Kierkegaard’s Regulative Sacrifice: A Post-Kantian Reading of Fear and Trembling

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 20 (5):691-723 (2012)
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The present paper suggests to consider Kierkegaard’s use of Abraham’s story in Fear and Trembling in regulative terms, that is, to consider it as a model – not for our moral behaviour but rather for our religious behaviour. To do so, I first rely on recent literature to argue that Kierkegaard should be regarded as a distinctively post-Kantian philosopher: namely, a philosopher who goes beyond Kant in a way that is nevertheless true to the spirit of Kant’s original critical philosophy. Then, I present a post-Kantian reading of Fear and Trembling, focusing on the problematic implications that result from comparing this text with Hegel’s theory of recognition. Finally, I submit that sacrifice in Fear and Trembling is a regulative notion in a Kantian sense. This interpretation addresses some of the most problematic aspects of the text. I conclude that the regulativity of sacrifice may be regarded as an important and perhaps an essential component of Kierkegaard’s overall philosophical strategy.



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Paolo Diego Bubbio
Università di Torino

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