Web. Duty usually takes place externally but for Abraham and other knights of faith their duty took place internally and through their actions alone others could not understand them since they were acting on faith rather than reason. Shortform has the world’s best summaries of 1000+ nonfiction books and articles. Therefore, all duty is divine and involves a relationship with God (for example, loving one’s neighbor). In the story of Abraham, he was either a murderer or had faith. When they reach the top of Mount Moriah, Abraham suddenly turns on Isaac with a terrifying look on his face and says that he wants to kill him instead of following what God said. Faith is more than just an emotional response to something. Even considering these possibilities, Kierkegaard still doesn’t understand why Abraham did this since it’s impossible for anyone else to know everything that was going through his mind at that time. Abraham presents an interesting case because he acted on faith for something eternal which seemingly violated normal ethical behavior. This sacrifice is demanded by an offended god, and the king must put the needs of his nation—to fight a war—above his personal feelings about his daughter. It’s important for people to know that even a life without faith offers plenty of tasks and trials, and arriving at faith doesn’t mean coming to a standstill; one can live their whole life in faith just as they can love someone. A tragic hero makes sacrifices for definite results, so people can sympathize with Agamemnon ‘s heroic actions when he sacrificed Iphigenia as an offering. The ethical is the telos, or end goal, of everything outside itself, and there is no telos beyond the ethical. 46 Problem II: Is there an absolute duty to God? Others believe that an individual’s actions are justified by the consequences of his actions. He made sacrifices because he knew it was important to do so and because he wanted to inspire others. Shortform: The World's Best Book Summaries, Shortform Blog: Free Guides and Excerpts of Books, Fear And Trembling Book Summary, by Soren Kierkegaard, What The Dog Saw Book Summary, by Malcolm Gladwell. However, since she’s been able to keep her baby close by for so long, this sadness is bearable. Abraham would have had to admit that he was being selfish by wanting to sacrifice Isaac. Since Abraham cannot be mediated by the universal (the ethical telos), he cannot speak. She needs no external admiration, any more than "Abraham needs our tears." In drama, both Greek and modern, concealment creates tension while recognition helps resolve the tension. Soren Kierkegaard discusses two ways a person can have faith. It is a poetic account of some of the most important ideas in Kierkegaard's philosophy. Instead of looking at this from an ethical perspective (which will only condemn Abraham), we should look at it from an aesthetic perspective—especially in terms of what makes something interesting. Johannes von Bülow explains that the young man would be going through a similar process, but he will believe in something absurd. However, there are certain things in life that prevent us from doing so. Problem 1: Is there such a thing as a teleological suspension of the ethical? The first is infinite resignation, where a person must make an enormous sacrifice and then reconcile themselves to the pain that this causes them. Fear and Trembling is a philosophical tract by Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, first published in 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de Silento (John of … Even though both Abraham and Sarah were very old, they had Isaac who is born miraculously. He tells them about Mary, who gave birth to Jesus Christ and is generally considered great. What is ethical is universal—it applies to everyone—and ethics has no telos (end purpose) outside of itself. Download a PDF to print or study offline. Every generation must start over when it comes to navigating passion, especially faith. In fact, the only words spoken between father and son are when Isaac asks where the lamb they’re sacrificing is coming from; Abraham tells him that God will provide it (this in response to Isaac’s question). Download "Fear And Trembling Book Summary, by Soren Kierkegaard" as PDF. In the preface the pseudonym Johannes informs the reader of his place as a writer. Furthermore, it was through faith that Abraham got Isaac back and he couldn’t be considered a tragic hero—he either has faith or he’s a murderer. Either this is what faith means or one can justifiably condemn Abraham’s actions as unethical and say “faith has never existed” since Abraham was acting ethically according to his own belief system. Johannes also mentions a biblical story in which Jephthah asks God for victory in battle in exchange for the sacrifice of the first living creature he sees coming out of his house when he returns home. Johannes understands the previous two stories but they don’t help him understand Abraham because Abraham wasn’t saved by sinning; rather he accomplished something great despite his sins. What’s a Concierge MVP? Returning to Abraham, Johannes says that "in the time before the outcome [of the binding of Isaac,] either Abraham was a murderer every minute," or he is part of a paradox. Like many others book by Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling is also signed by a pseudonym, Johannes de silentio. In the story of a bridegroom, Johannes says that there are three options for people in similar situations. This state of temptation (and any actions that may result from it) can be transcended only by surrendering to the universal in an act of repentance and reconciliation. Fear and Trembling (original Danish title: Frygt og Bæven) is a philosophical work by Søren Kierkegaard, published in 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de silentio (John of the Silence). The first problem is a paradox: How can ethics be universal, yet individuals act on faith? Download "Fear And Trembling Book Summary, by Soren Kierkegaard" as PDF. A man in that situation would hide away and succumb to death; it’s only because of Sarah’s love that they are able to survive. Duty is usually expressed externally, but since the divine has no expression in the world we can only express our duty internally (faith). There are two ways for the Merman to save himself from the demonic. Sometimes aesthetics requires disclosure, such as when Agamemnon had to tell his daughter Iphigenia about her fate. Abraham is portrayed as a great man, who chose to sacrifice his son, Isaac, in the face of conflicting expectations and in defiance of any conceivable ethical standard. The author admits he still has a long way to go before reaching that level of