Kierkegaard’s Self – Diagram

I thought a visual aide would be helpful for illustrating the complex structure of Kierkegaard’s Self from The Sickness Unto Death. Here’s a simple (and somewhat childishly constructed) diagram I’ve created:

A human being is spirit. But what is spirit? Spirit is the self. But what is the self? The self is a relation that relates itself to itself or is the relation’s relating itself to itself in the relation; the self is not the relation but is the relation’s relating itself to itself. A human being is a synthesis of the infinite and the finite, of the temporal and the eternal, of freedom and necessity, in short, a synthesis. A synthesis is a relation between two. Considered in this way a human being is still not a self…. In the relation between two, the relation is the third as a negative unity, and the two relate to the relation and in the relation to the relation; thus under the qualification of the psychical the relation between the psychical and the physical is a relation. If, however, the relation relates itself to itself, this relation is the positive third, and this is the self (p. 13)


Note: The column on the left [infinite, eternal, possibility] would fall under the category of “soul,” or “psyche.” The column on the right (finite, termporal, necessity] would correspondingly be summarized as “body.” Thus, the Self is the relation between mind(psyche/soul) and body relating to itself.



One comment

  1. Pingback: Kierkegaard and the Existential Self | The Anti-Modernist

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