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Fear and Trembling (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

By Sren Kierkegaard (Author) & Alastair Hannay (Translator)
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Item description for Fear and Trembling (Penguin Classics) by Sren Kierkegaard & Alastair Hannay...

Uses the story of Abraham and Isaac to discuss the "theological suspension of ethics," a philosophical concept that claims when one acts out of direction from God, one is not necessarily subject to the ethical laws of the universe.

Publishers Description

The perfect books for the true book lover, Penguin's Great Ideas series features twelve more groundbreaking works by some of history's most prodigious thinkers. Each volume is beautifully packaged with a unique type-driven design that highlights the bookmaker's art. Offering great literature in great packages at great prices, this series is ideal for those readers who want to explore and savor the Great Ideas that have shaped our world. Regarded as the father of Existentialism, Kierkegaard transformed philosophy with his conviction that we must all create our own nature; in this great work of religious anxiety, he argues that a true understanding of God can only be attained by making a personal "leap of faith."

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Penguin Classics
Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.92" Width: 5.06" Height: 0.43"
Weight:   0.25 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 1, 2000
Publisher   Penguin Classics
Age  18
Series  Penguin Classics  
ISBN  0140444491  
ISBN13  9780140444490  
UPC  051488014003  

Availability  159 units.
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More About Sren Kierkegaard & Alastair Hannay

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Scentsren Kierkegaard (1813-55) was born in Denmark and 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 Classi

Sren Kierkegaard was born in 1813 and died in 1855.

Sren Kierkegaard has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Penguin Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Foreign Language Books > More Languages > Danish
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Modern
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Religious
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( K ) > Kierkegaard, Soren

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Reviews - What do customers think about Fear and Trembling (Penguin Classics)?

FAITH IS A MEME  May 25, 2008
Not to be seen as making an Ad Hominem attack (a judgment based on the writer, or, in this case, the reviewer, as opposed to his or her argument), it should be quite obvious that at least one critic of this book does so on the basis of his own, personal "faith" in the Christian concept of God and all the rest of the residue that this belief provides. Now, I realize that I, being a confirmed atheist, bring my own intellectual baggage to this review. For that reason alone, some will dismiss my critique as one of a heathen, a pagan, an infidel, or something even worse (like, perhaps, a Jew). Well, my critique has nothing to do with my belief or disbelief in any god. I approach this from the standpoint of memetics, a fledgling science first introduced by Richard Dawkins in his tour-de-force of a book, The Selfish Gene. A "meme", basically, shares some, though certainly not all, of the characteristics of a gene, except for one important difference. A meme is the smallest unit of CULTURAL transmission, as opposed to a gene, which is a unit of biological transmission. A meme could be, say, the song "Happy Birthday to You", or rap music, or the obsession with anything made by Marc Jacobs. One obvious consequence of cultural verses biological transmission is that genes are transmitted vertically - from parents to offspring - while memes are transmitted horizontally, like viruses. In fact, the epidemiological model frequently invokes memes as being "viruses of the mind". Now, what does any of this have to do with Kierkegaard? So, it has to do with his concept of faith. Groups of memes, called memeplexes by some, tend to employ whatever strategies are most likely to spread themselves. Well, Christianity, like most religions, has some serious flaws in its logic, ranging from the transubstantiation of Christ, to the bodily resurrection of the faithful (there's that word again), to the existence of more than a single god. Basically, the religion is absurd, and anyone who questions it will see that in a second. But there's a catch, and that's the addition of the "faith meme". It could be said that the more outrageously absurd the religion, the more necessary the faith meme, and the stronger the faith meme needs to be in order to insure continued belief in the religion. For most, or many, of the faithful, faith is indeed the component that allows them to accept everything, such as Jesus' resurrection from the dead, or belief in a five-thousand-year old earth. So, what does all this have to do with Kierkegaard? Could it be that he wanted desperately to believe, to have faith, in his religion, but he was too smart to buy it? The faith meme wasn't working on him as it did/does on so many others of lower intellect, just plain gullibility, or such fear of death in this world that they create another. Perhaps this is a simplistic way of interpreting Kierkegaard, but I have faith that it's at least accurate. For all those who are intrigued, or, better yet, offended, by this review, I would recommend picking up (investing in) a copy of Susan Blackmore's "The Meme Machine", as well as Richard Dawkins's recent best-seller, "The God Delusion". I, by the way, am no philosopher or philosophy student, so you can dismiss this easily with the old Ad Hominem attack - he has no credentials so why should we listen to him; better to listen to Jesus, at least he could walk on water. Well, if you want to believe that, then God bless you, you have more faith than I do. - dsb
Fear and Trembling  Apr 24, 2008
This is an amazing book that deals with Abraham and his order from God to kill, then desist from killing Isacc. This book has the ring of Gods image, or inner truth distilled in us all. Abraham was indeed no genius but with the combination of realizing his inner image of God (truth) and his faith he took a huge step for Gods Children. With that combination abraham possed true faith. It was God himself who told Abraham to sacrifice Isacc, yet a mere angel whom told him not to. A person of modern faith would have, without much doubt went ahead and killed Isacc as a person of modern faith would think that the angel was the devil simply tempting he/she-after all it was god who gave the order to kill and only an angel who said not to.

