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Fear and Trembling This is not a review of Kierkegaard's work (which is a seminal piece of modern philosophy), but instead of the quality of the Wilder Publications edition. Most of the reviews you will see of this title here on Amazon refer to the Penguin Classic edition, which would undoubtedly have to be a better-produced version of this book. The Wilder edition is a thin, print-on-demand paperback that resembles a pamphlet more than a book. There is no text on the spine (good luck finding this after it's been on your bookshelf for a few months) and there are no credits beyond Kierkegaard's -- that's right, no one takes or is given credit (or blame) for the translation. It's not enough to say I wouldn't have paid the asking price had I seen this in a store -- I WOULD NOT HAVE BOUGHT THIS if I had seen it in a store.
Print-on-demand publishers are responsible for keeping some great work available. Some of them are also responsible for presenting that work in the poorest possible light. Choose this book from a publisher you've heard of.
The description of this kindle book promises the whole text. However, the text from which it is derived is an abridgement consisting of only 1/3 of Fear and Trembling. While the material itself is of high quality this editon failed to meet my expectations. Half of the content was simply a summary of Kierkegaard (grealt resembling the wikipedia entry) instead of the actual text. It's not worth paying money for a public domain author when you don't even receive the whole work.
It pleases me that so many readers have reviewed "Fear and Trembling" at amazon.com, yet infuriates me that so few have written anything of substance for those who wish to know whether Everyman's edition is the one to buy. Yes, "Fear and Trembling" is a response to Hegel. Yes, the story of Abraham is central to it. Truly, my hat is off to those who have thought carefully and insightfully about this work; however, most of amazon.com's reader reviews of "F&T" merely restate what one finds in Steiner's introduction--which (surprise, surprise!) is available to every passerby, thanks to Amazon.com's "look inside" option.
Ignore the critical interpretations available here, and skip directly to Steiner's introduction. What you will find there should convince you that this is the translation worth your money. Quite simply, Steiner writes beautifully, with an almost hypnotizing lyrical precision. And while Steiner isn't the translator, the flavor and quality of his prose closely matches that of the translation itself; I have yet to find another translation of "F&T" that I believe compares to Everyman's.
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Faith, it goes without saying, is a personal thing. It is a private aspect of a person's life that may, if they wish, become public, though there is no real need for this to occur. Faith is something that cannot be explained - certainly not to the satisfaction of an atheist - rather, it is something that is believed. Faith, in short, is faith. The particularities of faith are among the causes of many great schisms of the last thousand or so years of European history. Fear and Trembling, Kierkegaard's small, dense work on faith, tackles the problem of what is means to believe.
In the 19th century, secular philosophy believed that religion was explicable, whereas the difficulties of Hegel were exceedingly great. 'I for my part have devoted a good deal of time to the understanding of the Hegelian philosophy, I believe also that I understand it tolerably well, but when in spite of the trouble I have taken there are certain passages I cannot understand, I am foolhardy enough to think that he himself has not been quite clear. All this I do easily and naturally, my head does not suffer from it. But on the other hand when I have to think of Abraham, I am as though annihilated.'
Annihilated. Kierkegaard explores the biblical story of Abraham, who was commanded by God to sacrifice his only son, Isaac. Abraham sets out with the full intention of doing so, but is prevented at the last moment. A ram is provided as a sacrifice instead. 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.Read more ›
Atheists need to read this book. Empathy is a good thing and we need to understand the suffering of those who chose faith as a way of dealing with the world, however misguided they happen to be.
Philosophers reflect the times in which they live. In the 19th century, technology and industry were progressing but so was large-scale warfare. As our lot improved, we gradually became aware of how bad things were. Through physics and engineering, man was conquering his world and so philosophers believed they too would soon understanding everything.
Kierkegaard correctly condemns the hubris of those philosophers who seek to "go beyond faith". His existentialism stands in stark contrast to the posturing of Hegel and the ramblings of Marx. Kierkegaard screams out man's pain and seeks refuge in Christian faith. But Kierkegaard is no mere fire and brimstone preacher. He is honest enough to see the core problem in Christianity and brave enough to attack it head on. In a word, faith is absurd.
Abraham is the father of faith to the three monotheistic myths, and according to Kierkegaard faith was born at a precise moment in the biblical story of Abraham. Faith was born when Abraham accepted god's command to sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar with a knife. He accepted this command, knew he would plunge the knife into his son despite the unbearable suffering this would cause him, and knew as well that everything would work out. Kierkegaard is crystal clear on this point: Abraham knew he would kill his son and he knew things would work out. That is faith and that is absurd and Kierkegaard revels dumbfounded in this fact.
He then justifies Abraham's act with his concept of a "teleological suspension of the ethical".Read more ›