Repository | Book | Chapter


(1972) Facets of eros, Dordrecht, Springer.

Don Juan

idealist and sensualist

F Joseph Smith

pp. 116-164

It was Kierkegaard who gave us the modern concept of Angst and its full spectrum. We say Angst rather than "anxiety," since as a term the latter is far too psychological a notion for our present purposes. Anxiety is only one facet of the Angst spectrum. The whole spectrum takes in everything from that wonder, which is the beginning of philosophy, through adventuresomeness to alarm, and that anxiety born of a consideration of the possibilities a new adventure brings with it.1 The word Angst (in Danish, angest) is a body word, not a lexicographical item useful to psychological science. Some of the original "body meaning" comes through in the modern word. Anxiety is not just a psychological state but a bodily "stifling," an inability to catch one's breath (ango, ̓αγχω). In his Don Juan essay Kierkegaard rediscovers anxiety as musical and erotic.2 In Christian and post-Christian civilization sensual-eroticism is born in anxiety; it is eros caricatured, caught between the extremes of idealism and sensualism, as personified in the tragic figure of Don Giovanni and in the sensuous music of W. A. Mozart.3 Don Giovanni feels the stifling effects of the classic metaphysical dualism: idealism vs. sensualism. And Mozart effectively portrays it in his music.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-94-010-2387-0_8

Full citation:

Smith, F.J. (1972)., Don Juan: idealist and sensualist, in F. J. Smith & E. Eng (eds.), Facets of eros, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 116-164.

This document is unfortunately not available for download at the moment.