Kierkegaard’s Amphibolous Conjunction of Joy and Sorrow and His Literary Theory

  • Alberto Carrillo Canán
Part of the Analecta Husserliana book series (ANHU, volume 77)


Søren Kierkegaard’s literary theory is above all a theory of communication, and the primarily religious author Kierkegaard has developed a complicated theory regarding communication, the task of which consists in “making” the hearer “aware of the religious,” and, in fact, making him a genuine Christian believer.1 To achieve this goal Kierkegaard uses the traditional Christian conjunction of spes et timor Dei, but he formalizes it.2 This formalization is accomplished in several steps. First, by taking the theological virtue hope (spes) as a label for all passions that somehow imply joy as liking for something (“sympathy,” attraction), while fear of the Lord (timor Dei) is taken as the corresponding label for all passions that somehow mean sorrow as dislike of something (“antipathy,” repulsion). Second, this formalization is accomplished by Kierkegaard’s reinterpretation of the conjunction of “hope and fear” as a self-referential structure: Hope concerns oneself insofar as it is related to one’its own salvation, while fear concerns oneself again insofar as it is related to one’s own condemnation. This self-referentiality is then maintained as the primary issue of the formalized “liking and disliking” structure. In this way Kierkegaard arrives at a formula for passional concern with oneself, and this is at once the formula or structure of “existence.” In fact, a very important feature of the formalized structure lies in its potential to represent different intensities and qualities of passions and thus the different “stadia” or “spheres of existence.”


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  1. Carrillo Canán, A., “Concerned with Oneself and with God Alone. On Kierkegaard’s Concept of Remorse as the Basis for his Literary Theory,” in Anna-Teresa Tymiemiecka (ed.) Life Creative Mimesis of Emotion, Analecta Husserliana LXII (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic publishers, 2000), pp. 95–115.Google Scholar
  2. JP1 = Hong, H., and Hong, E., Soren Kierkegaard’s Journals and Papers, Vol. 1. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1967.Google Scholar

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto Carrillo Canán
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidad Autónoma de PueblaMexico

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