Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summary: Fear and Trembling / Kierkegaard - Preliminary Expectoration - part 2

Kierkegaard says that no one would have condemned Abraham had he not followed the order the kill his own son, but he would not be admired either and would not become the "Knight of Faith". Unlike Hegel, for Kierkegaard it is not about the idealistic synthesis of contradiction, it is in fact all about living, not resolving, that contradiction which Abraham faces between ethical and religious duty. It is not about mastering a speculative problem, it is about mastering yourself. Kierkegaard says that when he cannot understand Hegel he assumes that the problem is with Hegel, but when he contemplates Abraham the sense of owe seizes him.

The reason for Kierkegaard's admiration of Abraham is the paradox in his condition, between his devotion to God and his to devotion to his son. Abraham had to believe, till the last moment, that Isaac will survive but still be committed without any hesitation to following the order to kill him. This is what Kierkegaard calls the power of the absurd or Paradox that is embedded in Abraham's story. The absurd cannot be met with reason, the only way to endure it according to Kierkegaard is faith and love. Faith and love have to go hand in hand since "for he who loves God without faith reflects upon himself, he who loves God believingly reflects upon God" (Fear and Trembling, p.88).

What Abraham does is the move, the leap, towards complete resignation. Trying to find logic in the story is, for Kierkegaard, trying to turn wine back into water. What Kierkegaard calls the "Knight of Faith" is not a genius with some superior intellectual understandings, he is a simple man leading a simple life that out of complete resignation makes to leap of faith which gives complete security in the world. It is the absurd that ties the infinite with the finite. The leap that the knight of faith makes is what connects him with eternity. But this does not cancel earthly transient things and the knight of faith is not transformed into someone else since "by the infinite resignation he is reconciled with existence" (Fear and Trembling, p.94). 

Back to the main summary of Fear and Trembling
or by chapter:
Eulogy on Abraham
Preliminary Expectoration
Problem I
Problem II
Problem III