Kierkegaard: Ethics And Religion

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Kierkegaard: Ethics and Religion Where is the line drawn? That seems to be the question raised by Kierkegaard's take on the Abraham story. To what extent is one justified in carrying out what he or she perceives to be God's commands? To the extent of killing one's own son? According to Kierkegaard, the distinction between what we deem ethical and what we deem as service to God has blurred, to the degree that "when we see someone doing something that doesn't conform with the universal, we say, 'He can hardly be doing that for the sake of God.' Meaning by this that he did it for his own sake. The paradox of faith has lost the intermediate term, i.e, the universal." The conflict between the ethical and the religious is shown in the "teleological suspension of the ethical" of Abraham's decision to sacrifice his son in obedience to God's command.

Abraham and Isaac sojourn to Mount Moriah, where God has asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac as an offering to Him.

Abraham eventually does not need to sacrifice Isaac after proving his faith. He was about to sacrifice Isaac when an angel stayed his hand. Abraham's experience shows that one can be forced to disregard ethics if God so commands, which Kierkegaard views as the paradoxical nature of religion. To quote: "In the story of Abraham we find just such a paradox. Ethically speaking his relation to Isaac is this: that the father is to love the son. This ethical relationship is reduced to the relative as against the absolute relation to God." Kierkegaard sees that there are three spheres, aesthetic, ethical and religious, and although he doesn't state it explicitly; he views the third, the "religious," as being higher than the ethical. How then, can the ethical...