence. Or rather, modesty is not automatically innocence, but it is trying to maintain or hold on to innocence at the same time as it is a knowledge about the difference in sex. By finding an anxiety of modesty within innocence Kierkegaard once again states that innocence maintains its own peculiar knowledge. Innocence itself is already a way of relating to that difference that marks adult life. [69] 

2.3 Anxiety and the Sin of the Subsequent Individual

We have been examining the anxiety before the fall of man until now (the anxiety of innocence, the anxiety of modesty) and the anxiety in which the fall takes place. In the next section titled as "Anxiety as Explaining Hereditary Sin Progressively," Kierkegaard informs us of where we are in his reflections on the concept of anxiety. The task is to immerse oneself psychologically in the state that precedes sin and psychologically speaking, predisposes more or less to sin, but at the same time we now find ourselves after Adam’s sin. However, a state of innocence must also exist in subsequent man. The difference is that anxiety changes in the subsequent individual. "The subsequent individual has a ‘more’ in relation to Adam, and again a more or less in relation to the other individuals." [70] Anxiety becomes more reflective because the individual participates in the history of humankind.

Though the subsequent individual is in anxiety, he is not yet conscious of sin as the distinction of good and evil. Freedom is not yet actual in him:

The subsequent individual, like Adam is a synthesis that is sustained by spirit, but the synthesis is derived, and accordingly, the history of the race is posited in it. Herein lies the more or less of anxiety in the subsequent individual. Nevertheless, his anxiety is not anxiety about sin, for as yet the distinction between good and evil is not, because this distinction first comes about with the actuality of freedom. This distinction, if present, is only a foreboding presentiment that through the history of their race may signify a more or less. [71] 

The subsequent individual, who is related to the race through generation, comes into relation to the sin committed by others. Thus while Adam had no concrete instance of sin before him when he ate of the fruit, the later individual has the sins of others as a matter for reflection: "Anxiety in a later individual is more reflective as a consequence of his participation in the history of the race." [72] When the individual relates to the history from which he originates, it is a history in which anxiety can reflect itself. The anxiety in the subsequent individual is more reflective "may be expressed by saying that the nothing that is the object of anxiety becomes, as it were, more and more a something." [73] 

The problem that arises in relation to the concept of original sin is how sin is passed on. The inheritance of sin seems to be impossible, since this would exclude the individual’s guilt. Original sin would be his/her fate rather than something which came about through his own complicity. In a journal entry, Kierkegaard expresses the problem in the following manner:

That "original sin" is "guilt" is the real paradox… The paradox is formed by a composite of qualitatively heterogeneous categories. To "inherit" is a category of nature. "Guilt" is an ethical category of spirit. How can it ever occur to anyone to put these two together, the understanding says …to say that something is inherited which by its very concept cannot be inherited. [74] 

Anxiety has been shown to be a mixture of attraction and repulsion, or better, a combination of love and fear. In the state of innocence, sin is not yet actual; but neither is salvation. The possibility of sin is at the same time the possibility of true freedom and, therefore, awakens love. Neither of these possibilities is concrete for the innocent individual and so is related to his consciousness as the ‘nothing’ of anxiety. Dwelling perpetually in this possibility is by no means considered perfection by Kierkegaard, since he affirms: "When salvation is posited, anxiety, together with possibility, is left behind." As long as salvation is a matter of exception, "sin continues to be in control." [75] 

