The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

This book is a thorough look at the progression of human existential angst. Tillich leads the reader through the history of human psyche as we have suffered the awareness of our finite, fragile existence. I found myself, at times, shaken by the familiarity of each type of  anxiety he described and rejoicing with each temporary victory humanity has fought to integrate its fears. I say temporary because the new awareness gained by the struggle always leads to a new form of existential dread. Still, just when you think the cycle might be unending, Tillich ends the work with the anxiety of meaningless existence as the final dragon to be slain and this hope-filled statement as to how:

“The courage to take the anxiety of meaninglessness upon oneself is the boundary line up to which the courage to be can go. Beyond it is mere non-being. Within it all forms of courage are re-established in the power of the God above the God of theism. The courage to be is rooted in the God who appears when God has disappeared in the anxiety of doubt.” (Tillich 187)

Amazon summary:

In this classic and deeply insightful book, one of the world’s most eminent philosophers describes the dilemma of modern man and points a way to the conquest of the problem of anxiety. This edition includes a new introduction by Peter J. Gomes that reflects on the impact of this book in the years since it was written.

6 thoughts on “The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich

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