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Fear and Trembling

Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de Silentio


Publisher writes

Writing under the pseudonym of Johannes de silentio, Kierkegaard uses the form of a dialectical lyric to present his conception of faith. 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 infamous and controversial 'teleological suspension of the ethical' challenged the contemporary views of Hegel's universal moral system, and the suffering individual must alone make a choice 'on the strength of the absurd'. Kierkegaard's writings have inspired both modern Protestant theology and existentialism.

Author Information

Soren Kierkegaard, (translated by Alastair Hannay), Alastair Hannay

Danish-born S ren Kierkegaard (1813-55) wrote on a wide variety of themes, including religion, psychology, and literature. He is remembered for his philosophy, which was influential in the development of 20th century existentialism. Alastair Hannay is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oslo. He is co-editor of the Cambridge Companion to Kierkegaard and has translated Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling, The Sickness unto Death, Either/Or, and Papers and Journals for Penguin Classics

Judges' and contributors' comments

David Atkinson: Kierkegaard was a Danish thinker who, in philosophical terms, was the father of existentialism. Writing for him was a form of worship. He opposed institutional religion, and underlined the subjectivity of truth and that authentic Christianity is the individual’s ‘leap of faith’ in response to God. Fear and Trembling (1843) was, like many of his writings, written under a pseudonym. It uses the paradox in the story of Abraham’s call to sacrifice Isaac to illustrate how truth is perceived through anguished struggle and authentic decision. The book is often thought to be autobiographical.

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