Sunday, August 27, 2017

Summary: Preliminary Expectoration / Fear and Trembling by Kierkegaard -

The material world, says Kierkegaard in the second chapter of "Fear and Trembling", is not a just place and the strong do pray on the weak. The spiritual world, on the other hand, is a whole other story for Kierkegaard. Here, in the realm of the divine, you have to earn your keep close to God. Kierkegaard criticizes the thought that sees the absolute simply as a subject of intellectual contemplation (Hegel), since for him only those who live their devotion, like Abraham did, can sleep well at night.

Kierkegaard notes that the greatness in Abraham's story is that no matter how we interpret it, it still remains great. People mistake the story of Abraham as a model of doing "the best". This is true but Kierkegaard notes that what such interpretations miss is the angst (Horror) of the story, it is the fear and trembling that come as part of facing the true horrific burden of faith. It is not enough for the philosopher to think and speak about Abraham, the poet has to live him (see Eulogy on Abraham).

In what may very well be the main point of Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard says that from a moral perspective Abraham wanted to murder his own child, but from a religious perspective he wanted to sacrifice him. This contradiction holds the Paradox that makes Abraham who he is. Without faith what remains is Abraham trying to murder Isaac, which makes it easy to imitate Abraham. But if we keep faith in the equation it becomes much harder to carry the burden Abraham did. As opposed but similar to the act of murder, Kierkegaard says that Love based on transient sentiments is not sustainable compared with divine love, sanctified by a terrible act (see love according to Kierkegaard for details)

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