2.3.1. Objective Anxiety

The state of innocence which is subsequent to the sin of Adam is qualified by two separate forms of anxiety: Objective anxiety and Subjective anxiety. Objective anxiety refers to the fact that sin came into the world with the very first chapter of the human race. Kierkegaard says, "By coming into the world sin acquired significance for the whole creation. This effect of sin in nonhuman existence I have called objective anxiety." [76] Further he says, "By objective anxiety we understand, on the other hand, the reflection of the sinfulness of the generation in the whole world," and expanding the effects of Adam’s sin even to "nonhuman existence." [77] This indicates that it afflicts the human race, and indeed the whole creation. Haufniensis probably has in mind Paul’s "earnest expectation of the creature" in the book of Romans (8:19) as he argues that Adam’s sin causes creation to be "placed in an entirely different light," [78] a phrase implying both subjective (how we view creation) and objective (how creation is) features of the created order. Creation is placed in an ‘entirely different light’ not only because the person observing it has become different, but also because creation itself has become different. Kierkegaard says, "Anxiety in creation may rightly be called objective anxiety. It is not brought forth by creation but by the fact that creation is placed in an entirely different light because of Adam’s sin." [79] 

In short, as McCarthy correctly states, objective anxiety gives Adam some degree of historic-metaphysical responsibility concerning sinfulness of the race, while at the same time, it safeguards the vital fact of his position with in the race. By the first sin, Adam is responsible for objective anxiety in the world, a state upon which each individual enumerates by their sin. In terms of subjectivity, Adam is personally responsible for his sin, exclusively. The only difference between Adam and any other individual, therefore, is one of chronology. [80] 

2.3.2. Subjective Anxiety

Haufniensis’ treatment of the topic of subjective anxiety is, in contrast to that of objective anxiety, focussed and substantial. Subjective anxiety refers to the inauguration of sin in the individual. It is the product of our nature as a synthesis. Kierkegaard says, "Subjective anxiety is the anxiety that is posited in the individual and is the consequence of sin." Further he says, "That subjective anxiety signifies the anxiety that is present in the individual’s state of innocence and corresponds to that of Adam, but it is nevertheless quantitatively different from that of Adam." [81] 

As we have already said that according to Kierkegaard, subjective anxiety is the consequence of sin. This formulation indicates that sin afflicts the individual. Haufniensis explains subjective anxiety in two ways: first, by the problem of Generation, and then by the related problem of our existence in history. In both cases Haufniensis intends to describe subjective anxiety as it is experienced by the individual today and throughout history. His account of subjective anxiety begins with the basic problem of Generation from Eve to all women and men born since Adam and Eve. [82] Anxiety is, in Haufniensis’ words, "a complex presentiments." [83] A presentiment is an expectation, a feeling, but of what the self in innocence does not exactly know.

Furthermore, Haufniensis naturally relates the problem of generation to human sexuality, reasserting that it has now become associated with sinfulness, even though in The Concept of Anxiety, he emphasizes that sexuality and the sensuous are not inherently sinful. Generation as a problem of subjective anxiety has to do with sexuality’s relationship to spirit. At the beginning and end of procreation "sprit is furthest way." [84] Haufniensis seems to be thinking in terms of a simple horizontal spectrum of spirit’s involvement with human existence.

An individual qualified by spirit and consciousness of him/herself as being in sinfulness, is now confronted with the infinite, ambiguous possibilities afforded to him/herself by choice. As Taylor pointedly states, this ambiguous, endless possibility or the confrontation with the nothingness which one is bound to experience and will oneself through for the purpose of becoming oneself in a fuller and higher sense, constitutes subjective anxiety. This is evident because the endless, undefined and unknown possibilities which the individuals, as a spiritually qualified being, experiences, are the cause of both alarm and fascination. It is important to note that the possibilities are unknown, because in this context, knowledge is based on the experience of the individual subject. Since no other individual has knowledge of the inner experiences of a being qualified by spirit, the said individual cannot perceive the experiences of another as a reliable guide. [85] 

There are two other characteristics of the subjective anxiety experienced by the individual. They are fascination and repulsion. As it was mentioned earlier, by its very essence, anxiety is a deeply personal experience. Since the possibility experienced by the individual, is possibility as it pertains to that specific individual, and since one is always interested in oneself, possibility arouses and excites said individual’s entire being and thereby compels attention to the possibility in question. However, at the same time, the possibility itself is un-actualised possibility, the destiny of the individual is undecided and as such has the potential of being dangerous. Therefore, the potential of this unknowable quantity effects a sense of alarm in the individual, which permeates the being of the individual as thoroughly as the accompanying sense of fascination. Since, as Taylor points out, that the anxiety alerts the individual to the unsettling fact that there is something both attractive and repulsive about one’s nothingness, the fascination and repulsion correspond to the ‘sympathy’ and ‘antipathy’ mentioned in Haufniensis’ definition. [86] 

