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Conscience, Guilt and the Struggle for Purity of Heart in Kierkegaard

Kennedy, Joshua (2020) Conscience, Guilt and the Struggle for Purity of Heart in Kierkegaard. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

For Kierkegaard, “purity of heart” means to will only one thing- the good. He calls the pull towards the good “conscience”. At some point, any person may be forced to come to terms with their conscience when it disrupts their life through restlessness, anxiety or through one of its other manifestations and reveals the need to take the demands of the good seriously. But how are we to do justice to the demands of conscience? Is it possible to reach purity of heart without giving up on happiness altogether? Would it even be possible to give up on happiness? This thesis will consider the possibility of trying to make the good the sole end of one’s will and thus the finding and development of conscience. We will consider from where we are to get a conscience, what it means for conscience to grow and what the obstacles might be in living this way of life. We will see that a person who tries to obtain purity of heart is met with a great challenge. The conscience can demand extreme things, can require that one give up one’s possessions, one’s time, one’s loved ones, it might require that one give up on happiness and it might even require the impossible. The question arises as to how it is possible to live this kind of life without reaching breaking point- a point at which one flees from conscience into a demonic form of life. It will be argued that it is faith that allows us to avoid the danger of the demonic but at the cost of great humility. We must be prepared to set aside the understanding to accommodate a hope that may seem absurd.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Kierkegaard guilt conscience love Klein spirituality double-mindedness
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Philosophy and Art History, School of
Depositing User: Joshua Kennedy
Date Deposited: 14 Apr 2020 13:10
Last Modified: 14 Apr 2020 13:10
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27272

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