12. Freedom and Its Misuses. Kierkegaard on Anxiety and Despair, by Gregory R. Beabout. ISBN 0-87462-612-9. ©1996. Paperbound. 192 pp. $20. Second edition, with corrections and a new Preface by the author, 2009.

This small and solid work is everything one hopes for in a book on Kierkegaard. It treats him as both a great thinker and a corrective to our time and is both scholarly and popular in the best sense of those terms. For Kierkegaard scholars it provides detailed and careful accounts of his key concepts of anxiety and despair, comments on much of the existing secondary literature on these topics, provides many helpful etymological insights and even contains a perceptive and generously noted use of my own Indices. It also does nice things like distinguishing between the “lower pseudonymous works,”the “upbuilding works,” and the “higher pseudonymous works.”

It shows why Sartre is no match for Kierkegaard, why and how Alasdair MacIntyre has misrepresented him so badly and why finally Freud has nothing to say about human freedom. For the general reader it explains the radical significance of these Kierkegaardian concepts for our understanding of freedom and shows how they might yet serve to salvage a dream gone obviously and terribly wrong. I suspect that an equally careful treatment of the relevant texts would show that Kierkegaard is not an “individualist” but Professor Beabout has done a great deal to clarify and connect anxiety, despair and freedom and those who care about humanity can profit greatly from his labors.

Almost by accident I began reading this work late on Good Friday evening and finished it at noon on Saturday but in retrospect perhaps this was a mistake. Its publication is an occasion for joy and hope and no doubt I should have left the end until Easter morning. — From the Foreword by Alastair McKinnon

Dr. Gregory Beabout is associate professor of philosophy at Saint Louis University.


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