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Fear and Trembling by Søren Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling (1843)

by Søren Kierkegaard

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An interesting look at the 'tale' of Abraham (and Isaac) from the Bible. To figure out the process through which Abraham goes through on his trial to sacrifice Isaac (his son) for God. Soren discusses if he is a tragic hero. And various philosophies branch off of this. It's a dense small book that isn't specific or an easy read, but gives interesting thoughts and insight into Abraham's trial; and about faith in general. ( )
  BenKline | Jan 31, 2016 |
This book makes a LOT more sense when you realize he doesn't mean Abraham Lincoln ( )
  trilliams | May 30, 2015 |
I can't even tell you how long this book has been tormenting me. Years. I've made at least two serious attempts to read it in the past, working my poor little gray cells to the smoking point before throwing it aside with a shower of epithets. My last attempt was a few months ago, and I made it to about two-thirds of the way through. Then, planning my New Year's Eve reading marathon, I knew if I could make it to the end of this book, it would cancel out any criticisms I might level at myself for loading the stack with short books and graphic novels, because one of the books would have been &^$(*%# Kierkegaard.

Then, I don't know how much of it was just that Problema III was easier reading (which it was), and how much was just the hard work I'd previously put in to understanding the terms, ideals, and categories he'd been referencing all along in the earlier sections, but once I was a few pages in, I didn't think of my escape hatch once. (I'd given myself permission to bail if I wasn't finished with the book by 2:00 p.m.)

Don't get me wrong, it was still challenging reading. I still found myself wandering over to the computer to look up terms he used and stories he referenced. I definitely felt the lack of serious philosophical reading before this - I totally skipped the prerequisites. And I know I lost a lot for those lacks. That doesn't mean that I couldn't recognize that this book is amazing. Or that I didn't appreciate it even as I was grinding my teeth. Even though I didn't squeeze all of the wisdom out of this little book, it was definitely worth the work. ( )
  greeniezona | Sep 20, 2014 |

I'm glad I read Hegel before this; it's not clear to me that Kierkegaard would be plausible, interesting or worthwhile before reading his incomprehensible predecessor. F&T, unlike Hegel, is fairly short, pursues a single idea in a consistent (consistently inconsistent?) manner, doesn't claim to have proved anything other than a disjunction (Abraham is meaningless or universal Sittlichkeit is not the highest moment of human history) and is quite readable. That's all for the good. The bad news is that if you don't care whether or not the story of Abraham is meaningless, you probably won't care about the argument in this book. I happen to care about it and think it's important. And there's an argument to be made that non Judaeo-Christo-Muslims in general should find it important: at some point, we do have to believe in some over-arching, bedrock x, even if that happens to be the impossibility of an over-arching, bedrock x. Either that belief is meaningless, or perfectly reflective rationality is not the highest moment of human history... well, I'm not convinced about that. Also, the third 'problema' is really long-winded and nowhere near as interesting as the earlier parts of the book. But whatever. It's short. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
What was it that made Abraham's "test" such a remarkable event? We are already aware of the great faith that Abraham exhibited through his trust in God's promise (before the birth of Isaac) that his seed would produce a great nation despite his advanced age and his wife's barrenness. His "test" wasn't in obeying God's order to sacrifice his beloved son, no matter how difficult or distasteful, nor was it in believing that God would not ask him to commit an "unethical" act such as murder, nor even in what must have been the agonous eternity of those three days riding on an ass with Isaac to the place of slaughter. The heroic aspect exhibited by Abraham on the slopes of Moriah, according to Kierkegaard, was that his faith transcended understanding and rose above the rational to enter into the "absurd." The paradox of God's request required Abraham to believe that God's promise of a future nation founded upon his seed (Isaac) would still exist untainted even while God demanded he offer that very seed in sacrifice; that God would give him the happiness of "having" his son while also taking him away, not in hoping that God would change his mind at the last minute. Kierkegaard imagines Abraham's anxiety as he raised the blade over his son and it was the overcoming of this "Fear and Trembling" that made Abraham a true hero and a "knight of faith."

"So either there is a paradox... or Abraham is done for."

I've read snippets of Kierkegaard over the years but this is the first complete work I've tackled. I'm glad I did. It's a thoughtful insight by a thoughtful man trying to make sense of the insensible. While I have separate issues with Kierkegaard's version of Christianity (Lutheranism), it's a pity to me the twisted turns that later men and women took with his ideas in the ensuing madness of atheistic existentialism and absurdism later exemplified by the likes of Camus and Sartre.
( )
  cjyurkanin | May 22, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (41 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Søren Kierkegaardprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Evan, C. StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hannay, AlastairTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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What Tarquin the Proud said in his garden with the poppy blooms was understood by the son but not by the messenger. -- Hamann
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:28 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are. 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'.… (more)

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140444491, 0141023937

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