Teleological Suspension Of The Ethical Essay, Research Paper
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
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
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.
To 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.
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