"There comes a moment in a person's life when immediacy is ripe, so to speak, and when the spirit requires a higher form, when it wants to lay hold of itself as spirit.
As immediate spirit, a person is bound up with all the earthly life, and now spirit wants to gather itself together out of this dispersion, so to speak, and to transfigure itself in itself; the personality wants to become conscious in its eternal validity.
If this does not happen, if the movement is halted, if it is repressed, then depression sets in." Several authorities consider the work autobiographical.
It can be explained as Kierkegaard's way of working himself through the loss of his fiancee, Regine Olsen.
(...) The ethical expression of what Abraham did is that he meant to murder Isaac, the religious expression is that he meant to sacrifice Isaac – but precisely in this contradiction is the anxiety that can make a person sleepless, and yet, without this anxiety Abraham is not who he is." Kierkegaard says that everyone has a choice in life. We each have the right to speak or not to speak and the right to act or not to act. He says, Temporality, finitude—this is what it is all about.
I can resign everything by my own strength and find peace and rest in the pain; I can put up with everything—even if that dreadful demon, more horrifying than the skeletal one who terrifies me, even if madness held its fools costume before my eyes and I understood from its face that it was I who should put it on—I can still save my soul as long as my concern that my love of God conquer within me is greater than my concern that I achieve earthly happiness. 49 "Yes, when in mournful moments we want to strengthen and encourage our minds by contemplating those great men, your chosen instruments, who in severe spiritual trials and anxieties of heart kept their minds free, their courage uncrushed, and heaven open, we, too, wish to add our witness to theirs in the assurance that even if our courage compared to theirs is only discouragement, our power powerlessness, you, however, are still the same, the same mighty God who tests spirits in conflict, the same Father without whose will not one sparrow falls to the ground." Two Upbuilding Discourses p. Kierkegaard steers the reader to Hegel's book Elements of the Philosophy of Right especially the chapter on "The Good and Conscience" where he writes, "It is the right of the subjective will that it should regard as good what it recognizes as authoritative.
Similarly in the state, which is the objectivity of the conception of reason, legal responsibility does not adapt itself to what any one person holds to be reasonable or unreasonable.
It does not adhere to subjective insight into right or wrong, good or evil, or to the claims which an individual makes for the satisfaction of his conviction.
Fear and Trembling begins with a Preface by Johannes de silentio.
His Upbuilding Discourses begin with a dedication to the single individual, who has become Abraham in this work. It begins like this, "Once upon a time there was a man who as a child had heard that beautiful story of how God tempted Abraham and of how Abraham withstood the temptation, kept the faith, and, contrary to expectation, got a son a second time." And ends like this, "That man was not an exegetical scholar.