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Kierkegaard’s Fear And Trembling: A Solution To Kierkegaard’s Despair Over Christianity

1229 words - 5 pages

In Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, the concept of the Knight of Faith is an exalted one, a unique title awarded to those whose devotion to God goes far beyond what is even comprehensible or expected for the average man, who has an aesthetic or ethical life. We are told by Kierkegaard that this Knight of Faith, when in a situation where resignation appears to be the only solution to a problem, puts his faith in what appears to be the absurd, and believes that the solution that he desires lies in God. This fuels his faith, and makes him better than the aesthetic man, who simply abandons or ignores the problem, or the ethical man, the Knight of Infinite Resignation, who accepts the problem and resigns himself to a life of despair. The Knight of Faith exists as a shining beacon of devotion to the will of God, and, according to Kierkegaard, there exist only two known examples of the Knight of Faith: Abraham, and Mary. These exemplary figures in history put their faith in God, and believed that God would provide a solution to their problems. This unconditional faith in their creator is supposed to be inspirational, and in a sense, make the reader feel incredibly pitiful and resentful of their own wavering faith. In the following paragraphs, I aim to argue that a moment of absolute faithlessness can prove to be just as powerful as a moment of pure faith, and that Mary and Abraham serve as God-given examples of an absolute faith that is inaccessible to all but a few humans who serve very specific purposes in this world. Finally, I will propose a different mode of existence, one in which a man’s free will allows him to find joy in whatever God provides for him.
In Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard uses the example of Abraham as a man who is ready and willing to sacrifice Isaac in an act of faith, which is far more powerful than the life of a person who lives the most righteously. In that act of faith, Abraham does not try to avoid what God has mandated, nor does he resign himself to what appears to be an inevitable fate for his son. Instead, he places absolute faith in the idea that God will save his son, that his son will not die. He maintains this faith even as he brings the knife to his son’s throat, which is a faith so powerful that there exists only one other known example of it: the faith of Mary when God tells her he is the father of her son. These acts of faith are profound and beautiful, and they serve as examples of absolute faith: it seems as though Mary and Abraham existed in order for these examples of absolute faith to exist. They served a very specific purpose in God’s kingdom, and their stories are retold in order to inspire people: not to a life of absolute faith, but instead to worship God for his infinite love for his creation. Faith, for a person not chosen by God for such a specific purpose, can only be an approximation of the absolute, and there exists an immaturity in a person who allows for absolute faith in...

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