Fathers and sons

an attempt to make some loving sense of Johannes de Silentio’s Fear and Trembling

  • Kresten Lundsgaard-Leth Aalborg University
Keywords: Kierkegaard, Existentialism, Fear and Trembling, faith, paradoxality, ethical life


In this article, I take a closer look at the inconsistencies of Johannes de Silentio's position in Fear and Trembling. First, the article lays out the different inconsistencies of de Silentio's text. Secondly, I argue the case that the ultimate tension of the Abraham narrative is the way in which it points toward the self-sacrifice - and teachings - of Christ. Thirdly, I consider Robert A. Paul's reconstruction of Freud's analysis of the foundational myth of Moses and the establishment of Western civilization. Whereas it is Paul's point that we need to re-experience the guilt of mythical crimes to make sense of Christian atonement, I suggest that we must go through Abraham's - potentially fatal - faithful suspension of the ethical in order to understand why both God and loving deeds must ultimately be understood as self-sacrificial and other-concerning.      

Author Biography

Kresten Lundsgaard-Leth, Aalborg University

Kresten Lundsgaard-Leth is an Assistant Professor at the Department for Learning and Philosophy at the University of Aalborg, Denmark. Lundsgaard-Leth completed his PhD thesis , Possibilities of the Good—Five Studies in Kierkegaard’s Existential Philosophy, at Aarhus University in 2017. In addition to participating in a number of international conferences, Lundsgaard-Leth has studied at the Freie Universität Berlin and has been a visiting scholar at Warwick University, the University of Chicago and Deakin University. Lundsgaard-Leth has published mostly on Kierkegaard, existential philosophy, German idealism, and the philosophy of hope, such as in Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook (2018), Clio (2019), Danish Yearbook of Philosophy (2018) and Trópos (2015).


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