2.3.3. Anxiety and Sexuality

Because of Kierkegaard’s strong tendencies towards asceticism in his later years, one would be tempted to venture a wider generalization that Kierkegaard associates sexuality with sin. This, however, is not the case. Firstly, it is important to bear in mind that sin is a spiritual category, which transcends the realm of the senses. It is identified as the disruption of spirit, and as such, occasions the falling into sensuousness and sexuality. Sin enters the world through the individual, and through that individual’s participation in the race and in the world, sin acquires a history. However, this does not equate sexuality to evil, and by implication, therefore, to sin. Ronald Grimsley puts this in the following way: "The qualitative, spiritual aspect of sin is independent of sexuality but sexuality to sin is a quantitative modification." [87] 

To understand this properly we must look again towards Kierkegaard’s conception of the human being as a synthesis. As Malantschuk notes, in animals sexuality is posited instinctively, however, since the human being is a synthesis, human sexuality cannot be based exclusively on the biological instinct. To speak of a synthesis at all is to speak of spirit, for Haufniensis claims; only once the spirit posits itself does it posit the synthesis. By the very implication of the word ‘synthesis’ one suggests two opposing poles, therefore, for a synthesis to exist at all it must come into being as the union of two opposing elements. What Haufniensis intends to point out is that sensuousness which forms the basis for anxiety, because it symbolizes the human enslavement to that which is biological, and by implication, therefore, that which is also temporal and finite. Sexuality represents the pinnacle of this enslavement. This is all in contrast to the other in the synthesis, which constitutes the individual. Sexuality, when mentioned by Haufniensis, does not refer to biological sex which man has in common with animals. Human sexuality, when mentioned in the context of anxiety, refers to an evil potential that of deformation by sin. [88] 

Haufniensis’ analysis of the erotic seems to manifest a dialectical structure. The first issue under discussion is the ‘sexual as such’, which he maintains is not sinful. Only animals can be said to be genuinely ignorant of sexuality, and for this reason, human innocence must be understood in the following manner. "Innocence is a knowledge that denotes ignorance… with innocence a knowledge begins that has ignorance as its first qualification." [89] This state Haufniensis denotes as the "concept of modesty," [90] for it manifests the anxiety of shame, if not yet that of lust as well. The added significance of this is that awareness of the other as other is just beginning to emerge in sexuality as such. "In modesty, the generic difference is posited, but not in relation to its other. That takes place in the sexual drive." [91] The sexual drive constitutes not only instinct, but also propagation. "The anxiety in modesty arose from the spirit’s feeling that it was a foreigner, now spirit has conquered completely and perceives the sexual as the foreign and as such comic." [92] Haufniensis discloses that it is only religion, or more specifically, in Christianity, the self discovers that the religious has suspended the erotic:

In Christianity, the religious has suspended the erotic, not merely as sinful, through an dialectical misunderstanding, but as indifferent, because in spirit there is no difference between man and woman. Here the erotic is not neutralized by irony, but it is suspended because the tendency of Christianity is to bring the spirit further. [93] 

In other words, the distinction between the self and other that is instilled by sexuality has brought about is also sublated (removed) in the spirit. This, however, occurs at the price of the erotic. Because the erotic is suspended and spirit is excluded from it, there is still anxiety, for anxiety is always present whenever the spirit feels itself a stranger. Even if the sexual is brought fully under the determination of the spirit the result is the victory of love. [94] "The realization of this is the victory of love in a person in whom the spirit is so victorious the sexual is forgotten, and recollected only in forgetfulness. When this has come about, sensuousness is transfigured in spirit and anxiety is driven out." [95] Kierkegaard does not mean that sexuality should be repressed, rather, when it is actually posited as spirit or self, the synthesis of body and psyche, anxiety disappears.

