The disease to Death
In his works, Kierkegaard believes that despair is not accepting the self that one does not want or being stubborn to the status quo, and ultimately “losing oneself”, which is the original sin of Christianity. People who are desperate do not necessarily know that they are desperate, nor do they necessarily feel pain. The lowest level of despair lies in the ignorant, who only knows the worldly things; this kind of people have no self-awareness, do not know the eternal nature of themselves, and do not know that they are in despair. Others realize that they are desperate for certain worldly things, but still do not have the consciousness of self-eternality. Others begin to realize self and eternity, and also realize the weakness of their despair for worldly things. For this reason, they are unwilling to accept this self, and they fall into another kind of despair. Taking it a step further, some people decide to accept weakness, resign themselves to fate, and acknowledge their eternity. Furthermore, they must be willing to accept the current self. They may choose to regain hope and escape despair by relying on the “leap of faith”; but they may also choose to regard despair as the ultimate truth and place themselves in eternal despair.
Therefore, people have different despairs at different levels of existence. Sensible people despair for worldly things, and rational people despair for rejecting themselves or choosing despair as the ultimate truth. Faith is the only way to escape despair, and choosing faith is the only way to realize oneself.