Fear and Trembling
Fear and Trembling
"Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling..."
- Philippians 2:12
In this timeless work, Soren Kierkegaard studies the biblical story of Abraham, who was commanded by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.
He asks whether the duty to obey God supersedes the ethically negative choice to murder.
Abraham sets out with the full intention of doing so, but is prevented at the last moment by God.
A ram is provided as a sacrifice instead.
Abraham only knew that he would end his day having killed his only son, and yet he still climbed the mountain and raised his knife high. That is faith.
Kierkegaard saw this as the supreme example of what it means to have faith, and how faith could never be properly understood through the lens of faith.
He explores alternate versions of internal thoughts for Sarah (Abraham's wife), Abraham and Isaac, and then explores what it means that Abraham was willing to go to such lengths for God.
Was Abraham's proposed action morally and religiously justified, or murder?
Is there an absolute duty to God?
In pondering these questions, Kierkegaard presents faith as a paradox that cannot be understood by reason and conventional morality alone.
Everyone has a choice in life: we each have the right to speak or not to speak and the right to act or not to act.
Søren Kierkegaard (1813–1855) was a Danish philosopher, theologian, poet, social critic and religious author widely considered to be the first existentialist philosopher. He wrote critical texts on organized religion, Christendom, morality, ethics, psychology, and the philosophy of religion, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and parables. Much of his philosophical work deals with the issues of how one lives as a "single individual", giving priority to concrete human reality over abstract thinking and highlighting the importance of personal choice and commitment.