2.3.4. The Individual and the Sin of the Others

When the individual is related to the other individuals who have fallen, he gains a general knowledge, that it is possible for the sensuous to become the sinful. This is because, Kierkegaard says, "We do not say that sensuousness is sinfulness, but that sin makes it sinfulness." [96] The accumulation of sin in history creates inclination of sensuousness to sin, but that each individual by positing sin makes sensuousness sinful. But Franz Baader [97] separated sinfulness and sensuousness completely. It is Baader’s mistake not to take the history of sin into account. Kierkegaard says, "Franz Baader, however, did not take into account the history of race. In the quantitation of the race (i.e., nonessentially), sensuousness is sinfulness, but, in relation to the individual, this is not the case until he himself, by positing sin, again makes sensuousness sinfulness." [98] He does not sin until he actually stands under it. So when he is placed in a historical relation to sin,

…spirit is posited not only in relation to the opposite of sensuousness, but also to that of sinfulness. It follows as a matter of course that the innocent individual does not as yet understand this knowledge, for it can only be understood qualitatively. However this knowledge is again a new possibility, so that freedom in its possibility, as it relates itself to the sensuous, comes into still greater anxiety. [99] 

The ambiguity of the relation to this knowledge is such that "...the sight of the sinful may save one individual and bring another to fall." [100] The possibilities entertained in reflection are quantitatively infinite. In becoming evil, an individual denies his limits. His ability to obey is overwhelmed by the thought of infinite possibility, a thought to which he succumbs. With respect to reflection on sin "there are no limits… the quantitative is precisely the infinite limit." [101] 

While Kierkegaard wants to avoid claiming that the individual sins necessarily, he also wants to deny that the choice of evil is arbitrary. An intermediate term which includes the particular case under the general law is required. Because Kierkegaard says:

An intermediate term must be provided that has the ambiguity that rescues thought (without which the salvation of the child becomes an illusion), namely, that the child, whatever its circumstances was, can become both guilty and innocent. If one does not have the intermediate terms promptly and clearly at hand, the concepts of hereditary sin, of sin, of race, and of the individual are lost, and with these the child also. [102] 

Kierkegaard understands this ‘intermediate term’ as anxiety, a determination between the possibility i.e., sinfulness and reality i.e., sin. [103] 

2.4. Anxiety about Evil and the Good

So far in the concept of anxiety Kierkegaard has focused on anxiety "before the fall of man" (the anxiety of innocence, the anxiety of modesty) and the anxiety in which the Fall takes place (anxiety as the dizziness of freedom) as well as the change that happens with anxiety over the course of history (the reflected anxiety). Even though guilt accumulates over the course of history so that in the end it is as if the guilt of the whole world unites to make the individual guilty, it is still true to say that every individual becomes guilty only through himself. To complete the circle Kierkegaard explains that "just as Adam lost innocence by guilt, so every man loses it in the same way." [104] At this point the question naturally arises: what about anxiety ‘after the fall of man?’ This will be dealt in the following section.

2.5. Anxiety for the Evil

The possibility with which the individual is now confronted has two separate outcomes: the individual as spiritually qualified being, and the individual as a sinner. The fact of sin modifies one’s spiritual possibilities, the essential possibility now revolves around the one’s status in sin. The core of the individual’s possibility in this case, consists in acquiring the consciousness of already being a sinner before God. This is what Haufniensis refers to when he speaks of a ‘sin-consciousness’. It is the experience of anxiety, which carries the individual beyond the ‘guilt-consciousness’ experienced in anxiety (responsibility to oneself) into ‘sin-consciousness’ (responsibility before God), and finally into a position to receive grace. [105] However, this process of movement is to a great extent dependent on the will of the individual.