faith. Johannes is saying that the only way to tell Abraham’s story without making it sound like a mistake is to make faith the main thing, not his willingness or act of preparing to sacrifice Isaac. A faithful knight can direct all of the ethical violations they commit into one thing; if they cannot do this then it’s as though they’re actually in a state of temptation. He asks if society really thinks it has reached such great heights that it must doubt whether or not we’ve come very far at all just to have something to talk about. Complete summary of Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. Johannes states that even if you’re told to do something by the Church, it doesn’t make you a tragic hero. Those with true faith must be ready to offer criteria for distinguishing this paradox from a temptation to put oneself above the law. The hero sacrifices himself and "gives up the finite [in exchange for] the infinite ... and the eye of the beholder rests confidently upon him." Unfortunately, knights of faith can’t even make themselves understood by other knights of faith—they might try sharing their stories in terms of the universal, but they won’t know whether or not the other person is telling them the truth about their own experiences with trials and temptations. However, not all heroes are remembered for their greatness because some people devote their lives to themselves (such as Abraham). Faith unites all humanity as something that anyone can have no matter what their background is. Faith is a paradox that allows an individual to transcend the universal. A summary of Part X (Section7) in Søren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. As a single individual, as a particularity, Abraham rose higher than the universal. If Abraham had not really sacrificed Isaac, but instead offered a ram in his place, Johannes would admire him less. For this reason, modern society should either ignore Abraham or try to understand him as a whole person instead of focusing on one event in his life. Therefore, Abraham cannot be condemned for not telling Sarah or his other family members about God’s command to sacrifice Isaac. Few people are willing to put forth this effort; instead they refer to Isaac as being “the best” among Abraham’s children instead of by name alone. The telos of the individual is part of the universal, so when a person acts in a way contrary to this, they are violating ethics and must make up for it through repentance. He couldn’t ask others for comfort either, as they would think that he was being a hypocrite for sacrificing his son when there were other options available. He also trusts God even though both he and Sarah are very old. Tragic heroes struggle with their flaws, but soon they’re able to find comfort in the universal. As Søren Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous author Johannes de Silentio makes clear in Fear and Trembling, the one thing that he is notwriting is 'the System'—that is, any version of Hegelian idealism. The modern view of God is that he’s satisfied with knowing about him without any further effort on our part. Tragic heroes are the best example of ethics because they act for the universal good even though they suffer as a result (which makes them tragic). You'll love my book summary product Shortform. The true knights know that there’s no point trying to teach others how to have faith because everyone already has what they need inside them. This is because people who act on faith can’t be justified in the eyes of society, and if they try to justify themselves, they will show that they are being tempted. However, she was a young girl who had no one else to turn to when an angel told her she would give birth. However, they’ve had faith at some point or else they wouldn’t be trying to go further than it. Johannes goes on to say that he’s going to further discuss Abraham’s story by exploring several questions about faith and how it can’t truly be understood because “it begins precisely where thinking leaves off.”. 2020. They can say nothing and risk both bad fortune and anger from their fiancées if they find out; they can not marry at all to avoid angering their families; or they can tell everyone about what happened, even though it might make things worse. If Abraham tells the truth, then Isaac will be sacrificed but if he lies, God won’t like that either. Ethical thinking demands disclosure; however aesthetics often demands concealment because it is more interesting. Belief vs. Tragic heroes also do something similar, but if tragic heroes fall back on the universal then everything is okay again whereas faith knights cannot turn to the universal for consolation. Johannes digresses with another example of a knight of faith: the Virgin Mary. Johannes believes this is literal and people should not soften it by saying it means you must give less priority to your family. Another paradox in Abraham’s story is that Abraham loves Isaac, but he still sacrifices him because his actions contradict his feelings. As it is now, Abraham followed directions and joyfully received Isaac back (another testament to his faith; if he hadn’t been joyful then his faith wouldn’t have been real). Søren Kierkegaard asks if we’ve come so far that we must pretend we haven’t come far enough just to have something to do. In the story, Abraham and Isaac are walking up a mountain to sacrifice Isaac. The second way is to take back what was sacrificed on the strength of the absurd, or something impossible that defies all human understanding. A true knight of faith acts on faith rather than the Church. Since Abraham doesn’t fit into either category, Johannes decides that aesthetics has nothing useful to say on the subject of ethics or morality. However, there is only one step away from moving into a monastery; therefore, it’s still possible to move towards the absurd with just one more step. People praise her for giving birth but forget about all of her hardships beforehand because no one else was there with her when she experienced them except for an angel from God—and even then, some don’t believe in angels! Faith also helps people endure difficult circumstances and wait for promises to be fulfilled. Abraham is such a one, and he is justified by faith in bypassing what is ethical. However, faith is rarely discussed as much. His story begins when God asks him to leave his life behind and go out into the desert, which he does because he has faith in God’s promise that he will have a son with Sarah and his descendants will spread all over the world. Then Hegel is right in saying a human being is a "moral form of evil," which can be "annulled in the teleology of the ethical life." Johannes then moves on to a story