Fear and Trembling, by Søren Kierkegaard

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

Re: Fear and Trembling, by Søren Kierkegaard

Postby admin » Sun May 06, 2018 3:39 am


One time in Holland when the market was rather dull for spices the merchants had several cargoes dumped into the sea to peg up prices. This was a pardonable, perhaps a necessary device for deluding people. Is it something like that we need now in the world of spirit? Are we so thoroughly convinced that we have attained the highest point that there is nothing left for us but to make ourselves believe piously that we have not got so far -- just for the sake of having something left to occupy our time? Is it such a self-deception the present generation has need of, does it need to be trained to virtuosity in self-deception, or is it not rather sufficiently perfected already in the art of deceiving itself? Or rather is not the thing most needed an honest seriousness which dauntlessly and incorruptibly points to the tasks, an honest seriousness which lovingly watches over the tasks, which does not frighten men into being over hasty in getting the highest tasks accomplished, but keeps the tasks young and beautiful and charming to look upon and yet difficult withal and appealing to noble minds. For the enthusiasm of noble natures is aroused only by difficulties. Whatever the one generation may learn from the other, that which is genuinely human no generation learns from the foregoing. In this respect every generation begins primitively, has no different task from that of every previous generation, nor does it get further, except in so far as the preceding generation shirked its task and deluded itself. This authentically human factor is passion, in which also the one generation perfectly understands the other and understands itself. Thus no generation has learned from another to love, no generation begins at any other point than at the beginning, no generation has a shorter task assigned to it than had the preceding generation, and if here one is not willing like the previous generations to stop with love but would go further, this is but idle and foolish talk.

But the highest passion in a man is faith, and here no generation begins at any other point than did the preceding generation, every generation begins all over again, the subsequent generation gets no further than the foregoing -- in so far as this remained faithful to its task and did not leave it in the lurch. That this should be wearisome is of course something the generation cannot say, for the generation has in fact the task to perform and has nothing to do with the consideration that the foregoing generation had the same task -- unless the particular generation or the particular individuals within it were presumptuous enough to assume the place which belongs by right only to the Spirit which governs the world and has patience enough not to grow weary. If the generation begins that sort of thing, it is upside down, and what wonder then that the whole of existence seems to it upside down, for there surely is no one who has found the world so upside down as did the tailor in the fairy tale97 who went up in his lifetime to heaven and from that standpoint contemplated the world. If the generation would only concern itself about its task, which is the highest thing it can do, it cannot grow weary, for the task is always sufficient for a human life. When the children on a holiday have already got through playing all their games before the clock strikes twelve and say impatiently, "Is there nobody can think of a new game?" does this prove that these children are more developed and more advanced than the children of the same generation or of a previous one who could stretch out the familiar games, to last the whole day long? Or does it not prove rather that these children lack what I would call the lovable seriousness which belongs essentially to play?

Faith is the highest passion in a man. There are perhaps many in every generation who do not even reach it, but no one gets further. Whether there be many in our age who do not discover it, I will not decide, I dare only appeal to myself as a witness who makes no secret that the prospects for him are not the best, without for all that wanting to delude himself and to betray the great thing which is faith by reducing it to an insignificance, to an ailment of childhood which one must wish to get over as soon as possible. But for the man also who does not so much as reach faith life has tasks enough, and if one loves them sincerely, life will by no means be wasted, even though it never is comparable to the life of those who sensed and grasped the highest. But he who reached faith (it makes no difference whether he be a man of distinguished talents or a simple man) does not remain standing at faith, yea, he would be offended if anyone were to say this of him, just as the lover would be indignant if one said that he remained standing at love, for he would reply, "I do not remain standing by any means, my whole life is in this." Nevertheless he does not get further, does not reach anything different, for if he discovers this, he has a different explanation for it.

