Continental Philosophy

Søren Kierkegaard

What was Søren Kierkegaard’s burning question?

For Kierkegaard, the most important question was whether there was a God, and thereby an afterlife. He did not think that question could be answered by any marshalling of the appropriate facts or through an intellectual process of any kind. It was a rational question, but there was no answer to it. The only acceptable answer was an actual leap of faith within and by the individual. Furthermore, insofar as the facts of the world rendered the possibility of God and an afterlife absurd, this absurdity itself is a test of faith. The more absurd something seems to be, the greater the faith necessary to believe it. Kierkegaard thought that great faith was the key to being a Christian. To this end, he deployed the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. God commands Abraham to take Isaac up a mountain and then sacrifice him. This act is pathological in ordinary terms, but in religious terms, for Kierkegaard, it is the quintessential example of a leap of faith.


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