Fear and Trembling, by Soren Kierkegaard

The author describes a knight of faith. This individual stands apart from society and does what God commands, even when the command is to do what is foolish. This knight has no aide-de-camp. His work is solitary.

The first knight of faith is Abraham, who listened to God’s command to do what was foolish to him. Only by slaying his son, Isaac, could the old man fulfill the promise to become a father of many nations. This was foolishness, but to resist the divine command would be to give up being a knight of faith. Kierkegaard grabs on to this thought like a terrier and won’t let it go. Does God command what is unlawful, or is the law just what God commands? Modern man hears no voices and has to take his revelation secondhand. Accept Abraham’s story as true–what does it mean for someone today who wants to follow God’s law?

The author imagines a contemporary knight of faith. He is outwardly a bourgeois, and no stimulus will make him react. Everything is acceptable to him. Prayer has no place in his schedule, and it would seem to be unnecessary. This is Abraham without voices, a son, or Moriah to climb. He gets along.

Greek myth tells a similar story of a man and his daughter–Agamemnon and Iphigenia. He had to slay his daughter to appease the gods and win his way to Troy. He was a man of duty and went through with the ceremony. The Greek gods tricked him and put an animal in her place. She was sent to Tauris to live a life dedicated to the gods, though he thought she was dead. The myths say that Orestes found her there after Agamemnon’s return from Troy to well-loved Clytemnestra.

This book and its thoughts are not of the English-speaking world. This is Continental philosophy. There is nothing practical here, or analytically precise.

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