"One must go further, one must go further." This impulse to go further is an ancient thing in the world. Heraclitus the obscure, who deposited his thoughts in his writings and his writings in the Temple of Diana (for his thoughts had been his armor during his life, and therefore he hung them up in the temple of the goddess),98 Heraclitus the obscure said, "One cannot pass twice through the same stream." [Plato's Cratyllus, §402.] Heraclitus the obscure had a disciple who did not stop with that, he went further and added, "One cannot do it even once." [Cf. Tennemann, Geschichte der Philosophie, I, p. 220.] Poor Heraclitus, to have such a disciple! By this amendment the thesis of Heraclitus was so improved that it became an Eleatic thesis which denies movement, and yet that disciple desired only to be a disciple of Heraclitus … and to go further -- not back to the position Heraclitus had abandoned.
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Re: Fear and Trembling, by Søren Kierkegaard

Postby admin » Sun May 06, 2018 3:40 am


Translator's Notes

(I am indebted to most of these notes to the editors of the Danish edition of S.K.'s Complete Works.)

1 The story of Tarquin's son at Gabii is told in the [Translator's] Introduction[:] […the motto on the back of the title page, which he got from Hamann, recalls the well-known story of old Rome, which relates that when the son of Tarquinius Superbus had craftily gained the confidence of the people of Gabii he secretly sent a messenger to his father in Rome, asking what he should do next. The father, not willing to trust the messenger, took him into the field where as he walked he struck off with his cane the heads of the tallest poppies. The son understood that he was to bring about the death of the most eminent men in the city and proceeded to do so.]

2 The Preface is aimed especially at Martensen's review of J.L. Heiberg's "Introductory Lectures to Speculative Logic," Danske Maanedskrift, No. 16 for 1836, pp. 515ff.

3 Descartes is mentioned here because Martensen made appeal to him in the article mentioned in the preceeding note.

4 Remembering, however, as I have already said, that the natural light is to be trusted only in so far as nothing to the contrary is revealed by God Himself. … Moreover, it must be fixed in one's memory as the highest rule, that what has been revealed to us by God is to be believed as the most certain of all things; and even though the light of reason should seem most clearly to suggest something else, we must nevertheless give creedence to the divine authority only, rather than our own judgment. (Principia philosophiae, pars prima 28 and 76.)

5 Let no one think that I am here to propound a method which everyone ought to follow in order to govern his reason aright; for I have merely the intention of expounding the method I myself have followed. … But no sooner had I finished the course of study at the conclusion of which one is ordinarily adopted into the ranks of the learned, than I began to think of something very different from that. For I became aware that I was involved in so many doubts, so many errors, that all efforts to learn were, as I saw it, of no other help to me than I might more and more discover my ignorance (Dissertatio de methodo, pp. 2 and 3)

6 Martensen gave such "promises" in the article referred to in notes 2 and 3.

7 S.K.'s contemptuous way of referring to the Berlingske Tidende, a newspaper owned and edited by his bête noire, the wholesale merchant Nathanson. This advertisement attracted particular attention because the enterprising young gardener accompanied it with a sketch of himself in the ingratiating attitude here described.

8 In J.L. Heiberg's The Reviewer and the Beast, Trop tears his own tragedy, The Destruction of the Human Race, into two equal pieces, remarking, "Since it doesn't cost more to preserve good taste, why shouldn't we do it?"

9 Only three years before this the first omnibus was seen in Copenhagen.

10 One might blamelessly be in doubt how to translate this title (as the four translators into German, French and English have been) had not S.K. himself indicated (IV B 81) that he here uses the word Stemning in the sense of prooimion, the Greek word which gives us proem. I have preferred to use the word prelude because it will be more commonly understood. Cf. IV A 93.

11 Genesis, Chapter 22.

12 Judith 10:11. S.K. quotes this passage in the Postscript. Cf. III A 197.

13 Alluding to various passages in Homer (e.g. Illiad III 381) where a divinity saves a hero by enveloping him in a cloud and carrying him away. We discover additional pathos in the picture of the "lover" when we remember that at the end of The Point of View (pp. 62f. and 100ff.) S.K. looks for the coming of his poet, his lover.

14 It is evident from the sequel that Jeremiah is meant.

15 Here we have a glimpse of "repetition."

16 Cf. Plato's Phaedrus, 22 and 37.

17 In Oelenschläger's play Alladin the hero is contrasted with Noureddin the representative of darkness.

18 Isaiah 26:18.

19 Themistocles, as related in Plutarch's Themistocles, 3, 3.

20 Eleven months later (with only one pseudonymous work intervening) S.K. published The Concept of Dread [=Anxiety], and this remained one his most distinctive categories. Although all have agreed to use the word "dread," no one can think it adequate as a translation of Angst. For though it denotes the presentiment of evil it does not sufficiently emphasize the anguish of the experience.