Kierkegaard says, "The posited sin is indeed an annulled possibility, but it is also an unwarranted actuality, it is also to be negated. This work anxiety will undertake." [106] The question is no longer whether one is in sin, but what, if anything can be done about it. From this it is clear that the individual consciousness would like to address the problem of sin. As Dunning points out, it appears that the very realization of sin as a fact brings with it the hope – and anxiety – of becoming free from it. Thus the anxiety for evil is accompanied by ‘the ingenious sophistry of anxiety’, for the actuality of sin immediately proclaims freedom, on the one hand and ‘the eloquence of illusion’ on the other. This is directly followed by a phase in which anxiety sees the possibility of the continuation of sin and tries to strike a compromise with it. [107] 

"Anxiety wants to have the actuality of sin removed, not entirely but to a certain degree, or to put it more exactly, to certain degree it wants to have the actuality of sin continue – but note, only to a certain degree." [108] This brings us to an important aspect concerning anxiety about evil. The sophistry of anxiety, together with the impotence of compromise, are united in repentance, which optimistically hopes for freedom while simultaneously confessing sin. "Repentance is reduced to a possibility in relation to sin, in other words, repentance cannot cancel sin, it can only sorrow over it." [109] As Dunning intelligently points out, the repentant is impotent, because the repentant self has no strength on which to draw. The result is a conquest by sin, in which the anxiety of the individual "throws itself into to the arms of repentance" [110] which Haufniensis compares with death. [111] 

The problem is how to free ourselves from a past that is buried in guilt. We can be free ourselves, by not repeating the past that is to say, by becoming free ‘forwardly’. But here anxiety anticipates the possibility of failure:

Anxiety is ahead; it discovers the consequences before it comes, just as one feels in one’s bones that a storm is approaching. The consequence comes closer; the individual trembles like a horse that gasps as it comes to a halt at the place where once it has been frightened. Sin conquers. Anxiety throws itself despairingly into the arms of repentance. Repentance ventures all. It conceives of the consequence of sin as suffering penalty and of prediction as the consequence of sin. It is lost. [112] 

At this stage it is the perception of anxiety that is of importance. If the experience of anxiety is not seen as a means by which to overcome the state of sin, but rather as a chastening or punishment, the individual may respond by attempting to flee or cancel the ensuing anxiety. This is often attempted by throwing oneself into a state of wretched repentance. Haufniensis is quick to add that this phenomenon is rarely seen in baser or more immoral individuals, but rather in those who are more virtuous. However, having said that, repentance in this context simply constitutes lamentation, motivated by regret; it does not free this individual from either anxiety or his state of sin. Repentance, or more accurately remorse in this sense, is therefore ineffectual in moving the individual towards sin-consciousness where a higher form of repentance, accompanied in sorrow, can lead to forgiveness and faith. Kierkegaard says, "But repentance cannot make him free; in that he is mistaken. The occasion comes; anxiety has already discovered it. Every thought trembles. Anxiety sucks out the strength of repentance and shakes its head." [113] 

When we have realized that we have failed we can be anxious of failing again. We can be anxious of being weak or of making ourselves weak. What we repent and what also makes us anxious can, in Kierkegaard’s words, have as much to do with "addition to drink, to opium, or to debauchery, etc." as with "pride, vanity, wrath, hatred, defiance, cunning, envy, etc." [114] Provided that we repent this anxiety about evil can be said to be ‘in the good’. By repenting the individual seeks to overcome the past so as not to repeat it, but is repentance stopped by itself? In repentance the required act is postponed or delayed. [115] Thus a new guilt appears that demands a new repentance. Haufniensis’ discussion centres mainly upon the individual who complies with the inner movement of evolution, but who shows reluctance in going through the anxiety experience, the outcome of which will mark him as ‘sinner’. [116] 

It makes sense to talk about anxiety about evil. The ambiguity of this anxiety consists in this: even though we react against the possibility of repenting what we know is wrong, we are, at the same time, unsure about ourselves. In anxiety we can stare at guilt. The possibility from which we distance ourselves also attracts us at the same time. It is required that we repent, but repentance is always one step behind; it comes too late and moreover delays the act that ethics demands. [117] 