Find out if you have been blinded by modern faiths lack of truth and seeking, and see if you would do as abraham did. Read this and it will help you tear away modernities fairy tale faith from the inside out and leave you seeking true faith, a faith that does not come cheap and is not shear leniency like most modern versions of faith.
Fear and Trembling  Sep 5, 2007
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. He puts forth, at the start, 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.

The concepts Kierkegaard is dealing with are obviously very heavy, but there is a lightness of touch to his philosophy that makes reading Fear and Trembling a pleasure rather than a chore. Kierkegaard's language is conversational, almost casual, but it is also elegant and quite powerful. He wrote the novella through the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio, the text is heavily personalised throughout, with much of the opinion coming directly from the author. Kierkegaard suggests that 'the ethical expression for what Abraham did is that he was willing to murder Isaac; the religious expression is that he was willing to sacrifice Isaac', he goes on to say that it is this very contradiction that shows the chasm between reason and faith. For any reason, and in almost any context, the story of Abraham is the story of a man willing to murder his own son. But only when the story is read from the viewpoint of faith does it become something more, indeed it becomes something so far above our experience that Abraham will forever remain impossible to understand. He asks whether the duty to obey God supersedes the ethically negative choice to murder. To say that Abraham acted admirably or ethically is to miss the point, Kierkegaard answers. Abraham acted with faith. He was not, at any time, aware of the outcome of his actions, other than the outcome which had been directly demanded by God. He was going to sacrifice his son with the full understanding that what he was doing was committing murder in the name of God, that he was spared at the final instant reflects nothing on Abraham, because he passed every challenge perfectly. If Abraham had known Isaac would be spared, the whole story would remain at a level which we, as humans using our reason, could understand. But that he did not know, that he was willing to sacrifice his son, shows a level of faith that can only be understood by faith.

Kierkegaard asks difficult questions with Fear and Trembling. Faith, whether one possesses it or not, is a fascinating topic for discussion and contemplation. Kierkegaard was writing at a time when faith was on the wane - and this time has arguably continued until the present - indeed, when philosophical energy was devoted to purely secular problems. He argues, emphatically and convincingly, that a true understanding of God can only come about after a supreme test of faith akin to that of Abraham's. Abraham proved that he had faith by being faithful in the absolute sense of the word - Kierkegaard dubs him a Knight of Faith. He also introduces the concept of a Knight of infinite resignation who, though they may live a similarly heroic, majestic, important, influential life, know that at some stage they will get it all back - be it historical justification, or wealth and power while they are alive. 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.
Provocative but flawed  Mar 30, 2007
Essential reading for anyone with the slightest interest in religion or philosophy. He makes an important point: faith cannot be collapsed into the ethical, taking the Old Testament story of Abraham's aborted sacrifice of Isaac as his proof text. If faith was simply a matter of acting ethically, then we wouldn't need religion, only ethics. That said, I don't like how he makes faith into something so superhuman and difficult that only a few spiritual athletes are capable of it. Which is wrong. Christian faith is available to anyone. Christ said, "come unto me all ye that are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." And I don't believe that faith contradicts ethics either, as Kierkegaard suggests. Kierkegaard's message was to a largely Christian society that took faith for granted. He wanted to bring out the radicality of faith, which is a valuable message. But today, when Christian Churches are losing members, we need the evangelical message, to bring people in. Faith is first of all an expression of love for God and our fellow humans, not a leap into the absurd. Kierkegaard used to appeal to me more when I was younger, and I liked the idea of viewing my faith as something radical and even scandalous. Now that I'm more mature, I realize that faith is really about loving and trusting God and loving my neighbor as myself. Yes, there's a sacrifice involved; Kierkegaard is right about that, but trusting God means trusting his goodness and love.
Goes Good With Free On-line Course  Jan 1, 2007
Fear and Trembling by Soren Kierkegaard originally published in the mid-1800s is widely considered a classic of existentialist literature. These comments pertain to the Penguin version of Fear and Trembling translated by Hannay.

Though Kierkegaard talent is readily apparent, his work can be a difficult slog without the appropriate context or guidance. Personally, I have always found Kierkegaard difficult and as a result have tended to refer to secondary rather than primary sources in dealing with him. My experience with Fear and Trembling was different and markedly more fulfilling. I stumbled across a wonderful free, on-line University of California Berkley existentialist literature course available at [...] The first half dozen or so lectures of this course deal with Fear and Trembling - I highly recommend it.

Overall, it is an excellent version of an important work. I recommend the text as well as a look at the Berkley site.

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