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Faith's Movements In The Age Of Certainty

2150 words - 9 pages

“Even if someone were able to transpose the whole content of faith into conceptual form, ti does not follow that he has comprehended faith, comprehended how he entered into it or how it entered into him” that is to say that to conceptually understand does not necessarily translate into being capable of the movements of faith. This problem is precisely the one addressed in Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, how does one become a man of faith, actually transcend the ethical into a supposedly undiscovered realm of faith. Especially in an age of Reason, where ideas are cheapened by their believability and proliferation, how does faith, which is paradoxical and incomprehensible by reason and philosophy alone, exist. Intrinsic to faith are contradictions especially when the Hegelian system, presented as the common philosophy of the age, becomes inherently problematic when presented with Abraham’s situation. Much of this is derived from the demand for certainty that accompanied the age of reason, this newly scientific age characterized by philosophical processes. Certainty, as pursued by reason, prevents attainment of faith and complicates Abraham’s already paradoxical circumstance. Kierkegaard attempts to resolve the problem of faith and the possibility of its movements through both a poetic and philosophic discussion of the anomalies of Abraham’s story and how Abraham in spite of these maintains his position as the Father of Faith.
Focusing on Abraham and the associated problems with his instance, Kierkegaard employs his pseudonymous author--Johannes de Silentio--to tackle the question not as a philosopher but as a poet who has no faith but is interested in understanding. His argument unfolds in a series of Problema that address the critical questions regarding the Father of Faith’s situation and attempt to resolve the overarching question of faith in an age of certainty and reason.
In the early sections of the book, Kierkegaard through his pseudonymous author aims to establish the underlying complications of faith in the modern age. The preface introduces formally the primary question--that is how does faith exist in an age of reason when people of modernity do not stop with faith but go further, seeking certainty. Faith is not to be assumed to be had rather it is a process for a lifetime, just as doubt for Descartes and the Greek philosophers was not something presumed but was discovered only after a lifetime of meditation. Similarly, just one who has come to doubt cannot describe the process by which he has come to doubt but can describe the doubt in itself, faith, Johannes claims, can be described, but holding a conceptual idea of it does not in itself confer ability to make such movements. He asserts this problem can be adequately described through the Father of Faith, Abraham’s story. Presenting in the Exordium four alternatives to the actual story of Abraham, Johannes argues that the particulars of the story are critical to the...

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