from the Book of Tobit. Doubt. This related to Abraham in how he had a choice to either sacrifice his son or go against God’s wishes. The audience has to decide which one it is. A mother may choose to wean her baby from breastfeeding. a person's individuality apart from the universal), then philosophers should not go beyond the categories created by the Greek philosophers. Every generation starts over when it comes to navigating passion. Therefore, people consider them great. Johannes defines the ethical as universal, as applying to all at all times. Abraham’s anguish and distress come from the fact that he can’t explain to others why he must sacrifice Isaac. She did this through faith in God and despite her distress at being pregnant without anyone knowing why or how it happened (like Abraham). Johannes argues that the universal and the ethical are linked, because when someone conceals something, they are sinning. For this investigation of ethics we will focus on tragic dramas where two lovers are nearly separated because they each conceal their love for one another. To willfully express one's particularity against the universal is, by definition, to sin. Abraham has to be careful about what he says because there is a fine line between telling the truth and lying. For his part, he finds it easy to understand Hegel but can’t relate with Abraham on the same level because he doesn’t have true faith like Abraham does. Johannes notes that most poets would consider Tobias the hero, but he believes Sarah is the real hero for allowing him to risk his life in order to marry her. The first part is easy enough to understand: if faith does not allow a person to step outside conventional ethics, then Abraham is "done for" or damned because he becomes nothing less than a murderer. He says that ethics are universal, but they’re associated with God. The paradox of faith can’t be mediated in the universal, because it’s both a temptation and a trial. He knew where it would end and even could change his mind. The second problem Kierkegaard addresses is the question of whether there’s an absolute duty to God. Johannes says it’s important to point out that through sin, one man could be higher than a universal (the demonic paradox). Ethics does not allow coincidences or third-party interventions; however, sometimes people achieve greatness by keeping a secret. It states that there’s an absolute duty to God and therefore ethics becomes relative because this isn’t true then Abraham should be condemned for his murder of Isaac as well as many other Biblical figures who were commanded by God to commit atrocious acts. Read a quick 1-Page Summary, a Full Summary, or watch video summaries curated by our expert team. Divine silence is when someone chooses to be silent because it’s for the greater good, like a man who cancels his wedding after an augur tells him he’ll die if he marries. If Abraham had given up on his faith, he might have lost Sarah, who was very important to him. He thought about four possible scenarios: One where Abraham tells Isaac what will happen; one where they both lose their faith after sacrificing the ram God sends them; one where only Abraham goes up to the mountain alone to beg for forgiveness from God because he was willing to sacrifice his son; or one where only Isaac loses his faith after learning that his father is willing to kill him. Enjoy! Mary is mortified, from the perspective of her society, by the pregnancy she cannot explain. Course Hero is not sponsored or endorsed by any college or university. However, this means people only consider whether a person is successful and ignore why he does what he does. Therefore, he proposes to examine Abraham’s life through three problemata (problems) to illustrate the power and place of faith in a temporal world. It can help you face the unknown, because it gives you confidence that God will make things better. Furthermore, arriving at such heights in your personal life doesn’t mean you’ll stop growing or doing great things with your life—you can be very successful while living out your beliefs and values every day, just as you could if you were extremely passionate about someone else all the time. The title is a reference to a line from Philippians 2:12, "...continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling." Temptation is the urge to assert one's particularity with regard to ethics. He is writing this book because he enjoys writing and believes that it will be ignored or criticized by others. Fortunately, Abraham’s faith never wavered; therefore, he became known as “the father of faith.”. Now that Abraham has moved past infinite resignation and stands at the extreme of faith, Johannes can’t completely understand him. Find a summary of this and each chapter of Fear and Trembling! Faith allows an individual to do something outside of the norm and still be accepted, but they must always remember that their actions are not justified by faith because others won’t understand. In this excerpt, our narrator Johannes de Silentio attempts to address misconceptions about the story of Abraham in order to properly redefine faith. 23 Dec. 2020. The Hegelian philosophy says that the external (the universal) is higher than the internal (the individual). Johannes also remarks how it would be better for people just to stop at faith and direct their energy towards keeping it instead of trying harder than others do. Therefore, we’re not forced into making an impossible choice between two equally terrible options. Søren Kierkegaard believed that faith was a difficult concept to understand. Course Hero, Inc. As a reminder, you may only use Course Hero content for your own personal use and may not copy, distribute, or otherwise exploit it for any other purpose. Johannes praises Abraham’s unwavering faith in God and promises that he’ll never forget what happened that day because it proved his faith. The Merman has no choice but to either become a demon or lose all hope in humanity if he remains silent about his true identity; however only aesthetics believes that marrying Agnete will save him from becoming a demon as long as she doesn’t know who he really is until after their wedding day when she finds out what kind of person her husband truly is (which would not allow her love for him to grow deeper). In acting on the absurd, Abraham becomes higher than the universal. Fear and Trembling - Problema II Summary & Analysis Soren Kierkegaard This Study Guide consists of approximately 30 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Fear and Trembling. Read the world’s #1 book summary of Fear And Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard here. 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