A clear apprehension of what Soren Kierkegaard ( 1813-1855 ) meant by the `suspension of the ethical ’ can be achieved upon careful survey of his wider doctrines on phases or facets of an single ’ s life. In this short text I will analyze these doctrines, researching what Kierkegaard meant by each one. I ’ ll so put into context these phases of life by looking at them in relation to that which Kierkegaard ’ s text `Fear and Trembling ’ ( in which he introduces the construct of a teleological suspension of the ethical ) is based on: that being the scriptural narrative of Abraham and Isaac. Finally, I ’ ll analyze the jobs of his theory and research some of the givens and pre-requisites it necessitates.
First I find it necessary to understand the context in which Kierkegaard wrote and believed the doctrines we now explore. Kierkegaard ’ s Hagiographas were non without a intent or docket. His ain life was the beginning by which he inside informations his wider more abstract theories on life in general. He is per se linked to the Christian religion, and he writes with that in the head of his head.
Indeed, `Fear and Trembling ’ itself is based upon a transition of Bible which Kierkegaard examines and bases his points upon. The point Kierkegaard is doing finally is that he believes that the `religious ’ phase of life ( one of three he feels he has discovered ) is the 1 that means the most and should be desired. Kierkegaard identifies an experiential patterned advance between these phases which is, on initial survey, contradicted by the transition of Bible he tackles. It is by analyzing these phases that the reply to the inquiry set can be revealed.
The first of these phases is the aesthetic. For Kierkegaard, this is the lowest signifier of being. For a peculiar homo being to take an aesthetic being would necessitate him to indulge strictly in sensuous pleasances. The deduction in the aesthetic is that merely the external provides value. However, Kierkegaard ’ s suggestion is that this degree of being deficiencies anything outside of itself. Its value, he submits, is null of significance and way and those who inhabit this being merely base on balls from one meaningless satisfaction of the senses to the following with no existent intent.
There is, harmonizing to Kierkegaard, a patterned advance of kinds to a higher phase of life. A passage to a degree being in which the specific is subsumed, that is transported and incorporated by, the following in the degree of being, the ethical. At this phase, an person is populating in conformity with what he describes as the `universal good ’ and in this the ethical is mindless. What I mean by that is that the ethical requires the stepping down of the person in conformity with the cosmopolitan good. Yet the ethical can non be without the single to give it organize. The single turns inward and considers the purpose of life in regard to himself. In one sense it empowers the aesthetic with value and significance, therefore the satisfaction of the senses can go the grasp of beauty.
However, Kierkegaard regards the spiritual phase of life non merely to be the highest, but besides imperative in giving the ethical significance and way. By `religious life ’ Kierkegaard is mentioning to the encountering and credence of his, the Christian, God. It isn ’ t clear if the `religious ’ is confined merely to his God, or whether differing personal beliefs have a topographic point within Kierkegaard ’ s definition of this degree of being.
The `religious ’ makes sense of the ethical, harmonizing to Kierkegaard. Apparently deducing that making good for the interest of good is nonmeaningful and closer to an egocentric sense of aesthetic satisfaction so meaningful being, Kierkegaard looks to the spiritual to give life way and telos, that is purpose. For the benefit of `Fear and Trembling ’ , Abraham is this `religious ’ adult male.
In the scriptural narrative, Abraham is required by God to premeditate the forfeit of his boy as a mark of his religion to God. This presents Kierkegaard with a job, as although the `religious ’ life is a distinguishable and separate degree of being from the `ethical ’ , the passage is a minor premise. That is, the spiritual provides the ethical with an extra deepness instead so a complete reversal of values. It appears that there is a contradiction here, as in what is universally good ( that being, in this instance, non killing your ain kid ) is abandoned by the really faith or God that provides it with significance and intent. T
o supply for this contradiction, Kierkegaard identifies the telos of God. In this state of affairs, God requires a mark from Abraham that he is faithful to him. That is God ’ s aim in inquiring this of Abraham. The ethical, far from being removed from Kierkegaard ’ s equation, is simply suspended so that the intent ; the terminal consequence ; the telos of God, can be achieved. This is what Kierkegaard agencies when he refers to the `teleological suspension of the ethical ’ . There are a figure of jobs with this though. The first is the seemingly complete differentiation between the `religious ’ and `morality ’ .
The nature of the goodness of God can certainly be called into inquiry if a teleological suspension of what is morally good is required, even for merely a fraction of clip, in order to follow the will of God. Further more, if God ’ s aim involves a suspension of the cosmopolitan good, so Kierkegaard ’ s theories earnestly falter. For how can the ethical be defined, as Kierkegaard defines it, as an alliance with the universal good, if that good can be suspended on history of a `higher good ’ , that is the telos of God? Is Kierkegaard proposing that there are two degrees of good, possibly, and that when one reaches the `religious ’ it is on juncture necessary to move in conformity with the higher good and deny the good by which those life by the `ethical ’ live their lives?
Kierkegaard seems short on replies when one considers the inevitable confrontation between these to conflicting beginnings of `goodness ’ , which lead to an evident potency contradiction of the `highest good ’ which Kierkegaard has identified. Of class, in the illustration of Abraham and Isaac, the suspension of the ethical for the intents of the spiritual did non ensue in this struggle between goodness ( dismissing the forethought involved in the head of Abraham ) for God stopped Abraham before he ended his kid ’ s life. Therefore in this instance the deduction is that the telos of God was to detect a presentation of obeisance in Abraham and non to kill Isaac.
However in the very suspension of the ethical, God contradicts himself and the doctrine of Kierkegaard in this regard requires farther account. For God must be the changeless in order for the phases of life to work. It is impossible for God to overrule himself yet that is seemingly what has happened here – God has contradicted himself in order for his intents to be fulfilled.
The lone manner God could non hold contradicted himself is if there was no suspension of the ethical, which is a existent possibility. For if it was non a bid of God to Abraham to give Isaac, and it was simply a trial of Abraham ’ s fidelity, so God did non overrule his ain bids and nature, as there was no commandment that Isaac should decease. In this sense, in every bit much as there was no bid, there was besides no suspension of the ethical. In decision, to propose that there is any sort of suspension of the ethical, in every bit far as Kierkegaard describes the ethical, is to deny the very impression of the spiritual and its topographic point within taking a good life.
For the ethical is the attunement of life to the cosmopolitan good. And for God to suspend this good in order to carry through a intent which by logic would non include the good it normally would is to deny the very impression that this good was genuinely `good ’ in the first topographic point. The thought that God would utilize the unethical – put into action a sequence of events that is contrary to the cosmopolitan good – to allow his intent non merely calls into inquiry the value of God, or of the cosmopolitan good, but besides leads to misunderstandings of God whose manifestations are force and wars.
The lone sensible account, if God is to be upheld and Kierkegaard ’ s doctrines are to be believed, is that there was no suspension of the ethical at all ; that God remained consistent and his suggestion to Abraham that he kill his ain boy was a trial of Abraham ’ s obeisance and nil more. Further inquiries sing the morality of a God that would utilize such seemingly horrid ways to `test ’ his worshippers besides lead us to name into inquiry the `good ’ that one empowers this figure with, all taking to the decision I make the these phases Kierkegaard present us with, in connexion with this transition of Bible, require farther attending.