Date of Award
Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion
Theodore M. Vial
Gregory A. Robbins
Consciousness, Doctrine of sin, Kierkegaard, Original sin, Psychology, Schleiermacher
In his The Concept of Anxiety, Kierkegaard’s decision to have Haufniensis acknowledge Schleiermacher’s contribution to the doctrine of sin continues to raise questions regarding Schleiermacher’s influence on Kierkegaard’s intellectual development. These questions also serve to underscore the general need to locate Kierkegaard properly within the larger context of religious and theological studies in the nineteenth century. Our project here seeks to address these questions with a comparative theology of Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard on the Christian doctrine of sin. I argue that Kierkegaard is right to credit Schleiermacher as a source of inspiration in The Concept of Anxiety because of the strong similarities in both form and content between anxiety and Schleiermacher’s concept of the susceptibility to sin as original sin.
To this end of a comparative study between Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard, we engage primarily in an analysis of Schleiermacher’s doctrine of sin in his The Christian Faith and Kierkegaard’s contribution to the concept of original sin in his The Concept of Anxiety. In The Christian Faith, Schleiermacher advances his dogmatic concept of the susceptibility to sin, defined as a determination of our primordial, religious self-consciousness and located in the sphere of psychology. Furthermore, he systematically covers how the susceptibility to sin functions as original sin. Similarly, in The Concept of Anxiety, where psychology is in service of dogmatics, Haufniensis upholds anxiety as primordial aspect of our religious existence, which, in Kierkegaard’s body of work, is also defined as an act of self-consciousness. Furthermore, he also systematically details the way in which anxiety functions as original sin.
Although there are some differences in the general scope of the susceptibility to sin and anxiety, they do not detract from the strong similarities in the way both concepts are defined in psychological terms, that is, as determinations of self-consciousness, and operate within this context of original sin. While, on the one hand, neither anxiety nor the susceptibility to sin are inherited forms of sinfulness, both concepts function identically to a prior sinfulness insofar as they thoroughly condition our temporal and spatial existence in such a way as to increase the possibility of sinning. Furthermore, because both concepts are not prior forms of sinfulness, but rather are grounded in our religious self-consciousness, that is, a primordial and essential part of our human nature, both concepts, on the other hand, are able to hold each person accountable for the fault (Reatus) associated with their own transition from original sin to the appearance of actual sin.
In conclusion, an analysis of their primary contributions to the concept of original sin reveals Schleiermacher’s influence on Kierkegaard in the development of the concept of anxiety as original sin. Furthermore, this finding can contribute to areas of ongoing research, such as establishing the intellectual relationship between Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard, and the task of locating Kierkegaard within religious and theological studies in his nineteenth-century context.
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Received from ProQuest
Tsark, Brandon, "Reevaluating the God-Human Relationship Through the Psychological Origin of Sin: A Comparative Theology of Schleiermacher and Kierkegaard on the Doctrine of Sin" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2359.
Religion, Philosophy of religion, Theology
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