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Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death

4.1  ·  Rating details ·  570 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
Walter Lowrie's classic, bestselling translation of Søren Kierkegaard's most important and popular books remains unmatched for its readability and literary quality. Fear and Trembling and The Sickness Unto Death established Kierkegaard as the father of existentialism and have come to define his contribution to philosophy. Lowrie's translation, first published in 1941 and l ...more
Hardcover, 420 pages
Published November 21st 1968 by Princeton University Press (first published 1849)
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Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fear and Trembling is one of the most insightful, thought-provoking treatises on Abraham I have ever read. He opens with a prelude, an exploration of a theme in contrasting vignettes. He ends the introduction with this observation:

“If Abraham when he stood upon Mount Moriah had doubted, if he had gazed about him irresolutely, if before he drew the knife he had by chance discovered the ram, if God had permitted him to offer it instead of Isaac-then he would have betaken himself home, everything w
marki jones
Oct 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
When I read this book I think "I don't understand how I understand this." When I read this book in public I walk through the streets or I stand on the sidelines at my brother's soccer games and I don't notice that I am still there, until someone taunts me and says "must be a good book there lady" and I say "I HATE SPORTS."
One day I taught middle school and then a second day in a row I taught middle school. Nobody listened to me, and I was very depressed. I wanted to die, again, but not really, b
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
Deeply insightful, dogmatically limited.
David Gross
Feb 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, I think I may be being baffled by Kierkegaard here. On the plus side, I think that this translation is much more readable than, say, the last of the Camus I read. However, Kierkegaard is notoriously slippery — for instance in the way he uses pseudonyms to give plausible deniability to anything he asserts.

His schtick here is to suggest that there’s something beyond ethics — something that is of the same sort of pull on our behavior but that is less publicly justifiable. We can justify our d
Robert Schut
Feb 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Christians, Philosophy students, psychology students
Shelves: philosophy
As a student of philosophy I believe that Kierkegaard is truly in a class of his own. He has been a great inspiration to me. Through his writings I have seen the dark places that he traveled and can feel a connection to his despair. Only someone who has been there can really know what Soren is writing about. For the rest it might appear as theoretical philosophy, but I assure you that it is not.
This book is not a quick one-time read. It is a study of both Kierkegaard and the self. One must spen
Jun 22, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology
"Sickness Unto Death"
I re-read this essay as a form of self-medication. SK's analysis of despair is disturbingly accurate - like a surgeons knife that cuts at all the right places. I recognize that this book can be an exercise in learning something about the author; but i suspect that its true worth is in "reading" the reader. Perhaps it will be just another diatribe on Christendom that you read; or maybe, it might just uncover those places in your life that need life breathed into them from a l
Jon Stout
Sep 04, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: true believers
Shelves: philosophy, religion
Though there are penetrating analyses of faith, I was deeply saddened that, as Abraham was asked by God to give up Isaac, Kierkegaard felt he was asked by God to give up his true love, Regina.
Kelsey Hennegen
Oct 14, 2017 rated it liked it
“Nullum exsistat magnum ingenium sine Lalique dementia” - “There never existed great genius without some madness"

I got a lot from SK's two works, but it took work and I had to actively continue to engage even while he maintained a consistent religious tone.

What I like:
Kierkegaard's distinction between depression and despair, themes of the absurd (hello Camus!), his obsession with the paradoxical, his assertion that the essential task of human existence is speculation and thought ("utilized thoug
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Definitely not easy reading, but you probably already know that. Kierkegaard gets pigeonholed as a "Christian philosopher" but his faith worked more as the primary pool of metaphor and cultural reference points for his analyses. I'll be checking out "Either-or" at some point based on what I saw here.
I read just Fear and Trembling. Not a fan of Kierkegaard's style. It felt more like he would rather have been a poet than a philosopher. The work was full of mythic, poetic, and biblical examples (beyond just the main one, Abraham and Isaac) that didn't add that much to the work. Could probably have been half as long and made more sense. I'm looking into secondary literature to make more sense of Fear and Trembling.

I'm also not convinced that Abraham wasn't just a murderer.
Jennifer Lundell
Amazing and comforting

This book, particularly the writing of The Sickness Unto Death, has given me the tools necessary to cope spiritually when in the throes of a depressed episode. God is with me and this painful existence is temporary.
Jul 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Both works were superb. Kierkegaard writes urgently, and his philosophy often has devotional significance. A brilliant thinker and two books that have made a deep impression on me.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Sickness unto Death is one of the most important books I've ever read.
Chester Johnson
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Existentialism at its best. I read Kierkegaard in the years after finding no truth in religion, and Kierkegaard and Nietzsche helped fill the void and answered many questions.
Jul 13, 2012 rated it really liked it
Note: I read "Fear and Trembling" and not the other essay in the volume.

Although the topic is a serious one, I was impressed by the playfulness of Kierkegaard's mind and presentation. First, SK "juggles apples and oranges". In this respect, the subject matter of the book calls for theological explication simply because it is the narration of the Sacrifice of Isaac reported in the Book of Genesis. However, SK creates a case study that explores the action of Abraham in comparison with principles o
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The "Attunement" alone is worthy of much contemplation. This entire work revolves around the story of Abraham as fodder for revealing Kierkegaard's philosophy of ethics and aesthetics. Faith is proven to be reliance on the absurd after having completely resigned from any possible salvation. He uses the story of Abraham as the supreme example of this, telling the story 4 different ways in order to show the alternatives that would invalidate the significance of the tale. He also uses the story of ...more
Andrew Sydlik
Mar 16, 2009 rated it liked it
I started this book pairing "Fear and Trembling" with "The Sickness Unto Death." I made it about halfway through "Fear and Trembling" and don't know if/when I'll get back to it. It's not what I expected. Both sound like gloomy titles, and knowing what I do about Kierkegaard, thought his philosophy would be gloomy. Yet that is not the case.

