, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 425–437

Kierkegaardian Implications of Punishment, Guilt, and Forgiveness for Education

  • Yaroslav Senyshyn


Students have to be punished if they have made a serious transgression. Avoidance of punishment will lead to serious complications. But punishment is inseparably linked with guilt and forgiveness. The inability of individuals to forgive themselves was regarded by Kierkegaard to be an emanation of individual false pride, a kind of vanity. This type of despair, a psychological and spiritual disorder, is a serious and debilitating problem. The inability to escape this despair of forgiveness can lead to a loss of genuine humanness. Unchecked, this despair can lead to unrelatedness of self to itself and fear of the possibility of freedom. Thus the self-knowledge attainable in despair over the forgiveness of an offense would lead to what we would call a successful rehabilitation of the individual and his or her conjunct reintegration into society. Kierkegaard's ideas on punishment are interesting — historically and philosophically speaking — because they represent a softening of a harsh view of punishment by stressing the humanizing aspects of guilt and forgiveness.

Punishment guilt forgiveness pride vanity despair unrelatedness rehabilitation humanization justice 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arbaugh, G. & Arbaugh, E. (1968). Kierkegaard's authorship. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.).Google Scholar
  2. Barrow, R. (1984). Giving teaching back to teachers: A critical introduction to curriculum theory. New York: Wheatsheaf Books Ltd. and The Althouse Press.Google Scholar
  3. Ignatieff, M. (1987). Address to the 1987 criminal justice congress, Toronto. Unpublished paper.Google Scholar
  4. Kierkegaard, S. (1938). Purity of heart. New York: Harper and Brothers. (Original work published 1847)Google Scholar
  5. Kierkegaard, S. (1941). For self examination and judge for yourselves and three discourses. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1851)Google Scholar
  6. Kierkegaard, S. (1946). Either/or (Vol. II). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1843)Google Scholar
  7. Kierkegaard, S. (1962). Works of love. New York: Harper Torchbooks. (Original work published 1847)Google Scholar
  8. Kierkegaard, S. (1967-1978). Journals and papers (Vol. VII). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Kierkegaard, S. (1980a). The concept of anxiety. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. (Original work published 1844)Google Scholar
  10. Kierkegaard, S. (1980b). The sickness unto death. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press). (Original work published 1849)Google Scholar
  11. Mullen, J. D. (1981). Kierkegaard's philosophy. New York: New American Library.Google Scholar
  12. Wittgenstein, L. (1933-1935). The blue and brown books. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  13. Wittgenstein, L. (1945-1947). Remarks on the philosophy of psychology (Vol. I). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yaroslav Senyshyn
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada

Personalised recommendations