21 The connection requires a masculine pronoun, but Regina is meant, and she must have known it, for such were her words when she refused to give Kierkegaard back his freedom.

22 As Professor Martensen had claimed to do (Danske Maanedskrift, No. 16 referred to in note 2 above. Cf. I A 328, p. 130). But Sibbern too claimed for Heiberg that he "goes beyond Hegel" (the same review, No. 10, year 1838, p. 292).

23 Quoted from Horace's Letters, I, 18, 84: "It's your affair when the neighbor's house is afire."

24 The reader may need to be apprised that Johannes de silentio is in that religious stage which by Johannes Climacus in the Postscript is called "religiousness A," the basis of all religiousness, but therefore not the distinctively Christian position, which here is called "religiousness B," or the paradoxical religiousness which is characterized by faith in the strictest sense.

25 This is decidedly autobiographical.

26 S.K. attributed his spinal curvature to a fall from a tree when he was a child.

27 The reader who has not heard or has not heeded S.K.'s warning not to attribute to him personally a single word the pseudonyms say may need here to be reminded that it is not S.K. who reiterates so insistently that he cannot understand Abraham. It is Johannes de silentio who says this, and the purpose of it is to emphasize the fact that the paradoxical religiousness (religiousness B) is and remains a paradox to everyone who stands on a lower plane, even to one who has got so high as to be able to make the movement of infinite resignation, so long as his religion is in the sphere of immanence.

28 Introduced about 1840 in Copenhagen.

29 The "princess" is of course the most obvious analogue to Regina, and one which she could not fail to discover; but every other reader may need the hint that in this whole paragraph S.K. describes his own act of resignation.

30 At the time of his engagement S.K. registered the observation that certain insects die the instant they fertilize their mate, and he repeated this in the sixth Diapsalm of Either/Or.

31 "A blissful leap into eternity."

32 Cf. what is said in Repetition about the young man who "recollects" his love as soon as he is engaged. It is quoted in my Kierkegaard, p. 212.

33 It seems clear enough that this passage was written after S.K. learned of Regina's engagement, and the tone of it suggests that he had had time to repent of the very different language he used when he rewrote Repetition. It is therefore an additional argument for the view that this book was written later than the other.

34 "The pre-established harmony" was a fundamental concept of Leibnitz's philosophy.

35 See Magyarische Sagen by Johan Graf Mailáth (Stuttgart u. Tübingen 1838), Vol. II, p. 18 Cf. Journal II A 449.

36 An entry in the Journal (IV A 107) dated May 17 [1843], at the time, that is, when he was composing these two works in Berlin, S.K. says: "If I had had faith, I would have remained with Regina." He was then only a knight of infinite resignation, but he was in the way of becoming a knight of faith.

37 It would have been well had I remarked earlier that the Danish words resignere and Resignation have a more active sense than we attach to the word "resignation," that they imply an act rather than a passive endurance of a situation, and therefore could be translated by "renounce," "renunciation"–yet it would not do to dub our knight the knight of renunciation.

38 See Rosenkranz, Erinnerungen an Karl Daub (Berlin 1837), p. 2. Cf. Journal IV A 92.

39 S.K. liked to be called "Master of Irony" in view of the big book on The Concept of Irony by which he won his degree of Master of Arts.

40 A Greek word meaning end or goal–which S.K. writes with Greek letters but I transliterate because it is of such common occurrence, and also because it is in the way of becoming an English word.

41 This is the conception of the ethical which is stressed in the Second Part of Either/Or. Perhaps Schrempf is right in affirming that what caused S.K. unnecessary agony was his acceptance of the Hegelian notion of the relation between the universal and the particular.

42 Cf. Philosophie des Rechts, 2nd ed. (1840) §§129-141 and Table of Contents p. xix.

43 The Trojan war. When the Greek fleet was unable to set sail from Aulis because of an adverse wind the seer Calchas announced that King Agamemnon had offended Artemis and that the goddess demanded his daughter Iphigenia as a sacrifice of expiation.

