The Dialectics of Faith and Non-Faith: Kierkegaard to Sartre

  • Jasbir Jain Former Prof. of English, University of Rajasthan, Jaipur
Keywords: Modernism, faith, doubt, obedience, morality, transparency, absurd.


The present paper sets itself the task of exploring the role of the declining faith in religion and the gradual erosion of unquestioning faith in the formation of modernism- an aspect to which hardly any attention has been paid at all. Discussing two texts- Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling (1843)which preceded both Darwin and Marx and Sartre's play Men Without Shadows( 1944), it proceeds to analyze Fear and Trembling in some detail as we are allowed to have alook into Abraham's doubts and his wavering attitude towards his son, who he has been commanded to sacrifice alongside the whole moral question of obedience and transparency. Will God save his son or does He mean him to go along with the command? In Sartre's atheist and Communist world, the dilemma is repeated with an altogether different ending, The boy's ability to endure torture is doubted by his sister who resorts to the safer course of killing him. These are issues of faith, morality and trust, Both the texts are contextualized in different social and political conditions yet both struggle with the idea of faith and nonfaith over a span of nearly a century in entirely different worlds. In the background is Albert camus's concept of the absurd, which perhaps is a cause for obedience to a seemingly immoral command.