Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summary: Fear and Trembling / Kierkegaard - Preface

In his preface to "Fear and Trembling" Søren Kierkegaard (or his alias Johannes de silentio- John of Silence)  criticizes the inflation in skeptical philosophy in his time. Descartes' skeptical method has left for Kierkegaard many negative doubts but very few positive affirmations and, more important, guidelines for life. But Descartes, Kierkegaard reminds, was a man of faith who did not want to reject God on the basis of rational philosophy. For Kierkegaard Descartes' philosophy was only a personal one, trying to resolve his own issues of knowledge and faith. it was not intended for everyone to start doubting everything.
For the Kierkegaard, the backdrop for Fear and Trembling is that the thought of his time wishes to go "beyond faith", and he asks where are they heading. Faith used to be something to be achieved through an entire life's work, now it is something that people work to forsake.

Kierkegaard announces that the writer of Fear and Trembling is not a philosopher indoctrinated by the (Hegelian) method. He does not presume to know to content of the spirit which engulfs everyone's minds, and he does not try to conceptualize it (as Hegel and his followers tried to do). In this sense Kierkegaard regards himself as a poetic anti-philosopher, he is a humble poetic writer that has no wishes to work within a method or to capture with it something universally objective.

Kierkegaard's preface to Fear and Trembling tries to overthrow's Hegel's hierarchy of reason over faith, arguing later and elsewhere that constrained reason cannot achieve what feelings can when it comes to understanding out existence. 

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