44 See Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis, v. 448 in Wilster's translation. Agamemnon says, "How lucky to be born in lowly station where one may be allowed to weep." The confidants mentioned below are Menelaus, Calchas and Ulysses. Cf. v. 107.

45 Jephtha. Judges 11:30-40.

46 The sons of Brutus, while their father was Consul, took part in a conspiracy to restore the king Rome has expelled, and Brutus ordered them put to death.

47 This is temptation is the sense we ordinarily attach to the word. For temptation in a higher sense (Anfaegtelse) I have in the translation of other books used the phrase "trial of temptation." Professor Swenson, in an important passage of the Postscript, preferred to use the German word Anfechtung. In this work I have use "temptation" and added the German word in parentheses. The distinction between the two sorts of temptation is plainly indicated by S.K. in this paragraph.

48 This is the Scriptural word which we translate by "offense" or "stumbling block." Only Mr. Dru has preferred to use the identical word "scandal."

49 Docents and Privatdocents (both of them German titles for subordinate teachers in the universities) were very frequently the objects of S.K.'s satire. He spoke more frequently about "the professor" after Martensen had attained that title.

50 It would be interesting and edifying to make an anthology of the passages in which S.K. speaks of the Blessed Virgin; for surely no Protestant was ever so much engrossed in this theme, and perhaps no Catholic has appreciated more profoundly this unique position of Mary.

51 In Auszüge aus den Literatur-Briefen, 81st letter, in Maltzahn's ed. Vol. vi, pp. 205ff.

52 E.g. Hegel's Logik, ii, Book 2, Sect 3, Cap. C (Werke IV, pp. 177ff.; Encyclopedie I §140 (Werke VI, pp. 275ff.).

53 It appears from the Journal (I A 273) that S.K. had in mind Schleiermacher's "Theology of Feeling," and also (with not so obvious a justification) the dogmatists of the Hegelian school. The Danish editors refer to Marheineke, Dogmatik, 2nd ed. §§70, 71, 86.

54 Unexpected.

55 In this particular instance S.K. could define precisely what he understood by Isaac, that is, Regina; and the formlessness of this sentence was intentional–it is a smokescreen.

56 The Danish editors refer to Bretschneider's Lexicon; but no language lacks "exegetical aids" which serve the purpose of emasculating the New Testament. In this instance the absolute word "hate" is weakened successively by each term used to define it: "feel dislike," "love less," "put in a subordinate place," "show no reverence," "regard as naught."

57 The Hebrew consonants yodh and vav originally indicated vowel sounds, and when the vowel sounds came to be written below the consonants these letters became superfluous in this respect and were said to repose (hvile) in the vowel. So S.K. understood the situation in his Journal II A 406, but here he has inverted it.

58 Fabius Maximus who in 217 B.C. conducted the war against Hannibal and received the appellation of Cunctator for his successful strategy of delay or procrastination.

59 Public property.

60 A play by Olussen, which in Act ii, Scene 10 and elsewhere speaks of "two witnesses" but not of beadles (Stokemændene) i.e. four men appointed to attend legal proceedings as witnesses.

61 The corresponding passages are Deut. 16:6f. and 33:9; Matt. 10:37, 19:29. In the manuscript 1 Cor. 7:11 is spoken of as a "similar" passage, but not with good reason.

62 Two parts of the myth, viz. change and recognition, have to do with this.

63 The word is literally "carrom." The Danish editors explain that it means here to coincide at the same instant. Thus Oedipus by "recognizing" who he is brings about a "change" in his fortune.

64 Oedipus in Sophocles' tragedy of that name.

65 Iphigenia in Euripides' Iphigenia in Tauris.

66 In his Natural History, V, 4, 7. Cf. Journal IV A 36.

67 Book viii (5), Cap. 3, 3.

68 Title of a Roman priesthood, which S.K. (I know not for what reason) applies here to the Greek soothsayers.

69 Vol. I, §§1 and 2–p. 10 in Maltzahn's ed.

70 Theology of pilgrims–contrasted with theologia beatorum, and ancient division no longer in vogue.

71 It is remembered that S.K. believed his marriage was prohibited by a "divine veto." Hence the prospective bridegroom of Delphi presents the closest analogy to his situation. In fact, the Journal shows that every line of conduct contemplated in this passage was seriously considered by S.K.–even the possibility of a "romantic union" without marriage. But it was the second line of conduct he chose.

