Fear & Trembling

8 March 2008 § Leave a comment

Scribbled on the last page upon finishing the book:

I’m drawn to SK’s emphasis on the particular over general, individual over universal (although universal is over the individual who has not seen the universal) – and I agree that faith is madness and a hearkening to absurdity. But I don’t put value to that. Giving that value only works if one grants one religion supremacy. Would Kierkegaard say that a Muslim’s faith, a Hindu’s faith, could equal Abraham’s? I don’t know. Ironic, given that Kierkegaard paves the way for existentialism, a philosophy so well predisposed to an atheist (though perhaps not faithless) viewpoint. Yet fear and trembling is a religious experience. Would Abraham’s faith be the same if the voices were in his head, not from God? Would SK still consider him the hero, the knight of faith?
More excerpts from my marginalia:
“can’t one come to infinite resignation w/o this intentional turning from happiness? or: a man knows that, despite his love & joy for his wife, he must separate –> so it must be resignation of that which brings happiness? (life-denying act) followed by a blind optimism (life-affirming on surface, but a seeming psychosis; thus he said, it appears as madness)” p56
“faith exists w/o introspection? No; but it leads to a decision based on the absurd, –> faith is a particular, lived-in experience, not a reflection of an IDEA” p83
“strange – the universal would seem to conceal, not disclose…” p98
Soren out of context:
“He resigned everything infinitely, and then took everything back on the strength of the absurd.” p45
“Faith is therefore no aesthetic emotion, but something far higher, exactly because it presupposes resignation; it is not the immediate inclination of the heart but the paradox of existence.” p53
“It takes a purely human courage to renounce the whole of temporality in order to win eternity, but I do indeed win it and cannot in all eternity renounce that, for that would be a self-contradiction; but it takes a paradoxical and humble courage then to grasp the whole of temporality on the strength of the absurd, and that courage is the courage of faith.” p55
“As soon as the single individual wants to assert himself in his particularity, in direct opposition to the universal, he sins, and only by recognizing this can he again reconcile himself with the universal. Whenever, having entered the universal, the single individual feels an urge to assert his particularity, he is in a state of temptation, from which he can extricate himself only by surrendering his particularity to the universal in repentance.” p62
“If anyone on the verge of action should judge himself according to the outcome, he would never begin. Even though the result may gladden the whole world, that cannot help the hero; for he knows the result only when the whole thing is over, and that is not how he becomes a hero, but by virtue of the fact that he began.” p74
“He knows it is beautiful and benign to be the particular who translates himself into the universal, the one who so to speak makes a clear and elegant edition of himself, as immaculate as possible, and readable for all; . . . But he also knows that higher up there winds a lonely path, narrow and steep; he knows it is terrible to be born in solitude outside the universal, to walk without meeting a single traveller. He knows ver well where he is, and how he is related to men. Humanly speaking he is insane and cannot make himself understood to anyone.” p91
“The true knight of faith is a witness, never a teacher, and in this lies the deep humanity in him which is more worth than this foolish concern for others’ weal and woe which is honoured under the name of sympathy, but which is really nothing but vanity.” p96
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