Encyclopedia > Angst

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Angst is a German word for fear or anxiety. It is used in English language to describe a more intense feeling of internal emotional strife. The word is often used to describe the complex negative emotions of teenagers and the downbeat lyrics of musical genres such as grunge rock.

A different but related meaning is attributed to Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855). Kierkegaard used angst (or dread) to describe a profound and deep-seated spiritual condition of insecurity and despair in the free human being. Where the animal is a slave to its God-given instincts but always confident in its own actions, Kierkegaard believed that the freedom given to mankind leaves the human in a constant fear of failing its responsibilities to God. The thoughts behind Kierkegaard's concept of angst is considered to be an important stepping stone for modern existentialism.

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