painting by Albrecht Durer.
Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855) is a Danish philosopher who is widely considered to be the founder of existentialism. Believing in free will, Kierkegaard thinks that anguish or angst is what motivates any free action, or as he calls it a “leap”. So, what is the link between angst and the original sin?
Angst, or anguish, is a feeling of suffering when facing emptiness in life or when facing many options. Any action taken would be a leap, good or bad and ugly. Angst is therefore, not fear. One is scared because of a scary object. However, angst has no object. It is the vertigo in front of many possibilities.
Kierkegaard analyses the story of Adam in Eve in terms of angst. God had forbidden them to consume the fruit of knowledge, better known as the apple. Adam and Eve broke the divine law and ate the fruit. This was the first illegal action in history, and they were the first outlaws.
In Kierkegaard’s theory, Adam had an alternative (assuming that Eve was tempted and weak in front of the snake, known as the devil): to do God’s will or to follow Eve’s recommendation. Facing these two options, he acted out of angst and leaped. The rest is history.
To Kierkegaard, we didn’t inherit the original sin; since one cannot inherit the crimes of their ancestors. We, humankind, inherited angst and freedom.