Fear and trembling in the 21st century

Fear and Trembling in the 21st Century

Clare Carlisle

From Paris to Palestine, the perils of undying faith still hold the world hostage. When should we abandon our beliefs? KCL philosopher Clare Carlisle reinterprets Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling.

  • CroppedImage300200 224 Clare Carlisle cropped
    Clare Carlisle

About the Course

Kierkegaard is a figure whose influence is felt throughout contemporary cultural discourse. On the one hand, he is known as the father of existentialism, an atheistic movement. On the other, he dedicated his life and work to faith and finding union with God. Can we reconcile suffering and faith? Why does Kierkegaard regard courage as a fundamental virtue? How can we love others, knowing full well that all love ends in loss?

In this course, Dr Clare Carlisle guides us through Plato, Aristotle, Luther, Kant and the Story of Abraham to reveal Kierkegaard’s unique take on the profound suffering integral to faith.

By the end of the course, you will have learned:

  • The conflicting ethics of Luther and Kant.
  • The origins of Kierkegaard’s existential crisis.
  • The fundamental dilemma that those with faith face.
  • Why anxiety, fear and trembling define human life.
  • How courage, not obedience, is the best means to express faith.
  • Kierkegaard’s criticisms of the monastic life.


About the Instructor

  • Clare Carlisle

    Dr Clare Carlisle is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Theology at King’s College London, as well as a columnist for The Guardian. She is well known for her writing philosophical articles for a general audience.

    Dr Carlisle’s work focuses on religion and the philosophical contributions of Kierkegaard and Spinoza. She is the author of numerous publications and three books about Kierkegaard.

Course Syllabus

  • Part One: The Art of Sacrifice
    Can unquestioning, irrational obedience to religious authority have value? Carlisle examines dangers and dogma.
  • Part Two: Breaking with Tradition
    Does faith demand obedience or courage? How does a feminine perspective reframe the debate about obedience?

Suggested Further Readings

A selection of further readings has been suggested by Dr Carlisle as part of this course.

Explore Further

Our editors have brought together a range of content from across which explore the ideas in this course.