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Fear and Trembling/Repetition :…
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Fear and Trembling/Repetition : Kierkegaard's Writings, Vol. 6 (1843)

by Søren Kierkegaard

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"...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12)

Kierkegaard published Fear and Trembling in 1843 under the pen name of Johannes de Silentio, or John the Silent. He attempts to gain an understanding of the anxiety of faith through the biblical story of Abraham, who was instructed by God to offer up his only son as a sacrifice. Kierkegaard first explores the moment of choice; Abraham can choose to carry out the command or simply disregard it. In the end, Abraham chooses to embark on the long journey to the land of Moriah, where God will reveal to Abraham the mountain on which he is to sacrifice Isaac. Kierkegaard then explores Abraham's isolation; because he does not tell anyone, including Isaac, why he is going to Moriah, he suffers alone. Kierkegaard conceives Abraham as the type of person who lives within hope of the external, as contrasted with the person who lives in the inner reflection of memory. He speaks of Abraham's 'infinite resignation' as the last stage of the process towards faith. Abraham became a "knight of faith"; he surrendered everything in the hope that his faith in God would achieve something more universal than his earthly possessions and endeavors ever could.
Kierkegaard explores three problems concerned with this circumstance:

1. The choice to kill Isaac is an ethical decision. Kierkegaard asks, "Is there a teleological suspension of the ethical?" Does Abraham's obedience to God's command transcend ethics? Does a command from God that involves murder override one's ethical principles, which may derive from God's will? Kierkegaard concludes, against Hegel's ethical philosophy which he considers through this exploration, that the ethical must be suspended in favor of the universal. Only in this way can one become a true knight of faith.

2. The murder in this case is a religious sacrifice. In this way, Kierkegaard views the choice as a matter of spirituality. He asks, "Is there an absolute duty to God?" Must one obey God's will no matter what the circumstance or cost? Does the universal always transcend the individual? Can the individual ever become the universal? Kierkegaard explores the paradox inherent in this conflict: The act of resignation is not a true matter of faith itself, but one of acquiring 'eternal consciousness', which is love for God, love for the universal. This act of resignation does not require faith, but to transcend the eternal consciousness one must have faith. If one does not experience the fear and trembling that is necessarily involved in a true leap of faith, one can never become a true knight of faith.

3. Abraham concealed his intentions from everyone, including his wife, who is the mother of Isaac, and his son, who is to be sacrificed. Can this be ethically justified? Kierkegaard concludes that Abraham was both wrong and right; wrong according to ethics, which is a finite system of conduct, but right according to the Absolute, which is a matter of infinity, of transcendence of possibility and spiritual development. God stops Abraham from going through with the sacrifice just as he raises the knife, because at that point intention carried more weight than result. God knew that Abraham had faith, and that was the meaning behind the command. God wanted to see if Abraham had the faith to go through with such a horrible action commanded of him by the universal. When Abraham raises the knife in the intention of performing the sacrifice, he has proven his faith. There is no need to go through with it at that point, because Abraham's faith had already been confirmed.

Kierkegaard examines the ethical implications of faith in this biblical narrative with great emotive power. It is an immersive reading experience revealing new dimensions of thought with each encounter.

Repetition was originally published in 1843 under the pseudonym Constantin Constantius. It is an experimental exploration into the possibilities of repetition, including an analysis of his psychological patient "Young Man" who has changed his mind about marrying a girl with whom he is engaged. Kierkegaard/Constantius seems to be intellectually amusing himself while toying with the patience and philosophical assumptions of his readers. It is almost subconsciously humorous, although not quite as amusing to read as it probably was for the writer to compose.
  AMD3075 | Feb 23, 2014 |
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Søren Kierkegaardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hong, Edna H.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hong, Howard V.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140444491, Paperback)


The perfect books for the true book lover, Penguin's Great Ideas series features twelve more groundbreaking works by some of history's most prodigious thinkers. Each volume is beautifully packaged with a unique type-driven design that highlights the bookmaker's art. Offering great literature in great packages at great prices, this series is ideal for those readers who want to explore and savor the Great Ideas that have shaped our world. Regarded as the father of Existentialism, Kierkegaard transformed philosophy with his conviction that we must all create our own nature; in this great work of religious anxiety, he argues that a true understanding of God can only be attained by making a personal "leap of faith."

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:18 -0400)

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140444491, 0141023937

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