72 Axel and Valborg are the pair of unhappy lovers most celebrated in Danish literature. Because of their close consanguinity the Church forbade their marriage.

73 This in fact was S.K.'s position.

74 Cf. Lessing, Hamburgische Dramaturgie, Vol. I, art. 22 (in Maltzahn's ed VII, p. 96).

75 Nowhere, not even in the Journal, has S.K. so perfectly described the modest confidence with which Regina committed herself to him.

76 It is found in the fairy tale of "Beauty and the Beast" (Molbeck, No. 7), but not in the legend of "Agnes and the Merman."

77 Cf. the Stages, pp. 193ff.

78 S.K. uses here the word "emotion," but it is clear that he has in mind what a modern psychology has called libido.

79 Letter of credit on happiness. See Schiller's "Resignation," 3rd strophe (Gedichte, 2te Periode).

80 For no one has ever escaped from love or ever will so long as there be beauty and eyes to see with. Longus, Daphnis and Chloë. Introduction, §4. Cf. Journal IV A 30.

81 Unfortunately the Danish word bedrage means to defraud as well as deceive. I seek to straddle both meanings (imperfectly) by using the word "cheat."

82 So it was S.K. was accustomed to think of himself. How ingenious of him to make this story fit his case by the device of "supposing" Sarah was a man!

83 The Jew, a play by Cumberland which was many times presented at the Royal Theater in Copenhagen between 1795 and 1834 and was published in a Danish translation in 1796. Scheva the Jew everyone regarded as a miser and a userer, but in secret he did great works of beneficence.

84 In Kierkegaarden in Sobradise (Danske Værker, I, p. 282).

85 There never was great genius without some madness. As quoted by Seneca (de tranquilitate animi, 17, 10) from Aristotle the phrase is: sine mixtura dementiae. S.K. quoted it in his Journal (IV A 148) at a time when he was anxiously inquiring whether his own state of mind might not be close to madness.

86 If before the beginning of this century S.K. had been widely known in Europe, we would trace to him rather than to Dostoevski or any other the modern preoccupation with such topics.

87 It is to be remembered that in his university days S.K. was absorbingly interested in the legends of Faust, Don Juan, and Ahsverus (the Wandering Jew), which he took to be typical of doubt, sensuality and despair. The following footnote deals with other themes which interested him at the same time. He wrote a big book (his dissertation for the master's degree) on The Concept of Irony, and he made preparation for a work on satire.

88 In one financial crisis S.K.'s father increased his fortune by investing in bonds issued by the Crown (i.e. on the credit of the absolute sovereign), and in a later crisis S.K. lost much of his by investing in the same security.

89 The honor of destroying. Herostratus, to make his name immortal, burnt the temple of Artemis at Ephesus in the year 356 B.C.

90 Executioner of infants. This name was given this Augustinian monk (who was Professor in the University of Paris and died in 1358) because he maintained the view that unbaptized infants went to hell–instead of the limbo to which the common Catholic view consigned them. Tortor heroum means torturer (executioner) of heroes.

91 Holberg's Erasmus Montanus, Act I, Scene 3: Peter Deacon says (about bargaining for the price of a grave), "I can say to a peasant, 'Will you have fine sand or simple earth?'"

92 Werke (2nd ed.), VIII, pp. 195ff; X, 1, pp. 84ff.; XIV, pp. 53ff.; XVI, pp. 486ff.

93 Adherents of Grundtvig who advocated his doctrine of the Church.

94 This is S.K.'s word, and here it means, leaping from one point to another so as to illuminate the subject from all sides, or in order that the intelligibility might be broken down into its several parts.

95 Shakespeare's King Richard III, Act II, Scene 1.

96 Plato's Apology, Cap. 25. The best texts now read "thirty votes," but in the older editions "three" was commonly read.

97 "The Tailor in Heaven," one of Grimm's Fairy Tales. But according to Grimm the tailor was really dead (2nd German ed., I, p. 177).

98 Cf. the Journal, IV A 58.

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