Das böse alter ego des Glaubens. Kierkegaard über ‘männliche Verzweiflung’ und das Dämonische
Uhl, Florian and Boelderl, Artur R. (eds.)
Das Geschlecht der Religion.
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In this paper I examine the connection between religious belief, despair and gender in Kierkegaard's Sickness unto Death and Fear and Trembling. I argue that despite Kierkegaard's abhorrent gender stereotyping, his concept of 'masculine despair' and its more extreme manifestation - the demonic - can be read ironically as a reductio ad absurdum of traditional 'male' virtues: pride, autonomy and dignity. That is to say, although the demonic is, according to Kierkegaard, the exact mirror-image of faith, it lacks precisely those 'feminine' qualities - submissiveness and givingness - that would make faith a genuine possibility. Hence it would seem that Kierkegaard's bigotry notwithstanding, women are in fact constitutionally better equipped for the possibility of religious belief than are men, but given that this conclusion rests on very questionable premises, it presents at best a poisoned victory for the female sex.
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