There is something disturbing and challenging about his ideas - enough so that he railed against mainstream Christianity and was considered a heretic, and that
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work is Kierkegaard's deeply detailed evaluation of two topics: Christian faith and the sin of despair. It is a highly complicated philosophy and I can't say that one read through allows me to make an accurate review of it.

To me, Kierkegaard sees Christianity as a deeply personal process of coming to terms with one's relationship to God. It is religion viewed as an ordeal. Along the way, a Christian will need to understand that it isn't possible to rationalize faith and forgiveness. This so
Andrew Miller
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
These essays by Kierkegaard speak to his lack of acceptance of the Christian church on a whole while arguing his point about Christianity in general as the "truth" but, as a philosophical statement, fall flat in the foundational components being based purely on the "absurdity" of faith. I enjoyed reading both pieces although thought that Lowrie himself detracted overall from the works with his introductions and notes. Kierkegaard is definitely worth considering even in modern times as a basis fo ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: readforschool
Read for: Theological Questions: What is the Value of Faith?

Kierkegaard is a requirement for anyone interested in modern theology/philosophy. Fear and Trembling & Sickness Unto Death are his most beautifully written works and both are written under pseudonyms (he was hated in Denmark). Kierkegaard, along with other authors, like Fichte, mark the transition from more "traditional" theologians (i.e. Augustine, Aquinas, Luther) to the more radical (but now rather accepted) philosophers (i.e. Ka
Feb 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
Version I read only had Fear and Trembling, but it was this translator. First time actually reading Kierkegaard, and i found him an enjoyable writer, fairly clear, with a few excellent points to make. This whole book is especially worth reading alongside the deconstructive project as they both share many things in common.

This isn't a book for "Christians" to read, even though Kierkegaard produces some heavily and thoughtfully Christian analysis; it's more of an examination of the ethical, the u
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
Feb 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I'm writing commentaries for a book of my haiku, in which the three line haiku is now being commented on verbosely... perhaps ironic? But not so, really, as Basho also wrote about his haiku within a body of prose. Anyway, I referred to this book which I read over 40 years ago, and decided I needed to verify my comment and get into it again. It's a fascinating ratiocination on our prophet Abraham and the anguish he might have felt and the absurd position of the Knight of Faith who leaps into the ...more
Alex Szatmary
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 600
These books have been very important to me. Kierkegaard taught me to give up on trying to make sense of God, but, instead, to be authentically myself and to relate to God. Kierkegaard posed faith as something that isn't in opposition to doubt, which is important, because I doubt a lot. Kierkegaard is a terrible writer, his sentences use eight commas, he's very oblique, but the things I get out of him, I find singularly profound and theraputic.
May 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirit
A book to return to over and over, partly because Kierkegaard is a joy to read. To take aesthetic pleasure from a treatise on what is also a profound insight into the avoidance of self as a sickness which motivates the ordinariness of lived psychology, a dreary sickness, is possible without experiencing the elusive spiritual dimension therein. Yet to experience the dimension, through a familiarising by return of the voice in the poetic, makes this a unique piece of reading.
Alexander Metro
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I read this eons ago but he made a lasting impression to the point where, during a meeting at work in which an outside consultant asked questions to relax us, I answered to the question who would I like to see walk through the door, Soren Kierkegaard. In the book a hypothetical example is given of a man who has lost everything in a fire that consumed his house. The experience had the effect of freeing him to live.
Mar 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A pretty clear view of what it consists to be sinful, not just the luxurious/tempting part of sin but its dialectical form and the expression that the possible offense in Christianity has upon repentance and self destruction. Defiance and weakness also play a vital role in all this. Changes your view on lots of things. I admire S.K. for this. Great read.
Rebekah Morgan
Oct 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
A beautiful but difficult read. I want to come back to it when I'm in a less volatile time in my life. (Reading about despair while figuring out what to do after graduation is not good)
Ciera Harris
This is pure art. If you love theology, and existentialism, and want a treatise which ties the two together–you're going to enjoy this book!
Mario Armira
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Two profoundly beautiful works that I don't want to talk about. Kierkegaard was grappling with deeply personal themes, things about ourselves that make us tick.
Feb 07, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Książka opisująca filozoficzne zmagania z Bogiem człowieka głęboko religijnego.
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Søren Aabye Kierkegaard was a prolific 19th century Danish philosopher and theologian. Kierkegaard strongly criticised both the Hegelianism of his time and what he saw as the empty formalities of the Church of Denmark. Much of his work deals with religious themes such as faith in God, the institution of the Christian Church, Christian ethics and theology, and the emotions and feelings of individua ...more
More about Søren Kierkegaard

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“Just as a physician might say that there very likely is not one single living human being who is completely healthy, so anyone who really knows mankind might say that there is not one single living human being who does not despair a little, who does not secretly harbor an unrest, an inner strife, a disharmony, an anxiety about an unknown something or a something he does not even dare try to know, an anxiety about some possibility in existence or an anxiety about himself, so that, just as the physician speaks of going around with an illness in the body, he walks around with a sickness, carries around a sickness of the spirit that signals its presence at rare intervals in and through an anxiety he cannot explain.” 12 likes
“<...> tikėjimą turėti - pavydėtina dalia, net jei niekas apie tai nežinotų. (7-8)” 1 likes
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