Considering the Morals of Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling
From the The History of Literature Podcast with Jacke Wilson
For tens of thousands of years, human beings have been using fictional devices to shape their worlds and communicate with one another. Four thousand years ago they began writing down these stories, and a great flourishing of human achievement began. We know it today as literature, a term broad enough to encompass everything from ancient epic poetry to contemporary novels. How did literature develop? What forms has it taken? And what can we learn from engaging with these works today? Hosted by Jacke Wilson, an amateur scholar with a lifelong passion for literature, The History of Literature takes a fresh look at some of the most compelling examples of creative genius the world has ever known.
In our last look at Søren Kierkegaard, we left our hero after he had just left the love of his life, Regine Olsen, in favor of a life devoted to God and philosophy. In this episode, Jacke looks at one of the great products of that seismic schism: Fear and Trembling, or Kierkegaard’s analysis of God’s command that Abraham should sacrifice his beloved son Isaac. How does Abraham’s decision fit into moral and ethical principles? And if it doesn’t fit, what does that mean for our society—or for Christianity itself?