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Encyclopedia > Knight of faith

The knight of faith is an individual who has placed complete faith in himself and in God. The 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard vicariously discusses the knight of faith in several of his pseudonymic works, the most in-depth and detailed critique exposited in Fear and Trembling. Faith is commonly known as a belief, trust or confidence often based on a transpersonal relationship with God, a higher power, elements of nature and/or a perception of the human race as a whole. ... Alternative meaning: Nineteenth Century (periodical) (18th century — 19th century — 20th century — more centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 19th century was that century which lasted from 1801-1900 in the sense of the Gregorian calendar. ... Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (IPA: ) (5 May 1813 – 11 November 1855) was a 19th-century Danish philosopher and theologian, generally recognized as the first existentialist philosopher. ... Fear and Trembling Fear and Trembling (original Danish title: Frygt og Bæven) is a philosophical work by Søren Kierkegaard, published in 1843 under the pseudonym Johannes de Silentio. ...

Johannes de Silentio, Kierkegaard's pseudonymous author of Fear and Trembling, argues that the knight of faith is the paradox, is the individual, absolutely nothing but the individual, without connections or pretensions. The knight of faith is the individual who is able to gracefully embrace life:

Most people live dejectedly in worldly sorrow and joy; they are the ones who sit along the wall and do not join in the dance. The knights of infinity are dancers and possess elevation. They make the movements upward, and fall down again; and this too is no mean pastime, nor ungraceful to behold. But whenever they fall down they are not able at once to assume the posture, they vacillate an instant, and this vacillation shows that after all they are strangers in the world. This is more or less strikingly evident in proportion to the art they possess, but even the most artistic knights cannot altogether conceal this vacillation. One need not look at them when they are up in the air, but only the instant they touch or have touched the ground–then one recognizes them. But to be able to fall down in such a way that the same second it looks as if one were standing and walking, to transform the leap of life into a walk, absolutely to express the sublime in the pedestrian–that only the knight of faith can do–and this is the one and only prodigy.

—Johannes de Silentio, Fear and Trembling, 1843


The Three Stages

Main: The Three Stages

Kierkegaard recognized three levels of individual existence: The Aesthetic, The Ethical, and The Religious. In Fear and Trembling, Silentio refers to individuals in each stage as "slaves", "knight of infinite resignation", and "knight of faith", respectively. Each of these levels of existence envelops those below it: an ethical person is still capable of aesthetic enjoyment, for example. It is also important to note that the difference between these ways of living are inward, not external, and thus there are no external signs one can point at to determine at what level a person is living. Søren Kierkegaard Søren Kierkegaards philosophy has been a major influence in the development of 20th century philosophy, especially in the movements of Existentialism and Postmodernism. ...

Knight of Faith and the Knight of Infinite Resignation

Kierkegaard's Silentio contrasts the knight of faith with the other two, knight of infinite resignation (infinity) and the aesthetic "slaves". Kierkegaard uses the story of a princess and a man who is madly in love with her, but circumstances are that the man will never be able to realize this love in this world ever. A person who is in the aesthetic stage would abandon this love, crying out for example, "Such a love is foolishness. The rich brewer's widow is a match fully as good and respectable." A person who is in the ethical stage would not give up on this love, but would be resigned to the fact that they will never be together in this world. The knight of infinity may or may not believe that they may be together in another life or in spirit, but what's important is that the knight of infinity gives up on their being together in this world; in this life.

The knight of faith, feels what the knight of infinity feels, but with exception that the knight of faith believes that in this world; in this life, they will be together. The knight of faith would say "I believe nevertheless that I shall get her, in virtue, that is, of the absurd, in virtue of the fact that with God all things are possible." This double movement is paradoxical because on the one hand it is humanly impossible that they would be together, but on the other hand the knight of faith is willing to believe that they will be together through divine possibility.

Abraham and Isaac

Johannes de Silentio believes that Abraham is one such knight of faith. In the Book of Genesis, God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. Abraham dearly loved his son, but although bemoaning this fate, Abraham obeyed this command faithfully. Just as he was about to commit the act, an angel stopped Abraham and rewarded him with his son and his steadfast faith. In the same paradoxical act of committing murder, which would humanly kill off his son, Abraham believed, through virtue of the absurd, he will get his son back. It has been suggested that Abraham (Hebrew Bible) be merged into this article or section. ... Genesis (Greek: Γένεσις, having the meanings of birth, creation, cause, beginning, source and origin) is the first book of the Torah (five books of Moses) and hence the first book of the Tanakh, part of the Hebrew Bible; it is also the first book of the Christian Old Testament. ...

Who are (or Are there) knights of faith?

Silentio personally believes that only two people were ever knights of faith: The Virgin Mary, and Abraham. But Silentio grants that there may be knights of faith out there that we do not know about, or that there never have been knights of faith. This is because knights of faith exist alone in isolation. Only God is in a position to judge whether a person's actions are divinely inspired or demonical; to the rest of us, they may appear identical. What is a knight of faith then? One who has faith beyond just himself. The term Virgin Mary has several different meanings: Mary, the mother of Jesus, the historical and multi-denominational concept of Mary Blessed Virgin Mary, the Roman Catholic theological and doctrinal concept of Mary Marian apparitions shrines to the Virgin Mary Virgin Mary in Islam, the Islamic theological and doctrinal concept...


  • Kierkegaard: A Biography by Alastair Hannay. Cambridge University Press, New edition 2003, ISBN 0-521-53181-0.
  • Kierkegaard and Fear and Trembling by John Lippit. Routledge 2003, ISBN 0-415-18047-3
  • Søren Kierkegaard: A Biography by Joakim Garff. Princeton University Press 2005, ISBN 0-691-09165-X.

External link

  • An English translation of Fear and Trembling



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