Kierkegaard and the Life of Faith

Kierkegaard and the Life of Faith

The Aesthetic, the Ethical, and the Religious in Fear and Trembling
Jeffrey A. Hanson
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 01/16/2017
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-02470-1
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Soren Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling is one of the most widely read works of Continental philosophy and the philosophy of religion. While several commentaries and critical editions exist, Jeffrey Hanson offers a distinctive approach to this crucial text. Hanson gives equal weight and attention to all three of Kierkegaard’s "problems," dealing with Fear and Trembling as part of the entire corpus of Kierkegaard's production and putting all parts into relation with each other. Additionally, he offers a distinctive analysis of the Abraham story and other biblical texts, giving particular attention to questions of poetics, language, and philosophy, especially as each relates to the aesthetic, the ethical, and the religious. Presented in a thoughtful, well-informed, and fresh manner, Hanson’s claims are original and edifying. This new reading of Kierkegaard will stimulate fruitful dialogue on well-traveled philosophical ground.

Author Bio

Jeffrey Hanson is Research Associate in the Program for Integrative Knowledge and Human Flourishing at Harvard University's Institute for Quantitative Social Science. He is editor of Kierkegaard as Phenomenologist: An Experiment and (with Michael R. Kelly) of Michel Henry: The Affects of Thought.


“Jeffrey Hanson persuasively demonstrates that Fear and Trembling contains a variety of different styles, each of which colors the content being conveyed, and to the extent that we draw the connection between style and content, we gain an even stronger impression of the various arguments in Kierkegaard's best known book.”
 — Mark A. Tietjen, author of Kierkegaard, Communication, and Virtue

“Hanson gives a nuanced and deeply informed reading of Kierkegaard’s pictures of religious faith as they are articulated in Fear and Trembling, perhaps the most arresting and complex work in the Dane’s authorship. Faith is linked to love and to gracefully weathering catastrophe, perhaps invisibly. There are only four or five books in English that dare focus entirely on this early masterpiece, and Hanson makes his mark as one of the best. Uniquely, he gives great attention to the second half of Fear and Trembling where Kierkegaard, or his pseudonym Johannes de Silentio, links faith to the tale of Agnes falling in love with the merman – a brilliant counterpoint to the notorious story of Abraham and Isaac. Best of all, Hanson pries faith free from dogma of any kind, and shows it to straddle the ethical and the aesthetic.”
 — Edward F. Mooney, Professor Emeritus, Departments of Religion and Philosophy, Syracuse University

“This book successfully challenges many recent approaches to Fear and Trembling, both for tending to treat that book in isolation from the rest of the Kierkegaardian canon and also for often focusing on an apparently intractable conflict between religion and ethics. Instead, drawing from Kierkegaardian remarks in The Concept of Anxiety, Hanson demonstrates how these books form two halves of a single argument, not only in terms of what The Concept of Anxiety calls a “second ethics,” but also in terms of a “second aesthetics.”  Hanson’s interpretation thereby thrusts Fear and Trembling out from the sidelines and into the center of current debates about Kierkegaard’s authorship and helps it to illumine a wide range of other Kierkegaardian writings in new and unexpected ways.”
 — Andrew Burgess, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Philosophy, Univ. of New Mexico

“A thorough, considered, and provocative treatment of what justifiably remains Kierkegaard’s most famous book.”
 — Marginalia

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Table of Contents

1. Titular Matters
2. A Philosophical Preface
3. A Narrative Approach
4. A Rhetorical Rehearsal
5. Beginning from the Heart
6. Teleological Suspensions
7. Absolute Duty
8. Silence and Speech

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