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Fortunate FallibilityKierkegaard and the Power of Sin$
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Jason A. Mahn

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199790661

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199790661.001.0001

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Felix Fallibilitas in The Sickness unto Death

Felix Fallibilitas in The Sickness unto Death

(p.86) 3 Felix Fallibilitas in The Sickness unto Death
Fortunate Fallibility

Jason A. Mahn

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a deconstructionist interpretation of The Sickness unto Death. It begins by tracing Western culture's penchant for moralizing sin, arguing that Kierkegaard's text resists such moralizations. It then analyzes a closely related group of texts, those of the Romantics, with their celebration of human trespass, attending especially to Lord Byron's play Cain. Anti-Climacus (Kierkegaard's pseudonym) plays with the idea that humans might dispose themselves to sin in the effort to win self-security—just as the Romantic poets see creative growth in suffering and transgression. The chapter, however, argues that Kierkegaard actually deconstructs such Romantic leanings in the effort to depict the virtue of faith negatively through the possibility of human failure.

Keywords:   Kierkegaard, Byron, Romanticism, deconstruction, virtue, sin, despair, bound will, via negativa, Anti-Climacus

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