Sunday, August 27, 2017

Excellent summary of Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard

Fear and Trembling is arguably Søren Kierkegaard best and best known book. It is a poetic account of some of the most important ideas in Kierkegaard's philosophy. Like many others book by Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling is also signed by a pseudonym, Johannes de silentio.

The main subject of Fear and Trembling  is the figure of Abraham and especially the story of the binding of Isaac. Through Abraham's story Kierkegaard tries to relate his notions about Faith, the leap of faithparadoxabsurd, the three spheres of existence and more. Fear and Trembling also includes a critique and rejection of Kierkegaard's contemporary Hegelian thought, especially in the field of ethics.

The book is organized into a preface, exordium and 4 chapters, see links for a detailed summary of each of them: 

The first Chapter titled Eulogy on Abraham is Kierkegaard initial analysis of the story of Abraham and the basis for asking three questions about it, one for each subsequent chapter.

The third chapter of Fear and Trembling, titled Preliminary Expectoration, lays the groundwork and concepts from discussing the story of Abraham such as the absolute and the Paradox of faith

The second chapter of Fear and Trembling is the Problem I in which Kierkegaard asks "Is there such a thing as a teleological suspension of the ethical?", meaning: can there be a situation in which normative ethical considerations should be set aside for a higher propose. The short answer: yes, with faith.

The third chapter, Problem II, asks "Is there such a thing as an absolute duty toward God?". Once again the answer here is yes, but a very paradoxical and absurd yes.

The fourth chapter of Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, Problem III, asks "Was Abraham ethically defensible in keeping silent about his purpose?". Once again the answer is yes, but in order to reach it Kierkegaard goes through a profound philosophical and literary analysis of ethics.

Follow the links for a summary of each chapter, start here.
To aid you in understanding Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling we have a few articles and summaries:

A Guide to Søren Kierkegaard's Philosophy is where you'll get a good background on Kierkegaard's philosophy.

Kierkegaard: The Aesthetic, Ethical and Religious provides explanation of three central concept the run the length of Fear and Trembling.   

Here you can also find a list of Kierkegaard's terms and concepts, many of them relevant to Fear and Trembling. See also our Recommended books by Søren Kierkegaard (reading list)

Some books to check out: