Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summary: Fear and Trembling / Kierkegaard - Eulogy on Abraham - part 2

According to Kierkegaard in the first chapter of Fear and Trembling, Abraham's faith was tested and maintained in the prolonged wait for his promised successor, but the hardest test was yet to come. In one moment all was lost, the impossible was made possible in the birth of Isaac but now God demands to destroy everything. God does not seem to have mercy not for the elderly man nor for the innocent child. The promise given to Abraham, to turn him into a great nation, hangs in the balance when God asks him to sacrifice his only child, everything that Abraham ever did for God, Abraham himself, is about to become meaningless and forgotten.

But Abraham, Kierkegaard says, held on to his faith. Abraham did not doubt God nor his promise even in the face of an impossible contradiction. God asked of Abraham to eradicate all conditioned devotion by abandoning reason and the willingness to carry out God's task of ending what God himself gave him.

But Abraham, according to Kierkegaard, believed in the impossible, in the Paradox and the absurd. He was no skeptic philosopher (see preface to Fear and Trembling). Kierkegaard argues that had Abraham chosen at that point to end his own life over his son's he would have been remembered as an admirable man, but not as the father of faith but as yet another tragic hero. Abraham does not oppose God nor try to dissuade him. All Abraham does is confidently say "Here I am". We know that Abraham's was a test, but had he himself had any doubt in that moment as to what he is supposed and about to do, his faith would have been lost for good. Only by completely obeying God can Abraham maintain his faith. But Kierkegaard says that the mountain of Moriah will be remembered as a place of faith, not of doubt, and as the place in which Abraham got it all (including immortal fame). Kierkegaard concludes the "Eulogy of Abraham" by saying that Abraham spent his days never trying to "get further than to faith" (Fear and Trembling, p.75).    

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