This is a five-week autumn course that will be conducted via Zoom. (Zoom details will be sent to participants by email.) The course is a reading group.
Kierkegaard (1813–1855), Fear and Trembling: A Dialectical Lyric by Johannes de silentio.
Kierkegaard is pronounced ‘Kier-ke-gor’ (unless one attempts a more native, Danish pronunciation). Kierkegaard was a passionate Christian who saw his job as being to shake people up. (He modelled that self-conception upon Socrates, and it is a self-conception shared by Kierkegaard’s near-contemporary Nietzsche.) Kierkegaard shook up his townsfolk in Denmark sufficiently that the local newspaper ran mocking caricatures of him. His love life was brief and extraordinary. He tended to write under pseudonyms (hence the ‘Johannes’), some of whom take on a life of their own. Fear and Trembling is about the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. The book wishes to restore to the story what Kierkegaard sees as its radical, shocking demand. In so doing, Fear and Trembling treats the nature of, and interrelations between, morality, religion and philosophy. Kierkegaard’s work has been influential: in theology; in philosophy of religion; and he has been called ‘the father of existentialism'.
The book appeared in 1843. There are scholarly editions (Cambridge University Press, Princeton University Press) but the Penguin Classic edition (first published in 1985, and translated by Hannay) will suit us.
Our first week will treat the following sections of the book: its Preface; its section called ‘Attunement’; its ‘Speech in Praise of Abraham’.