Socrates – A Knight of Resignation
Throughout Soren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling he describes two types of people. The first is a knight of faith and the second is a knight of infinite resignation. While a knight of faith grabs hold of the impossible and clings to it, believing that it will be fulfilled, a knight of infinite resignation realizes that the goal is impossible and resigns to it. However, despite this acquiescence a knight of infinite resignation builds the meaning of his life around that goal while simultaneously realizing that he will never obtain it. While Abraham encompasses the qualities of a knight of faith, Socrates exhibits more traits that would characterize him as a knight of infinite resignation. Socrates’ idea of the forms, his view on death, and his allegory of the cave, all point to the fact that he best embodies a knight of infinite resignation.
The primary goal of a knight of faith is to make his life meaningful. He leaves worldly understanding to obtain faith, believes in clear finite results not focusing on the future but on the present moment, and believes that the highest level of meaning is the belief in the absurd. Abraham encompasses all of these criteria in the book of Job when he sets off to sacrifice his son Isaac. He first receives a call from God telling him to sacrifice his only son. This call tests his faith and asks him to step away from worldly understanding and give his trust to God. Kierkegaard explains the first characteristic of leaving behind worldly understanding when he writes, “[Abraham] left one thing behind, and took another with him. He left behind his worldly understanding and took with him his faith” (50). When Abraham left his city in the pursuit of sacrificing his son he exhibited full trust in God. Abraham realized that this calling from God was impossible but he didn’t question God in the least. In this way Abraham demonstrated the second characteristic of a knight of faith. Kierkegaard...
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