It is important to realize that although the individual can attempt to escape anxiety, anxiety can never be done away with. Even if an individual were to attain the highest spiritual level, the category of possibility would still remain, and wherever there exists possibility, anxiety will be experienced. Therefore, the human being always remains in a state of anxiety, even after having experienced and willed himself through a critical anxiety experience. However, Haufniensis reminds us that although there is always hope, there exists no guarantee of fulfilment since every step in the process of overcoming sin depends on the co-operation of the individual. In attempting to avoid the assaults of the spirit, the individual experiences anxiety for the evil. Finally it is of vital importance that anxiety for the evil is overcome, for the lack of this overcoming constitutes a failure to move onto the higher from of existence, which lies as potential with in the spirit. [118] 

2.6. Anxiety for the Good

The second and the much more significant stance that may be taken up in relation to the evolution of the spirit and the experience of anxiety, is anxiety for the good. Kierkegaard says, "The good, of course signifies the restoration of freedom, redemption, salvation." [119] Thus anxiety about good means that we resist being free or being ourselves. In anxiety about good, we are dealing with a more intense resistance than in the anxiety for the possibility of freedom. We do not just find ourselves in a vague, unsettled state where we must make a choice, on the contrary, our state is settled. The resistance consists in that we keep ourselves in an unfree state. In order to understand why this so, we must go back a little.

Becoming ourselves means achieving coherence or continuity in our lives. It is, however, not just the problem of unifying the different periods of our lives into a coherent whole. Anxiety about evil showed that the attempt in ‘getting ourselves back’ through repentance fails. Now Kierkegaard furthermore introduces an unwillingness ‘to become whole’. Here the good – the restoration – demands a form of loss of the self. We must allow ourselves to be interpenetrated, that is to say, we must give up our unwillingness. In anxiety about the good the resistance is intensified by asserting ourselves against freedom as a possibility coming from the outside. This is, however, a self-assertion that, at the same time, means an intensified fragmentation. The ambiguity of anxiety increases here, since the individual closes himself to the possibility of good while at the same time being affected by it. The individual relates ambiguously to himself because he asserts himself by resisting ‘to become whole’. [120] 

According to Kierkegaard, this ambiguity characterizes the demonic. He writes that the demonic is anxiety about the good and then that the demonic is determined as "unfreedom that wants to close itself off." [121] But if unfreedom was able to do this, anxiety would not exist. Even if an individual keeps himself in an unfree state, underneath he still affected by the possibility of good, anxiety manifests itself. In anxiety lies not only the resistance to but also the influence by this possibility. That individual is nonetheless influenced or affected is shown in that he must do something, namely hold on to his resistance. He closes himself up within himself. [122] Kierkegaard writes: "In this lies what is profound about existence that unfreedom makes himself a prisoner." [123] 

According to Kierkegaard, a person usually "sins" in the course of his development. In other words, he lives in such a way that his psychical, bodily and spiritual aspects are not properly integrated in a life of faith. Rather than living responsibly, he flees from the possibility of self-determination and anxiously suppresses it one way or another. He thereby chooses an unfree way of life characterized by anxiety about the good. [124] Therefore, for Kierkegaard, the demonic who is anxious about the good is anxious about freedom, that freedom is good. Just as freedom is the good, so is unfreedom evil. [125] 


There are three main claims in the second chapter. They are (a) that sin came into the world by a sin, (b) that individual is both himself and the race, (c) that sensuousness is not sinfulness. All these three are the variations of the same theme, namely, that sin and evil are not the natural condition of the human being but a condition in which he participates by virtue of an act. This act is not irrational opinion of an indifferent will, but an ambiguous mixture of action and passion. The self opens its eyes to both the infinity of possibility, and yet is enslaved to the infinity thus created. It is, therefore, not a mere act of will, but a sin, in virtue of which the individual is both guilty and innocent.